July 14, 2006

Flickr Frustrations

I love Flickr, I really do, but man, sometimes it makes me yell at my computer. Whether it’s the inconsistencies in the interface, or the way I have to seriously concentrate to hunt down things like a particular feed, Flickr takes as much as it gives.

The latest head scratcher: keeping tabs on group photo pools. When I look at My Photostream, I see not only thumbnails, but comment counts. If I subscribe to a feed for activity on my photos, I can see when someone comments or posts a note to one of my pictures. Great. Thumbs up. So what of similar functionality in group pools?

Let’s look at the photo pool from An Event Apart New York. Thumbnails, usernames, and… pages upon pages. How can I tell if there are new comments or notes made? Do I have to click through every photo in the pool? There is a feed for photos from the pool, but it will only notify you of new photos, not new activity. Well, why don’t you just click on the link for “Activity - In Your Groups” in the page footer? Nope, that will also only tell you of new uploaded photos. Apparently comments and notes only qualify as “activity” when they occur outside of groups.

I post this here not to flame Flickr, but because as likely as it is that functionality I seek doesn’t exist, it is just as likely that it exists and I just can’t locate the damn stuff. Can anyone show me the way?

Commentary (22):

1. Wilson Miner says… jul 14, 2006 | 4:57 pm

Here, I’ll help you. This photo has a new comment.

2. Jason Santa Maria says… jul 14, 2006 | 5:00 pm

Awesome! So the solution is to get a personal Flickr intern?

3. Natalie says… jul 14, 2006 | 5:11 pm

Wilson, you made me spit out my apple. That was really funny. Jason, maybe there is (or could be) a feed for all activity in a group, including images, comments, AND discussions? It seems like groups would need that more than individuals. Oh, and there’s another comment on that photo, just so you know. ;)

4. Jason Santa Maria says… jul 14, 2006 | 5:13 pm


Jason, maybe there is (or could be) a feed for all activity in a group, including images, comments, AND discussions?

I would love it if there were, but trust me when I say I only post here after looking for a long time and finally throwing up my hands in frustration.

5. dave kellam says… jul 14, 2006 | 5:20 pm

Flickr feeds tend to be few and far between, ie none for sets. You could probably create a “recent activity in groups” page using the Flickr api. It would likely end up on the messy side though… ie you’d probably need to index comment counts.

6. G.Lindqvist says… jul 14, 2006 | 6:55 pm

Watch out for the release of Zooomr. I hope it will force Flickr to develop faster.

7. Jason Santa Maria says… jul 14, 2006 | 6:59 pm

Zooomr? Oi, that’s a terribly unfortunate name. “Was that two “o’s” or three?”

I wish they would start with an original name. When going head-to-head with someone, it doesn’t help to voluntarily put yourself behind them.

8. Patrick Haney says… jul 14, 2006 | 7:32 pm

Speaking of group photo pools, one thing that truly frustrates me about flickr is cleaning up (ie. deleting photos from) group pools that I have admin access to. There is no way, even with the fancy Organizr, to remove multiple photos from a group pool in one single action. It’s either removal one by one or not at all.

This becomes a serious nightmare after someone drops 700 photos onto a group pool and you then need to remove all of those due to the fact that they aren’t relevant to the group.


9. Smallest Photo says… jul 14, 2006 | 7:55 pm

That’s a good one Stan and while I can’t help - you might try posting this question within the Flickr Forum: http://www.flickr.com/forums/help/

I do have to ask though (having quickly trawled the AEANYC Pool) which Crumpler do you use and how much gear do you carry in it. Still on that elusive quest for the perfect camera bag.

10. dav says… jul 15, 2006 | 4:20 am

I too have struggled with this. One solution I thought I’d found was to use co.mments.com to track discussions. Seems patchy for me (for instance, wouldnt track a dooce.com post :( ) and sometimes worked on flickr.com. Good luck

11. Myles says… jul 15, 2006 | 12:59 pm

Well, Flickr is hiring, so perhaps they will develop faster, with or without zooomr (first time I’ve heard of them).

looks like without zooomr

12. Fredrik W√§rnsberg says… jul 15, 2006 | 8:56 pm

I need to get myself a camera so I can start playing around with flickr :(

13. Jason Santa Maria says… jul 16, 2006 | 9:39 am

Smallest Photo: I use the 5 Million Dollar Home (the best I can do is send you a link to the photography bags section, their site is a horrible mess of Javascript and frames). I typically carry in it: My D70 with 18-70mm lens, 20-200mm micro zoom lens, my 50mm, all my cables and stuff, deck of cards, Pass the Pigs, and I still have spare room. Like you, I was sorta questing for a great camera bag, and I love this one. Small and sturdy, and just the right size for a variety of stuff.

