Category Archives: Flickr

SmugMug buys Flickr – should we stay or should we go?

Flickr Photostream

So the wait is over. When it was announced that Verizon was to buy Yahoo! there was concern as to what was going to happen to Flickr. Yahoo! never did much in terms of developing Flickr and what it did do was rubbish. Trying to add the location of your photo is an interesting experience at the best of times. You might be able to pin it onto the map but the name of the place is all too often wrong. I used to spend half my time on Flickr manually changing the location – not something to be taken on lightly – but I generally don’t bother now. It’s not worth the effort.

Then there are the auto generated tags that Flickr adds to your photos without asking for confirmation. (Flickr pulls out all the stops with automatic tagging). These are sometimes relevant and it is helpful to be reminded of tags that might prove useful when searching, but the error rate is far too high to leave Flickr to its own devices when generating these. Deleting the oddballs after you have uploaded individual photos is not too onerous but checking a back catalogue of thousands of photos for rogue tags is not really feasible. It explains why Flickr search results often include photos that no way match your search terms.

It would also be nice if we could have interfaces with social media and mobile apps that actually work.

And finally, many of us are looking forward to not having to use a Yahoo! account to log in.

Unfortunately, the email that is hitting subscribers inboxes right now states:

“Nothing will change immediately with regard to your Flickr account.?You will still access Flickr with your current login credentials and you will have the same Flickr experience as you do now.”

They do, though,? go on to say:

“We will continue to work to make your Flickr experience even better.”

Hmm. We shall just have to see if that is going to work out. In the meantime we have until May 25th, 2018 to decide if we want our Flickr account and data transferred to SmugMug. If we don’t:

“you must go to?your Flickr account?to download the photos and videos you want to keep, then delete your account from your?Account Settings?by May 25, 2018. If you do not delete your account by May 25, 2018, your Flickr account and data will transfer to SmugMug and will be governed by SmugMug’s?Terms?and?Privacy Policy”.

So there we have it. I shall stay with Flickr/SmugMug for the time being and see how things develop. In any case, I shall be backing up my Flickr photos as usual just in case something goes seriously awry.

Flickr no longer allows easy deletion of automatic tags

UPDATE: Flickr have now restored the option to delete their automatically generated tags

Flickr no longer allows users to easily remove the automatically generated tags that it adds to photos. Flickr has been using?image recognition technology for a couple of years to automatically generate tags for users’ photos?but didn’t make them visible until May 2015. ?As well as new photos, the computer generated tags had?been added retrospectively to all previously uploaded photos. My own experience is that many ?of the tags are useless and some are totally wrong. See my earlier posting?Flickr pulls out all the stops with automatic tagging.

Flickr_Star_Anise_TagsUser generated tags are?in a grey box and Flickr’s automatic tags are in a white or light grey box.?As the tags are used by Flickr when searching for images it is important that they are correct, and it explains why Flickr search results often contain irrelevant images.

Until now, both users’ and Flickr’s tags could be deleted. Hover over a tag and a cross would appear in the upper right hand corner enabling you to delete that tag. The cross no longer appears on Flickr generated tags so they cannot be deleted that way. There is a work around which is to manually add a tag that is identical to the one you want to remove and then delete the tag you have just added. This also deletes the corresponding Flickr tag.

Several people have commented that there is an option under Settings, Privacy and Permissions ?that enables you to hide auto tags. This does exactly what it says on the tin:”hides” the tags. It does not remove them so they will still be used ?by Flickr’s search.

 

Flickr pulls out all the stops with automatic tagging

Flickr really went to town with its automatically generated tags for my photo today. The photo was of star anise, which I took?for the Challenge Friday Group; this week’s challenge is stars. A straightforward, simple photo of the spice, I thought but Flickr read a lot more into it.

This is the photo:

Star_Anise_20160311_Signed

And these are the tags:

Flickr_Star_Anise_TagsThe ones at the top with the grey background are the tags that I assigned to the photo. The rest are Flickr’s.

I deleted several of them before I thought of taking a screenshot for posterity but what is left gives ?you a flavour of the range of concepts that Flickr feels are relevant. ?Some of them I agree with (pattern, star shape, symmetry). Others I shall delete ?as they are of no help to anyone searching on them (foliage, leaf, landscape, tree, forest, blossom, ?pastel).

