Social Media Annoyances: An Open Letter to Flickr Users

Dear Flickr Users,

I know we’ve had our ups and downs, our good times and bad times; but overall, I really feel like we’ve grown closer over these past four months.

I have to commend those of you that release your photos to Creative Commons and let them be used for commercial use. You’ve made finding pictures for the QLP blog easy, and added spice to our blocks of text. Clipart is great and all, but there are only so many pictures of dynamic people giving a thumbs up sign that I can take.

But lately, you’ve let me down.

Thumbs Up Guy

These are the kinds of pictures I’m stuck with.

There’s a significant handful of you that are ruining the good name of Flickr users for me. And how are you doing it? You’re padding your photo tags and descriptions. And I don’t like it.

Earlier this week, I was on a mission to find a gorgeous picture of the Blois Chateau. As usual, I went into advanced search and set my filters to only search for Creative Commons images labeled for commercial use. I made my keywords “Blois chateau” and clicked on search.

While the first handful of results was actually the right castle, things started going south fast. I started seeing pictures titled “Chateau d’Ussé.” For those of you that don’t obsess over French geography like I do, let me tell you this: The Blois Chateau resides over 65 miles away from the Ussé Chateau. Over an hour and a half of driving. So what in the sweet name of blogging is this flipping picture doing with a “Blois” tag?

Stop padding your tags and keywords. Stop it.

Thumbs Up Girl

Seriously, Flickr users, why do you condemn me to this?

I understand that in the cutthroat world of SEO, we all need to make our blog posts and pictures rich in keywords, but you should not be putting unrelated keywords in the tag or photo description just to make your pictures pop up all over the place. When I am searching for a specific type of picture, but I am instead met with other pictures, I want to bash in skulls. Just ask the rest of the QLP Blog Squad: they heard me muttering curses under my breath for an entire afternoon.

The point of keywords is that people like me search for them because, shockingly, we want results tailored to only those keywords. If I want a picture of a dog, I don’t want cats showing up in my results; if I’m looking for pictures of the Alps, don’t offer me a picture of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Thumbs Up Hot Guy

…on second thought, I might be judging Clipart too harshly.

By all means, please add every single synonym of “castle” and list things like “pretty windows.” If that’s legitimately in the picture, then highlight it! There are users guilty of not tagging their pictures enough. That’s also a shame because there could be great pictures out there that I’m just not seeing. Don’t you guys want to be featured on blogs?

There is a correct balance of optimized keywords and relevancy. Not only does padding your tags annoy browsers like me, but it upsets the almighty Panda. So let’s keep everyone happy and just be sensible with our tags and photo descriptions, shall we?

All my love,


P.S. For respect to the majority of the Flickr community, I didn’t even touch on this copied-from-Wikipedia-and-Imdb hot mess.

Have you ever had problems sorting through photos on Flickr? If you use Flickr, do you tag your photos too much, too little, or just right?


Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on


  1. Juliette

    Great post, Mandy! And you just reminded me: I have a set of photos on Flickr that I set aside specifically for creative commons use, but I hadn’t changed the license. Got that out of the way just a moment ago!

    But I often have the same problem that you’re mentioning. I often end up with photos that have nothing to do with my search terms. “Tag padding” is not cool and not helpful at all, particularly for those who do tag their photos correctly.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Glad to give you that reminder, Juliette!

      There’s a serious difference between being thorough in your tags/keywords, and throwing in keywords just so your picture can pop up and get views. And I hate that people like this are blocking the results so that people with relevant pictures are being pushed to later pages. 🙁

  2. amy

    I agree 100% with your letter Mandy! I’ve stopped using Flickr for my blog posts since I’ve discovered I don’t have the patience to search the right keywords. When I use it for posting my pics, I like to think I tag them just right, but I haven’t really given it much thought before.

    Great post and I’m glad you aren’t muttering curses under your breath anymore, that was a tense afternoon in Cubeville 😉

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Good for you, Amy! I wish I could kick the site completely, but unfortunately, sometimes it’s the only place that has what I need. *shakes fist*

      But writing this post helped me vent my anger and I can keep vocal swears to a minimum.

  3. Joseph Giorgi

    I can totally empathize with you here, Mandy! I can’t tell you how many random pics I’ve come across on Flickr that are completely unrelated to my original search terms. So many images on that site seem overstuffed with keywords these days — it’s pure chaos! I hope the guilty parties come across this blog and learn the error of their ways. 😉

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      We can only hope, Joe. We can only hope.

      I feel like asking for relevant pictures really isn’t too much…

  4. Jill Tooley

    Haha, Mandy, you sure know how to make me giggle. Clever captions, and way to make good use of those cheesy thumbs-up clip art photos! 🙂

    I’ve come across many tag-padded Flickr pictures in my day, and let me tell you…they don’t get any less annoying. What do people really gain from excessive tagging, anyway? Sure, they come up in search results, but people will leave the page immediately after they discover it’s a false trail. It doesn’t seem worth it! Anyway, thanks for getting this frustration out there. It made for one entertaining post!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Glad I could give you a Friday/Monday chuckle, Jill. I figured that if I had to use thumbs up clip art, I might as well make the most out of it.

      I’m really not sure what the logic is behind over-tagging Flickr pictures. Sure, they might be coming up on search results, but I’m not clicking them. So obnoxious. As Joe said, “I hope the guilty parties come across this blog and learn the error of their ways.”

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