This post is a bit of a rant that’s been building for a while but bear with me! Especially if you use Flickr.

I’ve long thought it strange that whenever you add a link in Flickr, either as part of your profile within a caption for one of your images, they rewrite it to add in a rel=”nofollow”. The effect of this tag is to stop a search engine (which obviously ranks Flickr quite highly) from following the link and therefore helping your own site’s search ranking.

This is a common thing to do in comments (in fact this blog’s comments do that) as a means to avoid spammers improving the search ranking of their phishing sites. However to do it in my own profile and captions has always struck me as ungenerous and somehow against the community spirit of the web.

The above issue aside, as you will know I have this site, and my portfolio site and recently I began experimenting with adding links from some of my travel photography to one or other of these sites. However I ran into a problem.

Working in the web analytics industry and using Google Analytics on both my sites, I of course wanted to include the Google Analytics utm_source, medium and campaign tags on the links so I could see how effective they were at driving traffic to my sites. The problem is, if you do this and then make the linked text anything that looks like a URL or domain (i.e. Flickr would rewrite the linked text to be the same as the actual link href. Linked text that didn’t look like a URL (i.e. “My Site”) works just fine.

For example, if I wanted to add the following:
<a href=””></a>

Flickr would convert it to:
<a href=””></a>

Which is not very pretty!

Despite the issues Thomas Hawk has had with Flickr help (example here) and the general bad reports of staff that don’t really help, I decided to have a go at raising what I thought was a bug in the Help Forums. It seems everyone’s reports of how bad Flickr help is were true!

You can see the post I made here. Within seconds the response from one of the Flickr staff was it wasn’t a bug, it was that way by design to stop phishing and the thread was closed denying me any chance of responding! Frankly the phishing argument is bull!

So what they are saying is that I can post a link which says something like “Follow Me” and gives no clue what-so-ever as to where the link is going and that all fine. But if I actually try to be helpful and say use my domain as the linked text its a massive phishing risk and is not allowed. This just doesn’t make sense. If it was for phishing then they certainly wouldn’t let me use text such as “Follow Me” or “My Site” either.

So come on Yahoo – either sell Flickr to someone who cares and wants to develop and grow the service. Or pull your finger out and start spending some money on it yourself. Its definitely starting to stagnate!

1 Comment

  • Gary 2010 Jan 24 / 08:43

    Something I have come up against recently. Like you say, it seems really quite against the spirit if it’s in comments you write yourself but it sounds like the rule may have come about by earlier abuse..

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