Motivations to Upload and Tag Images vs. Tagging Practice: An Investigation of the Web 2.0 Site Flickr
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AbstractDigital images are being created and uploaded online in large numbers and this can be attributed to three main interconnected factors: a change in attitudes towards photography and its role in society; technological advancements in the camera industry; and changes in web technology. Many of these digital images are being uploaded to Flickr, one of the most popular of the new web 2.0 image management and sharing applications. Flickr supports secure storage, sharing, online communities, and tagging. Tagging is intended to aid with the organisation, description, and retrieval of images, and as tagging in Flickr generally relates to personal images (e.g., photographs), the tags assigned are highly subjective. Previous research has investigated motivations to upload and tag images in web 2.0 image management and sharing applications, and types of tags used in web 2.0 image management and sharing applications, and a limited number of studies have attempted to correlate the two, however no research has attempted to correlate the two whilst also taking into account the subjective nature of image tagging. Identifying the discrepancies between why people want to use Flickr, and how they use it can help system designers and users to get the best out of these applications. This thesis compares users’ motivations to upload and tag their images in Flickr with how they tag their images in practice. The study used a quantitative survey methodology consisting of a semi-structured questionnaire to explore user motivations. Tagging practices were investigated via a manual tag classification scheme applied to automatically extracted Flickr tags. The questionnaire results show that Flickr users are primarily motivated to upload their images to Flickr for the purposes of social-communication (i.e., to draw attention to their images for comments and feedback and to express and present aspects of their personality and identity) and for socialorganisation (i.e., so other people can access and view the images uploaded). However, tagging images in Flickr is not associated with the motivation of social-organisation and is instead more closely aligned to social-communication, and self-organisation (i.e., as a way of organising images for personal search and retrieval). Self-communication (i.e., documenting and recording for memory and personal reflection) was not found to be a popular motivation for either uploading or tagging images. Flickr users that are motivated to upload their images for the purposes of self-organisation have the clearest tagging practice and they predominantly use tags that are only meaningful to themselves. Gender, pro account status, number of images, and number of contacts are also strong predictors of tagging practice. However, overall, tagging practice is more closely associated with image content than with the motivation the user has. Although the results show that socialcommunication is the most prominent factor in motivating users to upload their images and in motivating users to tag their images, the findings reveal that users who are motivated to upload their images for the purposes of social-organisation are not using the system to its full potential.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.