Archive for the ‘Flickr’ Category

The Controversy Around Flickr Selling Creative Commons Licensed Photos

Douglas MacMillan has an article out in the Wall Street Journal today about the controversy surrounding Flickr selling prints of Creative Commons photos and not paying contributors for these images. It should be stressed that Flickr is only doing this on Creative Commons licensed photos where free commercial use is permitted by the license. If you license your photos Creative Commons Non-Commercial, this does not include you.

In the article he quotes Flickr founder Stewart Butterfield: “Yahoo’s plan to sell the images appears “a little shortsighted,” said Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield, who left the company in 2008. “It’s hard to imagine the revenue from selling the prints will cover the cost of lost goodwill.”

In addition to the Creative Commons photos that Flickr is selling and not paying photographers for use (legally), they are also handpicking other photos for this sales effort and here they are offering photographers 51% of the revenue on sales of these images who have agreed to participate.

My two cents:

I think it’s important that each photographer fully understand how the license that they are using with their photos online works. It is first and foremost the photographer’s responsibility to understand licensing. Creative Commons is a wonderful and liberal way to share your photos. It’s not for everyone though. You choose how your photos are licensed on Flickr though. By default Flickr licenses images “all rights reserved,” the most restrictive license available. So only photographers who have gone in and changed their license to a more liberal license would be affected by this.

I license my images Creative Commons Non-Commercial. This is one of several variations of the Creative Commons license. This means that people can use my images for personal use or non-profit organizations can use them, but folks like Yahoo/Flickr and others can’t sell them commercially without my permission.

If you are going to license your photos Creative Commons with no restriction, then you ought to be prepared for this type of use. If it’s not Flickr selling them, anyone else can, legally. If you are uncomfortable with this idea, then you should not use Creative Commons without any sort of restriction. If you like the idea of Creative Commons but are uncomfortable with commercial use without being compensated, then consider changing your license to Creative Commons Non-Commercial like I license mine.

I think a lot of people though don’t consider the full implications of the license that they choose and like Stewart I wonder if the revenue is worth potential lost goodwill in this case. Some people will inevitably be put off when they see that the community (and Flickr is as much a community as a company) that is hosting their photos for them is now selling them without sharing the profit or asking for permission. Reminding people to read the fine print of their photo license that they chose without really considering it thoughtfully might not be the best answer to that complaint. People on Flickr LOVE to complain about anything and everything.

I think Flickr does have to figure out how to pay for a free terabyte of storage for every user and maybe this is one way to do that.

I haven’t been asked to participate in the online print marketplace, but if I was and was offered a 51% payout, I’d probably say yes. Anything 50% or better feels pretty fair to me. I create the image, but Flickr is driving the traffic to it for sale and handling fulfillment, etc. If I were to have a physical gallery sell my works, I’d probably be looking for a similar cut.

The idea of selling Creative Commons images and getting to keep all of the money is interesting to Yahoo I’m sure, but maybe Flickr would be better off instead focusing on more of a total revenue share model for the entire effort and treating CC images like they treat CCNC and all rights reserved images. I bet people who license their work CC would be pleased if their images too were handpicked for inclusion and they got paid for use. Even if it were a small amount, it would be a positive affirmation to them about their photography and that would feel good.

The New and Improved Flickr

Flickr Staff Pre Marissa Mayer

Flickr Staff Today

Look at the two screenshots above. I took the first one in April of 2012, a few months before Marissa Mayer became CEO of Yahoo. The second one I took earlier today.

Between pre-Mayer 2012 and today, Flickr’s staff has grown from 39 people working on Flickr to 109.

About half of the 39 working on Flickr in 2012 are no longer on the team, which means that over 80% of the new, much larger team has been built since Mayer took over at Yahoo.

After years of layoffs, CEO neglect, and lackluster product development, Flickr is back in a big way, firing on all cylinders.