I also have The Hee-Goer messenger bag (same deal, you’ll have to scroll around to find it), and am equally happy with only one complaint: I wish it had a handle like the camera bag. Their site withstanding, Crumpler makes some of the best bags I’ve ever owned.

14. Smallest Photo says… jul 16, 2006 | 7:30 pm

I sometimes think finding the right bag is far more difficult than finding the right camera so thanks for this. I’ve always used Lowepro but they just look too much like a camera bag. My problem is that I want to carry all my kit with me at all times but on the occassions when I do I’m crippled for several days after. The D70, four lenses, a film camera, rolls of film and assorted parafinallia is going to land my ass in traction if I’m not careful. So I need to thin out my daily stuff considerably and plan ahead better. This is defintely one bag I’ll go check out.

15. Calrion says… jul 17, 2006 | 12:53 am

Smallest Photo:
I’d certainly recommend the Crumpler photo bags for keeping you out of traction. I use a Customary Barge and it’s bloody marvelous for toting both my laptop and camera (plus a couple of lenses), along with all the associated bits and pieces and you still have the bag’s main section free for a book and a jumper. Total weight is probably around 10kg+ (22lb) and it feels like almost nothing.

Back to Flickr, and I agree that it can be quite frustrating at times. It was a full 6 months after WE05 last year that I actually got around to adding my pics to the pool—simply because I was apparently too stupid to realise that you have to find the pool, then join it, to add new images. Oh, and the fact that you join a group, but add images to a pool wasn’t confusing at all… much. (Flickr still rocks, it just has some rough edges.)

16. Smallest Photo says… jul 17, 2006 | 8:42 am

Thanks Calrion. I think I’d check that out for when I do want to carry all my gear. a proper backback is probably the only way to go on that one. For daily use though I sort of like the idea of more of a messenger bag style.

17. Jayme says… jul 19, 2006 | 10:43 am

I know exactly what you mean in regards to Flickr. Being that the site is so popular, you would think there would be some intuitive thought process put into the way the site is structured and navigated. Not the case though — I share your pain.

On another note, just wanted to say I enjoyed your segments of AnEventApart NYC. It was nice to see the design development process of the new AListApart site.

Take it easy.

18. Jason Garber says… jul 19, 2006 | 2:32 pm

A buddy of mine and I built Groupr a while back to solve the problem of keeping up with new photos in groups. It doesn’t address all of your points, but it makes it easy to see the most recent photos in your groups.

So, by way of a for instance, you could see your groups here:

19. (s says… jul 19, 2006 | 2:54 pm

I disagree with some opinions reflected in the comments that Flickr is not structured or navigable. I think Jason was alluding to a problem that indicates that there is scope for improvement in the way Flickr works. Zeldman had also written about a problem (not related to functionality, but to account management) previously and I gathered later that the folks at Flickr found a resolution.
So Jason, while your problem is legitimate and experienced by many users, perhaps the solution is to contact Flickr as they seem to be receptive to feedback and work toward a solution.

20. Jason Santa Maria says… jul 19, 2006 | 3:02 pm

Jason Garber: Groupr is pretty cool and you guys did a great job, but I am still looking for a good way to track activity on groups.

(s: Well, the solution was actually me asking help in finding something first. As I said, there are many hidden things in Flickr. No one is saying it’s unnavigable, but there are most definitely continuity and findability problems like the ones I mention. As a matter of fact, Flickr improved many things when it bumped up to gamma. They streamlined the architecture considerably.

21. Duc Ly says… jul 26, 2006 | 2:38 pm

well i don’t know if this helps or not but i use delicious to keep track of all of my many groups. Also the comment section is poor because i can’t track other’s response to what i wrote to them. I’m glad you spoke out about flickr’s weaknesses.

22. Feather Pen says… aug 15, 2006 | 4:17 am

Could help you, when you are Firefox user…That’s a link for Flickr project.