Pro Bono: My Flickr experience

September 22nd, 2010 § 0 comments

I’ve been a Flickr user since 2007, and in that time, I have uploaded about 4000 photos. I upload my images to Flickr for two big reasons – As a backup to my many backups, in case the unthinkable happens, but mainly as a way to share my experiences with my people.

The more I use Flickr though, the more limited I think it is. From Flickr’s About page, they list two goals – Sharing and Organising.

Let’s start with sharing. What I think works well on Flickr is uploading photos and distributing it to all my different channels. So anything I put up is sent to Facebook, Twitter (via Friendfeed), Google Buzz and my blog. (Well, that’s broken right now, due to the move to wordpress.org, but you get the point.) People from all my different networks are able to catch up with my uploads if they so choose. This is the main reason I don’t put my photos on Facebook. They would be constrained to just that network.

Once it gets to this point however, I feel that the continuing process becomes too restricted. A non-Flickr member who clicks through to my photostream can only view the image, check out Exif data and click through to other items in my photostream. If they want to make a comment, they’d have to sign up to the service. I can understand not allowing anonymous comments, as a Flickr user I wouldn’t want that, but asking someone to sign up to the WHOLE service just to leave a comment is a bit much isn’t it?
Why not add a blog-like comment form where non-members could leave identifiable comments on an image using a name and e-mail address, or using a 3rd party log in like Twitter or Google? My instinct is that some of my friends would be more amenable to sign up to Flickr once they’ve had some engaging interaction with it.

On to organising. The more I use Flickr, the more painful organising gets. I’m not sure if it’s because of volume, or that it took me a while to figure sets, collections and tagging out, but I keep finding myself wishing for a better deal. First off, I really really need a level higher than Collections. I find that I have a few Collections I’d like to link up, and there’s just no way of doing that.
Flickr lets you locate your photos on a map. Anyone who has used that probably know *just how painful* the process is. I guess it works better if your camera has geotagging, and maybe that’s what that feature is for specifically. Otherwise, it’s just too hard.
And finally, editing tags. Ever mistakenly added a tag to a set of images which is inaccurate, and tried to take the tag away? If there is a way to do that en masse, I haven’t found it. One has to go through each picture, page by page, click on the little ‘x’ and then confirm the deletion. Not fun.

And now for the big one – viewing images. Flickr recently had a major release where they tweaked their UI, made the default image size bigger and added ‘lightbox’ browsing. I really like browsing images in lightbox view, without the clutter of the single image pages. However, the image description is missing from the lightbox view, and is hidden on the single page view if the image is in a horizontal orientation.

I find that this really takes away from the browsing experience. People are telling a story through their pictures. Titles and descriptions are part of the story-telling. Not making these visible as we browse photos definitely takes away from the overall experience. The main experience on Flickr in my opinion…

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