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Has Alamy changed its search algorithm (again!)?

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, imageplotter said:

 

geophotos, I appreciate the comment, but spending many, many hours for potentially absolutely nothing, when alamy encourage the use of and change to supertags and phrases, is kind of a big deal for me. It either has an effect to use them, or it doesn't. I don't see the 'not as great as it would have been' option there. If supertags are do not make any difference (and you are right that we don't know this for sure, yet), then 'the positive effect is not as great as it would have been' isn't quite accurate. Rather, 'you've spent those hours choosing and clicking supertags when you could have earned money doing something else'. Photography is my job. Stock is a minuscule part of it in terms of revenue, and if I do spend time on alamy images, rather than on paying client work, then it ain't great if that time generates zero outcome.  

 

This must be the fourth or fifth time I have been through such a change. If it is happening. :wacko:

 

To start they encouraged people to add as many keywords as possible, then they totally reversed that and wanted as few as possible, we had tagging of supposedly similar images and then that was dropped, then EssKeys/MainKeys etc, Location has been unsearchable and then searchable, Description has likewise been turned On and then Off in terms of searchability. 

 

We had stemming of verb forms, singulars/plurals and then that was dropped and we had to make changes all over again. I've probably forgotten some of the other changes.

 

On each occasion Alamy made the changes to try and improve their business, the collateral damage to contributors was just one of those things.

 

I do understand your frustration. It is totally impossible for me to re-work all my images.

 

 

Edited by geogphotos

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2 hours ago, Inchiquin said:

 

This is not new. Others, including myself, have reported similar findings over the last few months.

 

For example: http://discussion.alamy.com/topic/8009-supertags/

 

 

Alan

You are right Alan, but I think that this is a new episode if you like - my feeling is that Alamy had improved things for a few months and now more tinkering has occurred - those of us with larger collections, whose figures for views/zooms/sales tend overall to be more stable are likely to notice these sort of changes first I think

 

I have contacted customer support to ask why the system of supertags/tags/caption level of importance can result in such glaring errors. My impression is they are increasing caption importance again - I will let you know what the reply is next week, though it will probably be along the lines of "Keep doing what we tell you to do and all will be fine...")

 

Kumar (the Doc one)

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42 minutes ago, Doc said:

You are right Alan, but I think that this is a new episode if you like - my feeling is that Alamy had improved things for a few months and now more tinkering has occurred - those of us with larger collections, whose figures for views/zooms/sales tend overall to be more stable are likely to notice these sort of changes first I think

 

I have contacted customer support to ask why the system of supertags/tags/caption level of importance can result in such glaring errors. My impression is they are increasing caption importance again - I will let you know what the reply is next week, though it will probably be along the lines of "Keep doing what we tell you to do and all will be fine...")

 

Kumar (the Doc one)

 

 

Sorry to go against the grain but I would be pleased with that. In general the more Alamy conforms to IPTC standards the better. As opposed to offering contributors these time-consuming and fiddly Alamy brand metadata puzzles with constantly changing opaque rules of play.

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3 hours ago, geogphotos said:

 

This must be the fourth or fifth time I have been through such a change. If it is happening. :wacko:

 

To start they encouraged people to add as many keywords as possible, then they totally reversed that and wanted as few as possible, we had tagging of supposedly similar images and then that was dropped, then EssKeys/MainKeys etc, Location has been unsearchable and then searchable, Description has likewise been turned On and then Off in terms of searchability. 

 

We had stemming of verb forms, singulars/plurals and then that was dropped and we had to make changes all over again. I've probably forgotten some of the other changes.

 

On each occasion Alamy made the changes to try and improve their business, the collateral damage to contributors was just one of those things.

 

I do understand your frustration. It is totally impossible for me to re-work all my images.

 

 

Totally understand that this has happened a few times. And yes, you have my complete symphathy in terms of even attempting to re-work a large portfolio like yours. I wish I had such a big port. What I would say though is that this one [if it is indeed the case] appears to have a stronger effect on which images come up where than some other changes e.g. description on/off or location on/off, given that a smaller % of customers are likely to search by description, and location is, if relevant to searches, likely to appear somewhere in the keywords and/or heading as well, especially since the googlemaps location tool seems somewhat plagued with inaccuracies. Imho.

