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In January 2008 the online photo hosting site Flickr introduced a new section entitled The Commons. The two key goals of The Commons are (1) to show the hidden treasures in the world’s public photography archives to the general public and; (2) to give Flickr community members the opportunity to contribute and describe these photos in order to enrich these collections.
Surprisingly enough, little empirical research has been done focusing on the actual usage of The Commons by the institutes and by the Flickr members. Institutes have published self-reports and some research has been done by sending these institutes surveys in order to gain insight (Vaughan, 2010). In order to make more accurate claims about the added value of The Commons, a richer data sample is needed that sheds some light on the usage of The Commons by the Institutes and by the Flickr members.
In our research we harvested such a rich data sample over a 14-week period. The data sample contains 196.822 photos with user-generated content such as 1.3 million tags, almost 130.000 comments and more than 22.000 notes. In total 165,401 members, from 188 different countries, actively ‘did something’ with the photos.
During our presentation we will focus on the analysis of this large data sample. One of the surprising conclusions we can draw is that the amount of user-generated content is quite limited. While 96% of the photos contain more than one tag, the institutes themselves added 68% of the 1.3 million found tags. On top of that, almost two thirds of the user-generated tags came from only 10 individual users. Apart from quantitative findings we will discuss qualitative findings concerning the content analysis of tags and comments.
Based on the data analysis of actual user behavior we will reflect on the question whether Flickr The Commons is living up to its goal of reaching out to a community to enrich collections.