Ways SmugMug could improve Flickr

Changing Lens

I went on a photo walk the day after the SmugMug purchase of Flickr was announced.  There was a lot of talk from the Flickr staff about how excited they are about this purchase.  They talked about actually having resources to improve Flickr. They talked about how the future will be bright.  I am going to rip off Thomas Hawk and Jef Poskanzer posts about improving Flickr.  Of course I am going to do it from my own point of view.

1. Community - The Internet takes place in a virtual world, but photography takes place in the real world.  One of the things I loved about Flickr were meeting other photographers in the real world.  I know 2004,5,6. was a different world.  Meetups were happening for all sorts of internet sites. At one time we have vital Flickr communities in San Francisco and San Jose with monthly meetups.

1a. Hire Community Managers Across the World - Thomas Hawk thinks that Flickr needs to hire more community managers, my "yes and" for this is hire people away from your headquarters.  Almost all of the duties of a Community Manager can be done away from the central location.  Make part of this job description visiting photographic communities in real life.  Have them visit existing Flickr and SmugMug user groups, host photo walks, and appear at photography events.

1b. Sponsor photo events - Reach out to photographers by sponsoring photo events.  You can either set up events for photographers or find events that need sponsors where you can attract photographers.  Put your name out there and invite all the photographers in the area to go there.  Once Flickr sponsored a photo day for the San Francisco Giants.  This would be were you marketing dollars would go.  I would even go with hyper local sponsorship.

Youth Photo Contest

2. Groups - Groups was the killer feature of Flickr at the start. I still love groups.  It is the best way to get people to view your photos. It is a way to get people to interact with you.  I will admit that I put photos in groups to get views.  There are still many people on Flickr fueled by stats.  Groups are not what they used to be.  I know there are some that are vibrant, but most feel like places people dump photos. 

2a. Group Suggestion Engine - I know photo recognition engines are hard, but Flickr already has one for tags.  I think a suggestion engine for groups would be powerful. Group admins should be able to turn off this feature if it is not useful for that group.  It is a good way to get groups in front of more people. It could be based on photo recognition, tags or like groups.  You want this to be something that helps people to find groups where the photos would be welcomed.

2b. New Discussion Features - The discussion features on Flickr are old and not very modern. It seems like they have not changed in years.  Many other discussion systems are much more advanced.  I should be able to do many things with discussion threads.  Give me the ability to subscribe to threads.  Give me a central place to see all the threads I've commented on.  Give me the ability to mute threads. Suggest threads that are popular. Suggest threads I am likely to interact on.

2c. Increase the number of ways you can add photos to Flickr -  If I am using the mobile app it is too hard to add photos to groups.  If I have more and better ways to add photos to groups from the mobile app, I would be in the mobile app much more often.  This could increase engagement with the mobile app.

2d. Fix the Groups list -  You used to be able to access the list of all the groups you belong to via https://www.flickr.com/groups.  This should be fixed.  This has not been working for a while.  I liked using this list to figure out which groups were really active.  This needs to be fixed. 

3. Uploads - The most basic function of Flick is uploading photos.  I am a prolific uploader, with the idea that every photo I ever take should be uploaded. When Flickr when to one TB of free storage, it seems like flickr was trying to encourage this.  This said, uploading is horrible.  On the phone, on the PC, via the website, all of these systems have big systems.

3a. Time Estimates - Give me an estimate on how long an upload with take.  Right now for the browser all I have is a progress bar.  I don't have a time estimate or a percentage.  Even if that estimate is off, give me something.  It will help.

3b. Time out/Retry problem - The web uploader has a huge problem.  If I have a problem uploading a photo, I need to dismiss a dialog, click a second retry dialog, and click upload again.  If I don't do this all the other photos will try to upload but not complete.  This user experience is so broken. 

3c. Allow party uploads from the web - Right now the web will not allow partial uploads. If I start to upload a batch of 200 photos, I can't stop after 100 photos and have them on Flickr. I have to stop and start over again. This is broken.

4. Organize - Side note, do you remember when they called it organizr, good times. When Flickr first introduced the Organize feature it was amazing, now it is dated.  I cannot remember the last time it added any real features.  A few small features could really improve this.

4a. Increase the number of photos I see on the bottom - Right now there is a photo strip at the bottom of the tool.  Increase the number of photos I can see.  I should be able to pick through more photos here.

4b. Increase the ways I can find photos in Organize - This tool is very powerful, but it seems limited in the way to find photos.  Search does not seem work very well.  Going to the date taken takes too many steps. 

5. Tags - The most powerful tool in all of Flickr is the tag system.  Tagging photos can make search much more useful.

5a. Fix the tags site - 80 % of the time when I go to my tags page, I get an error message.  I want to be able to use this page. I like being able to see how may photos have different tags.  It makes it easier for me to see mistakes.  I like to be able to bulk edit.

5b. Improve Auto tags -  The auto tags seem vague and often wrong.  This feature needs improvement. It needs better details.

5c. Show me all the Auto tags - there is no way for me to just see the suggested tags.  I think letting me see these tags and an easy way to edit them. 

I took me forever to write this.  I feel like I'm missing some things.  I might update this if I find more things I'm missing. 


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