flickr's interactivity

by Ragnar Schierholz

Yesterday I was stunned. After returning from my work/vacation trip, I uploaded a whole bunch of pictures to Flickr. This took a while and while flickr's uploader tool was doing so, I watched my album grow in the browser and started adding descriptions to the pictures.

Suddenly I realized that some pictures were already classified as "favorites" and/or hat been commented to by other users not even 10 minutes after I posted them. Users, whom I have never heard of before, neither in flickr nor in any other online community or the real world.

So far I have used flickr mostly for my own pictures and some other images I liked and I have a few contacts whose pictures I browse from time to time. But rarely have I ever started to randomly look at other people's pictures (except for a few times when I searched some pictures by tag). Obviously, some other users frequently monitor activity on flickr to gather nice pictures from other users.

Now I wonder: How do you guys use flickr and what is your motivation to do so?


I use flickr for looking at beautiful pictures, getting feedback on my pictures, improving my photography, staying in contact with people, learning about photography...

Moritz Petersen, 2006-01-26

Hi Moritz,
thanks for sharing. So, how do you go about finding beautiful pictures? Do you search for certain tags every now and then? Do you use flickr groups? Do you randomly browse pictures in your leisure time? Do you frequently check your pictures for new comments?
Currently I am not aware that flickr really supports such community interactivity with tools such as notifications or the alike, but I would sure like something like that. E.g. I had to discover the comments to my pictures myself, I would like a notification service as it is available in blogs. Here I am notified when someone posts a comment to my blog postings.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-01-26

Hello Ragnar,

there is a link called "Recent activity" on your "Home" page. You can subscribe to a RSS-feed of that page. Is that what you mean? You can also keep track of comments you've made in a similar way.

I use flickr for archiving my own pictures and of course to share them with friends. I'd guess more than 50% of my phots are marked as private. I rarely browse through the pictures of total strangers but I browse through those of my contacts regularly. For very few of them, I even have a RSS-feed in my Safari bookmarks. I use groups and I certainly search for tags every now and then.


Henning Stoerk, 2006-01-26

Henning already explained the RSS-notification. There are not just notifications of recent comments on your own pictures but also notificatinos of new pictures of your contatcts or discussions in groups. The interesting aspect with flickr is, that you actually have to "grow" into it. The more contacts you have, the more pictures you see, the more comments you read the more other users' pictures you see etc. There are many ways you can see new pictures in flickr: Clicking on "recent uploads" on the "explore" page or on your contacts' pictures. You can browse through groups (e.g. the Nikon D70 group, which is of interest to me because I use that camera) etc. Flickr almost everywhere presents thumbnails of pictures, and some of them look really good. Then I might click on them... If you are interested in interactive community systems, you should definitively take a deeper look at flickr, as it is in fact very interactive (lots of RSS/Atom feeds).

Moritz Petersen, 2006-01-26

Ragnar, it just so happened that I was looking at your pictures yesterday (maybe even as you were uploading them), to let me explain. I was browsing through lotusphere2006 pictures and while looking at one of them say your comment. Now, I know you and once I saw a familiar face I went to see what was in your stream. Just of curiosity. I didn't comment, but nice pictures nevertheless! :)

I think many people simply spend a lot of time on Everyone's page, looking at pictures fly by (there are A LOT of pictures being uploaded all the time). I don't know whether they are just bored or what. But I think that since Flickr rates pictures and people, there is a lot of self-promoting going on. People would comment on random pictures just to get more people to look at theirs so that the rating goes up. With some work and luck you can get your picture featured on the "Explore" or "Most interesting" page.

Yury Kats, 2006-01-26

Yury your're right about the self promotion. Good point! But the people are not bored. They suffer from Flickritis ;-)

Moritz Petersen, 2006-01-26

Hey Yury, nice to hear from you again.
That was my impression as well, many people seem to spend tremendous amounts of time just browsing through pictures, be it from friends or strangers. I just wondered what their motivation might be. Boredom might be one, eventually the unappealing option of having nothing to do (boredom) is part of every leisure activity, I think. But that would be too easy, I guess.

Moritz, yes, I certainly will consider flickr as one example for succesful, intense online communities. We have someone doing a master thesis related to this. He might be interested in looking into flickr as well.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-01-26

Here's something I wrote up awhile back when *I* discovered that Flickr was much more than just a site for file storage... Flickr Surfing

I love Flickr, there's such amazing stories out there.

Jess Stratton, 2006-01-26

There are lots of cool time-wasters at the Great Flickr Tools Collection and of course there is Flickr Interestingness. I like to play with new code, so the Flickr API is another favorite destination.

Chris King, 2006-01-27

Vowe, I've been reading your weblog for a long time now, but I've never had anything great to contribute until now... Enjoy!

Mike Hollis, 2006-01-28

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