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zyrcster 2:37pm, 26 June 2009
Hey, I thought I'd start a discussion on the merits and failures of crowdsourcing in the Commons to get feedback from both the institutions and users.

This blog post caught my eye (hattip to george!):
"Lick This": LOC, Flickr, and the Limits of Crowd Sourcing

The author argues that finding good content in the user-generated comments, tags, and notes is like finding a needle in a haystack. Using an LOC photo, the author explains,
There are 20-30 notes on the photograph and not one contains useful historical information to give context or help us understand the photograph. Most are throw-away jokes or comments, "I love this fabric!" and "Lick this" (referring to the woman's forehead!). Most of the rest of the notes refer to the woman's appearance or the composition of the picture. Almost useful is a little nested debate about the authenticity of the photograph--how staged was it?--but the discussion is hard to floow, involving hovering the mouse over each box to see the comment.
ed: removed user names from the above quote to avoid finger-pointing.

The author, Larry Cebula. a Public Historian at Eastern Washington University and Assistant Digital Archivist at the Washington State Digital Archives, argues,
The notes are mostly smart-ass remarks, the comments are empty, the tags are idiosyncratic. The frustrating thing is that there really is some crowdsourced gold withing the flood of junk, such as the transcriptions of hand-lettered signs in the windows of the Brockton Enterprise newspaper office in this photo.


I'll see if I can invite Larry into this discussion, but I really am curious as to how the institutions themselves view this issue... and how our users see the issue.

For myself, the way that Flickr handles notes is not optimal, since reading them can be difficult and making them go away to view the photo can be a challenge if there are many notes (hint: go to the All Sizes page instead). I'm seeing a lot of bland comments which are endemic on Flickr ("great shot!) and silly award gifs.

But I also see the immense power of crowd sourcing, and have often used comments and notes left by others to beef up Indicommons entries.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Let's hear 'em!
Richard Cunningham 9 years ago
I think you need to be able vote notes and comments up and down like on Digg. Wikipedia is only able to crowd source because people can edit and refine the content which is an alternative way to do it.
The Other Pete Posted 9 years ago. Edited by The Other Pete (member) 9 years ago
Richard Cunningham wrote
Wikipedia is only able to crowd source because people can edit and refine the content....
I think this is the major point. The typical Flickr-ness as described above definitely turned me off to some areas of the collection, mostly because there was nothing to be done about it.

I would disagree with the notion that "inane" tags are entirely detrimental, though. I think having Commons images tagged with the same kind of mundane tags that people put on their own images is a great way to integrate them into Flickr at large. Imagine someone searching for "crazy mustache" and coming up with a picture of Civil War general Ambrose Burnsides from the Library of Congress. I think the Commons works best when people find stuff that they didn't know they were looking for in the first place.
Lú_ 9 years ago
I suspect that there *is* an issue on particularly popular images when it comes to the staff time to evaluate notes and tags. Notes, of course, can be turned off for images that haven't been added to groups. And I've seen too many invaluable tags in terms of enabling searchability to think that crowdsourcing comes out as an overall negative.

I'd be interested in knowing, though, if institutions find themselves making more use of the info added in tags or of that given in comments? (Which can be equally inane -- or more so, given the number of commenters who seem to think the account holder is the photographer.)
Rob Ketcherside Posted 9 years ago. Edited by Rob Ketcherside (member) 9 years ago
Rather than picking a worst case scenario, I'd like to see a more thorough review by Larry. There are serious issues, but to completely pan The Commons as an utterly useless endeavor? I think he's being irresponsible as a digital-oriented historian.

There is a problem, for sure. Perhaps Flickr should assign staff to help manage comments/notes for photos that it promotes to drive traffic on the site?

The real answer is probably to extend functionality for voting on notes/comments when the content is public, as others mentioned... let the crowd help manage the crowd.

Basically, any image that shows up on the Flickr front page or "The Commons" landing page is full of junk. It's sad that the photos chosen because they best represent the commons are sacrificed to the lions, and are more likely to turn off users who happen upon The Commons for the first time while exploring.

Here's the photo that appeared top left when I opened The Commons page (not sure if they rotate):
Uniformed Letter Carrier with Child in Mailbag by Smithsonian Institution

It's a mess.

