September 11, 2007

George Oates (flickr) + Denis wilton ( @ d-construct

Filed under: uncategorized — gavinedwardsuk @ 8:43 am

Talk: Building a sense of place

Helping people settle into a community.

The guardian are quote as calling b3ta a “Puerile digital arts community” (photo mash ups)

1) 11 million users
2) 1 billion photos
3) 2,000 new photos every minute

“It’s a great place to be a photo” – Bob Baxley

They are the centre point for people to tell stories

What turned Flickr into a web app?

When it was first released it was based on a game. People didn’t grasp you had to launch Flickr from the game. You could drag photos onto other users but only if they were in the same place at the same time. Lists etc allowed an asynchronous story to be told

People could shadow (follow other people through their journey on Flickr)

Coming from a game background meant a number of things. The principle of the game was to move around a world and move into a specific node.

There was about 10,000 players at its demise.

Flickr was less about storing photos but as an aid to story telling, used to abbreviate, tell a joke mid story.

If you build it will they come?

How did you engage users? Bring them to you.

There was a bunch of people who loved the game, they had invested emotionally so they came across.

The founders of Flickr were high profile bloggers and that helped with promotion in the wider web community. They released quite early on tools to publish to blogs etc. Users were drawn in a viral way. Internet friends, it breaks through that as your exposed to their life visually. Peoples own photos are viral marketing for Flickr. Sending photos to friends who are not users. Photo’s are so emotive, they help tell the story.

Welcome. Pull up a chair!

Making people feel comfortable through scrappiness (

Flickr makes you feel comfy, it evolves over time. In the very early days, the developers/designers spent time in the system, welcoming, hi I’m George, I work here, can I help? Making them contacts so they had someone to refer too. The staff were magnetic centres to the community in the early days.

Be careful how your welcomed (tone of voice) make it playful. Play with labelling and sign-posting, make it human not computer centred.

Now its so huge this contact method is not possible

Less rules about direction, it’s up to you to find hooks you enjoy. Some people will lurk, some people will engage, some people will be welcomers/mediators in the system.

Seeing content you recognise, stuff that is meaningful, stuff that is attractive to me.

Hey! Nice shoes

How do you get content when there are no users:
Fake content that indicates what you can do. It can encourage users by showing examples. Loads of sites do this. The site needs content to engage the first users, it needs people to engage with…not to go and be lonely.

Flickr has got attention because it feels friendly – this comes a lot from tone.

People takes cues for all this from architecture, visual design, tone of voice, level of engagement, access to people and content, ability to use the tools in a way most appropriate to them.

Most moderators are users that are recruited…some people can edit posts some can promote content etc. there is a mailing list to discuss problems. Recruiting form the community is a great way to keep people involved.

That’s awesome, lets add it!

Its an iterative thing, releasing stuff incrementally. They don’t change stuff now so radically as the site is settling, they have so much data and process, that change becomes more discussion to assess architectural impact.

We have a long history of zero user testing. Building features and releasing them into the wild. New features are published on blog, FAQs and a forum article for discussion.

Your not the boss of me

On Beta you can swear – so we added a swear filter, it wouldn’t remove words it would replace them. F*ck would be orange, sh*t would be pineapple etc. after a while their was a backlash, so they gave swearing back to the community.

When there is backlash, we listen. People view it as there product. Community b uilders forget that if you have done you job well, you may go to bed but users will stick around. Designers should want people to be passionate and feel ownership, your not the boss, you’re the guardian of the community.

I wanna be famous

We sat down and said, what do people want/need, some users want to create, some want recognition from this some people like that watercooler moment, building into the community offline needs.

The bigger Flickr gets the less difference there seems to be between on line and offline. Set a foundation for people to discover, interactions mirror more and more real world experiences. The main difference is speed. When you are offline, letting the gov know your pissed off about the bins it absorbs time, write a letter, go post it etc. online tension can flair ina second, and people forget there are people on the other end and the interface is more than a screen in a community.

Groups are great on Flickr, we started with group admins, now there are moderators. But sometimes groups imploded and they seek help from flickr, who can’t its not Flcikrs job to mediate, it’s the communities’.

As quickly as things flair up and help is sought by the time Flickr do interact its often a forgotten thing.

What is next for flickr

A secret! What’s interesting, a Russian developed an algorithm to measure activity around a photo to determine interestingness. Its an attempt to spread the load.

Zone tags – see content in a zone based on tagging – they have blended this idea interestingness. You can dive into a place to get specific cut of content really rich. Newsworthy and timely its gonna spread the load of interestingness. Citizen journalism area specific content. Unbiased news


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