 

Agree that it would be great if they'd be closer to IPTC data standards and ability to export from the software of choice with data already in place they could get, the fewer changes need to be made in AIM once uploaded by each contributor. I wonder, wouldn't that also be easier on the system overall, if fewer contributors were constantly finding the need to fiddle and adjust (of course a degree of that will always exist as and when info needs to be added to legacy images to keep them relevant etc). 

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There is a lot of movement of large image collections from agency to agency, newspaper syndicate archives to agency, museum to agency, going on in the stock industry. All tags, not only Alamy tags, are a problem for agencies moving big collections.

 

Many of these collections rely mainly on extensive captions. A large collection, with only captions is not going to do extra work to Alamy tag/supertag the several million images in their collections, if they move images to Alamy.

 

So I think the extensive caption will become more and more important to all agencies, because it is easy to transfer between all agencies without extensive extra tagging.

 

My policy has been to get as many supertags written into the caption as possible. Then do the 10 Alamy supertags, especially tag phrases as supertags, and as many other regular Alamy tags as possible. I am willing to throw in the thesaurus for regular tags, to achieve green status, as long as the words are relevant. This covers most Alamy bases. The extensive caption also prepares my collection if I move my RF images to another agency.

 

I think the best solution for all, would be a machine intelligence that could parse information from an extensive well written caption. Maybe this will happen in the future, or is happening today.

 

The stock industry is ever changing. Experimentation is normal. Therefore nothing can be certain, including the future of tags/supertags/caption. We can only speculate.

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Posted (edited)

One of the changes I forgot to mention was that of using quotation marks. I don't think it was ever put into operation because not enough images were ever re-worked. I guess that when they did trials it did not produce a better search experience.

 

Giving contributors buttons to press with the reward of improved image placement doesn't make too much sense to me. Introducing such as system when the collection is already at 100 million means that it is going to produce skewed results favouring newer contributors with small collections who are able to respond, and hurting larger collections and especially, and very importantly edited agency ones. But 'fairness' doesn't actually matter - it is the search experience for buyers that has to come first and foremost. 

 

I also thought that reducing the caption to minor importance was a retrograde step - to me that is where the most crucial information has to go and the image should really sink or swim on the basis of its caption. 

 

Looking at more searches it seems to me that my pseudos are further spaced apart then ever. My 'geogphotos' ones are appearing higher than before, my secondary pseudo has gone down, and my pseudo for old films scans is slumped down at the very end of the searches. That is all fine as far as I am concerned. 

Edited by geogphotos

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My views and zooms are at the lowest level since January 2016 - about a quarter of what they were about 3 months ago.

 

I have more sales than zooms; but for how long?

 

John.

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One thing I've noticed more particularly over the past week is that where I have several images in a more 'generic' search, my files are scattered right through the search, as are others I can identify who also have several images in the search. I can't work out any other reason why my files would be spread out in that way; maybe it's a policy to let buyers see more variety.

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21 hours ago, Stokie said:

My views and zooms are at the lowest level since January 2016 - about a quarter of what they were about 3 months ago.

 

I have more sales than zooms; but for how long?

 

John.

 

From 30-40 zooms per month I'm currently down to just one zoom in January. 

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2 hours ago, ReeRay said:

 

From 30-40 zooms per month I'm currently down to just one zoom in January. 

 

Similar for me   - usually 40 - 50 per month but only 8 so far this month.

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35 minutes ago, John Walker said:

 

Similar for me   - usually 40 - 50 per month but only 8 so far this month.

I have none this month.  Normally get about 30 a month.  I'm very concerned.

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2 hours ago, John Walker said:

 

Similar for me   - usually 40 - 50 per month but only 8 so far this month.

 

I guess there a a few possibilities here:

  1. The search engine has changed in which case there would be winners as well as losers. I guess number of views might be more indicative of this than the number of zooms.
  2. They have altered the way they report/measure views/zooms
  3. Alamy is simply getting less traffic than previously

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My zooms are almost non-existent also. One for the rolling week. One puny distributor sale.

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12 minutes ago, Betty LaRue said:

My zooms are almost non-existent also. One for the rolling week. One puny distributor sale.

 

One solitary zoom and no sales..... very very unusual.... something would appear to be amiss.....

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18 zooms since January 1st. It is picking up but slower than normal, maybe businesses have had a long Christmas New Year break.

4 sales and one stupid pointless annoying personal use refund. Personal use sales should be declared non refundable at the point of purchase along with print use.

 

Craig

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1 hour ago, Martyn said:

 

One solitary zoom and no sales..... very very unusual.... something would appear to be amiss.....