Go one photo left in the Smithsonian's stream to the Pan-American Expo photo, and the comments are only marginally better but the notes disappear. Go one more to the photo of Marie Curie, and the discussion gets very interesting.

Not all photos have great conversations, sometimes it's a mixed bag and sometimes there's nothing. But by randomly clicking around through a dozen photos I stumbled on this great one with very significant historical discussion:

Weavers at work  (LOC) by The Library of Congress


I suppose, as a comment contributor in the commons, I take it a bit personal. I'd like to think my "now" photo/comment for this NYPL image is worth something, for example:

Akasaka, Tokyo by New York Public Library
RyanDonahue Posted 9 years ago. Edited by RyanDonahue (member) 9 years ago
Maybe I come from a strange place (a, gasp, museum OF PHOTOGRAPHY) but to me, all this data we're collecting is good data.

An important piece of information about an object in the collection are how its received.. and if its received by 100 cute-sy gifs proclaiming its greatness, then that's interesting! Favorite-ing, a content-less action, tells us a lot..its all part of a big cultural shift.. Flickr can be looked at as an important artifact in the second democratization of photography, the digital turn. And its fantastic that institutions are so glad to test the same waters we are testing..

But yeah, most notes are unhelpful, and occasionally offensive.. but, hey, its worth it for the slice of flickr culture it provides.
Eric Hunt. 9 years ago
I enjoy tagging Commons photos but don't do too many at a time and very few these days because of other demands on my time.

When I tag I try to transcribe all signs and I add tags for all obvious objects in the photo. We're still quite a few years away from a computer being able to 'read' a photo and know what the objects are.

I've wondered if having Flickr emphasize the crowdsourcing aspects of The Commons would increase the participation? Something as simple as adding a call to add crowdsourced metadata in the Explore/The Commons control that's on the main page or a periodic Flickr Blog entry that encourages people to visit the commons and add metadata.
Eric Hunt. 9 years ago
Ha! I just read that text in the Explore/The Commons blurb on the main Flickr page and it *DOES* have a request to join and add tags.
Rob Ketcherside 9 years ago
@Eric: Shows how the waning power of the luminous word ;)

@Ryan: I think Larry is looking for a distilled experience where you can experience the artifact and the history around it without all the extra baggage. There's definitely contention between wanting newcomers to be able to make sense of the discussion, and to preserve and encourage the discussion itself. As an analog, there's value in idle chatter from people walking past a movie theater ("I heard it's awesome!" .. "Oh, that's playing already, let's see it tomorrow!".. "oh god not another one of his movies") and in expert (ahem) opinions of reviewers and mega-fans. Either one could change my opinion, though these days I'm going to ignore it all more often than not. In Flickr it's all mixed together, and even if I just want to enjoy a photo on its own there're still notes flickering on and off.
MOD
pennylrichardsca Posted 9 years ago. Edited by pennylrichardsca (moderator) 9 years ago
I like roketpad's analogy of the movie theater. Seems to me that you get the same mix of real responses in a gallery or museum. There will be some basic, reliable expert information posted. You might find a docent describing the image you're curious about with great insight; or you might find a group of sullen kids making less insightful, maybe offensive, occasionally funny comments about the image; or you might find someone wandering through on their way to the restroom, making a brief 'that's nice' comment.

Or.... you might BE the insightful docent, the sullen kid, the wandering admirer. I like trying to play the docent when I do comments, tags, and notes. Even just linking to a wikipedia article about a portrait's subject points others toward what I've learned about it; even linking to another related Flickr image is letting others see the connections I've found.

Excessive tagging hasn't been a bother to me--there are so many images with *no* crowd-generated tags still in the Commons, it seems ungrateful to worry over too many tags on a few images. And I love the odd tags like "great mustaches."
rainy change [deleted] 9 years ago
Hey gang,

I was just presenting on this today, how appropriate. My feeling on this is whenever you put your stuff into a high traffic area, there's always going to be a lot of noise to filter through. This was pretty startling for me (most of you have seen my 3-part series on this in the blog) and not an easy adjustment for me to make.

To show the flip side, I always use this example from roketpad about the amazing things that can happen including descriptive notes, stunning comments (with sources, which impresses everyone I speak to) and people to consult for advice when we don't know the answers.

In addition to that example, there have been plenty of record corrections as a direct result of our materials residing here.

