Flagging insights

Say flag and everyone will jump: where, why, when, how?

Ever since we put up the flagging system, people have used it continuously - needless to say there are some tens of thousand of flags at this point. A lot of work for us and a huge piggybank for you. Looks like you really enjoy this, plus you get rewarded if your flags get approved.

How does the Flagging system work?

You search for an image using keywords. The search will inevitably lead you to some result pages. Anything you see irrelevant for the keyword used in your search, can be flagged using the small red flag underneath each thumb. This is how most people do it. We also have flags coming from the Report function. Say you find an image, you go to the image details page to look around and you see some keywords that do not fit. Underneath the thumb, you have the magical report word and tadaa, the image is reported for irrelevant info.

While the second is sure to report only keywords, the first method flags title, description and keywords at the same time. As the search engine functions based on title, description and keywords, you might have flagged a word that is in the title but not in the keywords. This is why some of your flags do not get approved. We cannot ask you to check each image flagged and see if the description or the title contains something that may be relevant - this is our job. Although...hm hm. The commonest example would be a flag for China while the image contains a simple flower. The description however, contains the additional information that the flower is to be found only in China. Relevant or irrelevant? We allow such info in the description, under some reserves. Our reserves should concern you: a long description, additional and unnecessary info affect searches. But then again, there may be a designer looking for "flower found only in China". Just a little extra care with this additional information should not cause any trouble.

© Smagal
Why do people flag your images?

I will start an enumeration and discuss each reason - bear with me as this may take long. Not to get you too bored, I will probably address them in separate articles.

Spam: as much as we would like to eliminate it, this is still out there. Let's talk business (the most abused spam keyword)! Must be because business sells?? Anyway, no justification for the fact that anything is business: car, house, food, fork, apple, dog, cat. Everything is business or business concept. Really....

Again, I emphasize one thing - I know you all want to sell, but think first and foremost to whom you want to sell. Do you really think a designer looking for a businessman or business team will want your onion or apple?

© Sajko
A funny one now. Recently, we came across curious, even odd spamming words: pope and catholic. The whole image info was a la carte except for the fact that the series of images contained pope and catholic. Obviously, the images had nothing to do with the pope. Still wondering why, in God's name, would someone want all his images to appear in searches for pope and catholic...Something to meditate upon.

© Aniram
Spam comes from our desire to sell. But is the principle sell anyway, anyhow, anywhere sane? I know most will say yes. This reminds me of shop assistants in clothing stores. If I try on a dress and ask them: Does this fit me? the answer is invariably the same: Yes, you look perfect, so beautiful. I think you can image the disastrous feed-back I get from the mirror in my apartment. The outcome: I never go into the shop again or I always take a trustworthy and honest friend with me. Can't really think of our buyers doing that. I would see things like this: they on one side, you and us on the other.

Protecting them from irrelevancies should not be only our concern but also yours. Imagine buyers coming to our site and looking for images. I don't think we would love a recommendation of the type: This site is nice, the images are good, if you're interested in just browsing. If you want something in particular, you'd better give up cause you'll never find it.

Some inside info: We have forms which our buyers fill in from time to time. You know, the type: do you like us, do you hate us, what could be improved? And, obviously, some feed-back messages sound like: relevant keywords, more relevant keywords, specific keywords.

If I am allowed a bit of digression here, two tiny pieces of advice:

1. there are buyers who search for specific classes, categories, species. We have feed-back of the type: the fish names should be more specific, not just fish, but sea bass or halibut. Or "We are a flowershop and we would be interested in buying some images with calla lily or geranium types".

2. Stop the vector keyword please. There are so many confused buyers: I thought this was a vector. This is what the keywords said. Your jpg images are not vectors. And you may not even upload the additional format. Or maybe you will upload in 2030. My advice is: once you upload the additional, edit the image and write a simple and standard sentence in the description. "Additional format available" or "vector format available".

Going back to spamming, one of the questions most likely to resurface when it comes to keywording is that regarding the number: too many or too few? You can have them either way but think of sale potential. Too few will increase relevancy but will also limit the number of possible search results for your image. Too many on the other hand will affect relevancy but your image will be found in many more possible searches. It will be found on page 50 in search results but it will appear for 100 possible searching keywords.

To be continued

Photo credits: Aniram, Chrisharvey, Connie Larsen, Jillekulchinsky, Studio Grand Web, Patrimonio Designs Limited, Pressmaster, Redbaron, Geno Sajko, Smagal.

