Views from Phanfare CEO and Co-founder Andrew Erlichson

Link Phanfare Subsites Explained

This Thursday we plan to remove the Phanfare Social Network, the ability to add friends, family and create groups within Phanfare (read just the bold parts of this post for the Executive Summary). We are doing this because the social network never really caught on, is a bit confusing, and requires viewers to maintain registration with Phanfare that offers them nothing more than the ability to see your photos and videos.

As part of this release, we are offering Phanfare Subsites to all Phanfare customers. Today, Phanfare Subsites are available only to Pro customers.

With each Phanfare account comes your own Phanfare site, located at, where you is whatever you want it to be. You can designate any subset of your albums to appear on your site. All well and good.

But what about when you want to share albums with a different interest group? For example, let’s say you take photos at your kid’s soccer games. You want to show those albums to other parents, but you don’t want to expose them to all your personal photos. Enter subsites. You can can create a subsite called Within Phanfare, you can designate which albums are published to the soccer subsite.

An album can be in multiple subsites and/or in your main site. You can publish the soccer-related albums to your main site and the soccer subsite, and you probably would if the soccer photos are of your own kid.

Each Phanfare site or subsite can optionally be protected by a password. Hence, you can lockdown your main site but decide to keep the soccer photos open for the convenience of the parents. You might decide to also suppress google indexing of the subsite so that random people are not likely to find it.

But wait, you say, one of the things you loved about our Social Networking was the automatic notifications out to your network when you created new albums (we know, we just did a survey and of the 8% of our customers who will miss social networking, 80% say what they will miss most is automatic notifications).

We are going to solve that for the release this Thursday. We are adding back in automatic notifications for those who want them. The Phanfare contact manager enables you to create groups within it. You will be able to specify that any particular group of people be automatically notified when you publish content to particular sites or subsites. For example, you can create a contact list called “family” and have them get an update whenever you publish an album to your main site.

Because nearly all viewers come through email messages that are generated by Phanfare, either automatically or on-demand, viewer reports will mostly work as before. We click-track when viewers click through and report on who clicked and what they viewed.

So what’s the difference between using subsites versus our old social networking features?

  • With social networking you had to get the person to accept the invitation, create an account and remember his password in certain scenarios.
  • With social networking, you could disconnect from a single person without any disruption to the rest of your viewers.
  • With social networking, to move a person from one group to another, you had to remove them, add them to the new one and wait for them to accept the new invitation to join. (And since mom does not even realize she is registered for Phanfare, good luck with that!)
  • With Phanfare groups, you could create a collaborative group where everyone could contribute content (although only 5% of groups were used this way).
  • With subsites, to turn off a single viewer, you need to change the subsite password. But for many situations, simply removing them from the list of people who get notifications might be enough. For example, you don’t want to notify someone you have fallen out of touch with when you add new albums but don’t care if they proactively seek to look at your photos. And since our notifications just work on clickthrough, most viewers might not notice a change of subsite or site password.
  • The site hosting model in general works better for offline to online. For example, you can create a subsite called and have it be some highlights from the last year. Print that on a holiday card with a subsite password and recipients can find the online content. This is simply not possible with social networking since recipients need unique registrations.

Subsites are also useful for project work. If I want to host an album of photos showing storm damage for my insurance adjuster, I can do it using a quick subsite. I create the url:, publish the storm album into it and send a link via email.

On thursday, customers who regularly use the Phanfare social network will receive a note pointing them to a wizard to migrate over to the use of subsites. For friends, family and each group they maintain, we will suggest a subsite, and automatically publish the appropriate albums into the subsite. We will also create a contact manager group and give you the opportunity to specify that recipients should receive automatic notifications when you add albums to the subsites.

For your viewers, not much will change. Instead of receiving an notice from Phanfare daily with all the new albums created by their connections, the viewer will receive one email per album published, with the From address of the email being from you. One nice benefit: the recipient can reply back to the email to reach you. The recipient won’t need to know any passwords (we encode them on the clickthrough) and the recipient will see only your albums when they click.