Under solid new leadership by former Googler Bernardo Hernandez, Flickr is getting strong and competitive again in photo sharing.

All Flickr users have been given a terabyte of free high res photo storage.

Flickr is making new smart and interesting acquisitions around the photo sharing space.

Flickr recently relaunched a new and much better received photo page.

Flickr’s new mobile app is among the best of breed with a 4.5 star rating in Apple’s app store.

Flickr more recently has been ramping up photowalks and community again and recently hinted at future plans to help photographers monetize their photo collections.

Marissa Mayer is the first Yahoo CEO to publicly have a Flickr photo page herself.

I’ve had a few different opportunities to interact with staffers at the new and improved Flickr over the past few months and have come away each time super impressed at the new life that seems to flow through the team.

Unlike the old Flickr, where staffers were demoralized over layoffs and hostile with users, the new Flickr feels incredibly positive and optimistic about Flickr’s future. A bright team of really smart engineers, designers and product managers are as enthusiastic as I’ve ever seen. The energy and morale at Flickr feels very high right now.

I think the future really looks bright for Flickr and am happy to see the sort of rebirth and revitalization that is taking place there. While there still is a ton of work that can be done to make Flickr even better, I’m more confident than ever that Yahoo is going about it the right way and that Flickr, for the first time since being acquired by Yahoo, is in capable hands.

Former Yahoo Jeff Minich recently wrote a post defending many of the ways that Mayer has improved Yahoo since taking over there as CEO. In it, he makes an important point that in order to really improve a tech company, you need to grow it. You can’t just lay people off to save money.

Minich makes the point also that even as Yahoo has hired/acquired many new talented engineers, they’ve also managed the slackers out. I think the growth and change in employee composition at Flickr is a visible example of this — and I think the improvement in the product (especially in mobile) shows for it.

If you are a photographer and have been neglecting your Flickr account, I’d encourage you to check back in and see where things are headed going forward.

You can find me on Flickr here.

Testing New Flickr Web Embeds Feature


New Flickr format for blogged photos

http://blog.flickr.net/2013/12/18/flickr-web-embeds

To The Open Arms of the Sea
Old Flickr format for blogged photos

I like the old format a lot better. The new format forces a title and Flickr logo watermark on your photo. I do love Flickr but I don’t want a Flickr watermark on every single photo I blog. I don’t want *ANY* watermark on the photos that I blog.

Also, look how bad the watermark looks on a white background. White text on a white photo becomes unreadable. Also, why is the r in Flickr cut off on the right on the flickr logo with the new iframe crap code?

As it stands right now, users on Flickr have an option to use the new embed feature or they can also still get the old html code. On the new Flickr beta photo page though users are only given the option of the new iframe code. I hope when the new beta photo page becomes default, we still have an option to choose between the old, clean and simple code instead of the new forced watermark code.

More conversation on today’s change in the Flickr help forum here.

Update: More from TechCrunch here:

“But perhaps a logo with more transparency would be nice, or one that faded away with navigation controls, appearing on interaction or mouse-over. It’s a fairly minor complaint for me, though some photogs might have an issue with it.”

Yep, I’m one of those photogs that probably has an “issue” with a forced Flickr watermark on every single photo on blog on my paid Flickr Pro account that is supposed to exempt me from advertising on my photos.

Update: Thanks to tregoning at Flickr who gave me the conversion dimensions to make the new Flickr embed code fit my blog: height=”384″ width=”576″

Update: Flickr changed the new embed code to only show the title/Flickr logo for the first few seconds and then only on hover after that. MUCH better. :)

Why Blocking is Important for a Social Network

Why Blocking is Important for a Social Network

Earlier today Twitter reversed their decision to change how user blocks are handled after a backlash reaction on their network.

From the Twitter blog:

“Earlier today, we made a change to the way the “block” function of Twitter works. We have decided to revert the change after receiving feedback from many users – we never want to introduce features at the cost of users feeling less safe. Any blocks you had previously instituted are still in effect.”

