Naughty Inuits Provoke Surly Alligators

02 May 2006

I love Flickr me. It’s so easy to use, it’s API means there are many tools to use with it and there is great community there. Its quick and fun, which is why I tend to post so much screenshot based stuff there, rather than here on my blog.

But screenshots are not what Flickr is about. Flickr is about photos. Got that? Its a photo sharing site. If you don’t post photos you get what’s called a ‘NIPSA’, which stands for ‘Not In Public Search Areas’. You’re hidden away from public view – your images no longer show up on the homepage (not that they ever stay there long!), or in tag searches. You’re not informed when you’ve been NIPSA’d, one day you discover for yourself.

I’ve been waiting to see when my Flickr account became NIPSA’s (Not In Public Search Areas), and its finally happened. I presume the process is a manual one, and that there is someone at Flickr looking through streams, counting the ratios of photos to ‘non-photos’. Quite what that ratio is I know not.

The whole subject of when is a photo a non-photo is dealt very well in this blog post, so I don’t need to repeat it here. Suffice to say the distinction is a grey area to everyone but Flickr.

I can see this from both sides. If you create a photo sharing site, then you’d jolly well want to see it continue as such, and not be sullied. However, as a paid-up user, the policy seems a harsh one to me, and I think that they should embrace the fact that the community has found Flickr even more useful than they intended it to be. Showing what they’re listening to, discussing site designs or showing sketches and illustrations.

Being NIPSA’d isn’t the end of the world though. It’s a shame, but it doesn’t mean Flickr are bad people, or that the service isn’t worthwhile – far from it. From the responses given to over their use of Flickr for showing illustrations, it looks like non-photos will be accommodated sometime in the future. I’ve also seen suggestions for a Pictr or Illustratr type sister site to Flickr, which sounds great, as long as the community isn’t divided up.

In the meantime, a notification email from the Flickr team to let you know you’ve been NIPSA’d would be polite! ;o)

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