Mark‘s been raving about Zooomr for a while now, and as the deadline approaches for Flickr users to merge their accounts with Yahoo! accounts, and having been through several instances where Yahoo! decided to randomly change my password without telling me, I thought I’d give Zooomr a try. I put up a few (75) photos and looked around the site for a few weeks. This is what I’ve found:
Zooomr’s strengths seem to lie in a more geographically and socially oriented navigation. When you log in you are presented with your friend’s photos, everyone’s photos and photos taken nearby you. Geotagging a photo is easy and is done within Zooomr, while with Flickr you have to use an outside geotagger like Yuan.CC.maps (which is nearly as easy to use). Photos are also arranged by who’s in them, resulting in a “popular” category in the top menu. If you want to look for photos and don’t have a particular tag in mind, you are given the choice of most-recently uploaded pictures and…well, that’s about it. Oh, you can also see who has uploaded the most photos, but I really don’t see the point in that, or the “famous” category for that matter.
Zooomr also has trackbacks, though there is no list of them on the multiple photo pages. You have to go to each and every photo page to see them, and, at least in my experience, they are mostly spam. Supposedly this is the reason Flickr has been hesitant to implement them, and I can understand why. Mark told me that the trackbacks were implemented when someone suggested them to the guy who runs the show over there. He wrote a few lines of code in a few minutes and viola! -trackbacks. But they don’t seem to work very well. Even when Mark linked to one of my pictures, people were obviously finding the photo through it, yet the trackback itself never showed up.
Zooomr’s photo presentation is busier and (I think) uglier than Flickr’s. While the Flickr design leaves white space around the photo and lets it be the most striking thing on the page, Zooomr crowds things around it and includes the distracting tri-colored banner at the top and grey sidebars.
Mark claims that Flickr adds filtering to photos, but all the examples he has raised involve resizing, which of course will change the parameters of any photo. I’ve looked very closely at photos on my hard drive as compared with original-sized photos on Flickr, and I can’t say that I’ve seen any differences. Nothing noticeable anyway. Doesn’t mean that there aren’t any, but if I can’t tell it’s there, it might as well not be.
Perhaps it is because I am used to navigating the Flickr world, but even after several weeks of using Zooomr, I never really got into it. There aren’t any groups that I can see, something I find it hard to do without for looking at a bunch of photos on one subject. It wasn’t easy to explore Zooomr photos, nothing led me on from photo to photo the way Flickr’s groups and user communities do. I suppose it could be that Zooomr has such a system, but due to the lack of a FAQ or help section I have no way of finding it.
Speaking of exploring, one huge advantage Flickr has over Zooomr (and other sites) is its Explore feature, using its “Interestingness” formula. I have found a great deal of exquisite photography using this feature, pictures and users and sets and groups that I never would have found otherwise (The Flickr blog is also great for this). And I’d like to think others have found my pictures using this feature as well. Searching for photos, you can view the search results ranked by “interestingness,” “most recent” or “most relevant.” With Zooomr, you can search for tags, and that’s it.
Another thing, obviously, is the fact that a whole lot more people are on Flickr than are on Zooomr. On Flickr I get views, comments and favorites on a daily basis, but most people I’ve seen on Zooomr have “oops, this user hasn’t faved any photos yet.” Occasionally I’ll get a couple of views, the odd comment. Yesterday I got linked to by Thomas Hawk, the guy who occasionally gets yelled at by building security guards. Which is something. But on the whole, it seems that the same factors that seem to be holding me back from getting more into the photography of other users on Zooomr are preventing other users from seeing my stuff as well.
All in all, while Zooomr is a valiant effort with interesting functionality, it seems that, while Zooomr puts the emphasis on physical place and who is in the picture, Flickr puts the emphasis on the photography itself, making it easier to go in and find good photos as well as good photographers from all over the world. The superior presentation, the groups, and just the sheer explorability of photography on Flickr win me over.
Let’s just hope that Yahoo! can preserve and nurture Flickr in the future. After seeing the rape and pillaging of Geocities, eGroups and other previously useful services at their bloody little hands, I have my doubts. Thus my interest in other services, as well as the fact that Ernie‘s gone off to “find himself” or something and is no longer at Yahoo! to help me retrieve mysteriously changed passwords. Flickr is far, far better than Yahoo! photos. In fact, there’s no real reason for Yahoo! to keep that part of its service any more. What remains to be seen is how they treat Flickr. A great many people have a huge amount at stake in this question.
While I will keep using Zooomr, I feel that right now, Flickr is still the best online photo service for my needs, and probably worth sticking to for a good while yet.