I’m wondering if Alamy is short-staffed during this period after the holidays. In the past when this has happened. I usually get a clump of zooms at once. Catch up, so to speak. Here’s hoping. 

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2 minutes ago, Betty LaRue said:

I’m wondering if Alamy is short-staffed during this period after the holidays. In the past when this has happened. I usually get a clump of zooms at once. Catch up, so to speak. Here’s hoping. 

 

I like the positive thinking!

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34 minutes ago, Betty LaRue said:

I’m wondering if Alamy is short-staffed during this period after the holidays. In the past when this has happened. I usually get a clump of zooms at once. Catch up, so to speak. Here’s hoping. 

I've just been through and re-chased a few sales from September for which I was initially told would be billed last week. As you say, hopefully there'll be an avalanche soon

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Betty LaRue said:

I’m wondering if Alamy is short-staffed during this period after the holidays. In the past when this has happened. I usually get a clump of zooms at once. Catch up, so to speak. Here’s hoping. 

I didn’t think the zoom count required human intervention.

Edited by tarsierspectral

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Alamy's reply to my e-mail

 

"Thanks for the email. Our search engine team are aware of the specifics of your email and of other similar emails regarding questions over search ordering.

 

While all our metrics suggest the new search engine is working better for our customers than ever before, we are constantly looking at ways of tweaking and improving the results. A number of different algorithms can be in place at any one time and different groups of users including different customer groups may well see different ordering of search results as a consequence. We monitor the data from this very closely and it helps us implement constant improvements over time.


As we have previously mentioned on the forum and email responses to contributors, we recommend that you do not change the way you apply Supertags and Tags to your images and continue to keyword and caption your images accurately. We understand that this advice has been criticised but our aim is to ensure that photographers who take good relevant pictures, who use the correct metadata, and whose images sell well see their pictures get to the top of the results.

 

Any tweaks or changes we make to the search engine now or in the future will aim to benefit those photographers who follow our recommendations."

 

It's nice to hear this, but  as a photographer who does follow Alamys' recommendations I can see no advantage or explanation for why in a search for "Bury St Edmunds",  images of three old men in santa suits, a girl on a merry go round and a used car on the forecourt of a dealership (all mine)  should turn up on pages 1 and 2, whereas other more appropriately keyworded images are very much lower down. 

 

Kumar (the Doc one)

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2 minutes ago, Doc said:

 

 

It's nice to hear this, but  as a photographer who does follow Alamys' recommendations I can see no advantage or explanation for why in a search for "Bury St Edmunds",  images of three old men in santa suits, a girl on a merry go round and a used car on the forecourt of a dealership (all mine)  should turn up on pages 1 and 2, whereas other more appropriately keyworded images are very much lower down. 

 

Kumar (the Doc one)

 

Don't knock it.:)

 

Allan

 

 

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I'd like to hear your thoughts on this:

I have a live news image that has sold 4 times to 4 different publications, only 1 has reported so far, this is fine by me, that's the way it goes BUT

the slight problem I have is the placement in the search engine of the image, now let's suppose this image is like no other, the best of 2200 other images, Im assuming because the other publications haven't reported the image, the image is on page 20 of 23 when I do a search for it.

Do you think this is right? I have a cracking image that isn't going to be seen any more because it is so far back.

If an image has been downloaded and used shouldn't it be pushed further up the table even though it hasn't been paid for.

Anyone...

 

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I noticed on the Alamy Blog, I think, that there are now over 70,000 "active" contributors on Alamy.  That is a significant increase from the 55,000 figure I saw last year.  They still tout over 100,000 images per day, submitted, but that could conceivably be 300,000 for all we know.

 

Knowing Alamy has built in ways to make sure there is a diverse selection to choose from by placing some (for diversity sake) images further up toward page one or so, is it possibly that we are just seeing the results of this massive increase of photographers contributing??  I was thinking it could be that or perhaps the addition of several very large library's, collections or what ever.

 

Edit:  I have to add that I have totally given up trying to figure out how the Alamy search function works.  Just too many variables and, state secrets, to make sense of it.

 

Rick

Edited by Rick Lewis

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Hi All

 

 

Something strange happened for me today even though I had my first sale and zoom last week, this morning in measures 4 of my Images showed up for this search term

 

"Ölheizung"  even though that search term is not in any keywords caption etc etc never had this happen before .

 

Is this the new algorithm or an auto translate.

 

Like the rest of you views etc on the deck .

 

Regards

 

 

Jon

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