Updates on the “flickr hiding screenshots” case

8 06 2006

I’ve blogged about the problem with flickr (first found here) a while back and recently raised some disussion (and here, too) in the flickr forums and told people about it. Nice to see that Eric Rice and Torley also do blog about it and . I also contacted flickr in order to get some information about wether all the facts are correct and the answer was (unfortunately) positive. Or short, as Ana just pointed me to the community guidelines. As additional result my account is marked as NIPSA now, too. (and I am not the only one, look here for a flickr discussion search)

But I maybe should first explain what NIPSA stands for in case you don’t know (which is not unlikely as it’s not too obvious from using flickr).

What is NIPSA?

So NIPSA stands for “Not In Public Site Area” and photos in accounts marked NIPSA do not show up in public searches. So if you search e.g. for “Second Life” then only a fraction of the photos tagged as “Second Life” will actually show up. Or in case of Spin Martin (Eric Rice), search for “hipcast” which is definitely his things and has lots of photos tagged as such and you will see no photo by him.
Please do not that it does not mean that your account is blocked, you can still use flickr for photo hosting and link to them and do localized searched within your account.

So in which case is an account marked as NIPSA? Basically you need to consult the community guidelines which says:

And yes, Flickr is for photos. With some exceptions, it’s OK to post other images, but if the majority of your photostream contains content other than photographs (like illustrations, screenshots, diagrams, etc.) it’s very likely that your account will be marked Not in Public Site Areas (NIPSA). NIPSA means your photos won’t show up in photo searches, but they will still be visible in your pages, your groups and contacts.

And apparently a photo from within Second Life is being seen more as screenshot and not as photo. In the thread I started in the forum there was a bit of philosophical discussion about what a photo actually is but somehow it doesn’t really matter as it up to flickr what they see as a photo.

And why do they actually make a difference here? From what I understand they are trying to hold their brand together as a photo service. Which sounds logical. Just that I didn’t think of them mainly as a photo service but as some place for your creativity mainly because it feels to me that way. And that’s also the reason why I had no doubt that SL photos might be ok (esp. as there are already quite a lot around). Moreover they once also showed SL photos in their blog so it seems that once they were more open to that.

Moreover it is questionable if just marking whole accounts as NIPSA makes any sense whatsoever. If you start adding “real” photos to your account and have more in there than non-photo images then you are not NIPSA. So in any case flickr will not be free of screenshots. There are certainly better tools needed for it.

What I do not like about the process

So of course I’d like it more if there wouldn’t be any NIPSA but apparently I have to respect their business model. The only thing which I don’t like here is the process of NIPSAing an account. Because it’s done silently. You don’t get any note about that and Torley was even wondering why no photo of her was showing up in searches. This might get even more annoying if you might have had purchased a pro account before and then notice that it does not have the full functionality. So I would really like them to think at least about the process and maybe make it more clear that screenshots are not liked to be seen on the site.

What I actually also do not like is that it’s unclear where the line is. And in fact you never can give a precise definition here. I now learned that hiding nude photos is also more enforced nowadays. I can understand this a more as this sort of photos can offend many people in certain areas and societies on the world. But still there are great photographers out there who do great photos where I not even would dare to try😉 And I’d like to be able to search for them.
But speaking of photos again I wonder where the line might be with photoshopped images. When artists upload their art derived from photos but not recognizable as such anymore, is this a case for NIPSA? And I’d still like to being able to search for them.

What flickr might do

Now having that problem that some people don’t like seeing screenshots (actually I hardly saw any when searching for some stuff when not explicitly requesting it) or certain types of photos or general images then they should maybe make some categories to which you can add your photos, like a simple flag “non-photographic image”. And then add a checkbox in the search or your preferences to include or exclude them. And in fact this seems to be planned but unfortunately this was 6 months ago and I couldn’t find any update on this (hopefully it’s not the Havok2 of flickr😉.
In general it might be a good idea for flickr not to ban such stuff but embrace it. It will surely get them more customers.