So, *yes* you do have to filter through a lot of noise to get to the gold, but when the gold is found it is often very, very good.

And, regarding the notes and some of the tagging issues - Flickr is about personality and I believe that can and should co-exist with the other data that is being contributed even if it makes gold more difficult to discover. That's one thing that is great about the indicommons - this community spotlights the gold and it's an amazing noise-free place. I will say pre-indicommons, the noise factor was a bear because there was no counter balance.

Shelley Bernstein
Chief of Technology
Brooklyn Museum
Rob Ketcherside 9 years ago
@Shelly: Thanks for your perspective!

And you make my day every time you bring up those Columbian Exposition photos. :) It was intense and fun. It's also not done yet, there are photos that could use some more tags, and there are obvious projects which could be done with the photos -- I left those links for whoever picks up the reins next. (It's most likely me, so I did myself a favor ;)
RyanDonahue 9 years ago
@rocketpad, @pennylrichardsca : To the best of my knowledge, though, this is the first time we've been able to obtain this kind of information about a (singular) object outside of the comment book (which, I should add, is a similar ratio of pointless and insightful comments.. and has a higher barrier of entry)

As for baggage, that's a point to discuss with the Flickr UI people!

As for "too many tags"... I think that's hogwash. Tagging photographs allows us to search images in entirely new dimensions.. I can almost certainly promise you any search in any participants collections management system for "great mustaches" will almost certainly return no results.. and sometimes you just want to see a picture of a great 'stache.

As an aside, there's also plenty of opportunities using the Flickr API to build such a clutter-less view... and like Shelley pointed out, Indicommons is one such place (yay!)

We also have mechanisms (Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus, for example) for filtering tags to try and pry the good stuff out. I've done nothing but toy with that idea thusfar, but the potential remains.

Ryan Donahue
Manager of Information Systems
George Eastman House
Hi

I am just preparing my blog post for today about a milestone in the Commons. We have reached one million views now which far exceeds our expectations about the reach some of our photographic collections are achieving. Although this is a great statistic for us we are far more appreciative of the comments, tags, citizen research and amazing innovation ( Paul Hagon's work
that he gifted back to the Museum) that has occured.

Yes there is *noise* look at the notes on this image. So yes, i agree, filtering has to happen.

I too turn to the comments and research on our images for inspiration for my blog posts, there is some really great and valuable work being done to make our collections richer.

We are reviewing a lot of things at the Musuem at the moment and the Flickr Commons always comes up as an achievement and great example of community engagement. We receive many requests to present about this project.

Agree *yay* for Indicomons!

Paula Bray
Manager Visual & Digitisation Services
LarryCebula 9 years ago
Friends: Thank you for all the thoughtful comments, many of them exceeding the quality of my blog post.

I did not mean to "completely pan The Commons as an utterly useless endeavor," though I can see how some of you got that impression. Clearly the LOC/Flickr partnership has generated a lot of good, including greater exposure for some terrific photographs and a raft of great publicity for an important cultural institution. These are good things.

My post is in part a frustrated reaction to the uncritical praise of the project I have read in too many places.

As a historian, it is added metadata that is the greatest promise of web 2.0 archives. Users add data in paper archives, where the process is curated and glacially slow. And yet many times when doing research I have encountered a note in a folder of documents or photographs left by the archivist after a conversation with a previous researcher. But what if, instead, it was a hundred notes, most of which read "History rocks! LOL!"

I am at a conference this weekend (THAT Camp, a digital humanities thing at George Mason University). I will look over the links so many of you have provided next week. Thanks!
Rob Ketcherside 9 years ago
Thanks for joining us and sharing further thoughts, Larry!
RyanDonahue 9 years ago
@LarryCebula .. this whole notion of what is noise and what is gold is solidly a matter of opinion. Flickr Commons is first and foremost, like all "good" web applications or tools, user-centric, that is to say, the site exists for people to engage with.. and if that engagement is saying "great capture!!1!", then so be it.

If researchers want to not have to deal with noise, they can look at photographs on ArtSTOR, or via the steve project... we've got way more there anyway.
MOD
pennylrichardsca Posted 9 years ago. Edited by pennylrichardsca (moderator) 9 years ago
@LarryCebula: I think (as Ryan also notes) the difference is that Flickr Commons isn't like an archive, where scholars generally examine works one at a time, in a quiet reading room, under conditions requiring a high degree of decorum. Flickr Commons is more like an exhibit. The popular pictures attract crowds, like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.* The crowds don't make it easier to study the image itself, that's true; but the crowd's diverse reactions can certainly become part of the image's story.