These changes don’t affect your ability to send isolated links to single albums that live outside your site structure, or transfer albums to facebook.

With the removal of the Phanfare social network, we complete the migration back to our roots of being an asset manager and publishing service for photo enthusiasts and pros. We have no plans to offer a free version of Phanfare, and we don’t need or want the viewers of our customers to register with us.

We hope the product is just that much easier to use and reason about for our customers and that we will have more resources to bring to bear against the problems that all of you have told us are your higher priorities for Phanfare, including but not limited to: keyword tagging, faster search and wider mobile integration.

  • duensing

    It seems like it will be much easier, thanks.

  • LTS

    However I recently upgraded to Pro for the purpose of adding subsites. Now you offer it free to all? How do you plan to make that up to current Pro subscribers?

  • richtronics

    you da bomb andrew, glad someone is working for the people of America!!

  • richtronics

    you da bomb andrew, glad someone is working for the people of America!!

  • MAG

    This is a much better post that the previous post in terms of the explanations and in terms of the fact that automatic notifications will now be a feature. However, i am still unclear how I will monitor who visits by site. If, I give access to the soccer subsite, will I be able to tell which visitor looked at these pictures and on which date?

  • Cory

    The automatic notifications contain tracking information. Phanfare will be able to tell you which email addresses viewed your albums when your guests follow a link in the notification.

  • Brett Weaver

    I feel like Goldilocks! After the two previous versions of Phanfare, this feels JUST RIGHT….! :)

  • Mag

    So if the viewer doesn't click on a link but goes directly to the web site and uses the password, will the site owner be able to monitor who is viewing the pictures? I understood that you lost tracking information if you publish a site, this is why I never did it and kept all albums private. Ps: I am still concerned about a hacker accessing published sites.

  • johnisaacs

    I am not happy that someone has the ability to view my photos (and all of them are private) if I haven't extended an invitation to them to do so; just to be classed as “other viewers” isn't good security practise. As a paying customer I have the right to my privacy, and I know I can demand identification of who the “other viewers” are, without myself having to “set” parameters to block uninvited viewers.I expect the provider to do that.

  • cory

    You choose which albums are published to your site. No one can see unpublished albums.

    If you set a guest password on your site, no one can see your site without you sending them an invitation.

  • cory

    If you tell someone the password and they directly navigate to the site they will show up as a 'viewer' because we don't know their identity. You will be able to see the unique number of viewers.

    You don't have to worry about your site being 'hacked'. The risk is that you tell someone your password that wasn't trustworthy and they tell it to someone else.

    One thing you can do if both of these things worry you is change your guest password regularly. Then people will only be able to go to your site through the latest email invitation.

  • raphaelfreeman

    I'm still trying to understand this “subsite” thingy. In order to do what I want to do (ie easily let different family and friends know about new images), can I create subsites called “my family”, “wife's family”, “friends”, “extended family” and then afer publishing an album, easily select say, “wife family” AND “extended family”. Will that be a check list? Then I assume the people that fall in those lists will be notified? What happens if people exist in both lists? Will they get notified twice?

  • erlichson

    Yes, you can publish an album into the subsite myfamily and wifesfamily. My
    guess is that if a person is in two contact groups, one that auto notifies
    for myfamily and one that autonotifies for wifesfamily that indeed they will
    get two messages. This makes sense because the messages would direct the
    person to different subsites that may have vastly different albums

    The way to think about this is that you have albums and you have sites. You
    can publish any album to any site. Hence, you can create different sites
    that intended for different audiences.

    The truth is that our subsites are really no different than your main
    Phanfare site. The difference is that the subsites are in qualified
    namespace that comes after the site ( so we
    call them subsites. But my implementation, the primary site and the subsites
    are essentially both first class citizens within Phanfare.

  • carolinaglacier

    VERY helpful explanation and exciting changes. I look forward to using the new system – thanks!

  • carolinaglacier

    VERY helpful explanation and exciting changes. I look forward to using the new system – thanks!

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