Lab Gab – Flickr

The author relaxing at the marina behind the Seanchai Library

Late last month, Strawberry Linden hosted Carol Benovic-Bradley at a somewhat out of the ordinary episode of Lab Gab. Typically, as the series title implies, these discussions are mostly inside the shop. However, Carol is the Director of Community at Flickr. So, this time the talk is all about the relationship of Second Life residents with an outside service and community.

Strawberry Linden and Carol Benovic sitting at the Lab Gab studio

The format was an extensive question and answer session with Strawberry Linden (SL) being the voice of the Second Life community and Carol Benovic-Bradley (CB) providing the answers. In transcribing my notes, I’ve worked hard to keep the sense of the questions and answers accurate though they are not exact quotes, unless explicitly marked as such.

SL – Noted that the Second Life and Flickr communities are about the same age and somewhat intertwined. She went on to remark that some Second Life residents have felt not entirely welcome in Flickr. How does Flickr view the SL community? What suggestions for SL residents could help the community in Flickr continue to grow and make residents feel welcome in Flickr?

CB – Stressed that Flickr have heard these questions and concerns. They (Flickr) view the Second Life community is as an “incredibly creative and connected community”. They ran a survey of SL users in Flickr specifically to find out more about the residents and how they work with Flickr. The response was impressive. The biggest feedback was that SL residents wanted feedback that they were welcome. CB stated explicitly that we are.

Through the survey, Flickr learned of the huge amount of care and effort that residents put into their photography. It’s not a difference in degree than those that use digital SLRs or other sophisticated RL equipment and software.

The SL Flickr community is great at crediting work and linking groups, excellent community builders.

Some suggestions:

  • Read, and embody, the Flickr community guidelines
  • Find your community (groups are a great tool)
  • Find the people who share content that inspires you
  • Whatever you share, know that it has an impact on the community (a thoughtful comment can be important)
  • Be aware of the implications of what you add (Example, posting a link to a shopping cart would be commercial use, which would run afoul of guidelines for non-pro accounts SL designers who post links to their work could easily encounter this one.)
  • Tend the community like a garden

SL – A lot of people have concerns about safety levels. Can you explain to us about the safety levels?

CB – All content on Flickr has a safety level, what audience is it suited to. Three levels

  • Safe: Generally acceptable for public, global audience
  • Moderate: Bare breasts or bottoms
  • Restricted: Full frontal nudity, sexual content

SL – What does one do when the Flickr bot marks content inappropriately

CB – Bots are never 100% accurate. If you think it’s made a mistake, change it back. If it happens repeatedly, write to the support team. (The bots are receiving some attention from the developers.)

Videos: by the way, only safe or moderate. No restricted videos on Flickr.

SL – We’re a little stricter in their interpretation of “safe” for the SL photo groups [note that this means that even if Flickr thinks its “safe” the moderators for the SL groups may still reject it.]

SL – Any advice for the settings on photo upload?

CB – In your profile, you can set your defaults for the upload settings. Periodically check the settings to make sure they correctly describe your content.

SL – About the upcoming changes, that might require upgrading to pro account? When will they be implemented?

CB – Uploading moderate or restricted content will require a pro account.

  • Free accounts will still be allowed 1000 photos, but you must be pro to have more than 50 private photos.
  • Free members may still view all content.
  • If your account is impacted by these limits, you will receive an e-mail message from Flickr about it
  • Make sure your account’s e-mail is up to date!!!

SL – Aside: People should realize they can add other social media links in their about page.

CB – Flickr know that these are significant changes. They want to help with the transition.

SL – What are some of the perks of going pro?

CB – The web site has a landing page that explains the benefits of going pro. Pro users:

  • Can upload moderate and restricted content
  • Can have more than 50 private photos
  • Get access to complete statistics
  • Enjoy ad free browsing
  • Are able to use tools to ease uploading (auto uploader)
  • Get premier product support
  • Discounts on SmugMug, Prime, Picsart, Phlearn, and Blurb

SL – What other findings from the survey can you share?

CB – The survey had a few goals: How and why do Second Life residents use Flickr? How would they like to see Flickr improved? Working from Second Life associated groups in Flickr, they assembled a cohort for the survey. Some things that came out.

  • Categorization of photos
    ‘Screenshot’ doesn’t really capture the meaning. A content type of ‘virtual photography’ would be better. That change is in process. (You’ll be able to use the organizer to bulk change your photo’s type when the time comes.)
  • People would like to see more thematic prompts, contests, their photography spotlighted. The addition of a ‘virtual photography’ content type will facilitate all of these.
  • Further in the future might be a custom explorer for virtual photography.
  • People just wanted validation that Flickr respected them, and that Flickr is a home for their work.

SL – When might that happen?

CB – There are no hard dates [Nobody at Linden Lab should flinch hearing that! :P] but they don’t plan on keeping it a secret once it’s ready.

SL – Tagging images (a lot of us don’t). If we all add SecondLife and VirtualPhotography tags, we might trend better.

CB – A lot of SL residents do use tags. Yes, it’s a good idea.

CB – Recognizing any community on Flickr requires ongoing contact.

SL – Stressed that CB reached out to her about featuring the SL community.

SL – More payment options (beyond credit cards)?

CB – Right now, just credit cards, Apple, and Google pay. No more payment methods are in the works.

SL – Can you tell us more about some of the other communities on Flickr and how they use the platform?

CB – All members follow the same community guidelines. Flickr is a described as a community of communities: train spotters, birders, underwater photographers, drone videographers, instant cameras, in-game photos, photographers from historically marginalized communities, photographers looking to improve, people who like taking pictures of signs. The list is endless. Even SL residents practice other styles and are part of multiple communities.

Groups are the main tool to bring communities together. They work best when communication is open, rules are openly and clearly defined, discussion and evolution are allowed.

Community administrators do a lot of work keeping these communities running.

SL – What can we expect from Flickr in the future?

CB – If you’re not already, join the SL Official group. Looking forward to the virtual photography content type.
Look for prompts and contests related to the SL community.

By the way, somewhere in this episode is some important information on how to ease the transition from free to pro account. For some unaccountable reason, I neglected to transcribe it, but if you’re thinking of turning pro, do watch the video for it 😉

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