Before yesterday, I could give proper creative commons attribution to the image I used here in one copy/paste action. Today it take 8 clicks and I canot copy the owner's name's name to attribute  cc licensed flickr photo by by some guy named Steve
Before yesterday, I could give proper creative commons attribution to the image I used here in one copy/paste action. Today it take 6.. 7.. 8 clicks and still I cannot copy the owner’s name’s name to attribute! Here gies cc licensed (take a wold guess at the license) flickr photo by by some guy named Steve

Since 2009 I have maintained what was once just a greasemonkey script, but later a chrome extension that was designed primarily to help me blog with flickr creative commons attribution photos (it provided a string of text with proper attribution, license, and the img tag to embed the image). As of yesterday, when apparently yahoo flicked the switch, my cc attribution helper is in the trash; inert, dead, and with no hopes of coming back.

In the trash.

I spent about 3 hours today trying to parse the new code underneath the new Yahoo look, and felt I could parse most of the info like before with Xpath, but something in the new architecture renders the script dead, even for simple alert debugging checks. Yahoo is serving up some complex Javascripted dynamic content. Besides the ASCII bicycle in the HTML source (candy), you find fun trickery like:

<div class="facade-of-protection-neue ">&amp;nbsp;</div>

Yahoo’s class is a facade of protection… neue! Charming.

The helper may not be totally impossible to fix, but I trotted out beyond the limits of my browser scripting, the XPATH code I had used was already on those fringes. I doubt I have the chops to raise it from the dead.

I think only Yahoo can enable this, so if this was useful, you can toss in a few votes for my suggestion as a feature.

The creative commons licensing in the new groovy flickr is down below one of the three “charm” tabs; on your own images you actually see the license, but on anyone else’s page you see either All Rights Reserved or Some Rights Reserved — to know the license you have to hover or click.

More clicks to attribute correlates with what is already a low level of attribution going down the tubes.

Some Rights Hidden.. what is the license on a flickr image??
Some Rights Hidden.. what is the license on a flickr image??

To give attribution to the owner of this image… I cannot even copy/paste Steve’s name. Sorry Steve.

no copy

The funny thing about the flickr interface is where its veneer thins, and the old flickr look pokes through. If you go to your own photo stream, and click “Edit” (I’ve never even done this before)- look, beneath! It’s old flickr!

Old flickr lurks beneath the new
Old flickr lurks beneath the new

And even more ironically, the flickr collection for creative commons? It’s the same old page it was in 2011. It’s old flickr with a new headband!

flickr cc old

The de-valuation of creative commons shows too- nowhere in the source code of a flickr creative commons image can you find any meta data or rdf triples or any shred of machine code ti indicate creative commons content. It’s undiscoverable.

Now I now many of you will tell me how bad flickr is, and how you have moved on to 500px or self hosted or … I am going to go out on a wobbly limb; I kind of like the new design, It’s modern.

new flickr

I just want to be able to more cleanly and efficiently do attribution.

I believe in attribution.

I still love flickr, this being my 10th year hoisting my photos there.

Stupid romantic am I.


So back to the drawing board. The rights info and everything else is in there via the flickr API, so probably a better approach is some sort of bookmarklet tool that can provide the cut and past code in a pop up window. Rewriting the content into the flickr page was nice while it worked, but was always dependent on the structure of their pages having certain divs and ids and classes. That was always dicey.

UPDATE Mar 27, 2014 No, I did not get a personal call of apology from Marissa Meyer.

I have been seeking some images, and found a bit of a shorter step process to find attribution.

I do my searches with the creative commons options at compfight. They actually have a decent attribution string you can copy, and then download the size you need. But I follow the link to the flickr image, this case one of the great collection of numbers by LEOL30. Under the 3 Dot menu, then to Download/All Sizes. From here is a decent attribution license string and the name of the photo owner you can actually copy with a mouse. One more click to copy the page URL.

Getting to the new and less improved flickr attribution text
Getting to the new and less improved flickr attribution text

cc-method-new so at least I have

"15" by LEOL30 Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

I can get some HTML in my 500px size via the arrow coming out of the box icon so I can get

some cut and paste image code for a blog post

“15” by LEOL30 Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

It’s interesting that flickr puts an attribution to the photo owner in its own generated HTML tag, for the title attribute:

Hyperlink code generated from flickr share button
Hyperlink code generated from flickr share button


title="15 by LEOL30, on Flickr"

How much extra effort would it take for them to modify that to read:

title="15 by LEOL30, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 
License photo on Flickr"

They can do this, if they wanted to.

The post "New Flickr Trashes Creative Commons Attribution Helper" was originally pushed out of the bottom of a purple jar of Play-Doh at CogDogBlog ( on March 26, 2014.


  • Ben Harwood

    That stinks. I hope Yahoo doesn’t make me want to drop flickr in favor of Snapchat.

  • I can’t help but wonder if this is just Flickr trying to drive people to just use the oEmbed feature so all of their media used across the web is properly, and in their eyes consistently, documented, linked, and attributed. It works pretty nicely, and while you certainly can’t control what the embed looks like, it makes sense if they’re trying to give people easy tools for showing off photos hosted using the service.

  • Well fine then, I withdraw my “works pretty nicely” comment, and replace it with “it works”. I usually just scrape the higher resolution ones, and then do the copy/paste routine you described; I’m a glutton for punishment.

    • Alan Levine aka CogDog

      There’s a gazillion ways to go about it; my old script saved a lot of tedious work, and made sure I could in one click copy all the HTML I needed to embed an image, a text attribution string, and declare the cc license for my blog posts; or just a straight text version for use in presentation slides. But it also meant my attribution was consistent.

      And there is nothing wrong with technical gluttony, not even a sin in my book.

  • I had been using the Open Attribute plugin ( and it looks like that is borked in Flickr as well. Dammit.

  • Such a drag. I used your Chrome extension (and grease monkey script before that) all the time with course blogs and encouraged students to do the same.

    I left a comment on Alan’s suggested feature post, and encourage others to do the same!

  • Chris L

    I use a Keyboard Maestro macro… it demands multiple cut and paste from the main photo page into a KM dialog box (I could probably eliminate the pasting, but I’m too lazy to be lazy enough), but it’s faster than doing it manually.

  • Hi Alan,
    I sometimes use this:
    pretty horrible looking, I made it a few years ago for wee kids. The embed code is not great but the stamp option is good for young pupils and perhaps others.

    I’ve also got a bookmarklet I usually use on iOS which get the id and point to this page (with eg):
    All in much need of improvements.

    I guess flickr still deserves love for its API, but this and the hiding of rss feeds make that love harder to feel

  • Chris L

    As of today they are at least now showing a CC image on the main photo page so you can at least tell it has such a license and hover over it to see what kind. A marginal improvement.

    • Alan Levine aka CogDog

      Not sure I am seeing that. On your own photos, it lists the exact license in text (it is a menu, so you can change settings). I just looked at examples from only on images licensed “BY” does the photo page say “Attribution” license; for every other CC license option, it reads “Some Rights Reserved” — flickr is internally in consistent.

      I don’t care, I have a new bookmarklet tool working. When installed, and clicked on a flickr page, it sends up a new window with the cut and paste attribution code. At this point, setting it up means putting an HTML file on your own server, and editing the bookmarklet tool to point to your won script/

      • Chris L

        Weird. Or not so weird: I’m not seeing anything consistent right now.

        Can you share the script? I briefly looked at doing a Python script using the API for a keyboard macro…looks doable, but I won’t have time to try for a while.

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