In a way, the current block at Twitter is sort of ineffective. If I block someone, the only thing it really does is prevent them from seeing my tweets when they are logged in (which also serves as notification to them that I’ve blocked them). They can still open up an unlogged-in version of Twitter (as easy as cmd-shift-N in Chrome, or cmd-shift-P in Firefox) and see everything I’ve tweeted publicly. Still, Twitter’s reversal shows that users really do care about blocking functionality and want more control and powerful blocking tools, not less.

I would argue that there are three key benefits that come from strong blocking tools on a social network.

1. Users feel empowered when they are more forcefully able to deal with harassment on a network. If someone is saying something offensive, why shouldn’t I personally be able to take control over that situation? If someone is making me uncomfortable, why shouldn’t I be empowered to deal with that for my own personal experience?

2. More effective blocking tools encourage more civil interaction. The thing that most trolls, haters, griefers, offensive jerks, etc. want on a social network is attention. By making it super easy to mute them or diminish them (especially by an intended target) it provides a disincentive for anti-social behavior in general.

3. Empowering users with blocking tools provides immediate relief for a user. Since oftentimes harassment is happening in real time, this can be more effective than waiting for customer service / community management reps at a social network to respond to reports of community violations. It is frustrating for a user to have to suffer even an additional 12 hours of harassment while a complaint works its way through to a community manager.

As far as best practices go, I’d hold up Google+ and Facebook as the networks that provide users the best blocking protection on the internet today.

Like Twitter, on Google+ and Facebook when you block someone they cannot see your public posts.

Google+ and Facebook take it one important step further though. Not only do they prevent someone you’ve blocked from seeing your public posts, they *also* filter the blocked user entirely out of your G+ or Facebook experience.

On G+ and Facebook when you block someone they become completely invisible to you everywhere on the network. It’s like they no longer exist in your social utopia.

That second block function is even more important than the first.

Flickr by contrast has some of the weakest blocking tools on the internet. When you block someone on Flickr, all it does is prevent them from private messaging you or commenting/faving your photos. Because of Flickr’s weak blocking tools, I’ve seen many of the most active, social accounts on Flickr leave due to harassment. This is bad design.

What makes harassment even worse on Flickr, is that (unlike G+ and Facebook) they allow anonymous troll accounts. So if a Troll1022 is harassing you anonymously on Flickr, and you report them, and three days later that account is deleted, all they need to do is set up Troll1023 and continue with the practice. Flickr’s weak blocking function allows virtually unlimited harassment on their network by anonymous trolls.

Protecting users and providing more control over your experience on a social network is important. It’s your most social and active users who will most likely sooner or latter run into friction. These are the users that any social network should be striving to empower.

I’m glad Twitter reversed their block policy after user reaction, and hope all networks realize how important the block feature is.

Why I Don’t Support “Black Day” at Flickr

Why I Don't Support Flickr Black Day

If you notice something different about photos on Flickr today, it might just be “black day.” Over the past week or so, hundreds (maybe thousands) of users who dislike an impending photo page change (and in many cases, redesign changes from earlier this year) have organized and are protesting by posting black protest images to their Flickr accounts today, December 8th.

Here is why I don’t support this protest.

Flickr users have protested quite literally *everything* that has ever been changed to the site. Every change over the past decade or so that Flickr has been around, has been meet by strong resistance. When Flickr added video, when Flickr required Yahoo accounts to sign in, and certainly design changes most of all, all of these and so many more have been met with various protest movements.

The “who moved my cheese” crowd is strong with Flickr.

At the same time, in order to improve and grow Flickr *MUST* change. Flickr must evolve. Flickr must improve.

Whether or not Flickr gets their design changes right or wrong, they simply must move forward and compete with other photo sharing sites today. Hopefully they get it more right than wrong, but I simply can’t support something that’s primary premise is based on not changing for the sake of, well, not changing. That is how things die. As good as Flickr is, it can always improve, and if the site is paralyzed by the “no change” crowd it cannot innovate and grow.

