The folks over at Flickr have announced some ‘unfortunate’ new features to the service.
The main news is that those of us with an “Old Skool” (their words) Flickr account will have to associate it with a Yahoo! ID by March 15th in order to be able to continue to administrate/upload to our accounts. I guess those of us who supported Flickr from the early days got ‘2 Kool 4 Skool’.
They have also announced that those with more than 3000 contacts should be, well, less social with the social software as they will be capping you at that 3k limit. Apparently you just can’t be that popular anymore.
Finally tags on photos will be limited to 75. I wonder what happens to existing photos with >75 tags? I hope they don’t chop off any offending tags, they could be the most pertainant ones!
Joking aside, it’s not been very clear how this announcement benefits Flickr users. If you taketh in one hand it’s always good to giveth in the other – not sure how/where that has happened today. There is some talk that it will make the pages ‘load faster’ – but then so would removing comments or the photos themselves, doesn’t mean it’s worth doing!
Thomas Hawk (of Zooomr, but also big Flickr user) weighs in too:
At Flickr in addition to a 200 photo limit for free accounts, we will now have a limit on how we can access the system, a limit on our tags, a limit on our contacts, what’s next? A limit on our photos?
Actually, the limit of tags and contacts are pro-active ways to ward off spammers, a vile beast that has taken down many-a popular social network lately. I believe 3000 contacts is a little ridiculous still. It’s not meant to be a friend collector service…
I think that anything that limits spammers from interupting my experience is a good thing for me as a user.
Now, the YahooID was warned upon us many moons ago and even I protested back then, but eventually just caved. It didn’t really hurt me much. I suppose it will hurt the most for those without a YahooID. The process for setting one up is a pain. That’s the issue with being bought, I suppose. Lucky for us, they haven’t merged it with Yahoo Photos. I think we are probably safe there, though.
Interesting points Tara.
I personally haven’t seen any spamming attempts that utilize exploits of greater than 75 tags. In other words, I’m not sure why they are limiting 75 tags– I don’t think that is an anti-spam measure but equally seems unfortunate to have added this cap.
I’ve seen a few cases of people adding in non-appropriate tags to photos, but that isn’t mitigated with this.
In many ways the 75 tag cap is the most disappointing as it effects everyone and ultimately stops meaningful metadata being added.
From a transparency perspective it’s also very unfortunate there wasn’t a better explanation for why these changes were decided.
I think Thomas Hawk is just a manipulative person trying to ride on flickr’s woe and whoring it out for zooomr.
His arguments are weak and obviously directed to add more punch to flickr’s bleeding wound.
I have to say I’m not that worried about the 75 tags limit. I can’t thing of many photos that will require more than 75 tags to describe it meaningfully.
Plus more tags can actually make it harder to find something and eventually degrade their usefullness across the whole site.
Too many tags make a photo less destinctive – if I have a photo of Big Ben in London and you can see a couple of Sea Gulls in the picture then the best tags would be bigben, london and seagulls.
Current research (at least what I’ve been told at the Beeb) is that having too many vague tags or in fact any vague tags will make the photo harder to find.
In the future it may be possible to automatically apply a lot more tags to photos – perhaps using photo recognition to locate people or objects in a picture, or from the camera itself (although I note that machine tags don’t include the 75).
I agree that being vague in tags makes photos (or any tagged object) hard to find, but not sure how putting larger number of tags on an object makes it hard to find?
Compare these two sets of tags for identical copies of this photo:
tags: bigben, london, clock, tower
tags: bigben, “big ben”, london, clock, tower, “clock tower”, housesofparliament, “houses of parliament, parliament, westminster, thames, riverthames, “river thames”, bridge, westminsterbridge, “westminster bridge”, time, dial, 3:45pm, 15:45, afternoon, cloudy, overcast, dull, shadows,
I’m not able to see how the second picture is harder to find, given that it covers all the ‘main tags’ and then delves into the long-tail of potential tags too.
(Photo by art es anna.)
Come to think of it, the research I’ve seen is based on a controlled vocabulary – an environment where words are linked in a database.
So for instance if you type bigben as a tag then the search will know you also probably mean Big Ben or type soccer and it knows you probably also mean associated football and footie.
So if I search for Big Ben and nobody has tagged it Big Ben but everyone tagged it bigben it would still find it.
I’ve actually seen at least 10-15 photos where the tags have been ‘stuffed’…and I’m not a Flickr wanderer. Mostly when I go and check out the people who have added me as a friend who I’ve never heard of. I’ve actually reported a couple of instances of “Hey, this isn’t a real person” to the Flickr team, where the robot has, like, 6,000 ‘friends’ and odd photos with stuffed tags.
I think right now spammers are mostly ‘trying out’ their luck at Flickr…but a few have gotten through and created groups, etc.
And as for your Big Ben example…you didn’t even come close to 75 tags and explained the photo just fine. Like Ryan says, it actually mucks up the search to ‘overtag’ the photos. I’d actually like to ask Thomas Vanderwal what his thoughts are on this.
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