*There's a whole genre of photos of the Mona Lisa crowd on Flickr--not pics of the painting itself, pics of the people crowding around it. The crowd itself becomes the attraction?
RyanDonahue 9 years ago
@pennylrichardsca

What's even cooler, is it an exhibition that self-documents reactions to it in a way we as Cultural Heritage Institutions could not do ourselves without considerable expense!

Our archivists are only interested in like, 2% of that documentation, but there is interested work left to be done with the other 98%
rainy change [deleted] 9 years ago
Right on, Ryan and Penny - right on!
LarryCebula 9 years ago
Oh come on, what interesting work is to be done with "Lick this?" Or "ha ha" or the thousands of similar comments? Nor can I agree with the idea that all comments are equally valid, which seems silly.

Thank you to those who made the analogy to an art gallery, with the Flickr comments being very like the transcribed chatter of people viewing the work of art. I think that is exactly right. Mostly you get people saying "Oooh I like this one!" or "Nice tits," but occasionally an art professor or inspired fan comes by and says something insightful.

And Rocketpad, thanks for an excellent post and examples of what Flickr Commons can be, to those with the time and patience to sift. I wish there were more of that!
RyanDonahue 9 years ago
This is exactly the narrow-sighted responce that stands in the way of real innovation.. come on, Larry!

Just riffing on some of the things you can do with this fantastic data:

1. analyze photographs content/dominant colors/composition versus percentage of viewers that comment/note.. what factors affect commenting rate

2. Are notes/comments inertial? Is there an relationship between the the time comments are posted, or the quantity of comments posted, and the level of commenting that takes place

3. Social graphing.. can we link this data to flickr contacts.. do social groups within flickr organize on a particular aesthetic?

4. Has the perception of the photograph changed? Is a portrait of a woman at the time thought to be beautiful still ring true? Or is society's interpretation change over time, and in what ways?

5. What role does geographic location or language play into the type of feedback being generated?

6. Is there a correlation between actions? Are certain photos noted more, or are they commented more, or are they favorited more, or are the tagged more? What correlations exist between these actions

7. Do people react differently to images depending on the amount of interpretative material provided changes?

8. Do similarly themed images across different institutions attract different types of interaction, or interaction from the same people (e.g. if we uploaded lantern slides, would we see any brooklyn peeps pop over to look at ours?)

The list goes on and on and on and on and on.. and if you don't think any of that is interesting.. well, that's fine, but plenty of people -do- think thats interesting.

Keep doing your thing Larry, I'm sure your work is fantastic and useful and interesting too.. but there's no need to blow out our candles to make yours burn brighter.
LarryCebula 9 years ago
"Keep doing your thing Larry, I'm sure your work is fantastic and useful and interesting too.. but there's no need to blow out our candles to make yours burn brighter."

Oh come now, you are painting me as something other critic you have disagreed with. All of your examples are analyses of Flickr itself, or of how people interact with Flickr. And that is fine, and it may in time be a historical topic.

My post was a critique of one specific goal of the LOC/Flickr project, the hope that the project would add useful historical data to the images. Not data about Flickr users in 2009 and how they rate the lickability of foreheads, but information about the people, places, and times in the photographs. The project has not done a very good job of that, that is all I am saying.
admin
zyrcster 9 years ago
The project has not done a very good job of that, that is all I am saying.

I wonder what would be constructive ways of getting people to add useful historical data to the images?

I suspect that there is some outreach (especially to schools and universities) that could be done, perhaps some in-institution stuff (workshops?), and some notices posted to certain types of groups (or even listservs) that might encourage a titch more involvement of the sort that would garner historical data.
RyanDonahue 9 years ago
@Larry I'm not totally sure I understand what I'm painting you as, but I suppose it doesn't matter much.

And my reply on the subject of the usefulness of the data applied was not directed at your original argument, but your claims that the data you reject is useless, and without any merit, which is certainly untrue.