I do, though, rather like “minimalism” even though the structure and complexity of flavour and aroma ?of star anise is far from minimalist. It ?stays.

Flickr messes up big time

My "abstract" cat, according to Flickr
My “abstract” cat (or possibly dog), according to Flickr

A few days ago Flickr revamped its website yet again. Flickr users have become used to changes that offer no improvements in functionality, and it rarely comes as a surprise that some aspects of the service are sometimes made worse. The most recent updates did not seem to be that significant. The layout is different; search is just as bad as ever with odd and irrelevant results popping up; and you still cannot directly edit an incorrectly, Flickr assigned location. The last is possible but it involves a somewhat Heath Robinson approach, more of which in a separate posting.

This time, though, Flickr has made a huge?mistake. It has been using image recognition technology for about a year to automatically generate tags for users’ photos but, until now, those tags have been hidden from users. They are now visible. The official announcement is on the Help Forum, Updates on tags (http://www.flickr.com/help/forum/en-us/72157652019487118/) followed by many pages of users comments, mostly negative. Flickr’s mistake is not in making the tags visible or doing the tagging at all, but in not allowing users the option to opt-out or offering a global tag deletion tool.

The computer generated tags have been added retrospectively to everyone’s photos, so some of us now have the prospect of checking thousands of images for incorrect or irrelevant tags. My experience, so far, is that most of them are useless. I honestly cannot see how the tags “indoor” or “outdoor”, which seem to be applied to the majority of my photos, are helpful in a search. If the auto generated tags have already been used in Flickr’s search it would explain why the results are often rubbish.

It is easy to spot the difference between user and Flickr generated tags: the former are in a grey box and the latter in a white or light grey box.

Flickr-Tags
Flickr user and automatically generated tags

If you want to delete a Flickr generated tag you have to do it tag by tag, photo by photo. Do not go on a tag deletion frenzy just yet, though. There are reports that the deleted tags sometimes reappear.

Oddities that I have spotted so far in my own photostream include a photo of our local polling station auto-tagged with “shop” (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rbainfo/17209179077/), and an image of a building site tagged with “snow” (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rbainfo/17332657995/). I suspect that in the latter case Flickr was confused by the amount of dust and debris surrounding what remains of the buildings.

To see the full horror of what Flickr has done, click on the Camera Roll link on your Photostream page and then Magic View. My cat has been tagged several times as a dog and once as abstract, which I suggest should be replaced by “Zen”. And to a photo of three hippos in Prague Zoo have been added animal, ape, elephant, tortoise, baby, child and people (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rbainfo/8712618469/). Note that Magic View only uses Flickr auto generated tags; we users are obviously not to be trusted!

I admit that there are a handful of instances where Flickr has reminded me of potentially relevant tags, so I might be tempted by an option whereby Flickr suggests additional tags. But I want to make the final decision as to whether to add them or not. I most certainly do not want Flickr adding, without my permission, thousands of tags to my back catalogue. And by the way, Flickr, whatever happened to my privacy setting of who can “Add notes, tags, and people:Only you”, which you have clearly breached.

It is bad enough to have to deal with the rubbish that Google dishes out, but to have to cope with Flickr’s lunacy as well is too much. Flickr, you have seriously messed up this time. Many of us do know what we are doing most of the time when we tag our photos. Carry on down this route and you won’t just annoy your users but risk losing a substantial number of them, some of whom pay for Pro accounts.

Are your Flickr photos backed up?

Are your Flickr photos backed up? If Flickr accidentally deleted part or all of your account would you be able to quickly restore your collection? My own complete photo collection that has been gathered together from mobile devices and various cameras is stored on my laptop and an external hard drive, but my Flickr photos are a small subset and are organised differently. I would not relish having to rebuild my Flickr sets from scratch.

Flickr has just announced that it?will be down for?planned maintenance tomorrow (Thursday 24th) from 4 PM PDT to 10 PM PDT. As far as I am aware there have been no major data losses so far as a result of maintenance and upgrades by Flickr, but it once accidentally deleted a user’s entire account (Flickr user gets back account after its accidental deletion http://thenextweb.com/media/2011/02/03/flickr-user-gets-back-account-after-its-accidental-deletion/). Flickr did, however, eventually manage to restore the account.

