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Unpawning Flickr Notes

creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by

Hey! Stand up, code up, hack up! Just because [fill in the blank of your favorite web service that yanked the chain on a feature you adored] took away a feature, you are not powerless.

One of my long running favorite flickr features was the ability to annotate part of an image with notes, like making an interactive diagram — like this one, which is in my top most viewed flickr images.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

In the past, you could hover over part of the diagram, and a text bubble would appear with an explanation and a hypertext link.

This is an insanely useful tool for teachers. I can think of few subjects that you cannot find a use for annotating an image or diagram. Or, as I did as one of the 50+ Web Ways to Tell a Story, you could weave a choose your own adventure path through a series of flickr photos.




In its rather unpopular redesign earlier this year, flickr completely removed the notes functionality. Gone.

But thanks to Lisa Lane I am Unpawning Myself from flickr. We were actually discussing another Neutered Feature, the audio synced slidecasts from SlideShare, when she pointed out

And sure enough, when I checked her site there was a flickr image with its notes functional!

The answer is MBedr a site someone assembled that creates code that let’s you embed the notes functionality back in. There is no black magic, the flickr photos.getInfo api provides a means to request the notes data from an image.

So the data is there.

But flickr decided that you never get to see it on their site.

PAWN UP! Compare this image to the inert dead one above.

And not just that one, how about

Do not just take being pawned by [fill in the blank of your favorite web service that yanked the chain on a feature you adored] laying down. You have power

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Kaptain Kobold

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Thank you for pointing me the right direction. A lot of my images on Flickr have notes and I thought I had lost all my hard work. I just don’t understand how the data is still embedded but they won’t let you see the notes. What is the point of that? I will try to retrieve as much as I can, and not bank on even the hidden feature to be there indefinitely.

    1. I cannot explain the why, I can only guess its driven by the site design aiming to be as minimal as possible, and that means cutting out features not many people use.

      Keeping the data is easy; I can see it becomes complex to manage all the interactions with it. I would not count on the feature coming back.

  2. I have created a browser-utility (“userscript”) that brings notes back to photos directly on Flickr. You can even create new notes if you want to:
    The script requires a “userscript” extension installed in the browser to install and work. Typically used “userscript extensions” are Greasemonkey for Firefox or Tampermonkey for Chrome:
    When Greasemonkey or Tampermonkey is installed in a desktop browser, Stig’s Flickr Fixr can be installed from:

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