As for the claim that the project has done a bad job.. I would love to see some examples of some projects that have generated a similar amount of "good" data. There are certainly projects with higher percentages of data being "good" ("good" being what our archivists classify as such), but I have not heard, nor seen another project that has achieved said level of quantity.

I would rather have to sift through 10000 "bad" comments to get to 100 "good" ones, than be presented with the 30 good ones generated elsewhere.
I'm so glad to see such a lively conversation around this topic, and hope to offer my 2 cents from the point of view of the only university in the Commons.

First off, being part of the Commons, regardless of what sort of "useful"/"not useful" information we get from those who view our photos, has been great for both public relations and user access. We've had more people looking at and using more photos than we did before joining -- so from that point of view, it has been an unequivocal success for us and we are regularly thrilled to be a part of such a cool project.

However... As an archivist at a higher ed institution facing a MAJOR budget shortfall, I have to justify projects that take time, resources, etc. And our Flickr accounts take a lot of time, resources, etc. Does the OSU Library think it is worth it? Of course! But when times are tight, doing "this" means not doing "that" -- and how can we *prove* that doing "this" is better than doing "that"?

I think back to our initial reasons for joining the Commons: we wanted to share our photos, interact with users, and be a part of a really cool project. And after 5 months, I feel like we've done all those things.

Again, a "however"...

Recently, I've spent a lot of time talking with people from colleges and universities who are interested in joining the Commons. What is the #1 question they ask? "How much time does it take?" followed by "is it worth it?"

Really, how do we evaluate success? Or worth? Or usefulness? And, in line with zyrcster's comment above, how do we get people to give us more information that we can plug into our collection or research guides? How can we share what we're doing with those outside the Library? What do we do with the information we get so we can share that outside the Archives? And how can we connect subjects represented in the Commons & push it as a research tool to our students & faculty?

What's my point? It's certainly not to define good/bad, useful/not useful, success/failure, but just to say that I have to write a stats reports... And that now those reports have to look beyond "ooohing" and "aaahing" over raw numbers, but at the project and its use from a more qualitative analysis stand-point.

For anyone who is still reading this lengthy post, I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on evaluation, marketing, use, etc. You can either post here or send us Flickr mail!

Tiah
Lú_ 9 years ago
Oregon State University Archives wrote
how do we get people to give us more information that we can plug into our collection or research guides?
Just on this, I've been thinking about ways to push requests "out there" when there are images that have clear unknowns or are garnering little of that kind of attention. My first thought has been to have a topic in this group where an institution can highlight one or two images or sets at a time that are in particular need of new information -- and that we (the members of this group) can then help publicize need of info in various places, as appropriate, whether that would be various specialized Flickr groups (especially those), the blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Some way to harness the many people who are here and want to contribute somehow.
This is an excellent idea! Having a general Commons-wide space for "help us please"?

Also, it would be helpful AND interesting to hear directly from you all which sorts of photos you are interested in seeing. We're have some hunches, but I welcome feedback.
MOD
pennylrichardsca 9 years ago
Meanwhile, in related news, the mystery of Elizabeth Sabin Goodwin's photo in the Smithsonian has been solved very conclusively (with documentation) by a Flickr user:
www.flickr.com/photos/smithsonian/3397805195/
Lú_ 9 years ago
That's very cool!
MOD
pennylrichardsca 9 years ago
It is cool. But it also points to the kind of project that some users enjoy (including me)--a name, a face, an era and a rough idea of where.

The Smithsonian specifically asked for help with some of the unidentified women's portraits in their uploads, back a few months ago now. At least three of them have been conclusively identified by users, that I'm aware of. With dates and name corrections and links to further information. That's "quality" historical data right there. ;)
And I think it also points to the importance of passion and interest for people (like you) who take the time to figure out these historical mysteries!
The tagging in many languages is something which does not often happen within the databases belonging to each organisation. These many language access points increase the findability of the images on Flickr, but they also signal the the range of languages of people who are interested in these images. Putting images on Flickr opens up possibilities for subject specialists as well as people who are interested from a broader background. I think this multilingual aspect is very important.

Ellen Forsyth
Public Library Services
crowd-surfed translation is an interesting idea, and one that should be ruthlessly exploited, err, encouraged ;). Its a large net-gain task, one that will enable broader sharing of our collections.. Museums don't always have the resources to translate their content, but through Flickr and other means, we can enable access to a whole larger audience. I'm tired of only seeing high activity on our analytics in countries with oodles of english speakers.