You cannot assume that maintenance and upgrades will be without incident, though. A couple of years ago some bloggers using Google Blogger lost posts as a result of problems that arose during maintenance. (Blogger still down; 30 hours of posts lost http://www.neowin.net/news/blogger-still-down-30-hours-of-posts-lost). My husband was one of those whose posts never reappeared but thankfully he had backups. Some of his articles are quite long and detailed so he is in the habit of preparing them offline before uploading to Blogger. He also has a full backup created using Blogger’s Import/Export option (it can be found under Settings, Other). Flickr, however, does not offer an option to export your data so one has to resort to third party tools.

One of the best tools I have found to date for backing up a Flickr account is Bulkr (http://clipyourphotos.com/bulkr). This has to be downloaded to your computer and requires Adobe AIR to be installed. The free version allows you to download your photostream (small, medium or large sizes but not the original) and up to 15 sets.

?Bulkr download sets screen

If you want to download all of your sets, the original sized photos and include the metadata (title, description, tags) then you will need to upgrade to the Pro version, which currently costs USD 29.99/year. There is a Pro+ option, which is a one time payment currently offered at USD 49. Bulkr does not download comments.

An alternative is?MyFlickrBackup (http://myflickrbackup.com/), which costs USD4.99 and requires .NET Framework Client Profile to run. It?downloads original sized photos and all of your sets, but not the metadata. Two other programs that have been recommended to me but which I haven’t yet tried are FlickrDownload (http://www.onstation.org/flickrdownload/) and?photoSync (http://webecoz.com/).

I’d be interested in hearing your experiences of any of the above, or if you know of other useful Flickr backup apps.

Compfight – quick and easy way to search Flickr

Compfight (http://www.compfight.com/) was recommended to me by a couple of people at the Open University.? It searches images on Flickr and has an option for Creative Commons images. Next to the search box you can switch between Creative Commons Only, Creative Commons Commercial and Creative Commons Off. The results are displayed as thumbnails and you simply click on an image to go to the original image page on Flickr.

Compfight

This is a very quick and easy way to search and preview Flickr photos with Creative Commons licenses, but do check the license of the image on its original Flickr page. There are several CC licenses with different levels of permissions and for all but one of them you are required to acknowledge the photographer.

UK National Archives on Flickr

The UK’s National Archives have added over 200 of their photos to their Flickr photostream. They can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalarchives/. It is an interesting mix including Maps and Plans, Historical Documents, 19th and 20th century photographs, and 23 photographs taken by Felice Beato on the expedition for the relief of Khartoum in Sudan. There have already been comments about spelling mistakes and inconsistencies? in some of the photograph descriptions but National Archives have explained that they have reproduced exactly the photographers’ own notes if available. The tags added to the photos by National archives do have the modern spellings.

National Archives on Flickr

The photos have “no known copyright restrictions”:

“The National Archives is unaware of any current copyright restrictions on these images either because they are Crown Copyright and the copyright is waived or the term of copyright has expired. All of the images may be subject to other third party rights, such as rights of privacy. You are responsible for obtaining other such necessary permissions for reuse”

The images may be downloaded and reused without permission in any format for purposes of research, private study or education (non-commercial use) only. You are also asked to credit ‘The National Archives’ and include the catalogue reference of the item to allow others to access the original image or document.

LARIA/ALGIS Presentation: Web 2.0 in the Public Sector

The presentation I gave at ‘Managing Information in the Public Sector – The Future – Relaunching ALGIS’ is now available on Slideshare at http://www.slideshare.net/KarenBlakeman/web-20-in-the-public-sector-presentation and on Authorstream at http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/karenblakeman-109455-web-2-0-public-sector-laria-algis-uk-lariaweb2-others-misc-ppt-powerpoint/ .

The slides are based on earlier Web 2.0 presentations but I have included examples from local government authorities and public libraries. Apologies to those of you I have used as examples: you may be deluged with enquiries from the seminar participants! There was a lot of interest in what is being done especially by local authorities.

The event was a joint LARIA/ALGIS seminar and held in London at Baden Powell House, London, Tuesday 18th November 2008. All the presentations will be available on the LARIA web site.