Competition in the photo sharing space is stronger than it ever has been. Flickr, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, SmugMug, Behance, 500px and more are all competing for our photos and our attention. If Flickr is going to survive as a contender in this space, they must produce a more compelling experience than they have in the past.

Many of those currently protesting design changes on Flickr are loud, very loud — and some are some of the rudest, vulgar and offensive people I’ve ever come across online. They way they trashed Marissa Mayer and other Flickr employees’ *personal* photostreams after the last redesign was way over the line.

Even as a large protest group, however, this group most certainly does NOT represent the majority opinion on Flickr. Most (the silent majority) Flickr users couldn’t be bothered to get worked up about anything and quite simply don’t care enough about whatever happens at some photo sharing site to have much of an opinion one way or the other.

For this silent majority, the best tool Flickr has is data. The best thing that they can do is watch how the majority use the site and react to changes based on their online usage patterns and actions. I suspect that recent design changes on Flickr have contributed to more users, more views, and more engagement — despite what a small, but vocal, minority might want you to believe.

Only Flickr has access to this data, but I suspect that they are quite happy with usage results (even just going by my own anecdotal increase in activity that I’ve seen on the site as changes have been rolled out this year).

Now, as far as the new photo page redesign goes, mostly I like it. I say mostly, because even as I’ve used the page (it’s in an optional opt in or out beta form right now), I usually end up turning it off and going back to the old page. It simply is missing too much functionality that I rely on and need to use Flickr at present.

For example, I need to be able to click on the faves button and see who has faved my photo. That is important (and pretty basic) social information that I want access to. At present you cannot do this with the new photo page (but it is planned per Flickr’s feedback page). Assuming Flickr gets all of the basic functionality right in the final product though, I like the design better in general.

I also like the redesign changes that Flickr implemented earlier this year. I think that the justified layout combined with infinite scroll is the fastest, most efficient, way to consume photos on the internet today. Both Google and Facebook use infinite scroll. While some people have claimed that Flickr is slower for them, it is not for me. Images load very quickly on a modern laptop with a broadband internet connection. I also don’t have bandwidth caps on my primary internet connections.

Flickr has never been faster and I’ve been able to see more images on Flickr this year than any year previous due to these efficiency improvements.

I think Flickr needs to change even more in fact — mostly around social. There is still so much that could be improved on Flickr from a social standpoint.

The primary role of a social network should be as a social lubricant. Flickr should be obsessed with social, much more than it feels that they are. How can Flickr create even more social interaction? How can Flickr turn online social interaction into offline social interaction? How can Flickr make it easier and easier to favorite and comment on photos? How can Flickr show me more photos that I like (and will interact with socially) and less photos that I do not like?

These are the questions Flickr should be asking as they innovate and improve, and, yes, change.

Why does Explore still exist as it does? It’s so broken. Why are power users blacklisted from Explore? Shouldn’t Flickr care about their power users?

Explore is boring to me because it is not customized to me. Flickr has so much data about me. Why aren’t they analyzing my data to provide me a better photo exploration tool? Flickr knows whose photos I favorite. Flickr knows what tags on photos I favorite (and with image recognition analysis in the future, even more).

Flickr knows the geolocational location of photos that I favorite. Why is Flickr wasting valuable Explore real estate by showing me photos with watermarks when I hate watermarks? Why is Flickr showing me images of overcooked HDR? Explore has so much potential to truly provide a compelling image discovery system and yet it still falls flat.

I hope more change is coming to Flickr, not less. 2013 was the most innovative year of Flickr since Yahoo purchased them. Hopefully 2014 will be every bit as good.

More comments on this at the original Flickr photo here and on Facebook here.

