Monday, 7 April 2008

Why I Love to Hate Flickr

Like just about every other photographer who publishes their photos on the internet I have a Flickr account. In fact, posting my photos to, and exploring Flickr was what really got me back into photography. I loved putting my photos up for friends, family, or anyone to view and hopefully comment upon. I also loved the inspiration I got from exploring other people's photos. Many a better photographer than I uses Flickr as a showcase for their photos.

After a while, I grew less enthusiastic about Flickr. One of my  main problems is with the comments which people leave on photos. Quite often, all they say is "Great shot" or "You have been nominated to post this photo on [group xyz]". These kind of comments annoy me. Why did you like the photo or feel it should be nominated for a group? Which part was it? How can it be improved? If a photo moves you, say so! There is not one photographer I have met who would not appreciate praise of criticism of his/her work.
The other thing I dislike about Flickr is their map; although this is only since they changed it (about a year ago now, I think). I feel that it is not user friendly. It's default is a semi-working pseudo-tag-cloud. It is only once one plays around with it a bit (quite a bit!) that it becomes clear how to change the map to something useable (tip: click on the three pink dots in the top right). The map may have got me into geotagging my photos, but why change a main feature of your site to something less useful?

Finally, Flickr has come under attack recently for being overzealous with its censorship. Because the company is owned by the big monster that is Yahoo!, it must toe the corporate line. However, my personal feelings on this are that it is not so much a problem with people putting content on, it is that Flickr does not have decent enough filters. Why not have a level of censorship on the searches akin to SafeSearch where the user must adjust their search settings to be less stringent? It is not a perfect solution, but it would be a lot better than having "Flickr are censorship bastards" pictures everywhere.

10 Reasons to Like Flickr:

1. Put your photos somewhere for your friends to see them.
2. View other photographer's work and comment on it.
3. Have people comment on your photos.
4. Join Flickr meetups/scavenger hunts to meet other photographers in your area.
5. Browse by tags for similar photos or inspiration.
6. Surf a world map for photos taken in a particular area.
7. Find your digital camera model and see pictures that other cameras have taken with theirs.
8. Ability to specify permissions and access on a per picture basis (compared with Picasa web album).
9. Organise your photos quickly and easily.
10. Whatever your style of photography, there has been one taken for you to look at.

10 Reasons to loath Flickr:

1. Users who comment with "Nice shot".
2. Users who comment with "I have chosen your photo for group X" and don't tell you why.
3. A world map user interface which is difficult to understand and therefore off-putting to the less technical user.
4. If you don't have someone jumping in your photo, you probably won't get to be on the front explore page.
5. A very small limit of 200 photos and 3 albums (compared with Picasa web album).
6. "Hot Tags" always containing the same thing (pic-a-day).
7. Too many pictures being stolen by people who do not know international or local copyright laws.
8. A blog whose only real purpose seems to be to advertise Flickr's latest affiliation/marketing campaign.
9. Tag clusters; why can't I just drill down through tags?
10. Groups cannot be browsed for, just guessed in the search box.

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