That's an interesting research area unto itself, internationalized tagging.. the big hurdle is leaping over the semantic collisions of language (e.g. (animal) mouse vs. (computer) mouse), and lack of direct translations!

Also, need a mechanism to internationalize tagging that doesn't incur the Flickr max tag dealio.
admin
Brenda Anderson 9 years ago
pennylrichardsca wrote
Meanwhile, in related news, the mystery of Elizabeth Sabin Goodwin's photo in the Smithsonian has been solved very conclusively (with documentation) by a Flickr user:
www.flickr.com/photos/smithsonian/3397805195/
Cool! I just did some "genealogy" type research and posted some information about her family. (as a comment on that photo).
MOD
pennylrichardsca 9 years ago
You certainly did, Brenda Anderson! Great stuff. In just a few days, Elizabeth Sabin Goodwin has gone from a mystery woman to one of the best-annotated women in that set.
Eric Hunt. 9 years ago
Is Cris the new official Commons Liason now that she's onboard at Flickr?

It seems like Flickr should easily be able to lift the 75 tag limit for Commons members. They created a new license for the Official US White House Photostream at the drop of a hat. I would guess/hope this shouldn't be that different in engineering resources.
Eric Hunt. 9 years ago
Does any institution use automated tools to flow new metadata from Flickr back to your own databases? That seems like a pretty standard first step. I hope no institution is re-typing the Flickr metadata! If you are no wonder labor costs are an issue!
MOD
pennylrichardsca Posted 9 years ago. Edited by pennylrichardsca (moderator) 9 years ago
The Elizabeth Sabin Goodwin image has continued to acquire supporting documentation and new details all weekend. It's quite a phenomenon--click her photo now, and you'll see her marriage announcement, her high school yearbook photo, her husband's obituary, and one user offering to check out the cemetery where she's probably buried for a specific death date.
admin
striatic Posted 9 years ago. Edited by striatic (admin) 9 years ago
roketpad - "Basically, any image that shows up on the Flickr front page or "The Commons" landing page is full of junk. It's sad that the photos chosen because they best represent the commons are sacrificed to the lions, and are more likely to turn off users who happen upon The Commons for the first time while exploring."

perhaps if a photo is featured on the front page or the flickr blog, notes should be temporarily disabled or edited somehow. something akin to locking a wikipedia entry on a featured article. i guess this would also prevent useful notes that might come with the added attention.

it seems like avoiding these "worst case scenarios" shouldn't be that difficult. flickr might need to improve their implementation of notes, and institutions might want to clean up some of the meta-data on some of these photos. there are probably less than 50 photos in the entire commons collection that exhibit the traits discussed in the article here. it wouldn't take that long.

the problem the article brings up is legitimate, since many of these photos represent the most public face of the commons, but i don't think the scale of the problem is insurmountable.
RyanDonahue 9 years ago
@eric_in_sf

1. I'm willing to bet that expanding the tag limit for commons institutions requires significantly more engineering resources than adding another license type.

2. a reflow tool has been on our todo list for a year now, but Brooklyn and Powerhouse both flow tags back to their own sites, afaik. There may be others.
Eric Hunt. 9 years ago
Expanding the tag limit should be as simple as changing a constant somewhere. The 75 tag limit was *NOT* designed into Flickr from day 1 - it was a response to tag spam a couple years ago.
RyanDonahue 9 years ago
sigh. Fine, I'm sure its:

1) Trivial to implement
2) Without speed/stability implications
3) free from -somebody- complaining about how its not fair
4) Doesn't require additional testing
5) Doesn't require any UI tweaks // internationalization // magic

Now, I personally don't run any websites that get more traffic per day than most websites get in a month/year/century like Flickr, but I do know that postulating about a website on the scale of Flickr requires you to assume nothing is trivial or easy.
PhotosNormandie 9 years ago
Eric in SF - "Does any institution use automated tools to flow new metadata from Flickr back to your own databases?"
I can explain the method we are using in our project PhotosNormandie which is not part of The Commons but have similar goals: use Flickr comments from users to collect new information about photos and improve their description.
We are using IPTC/IIM metadata to describe images.
Each photo is described using the following IPTC fields which are automatically mapped to Flickr fields when photo is uploaded:

