Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I already had a dummy yahoo id for dealing with freecycle, so signing up to trial flickr was simple. It didn't take long to set the default privacy level to viewable by family only, upload a few photos and add some tags and descriptions. The descriptions support hyperlinks, although you have to enter the HTML manually.

To set the geographical location on a photo you drag a pointer to the photo to a location on a map. It just so happened that one of my photos was taken at a place where the flickr map didn't have enough data, so you couldn't zoom in far enough to be accurate. Otherwise though, the mapping features seemed to work well.

I like the fact that uploading photos requires no categorisation and you can easily view all your photos (flickr calls it your photostream) from several different perspectives.

To share private photos with non flickr users, you use a guest pass. The help mentions that you can share your whole photostream using a guest pass, but the "Share This" link was not appearing on my photostream page. It seems there is a bug if all your photos are private. Making one photo public solved the problem. After generating the guest pass, the photo can be set back to the previous privacy level.

I find the site looks very clean and uncluttered, which I like. The navigation at the top and the expanded nav at the bottom was helpful, so getting around was easy. For flickr to be useful to share your photos you really need a Pro Account. It costs US$25/year and you get unlimited storage, which seems very reasonable.

Now for the things I don't like. When you click on a photo to view it, the resulting page has a widget that only shows thumbnails for the previous and next photos. You can go forwards or backwards in the thumbnails or click on browse to go back, but when viewing photos I found this quite cumbersome. SmugMug does this much better, by showing more thumbnails next to the main image. Viewing photos in flickr as a slideshow looks like a good solution though.

Users with a guest pass for the whole photostream (including private family photos) can see your sets and each photo's description, tags and camera data. However, they:

  • cannot see the geographical location for, or find your private photos on the map

  • cannot browse your private photos via your tags. The tags themselves are visible, but if all your photos are private, clicking on a tag takes you to a "no results found" page, which seems contradictory.

  • cannot comment on your photos

In summary, flickr scores reasonably well against my requirements. Guest pass users have a very basic level of access. If they want more access to your photos, they need to sign up for their own account, which will cost them their time, but nothing financially. Then you can add them as a family contact.

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