First Impressions on Flickr’s New Book Publishing Service

I Just Published My First Book

I just published my very first book.

I’ve been meaning to do a book forever and today I finally did it. Flickr launched their new book publishing service today and I wanted to try it out, so I created a 200 page book called America in Progress.

The book is comprised of 200 photos I hand selected from the almost 88,000 I’ve got published to Flickr. It cost me $137.94.

The basic charge for the new Flickr book is $34.95 for a 20 page book. Additional pages are 50 cents each with a 240 page maximum. In my case shipping was another $12.99. ($34.95 for the basic book + $90 for an extra 180 pages + $12.99 for shipping).

The Breakdown on What My New Book Costs
My book cost me about $138 for my 200 page book.

The book should arrive in the next 5 to 7 business days.

It took me about 2.5 hours to make the book. It’s a photo only book and the only text I was able to add was the title of the book — which is on the cover and on the spine. I didn’t see any way to change the font of the title so I went with what they offered by default.

The Breakdown on What My New Book Costs
My book should be here in 5 to 7 business days.

There were a lot of glitches when I built my book — which is to be expected when you try out a new service within the first hour of launch. The first book I tried to create sent me to a non-existent page when I tried to check out. The publishing page was also running very slowly for me at one point. It would take me about 45 seconds to add a new page to my book. My session crashed and when I refreshed the page it went faster. Fortunately Flickr auto-saves the progress on your book as you go, so I didn’t lose any work when this happened.

The Layout Tool For Flickr's New Book Service Was Super Easy to Use
Despite some glitches, Flickr’s layout tool for creating books was really easy to use.

I was also warned when I tried to check out that there were print quality alerts on some pages of my books, but I carefully checked every single page and didn’t see any alerts anywhere. It would be nice if you could click a link which would tell you what pages specifically Flickr was concerned with.

As far as book publishing goes, it was really easy to create the book. I could either pull from my Flickr photostream or from any of my sets. You just drag and drop the photos into a book publishing sort of layout and you can move pages around so that things go where you want them.

Because I have so many photos in my Flickrstream and so many sets in my Flickrstream, I found it difficult to find all of the photos that I wanted to use in the book. Most users won’t have 88,000 Flickr photos though, so it should be easier for them. It would be nice if Flickr also offered a third way to find photos to publish, search.

The book will be 11” x 8.5 and will be a hardcover. Flickr says it will be printed on “premium white proPhoto paper with a Lustre finish,” and will come with a dust jacket.

If you change your mind on buying the book after you create it and check out, you have an hour to cancel your order.

I will report back more when I actually get the book as to the quality of it compared to other self publishing group books I’ve been involved with. Books can only be delivered to the Continental U.S.

I think it’s smart for Flickr to get into the book publishing business (and their timing is pretty good with the Holiday season approaching). It’s a natural way for them to grow and make money. I suspect that today’s offering is only the beginning. I could see Flickr also offering a way for book publishers to sell their books as well in the future, like blurb offers.

For more feedback on this new book service from Flickr you can check out this thread in the Flickr Help Forum.

When I First Tried to Check Out Flickr Took Me to a Non-Existent Page
An error sent me to a weird non-existent page when I first tried to checkout and pay for my book — Flickr seemed to want to send me to giantsouthern’s photostream instead.

More from Fast Company here.

Update: here is the pdf file of my book that Flickr sent me if you want to check it out. Feel free to download a free pdf copy if you’d like. :)

Flickr Rolls Out New Photo Preview Page to All Users

Flickr Opens Up New Photo Preview Page to Users

Yesterday Flickr opened up their new photo page preview to the world. I opted in to the new photo page this morning and here are my initial thoughts on it. Overall I like it.

1. Photos are bigger. The bigger the photo the better. Flickr eliminated top menu items on the page. They also eliminated the hint area to encourage people to scroll below the fold. By moving the top and bottom non-photo information to the side of the photo, this allows bigger photos.