Your article must be written in English

September 19, 2009


There's another concern i would like to share. All these preventions are focused on the negative- prevent this or that .. but at what cost and what about proactively keeping the contributors and creative artists happy? what does one do when one not so 'meaningful contributor' starts "spamming' flags and reports images of others contributors just for the heck of it . What i mean is instead of tackling keyword spamming now we need extra manpower and resources to handle the people who have nothing better do but create a spam of flags on other contributors images, especially when their own sales are low or insignificant. whether its out of jealousy or frustration ... that's another subject i wont go into. But its quite demeaning as well gets our 'creative morale' down when we have people sifting and surfing through others images just to make a few cents ... and highlighting perfectly valid entries... something like the gold diggers of the wild west.
I for one know that i try to be as perfect as i can be not because of some rule but simply that it makes sense to keyword the images perfectly- That makes better business and selling sense. But a word that i feel is necessary or ambiguous and still useful to describe the mood or situation of my image may creep in once in a while. So i guess It would make sense for DT to have some play or leniency by first checking the actual number of words per image that are not in sync before it can be marked as spam and the image locked. If rest of the 70 words or so are making sense, but one or two words out of hundreds of images is a disconnect ... there should be a suggestion to the photographer asking to remove it or why he/she would think its appropriate. For Example, precipitation cannot be seen but implied with clouds, or dark clouds and one could add rainfall or lightning, or virga is a an phenomenon and example of dry lightning....

Cheers and best wishes :)


April 29, 2009


I have a question regarding the flagging system though: when I report an image, doest it report the search I used? for example I was searching for ink pens, and found a whole set of ink pen drawings, but the pen was nowhere in the image, so I reported them, is this right?

April 29, 2009


I have a question regarding the flagging system though: when I report an image, doest it report the search I used? for example I was searching for ink pens, and found a whole set of ink pen drawings, but the pen was nowhere in the image, so I reported them, is this right? as most likely the description says its an ink pen drawing... but it's still irrelevant for my specific search... hope I'm not too confusing.

December 12, 2008


nice article, thank you!

December 03, 2008


Nice article.i'like it

November 27, 2008


If you flag your own images, we normally do not approve these flags. We are aware that there may be people who flag images without knowing what the red flag stands for. It happened that someone once flagged all the images that were extremely relevant for her search. I imagine the initial intention was to add them in the lightbox but did not know what the icons stood for. Those flags were not approved obviously.

November 26, 2008


Good article. Just accidentally flagged my own image. At least now I know how flagging works. Since I had a bunch of images refused for the incorrect category, I have been putting a lot more time into ensuring keywords and description are accurate.

November 26, 2008


Oppps, sorry for my ignorance. i found that feature.......... that's great a new discovery for me.

November 26, 2008


Nice blog, One request cant we include a add to lightbox icon in the thumbnail itself rather than opening the image than adding it. Could save loads of time. just a small link like flag, might be very useful

November 24, 2008


Thanks Tangie! I didn't realize the difference between the red flag and the report function. Very useful blog!

November 21, 2008


I'll give you an insight on how I use the flagging system. So... I am a photographer, but sometimes, when I have an idea, first I search for similar images of what I want to do. To see how much coverage the subject has got, or how original my idea is, or what the sales potential is for that particular subject. I only use the flagging system when the keywording error is flagrant. It so happens that I have some bricks left over from a recent remodelling and as I had nothing better to do I was contemplating the idea of doing some shots with them. I searched for "brick". Of course I got tons of brick pictures, but among them I started seeing portraits. Girl portraits. Many of them against white background. Now, what in the world has a studio portrait to do with bricks?! I was intrigued, so I looked further, and I believe the answer lies in some portraits that were done against a brick wall, that included the brick keyword, and most probably others were "inspired" by the keywords used there. But this is a completely different discussion that you have already covered in a previous blog article.

November 21, 2008


Interesting blog - thanks Tangie!

November 21, 2008


Ooooh, I saw it ... I've never know what these little red flags are about. Sorry.

November 21, 2008


The flagging system is already in use. It has been for a year now.

November 21, 2008


Is this flagging system already in use or it's something you're thinking about? I haven't seen it.

November 21, 2008


Wow I read it at once! Waiting for the continuation.

Related image searches
Flags related image searches