Why I did use flickr

flickr is mainly great for it’s community features for me. Tell people who attended an event to tag their photos accordingly and you have a nice way of getting all the photos by just searching for that tag. For instance I tried this for the X-Men event because I and Pathfinder Linden both had photos and so probably have some others. Now with NIPSA this does not work anymore. Thus flickr is just another photo hoster and for me there’s not reason then to go Pro and pay them money for it as I can do the hosting myself or can use any other service then.

The problem with alternatives right now and where it’s heading

So of course there are lots of photo hosting sites around, like Photobucket or Imageshack. But they all miss the community features and are really just good for storing your photos. There’s even one which does have some sort of tagging and community features, which is zoto. But this has the problem still that most people are on flickr and it might involve some work to talk to them to make them move, esp. when they already purchased a pro account.

But now there’s another one: Snapzilla!
Snapzilla has the unique killer feature of having that upload feature from within the client. You basically use the “Send Postcard” feature of Second Life but instead of sending it to a friend you send it to Snapzilla where it shows up in your photostream. The only problem for me here is right now that I cannot upload postprocessed photos which I usually like to do. But I learned yesterday that it’s on the way and there will be a new release soon.
And you can even by now add tags to your photos while uploading! So depending on the next version maybe I really don’t need flickr for SL anymore.

But still: I’d like a general solution for flickr for any “non-photo” content as it not only is about Second Life.

Also a problem with alternatives: Everybody is on flickr already, the Second Life group has over 170 members and thus convincing them to go to some other services is probably not an option.

What to do now

There’s actually not much you can do as flickr needs to sort that out. But at least a few possibilities are there:

  • Make flickr aware that more users are demanding a policy change or a new feature by adding your comment here or email them directly via “Help by EMail”
  • For every non-photo photo upload a photo photo (like some boring one) so you have a ratio of 50:50. I wonder if one can use the same picture over and over again😉
  • Don’t use flickr anymore and go to the above mentioned alternatives

For me it’s that way: As soon as they added a checkbox to their search to be able to search NIPSA I will get pro. Until then I will use alernatives (I will use Snapzilla nevertheless). Otherwise I can hope that other services will catch up.

For more articles about it, look here.

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7 responses

8 06 2006
Tao’s Thoughts » Another flickr issue

[…] So is this now related to NIPSA? As I am NIPSAd it might be NIPSA-related but must not be. I will ask the flickr folks about that. It might be a bug though as the NIPSA related part in the community guidelines say that NIPSA photos will still be visible in groups. […]

8 06 2006
stevegarfield

When I do a search for ‘hipcast’ on flickr, I see a lot of ericrice photos.

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=hipcast

8 06 2006
taotakashi

Yes, the Eric Rice account is not NIPSAd, it’s only the Spin Martin account. And you don’t see any of these in that result (34 hits).

Compare with

http://www.flickr.com/photos/SpinMartin/tags/hipcast

This is the personalized search which still shows them. But for that to use you need to know beforehand of course who got the photos.

10 06 2006
Torley Linden

Great blogging about this, Tao.

My whimsical idea:

Second Life + Flickr = SLickr

14 06 2006
taotakashi

Torley: This would of course be a solution for SecondLife but IMHO they should find something for all the other screenshot cases, too.

15 06 2006
James

It seems painfully obvious that this should be an choice for the users, not the people running flicker.

Ideal solution: Flicker adds a new checkbox in each user’s account preferences that turns on and off NIPSA screenshots. They could even leave it off by default. Then, when someone uploads a screenshot, they check a box saying it’s a screenshot, not a photo.

If lots of people are using your product in a way you didn’t originally intend, find a way to cater to that group, don’t block them completely. Good way to loose customers.

16 06 2006
taotakashi

Right, they should embrace them. And indeed Stewart says that they are planning on such a solution. But he also said so 6 months ago and did not give a timeline so we just can hope.
Probably nothing we can do about it right now.

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