2. You no longer have to scroll to see a lot of the important information around a photo. Having a lot of the information that people care about to the side of the photo, makes it easier to get to this information. You know, sort of like how Google+ does it. ;)

3. I’ve got mixed feelings on the new hashtags. I do like the fact that Flickr has added #tags to all Flickr tags… I think. This is the new methodology for tags in social media (i.e. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and everybody else in the world), so it would make sense that people would be more familiar with this concept, especially new users.

On the other hand, hashtags don’t really work very well for multi word tags and descriptions (the space between words gets stripped out). So “Saved by the Deleteme Uncensored Group” on the old Flickr photo page now becomes #savedbythedeletemeuncensoredgroup, which looks like a big mess. A lot of Flickr users would tag phrases and thoughts in the tag section of their photos and these are now pretty much unreadable.

Also Flickr now hides a lot of tags underneath a “more” button. This to me would seem to discourage users from using lots of descriptive tags, which I think are important for organizational and search reasons on Flickr. I don’t think any tags should be hidden under a “more” button. All tags should be shown on the photo page.

Groups and others who relied on multi word tags for photo games, may not like the new tagging structure.

4. A lot of the full functionality of the new photo page is being developed. This new photo page is by no means the final product. I think it’s good that Flickr lets people opt in and opt back out, to try it out. It’s a little bit of perpetual beta in a way and I like that Flickr is willing to put itself out there without having everything at 100%. Move fast and break things (as they say over at Facebook).

5. The new Flickr photo page is an under-developed preview, this means that there are quite a few things that still need to be done (some of which are planned and in the works by Flickr).

We need to be able to generate html code to blog images off site still (it’s coming). We need to be able to see all sizes of our photos and download our photos (it’s coming). We need to be able to click on favorites and see who has favorited an image. We need to be able to click on a date an image was taken and have it take us to the calendar archive view for that day of our photos. You can’t edit a comment on a photo after you make it (you can only delete your comment and start over). HTML formated links seem to be borked in photo descriptions.

Lots of little things still need to be added in to the photo page. It’s missing a lot of functionality still. The design looks good though and I hope they implement all these little things quickly.

6. My favorite thing about the new photo page is that it really highlights your sets. Sets are one of my favorite things on Flickr. I’ve made over 1,800 sets on Flickr. With the new photo page, Flickr now shows other thumbnails of photos from the same set and not just a link to the set. I think this will drive more views to people’s sets on Flickr, which is a great thing. [Note: this seemed to be working earlier today, but now it seems like this feature is not showing on my photos]

7. According to Neil Howard, the new Flickr photo page doesn’t support secure SSL browsing. SSL is the “https://” that makes a connection encrypted which is used by a lot of people.

8. I do like the new feedback forum that Flickr is also pushing with this preview. It has a way to vote answers up or down. This seems like an interesting way for staff to pay attention to the things that need to be fixed the most. The forum is already full of the “who moved my cheese” cheeshead bellyaching that comes with every Flickr change, but there is some useful criticism and feedback there that seems to bubble up to the top at the same time.

One other thing worth noting with these new bigger photos. A lot of photographers have told me over the years that they only load small, low res images on social media sites like Flickr. They think that these smaller photos are “good enough” and fret about having their larger images “stolen.”

I’ve always uploaded my full high res originals to the Flickr. As display sizes keep getting bigger and bigger, some of the people who have uploaded low res, small photos are going to see their photos begin to look bad in the larger size formats. On the other hand, those of us who always upload high res photos, our photos will still look good at these larger sizes. Especially as more and more photos are being consumed on things like the Flickr app on AppleTV, people ARE actually looking at your photos in much larger format than what you may have initially considered. Everything with photos on today’s web is going BIGGER — just something to think about.

It is pretty cool that Flickr gives everyone a full terabyte of high res original sized images for free — which means virtually unlimited free storage for your high res photos on Flickr. Google and Facebook should do that too.

