Facebook Style People Tagging for Flickr

Although photo sites such as Flickr offer a multitude of features for people to work with their digital photographs, in a lot of cases the average user is only really looking for somewhere simple to post their pictures and share them with friends – hence why more general sites such as Facebook are proving popular places to post pictures. There are even ways to integrate the two – Facebook applications like zuPort: Flickr can pull all your Flickr shots into your Facebook profile without the hassle of double posting.

Having said that, there are one or two features in the way Facebook handles pictures – related to it’s social features – that at first glance are totally absent from Flickr – chief amongst them being the people tagging.

If you’ve not seen this, this particular feature allows you to highlight particular people in your pictures and if they are on Facebook too link to their profile. This allows you to do quite clever searches, finding all pictures on Facebook that have been taken by anybody.

So the question is, why, with it’s massively more powerful tagging and note making abilities why Flickr doesn’t appear to do it? The simple answer is that it does – it’s just that in amongst all the other features it’s not as obvious – nor immediately as straightforward.

I was already aware of the ability to tag Flickr pictures with what are termed as machine tags to link them to events held on Upcoming.org, as Flickr themselves used them for their 24 Hours of Flickr events, one of which we attended. By adding a particular machine tag, the system was able to link all the pictures of the event pretty easily back to the event page – Facebook does something similar. After a bit of digging around I found that there was a machine tag to link to another Flickr user, but it was only a tag, the other nice aspect of the Facebook solution is that it also highlights the person in the picture – easy to do with a note in Flickr but a multi-stage process compared to the simple click in Facebook.

Needless to say I’m not the first person to look at what Facebook has done and suggested it, a bit more digging and I came across this discussion which finishes off with a link to a Greasemonkey script that can be installed into any Firefox based browser that puts it all together giving almost the same functionality as is available in Facebook – select a Flickr user and it tags the picture with the right machine link, and then creates a note on the picture with the persons name linked in as well, then it’s just a question of moving the note over the relevant person, and you get a clickable link that takes you to their pictures. Maybe at some point Flickr will do something similar, but until then this little Greasemonkey script works fine – just need to go back through the couple of thousand pictures on my account and create the links…

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