- Object Name (#5) is the original photo reference; it is mapped as Title, top of the image
- Caption (#120) is mapped as Description, bottom of the image
- Copyright (#116) filled with "Conseil Régional de Basse-Normandie / National Archives USA" or "Conseil Régional de Basse-Normandie / National Archives Canada".
- Keywords (#25), City (#90), Province/State (#95), Country (#101), all these fields are mapped as Tags, right of the image

When we have collected new valuable information, we rewrite a new description in IPTC fields inside the photo (locally stored), delete the old one on Flickr and upload again the photo which appears with new description.
Since January 2007, we have updated more than 4500 descriptions on our 2763 photos (many photos have been updated many times).
Eric Hunt. 9 years ago
How do you flow the new metadata added by Flickr users back to the source image? Do you retype it or is it extracted programmatically?

Is there any movement on the Flickr side to get an official laison to The Commons, someone who might be able to find out how difficult it is to increase the tag limit for Commons members?
admin
zyrcster 9 years ago
Eric, my role is not that of 'official liaison to the Commons'.

Staff do watch this group and Flickr Ideas, however, so it's great for users to add their suggestions to improve the Commons experience. As always, however, we really can't comment on or suggest timelines for the implementation of any additional features. But staff is listening. Thanks!
RyanDonahue 9 years ago
@Eric_in_SF, we have a liason, a few in fact, for any issues we have, technical or otherwise. They've been wonderful and we have a lot to show for it:

1. some helper tools
2. is_commons and the get participants API calls
3. CIRCA DATES!

some I'm probably missing.

I'm sure tag limits on are the radar, and when they get around to it, more power to them, but they've been great to us, I see no need to try and rush them.
PhotosNormandie 9 years ago
@Eric in SF: We are using mainly "description" and each time a valuable information is collected in user comments, we are writing a new description in IPTC field "Caption" and reload the photo. So, we do not extract new information programmatically from comments.
Eric Hunt. 9 years ago
My comment was more to halt the speculation and get something concrete about how hard it would be to raise tag limits for Commons members, not pressure them to implement it.

And you may have an unpublished technical liason, but it's my understanding the public face of The Commons from Flickr/Yahoo was not replaced when George departed. It sounds like there are no current plans to have another public liason/Evangelist or if they are that's not being communicated.
admin
zyrcster Posted 9 years ago. Edited by zyrcster (admin) 9 years ago
Eric, Flickr typically does not communicate about whether something is "easy" or "hard" to implement. I think it would be a more productive use of time to suggest feature requests and discuss which would actually be the most useful for users and the institutions, rather than what it would take for us to develop them.

I can't really address your issue of "the public face of the Commons," since from my perspective, it's a non-starter. I think it might be best to not speculate what is happening behind the scenes at Flickr, or to assume that the Commons is somehow not important to Flickr because some people are not here anymore. That just isn't true.

In fact, I hope that this thread doesn't go down the path of speculation, because there are a lot of other things happening in this discussion that have merit (such as how we'd all like to see the Commons used, what metric can help us decide whether that use is 'good' or not, and some ideas about how to improve the experience for all, if it even needs to be improved).

But I really would be sad to see every in-depth discussion beat the dead horse of layoffs.

[edit grammar]
Eric Hunt. 9 years ago
Be careful of reading too much into my words.

I wasn't trying to beat the dead horse and I tried to be as politic as possible but the fact remains that there *was* a very front-and-center Official Flickr Person For The Commons and now there isn't.

From my perspective in Tech, the lack of a champion for any project is a Very Bad Thing. It was unclear at first but it's looking clearer that there will be no one Commons advocate inside Flickr but instead there will be many.

I am also someone who gets an idea and would rather discuss implementation details than big picture planning details. In fact, my interest in an idea actually wanes if I don't get feedback that someone on the other end is listening - I don't like speculating idly.

Thanks - I'll keep watching and tossing ideas in from time to time.
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zyrcster 9 years ago
Eric in SF Thanks Eric. I'll see if I can't poke a dev with a sharp pointy object to get their opinion on the tagging thing. But if you don't hear anything, that doesn't mean one thing or another, it's just that - you know - things come up that might need immediate attention. ;-)
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