These are my initial thoughts. Now I’m actually going to revert back to the old photo page (so that I can get the html code to blog the image in this post) and then revert back to the new page and keep testing it out.

What do you think of the new Flickr Photo Page? Do you like it? Love it? Hate it? And why?

More from The Verge here.

Update: Another little thing I don’t like (that I hope is fixed before release) — when I hover on a tag on the new photo page, I don’t get an option to explore other photos with that tag by me or by everyone. The only choice is to click the actual tag link which takes me to everyone. Flickr is a personal organizer for my photos and I like having the option to only return my photos with that tag, without having to go to search and specify that there.

Yahoo and Flickr Renege on Their Paid Advertising Free Accounts

The New Yahoo Advertising Tool Bar on Flickr is Ugly

One of the things that I’ve liked about being able to pay Yahoo and Flickr $24.95 per year, is that it comes with an advertising free experience. The deal between Yahoo and Pro accounts is simple, and can be summed up in Flickr’s own words: “No ads in your browsing experience.”

While new Flickr Pro accounts are no longer available, all existing Pro accounts were given an opportunity to grandfather in their Pro accounts and continue them ad free. If users want an ad free experience now, they have to pay double the price as the old Pro account, but it’s still an option.

In the past, when paid accounts on Flickr have complained about advertisements, Flickr pointed them to a toolbar that a user likely installed: “If you are pro, we don’t show you ads on Flickr, but you may have unintentionally installed a browser toolbar, extension or add-on that is serving them.”

I’ve always respected Flickr for offering this ad-free option, it’s a refreshing departure from Facebook, where we are bombarded with ads at every turn.

Unfortunately, today Flickr has reneged on their advertising free account by forcing a new Yahoo tool bar on all Flickr users, both those with free ad supported accounts and those of us with paid ad-free versions. It’s an ugly intrusion to an otherwise beautiful new Flickr. It also advertises at me on *every* *single* *page* on Flickr — a bunch of Yahoo services that I *do* *not* *want.*

Complete with a Yahoo logo, the forced real estate takeover also offers me Home, Mail, News, Sports, Finance, Weather, Games, Groups, Answers, Flickr, omg!, Shine, Movies, Music, TV, Health, Shopping, Auto, Travels, Home.

There is no way to disable this forced tool bar. Worse it follows you as you scroll down the page. It never goes away. As of right now it is impossible to be on any page on Flickr without having these hyperlinked ads in your face.

I think these advertisements are just awful. I think they are distasteful and I think it’s unfortunate that Yahoo is so greedy that they cannot be satisfied with our simply paying them for an ad-free experience. If Yahoo cannot make enough money off of Flickr, then increase the price, or give us an option to pay more and remove this intrusive forced advertising bar.

Flickr is supposed to be an elegant, paid, ad-free, photo experience — or at least one version of it is. Forcing advertisements like this on ad-free accounts is wrong. Flickr should give all paid accounts an option to x out this ugly marketing based tool bar and make it go away.

There are few things as annoying as having a toolbar forced on you with a bunch of advertising links to things that you do not want. You can follow user reaction to this new forced tool bar in the Flickr Help Forum here.

You can and should do better than this Flickr.

Why Aren’t Search Engines Making Better Use of Their Social Networks for Image Search?

One thing I’ve noticed more and more over the past few years is what a poor job traditional image search engines do vs. social networks.

By using social information around photos (likes, faves, comments, +1s, etc.), social networks typically produce much superior image search results than traditional image search.

Take this search of Coachella 2013 for example.

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 10.45.53 AM
Yahoo Image Search: “Coachella 2013″

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 10.46.24 AM
Google Image Search: “Coachella 2013″

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 10.47.28 AM
Flickr Image Search: “Coachella 2013″

The first image comes from Yahoo (or is it Microsoft these days, I can’t keep it all straight). It’s not very good. It shows too many images of just the lineup vs. actual fun interesting photos of the event itself.

Google’s image search results are better, but still not as good as many of the images I find on social networks.

Now I may be biased (as I shot this particular event) but I think Flickr’s search results are *far* better than either Google or Yahoo Image search.

I’m working on a project right now to photograph the 100 largest American cities. When I’m researching things to photograph in these cities I almost always go first to Flickr (because it’s the largest database of highly organized quality photos on the web). I will also look at Google+ too, sometimes. Google+ doesn’t have as many high quality images in the total database as Flickr, yet, but I find some pretty good stuff there sometimes still. Most of Flickr’s advantage here over Google+ just has to do with the fact that they are older and have more images indexed.

Lately I’ve also played around with graph search on Facebook for images — I haven’t been very impressed there at all though.

The one place I hardly ever go is to the actual Google or Yahoo image search engines — because the results are so inferior.

Here’s what I don’t get: *why* are the results at Yahoo and Google Image search inferior? Google and Yahoo have access to proprietary internal social data around photos in their social networks, why isn’t that coming through better in the signal for high quality images.

On my example search using Coachella 2013, not a single Flickr photo appears on Yahoo’s first page image search and not a single Google+ image appears on Google’s first page image search.

Shouldn’t these search engines be better mining organically and socially ranked superior content? It’s not that these engines don’t index it, they do, it’s just not ranking well.

Beyond just better image search, Google and Yahoo *should* have another significant incentive to better include their social images into image search.

All things being equal, assuming you could improve image search results, wouldn’t you want to drive more traffic to your own internal social network, rather than to some unrelated destination — and wouldn’t you want to reward the best photographers on your social network with more traffic vs. some random SEO rigged site somewhere?

Why aren’t image search engines doing a better job with social?

Another added benefit to driving image search traffic to your social network, is that the presentation there is usually better, more uniform and consistent. When I’m tempted to go further on an image from Yahoo or Google, I may end up at some odd sized photo, in some odd format. With a G+ or Flickr result I get a strong consistent image experience that I’m familiar with.

As an unrelated topic dealing with image search on Flickr — the best social image search on the web today — Flickr needs to give us the ability to block certain users from our search results. Many popular photographers will pollute image search on Flickr by falsely tagging things that are not in their popular photos, just to try to garner traffic.

Take this search on Flickr for dog for example. So many of the first page results are not photos of dogs at all. Flickr should allow us to block certain users from our search results in order to better refine them. When we block people from our search results, this should also be a signal to Flickr that this user should rank much worse in search. If users get the message that they will be penalized for purposely mistagging their photos, they will be less likely to try and game the system this way, resulting in better image search on Flickr for all of us.

Yahoo Running Television Commercials for the New Flickr

Yahoo Running a Television Commercial Promoting the New Flickr

Lest anyone doubt Marissa Mayer and Yahoo’s new commitment to photo sharing site Flickr, apparently Yahoo is now running a paid television commercial for the photo sharing site — the first of its kind as far as I’m aware. Following some of the tweets on the commercial spot, it sounds like it may have begun running yesterday on NBC programming.

The advertisement, which features the Bright Eyes song, “The First Day of My Life,” shows a photo montage of pug dogs, among other images. You can watch the commercial yourself above from Yahoo’s corporate YouTube account.

The commercial comes out a few weeks after a successful new redesign of the site that gave all Flickr users a free terabyte of high res photo space.

I posted previously on an informal statistic of uploads being up 71% at Flickr since the redesign, these statistics would seem to be in line with other metrics that Yahoo is also seeing internally, according to Flickr Community Manager Thea Lampkin.

“[W]e have a lot of data already and are measuring traffic to all the new pages (don’t worry, it’s all anonymous),” writes Lampkin. “So far the metrics have been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re very happy with how Flickr members everywhere are interacting with the new site. Sets in particular are getting more traffic than ever before.”