Flickr does some very fun things for me, and my pink and blue dot loyalty planted in March 2004 remains true. One of the fun things it has done numerous times over the past 6+ years is, without much a recognizable pattern, decides to locate my photos somewhere in rural China and remote regions of Russia.
Case in point, there is an edited photo of a valentine rose posted last week to flickr posted from home here in Saskatchewan but Flickr decides it is a bit farther away. Screen shot version here:
It’s happened so often that I mostly ignore or do not notice, but at least the all seeing eye of Stephen Downes noticed after I shared the photo in Mastodon:
Ah yes, greetings from Botsy (as Wikipedia spells it) “(?????) is a rural locality (a selo) in Dzhidinsky District, Republic of Buryatia, Russia. The population was 550 as of 2010. There are 5 streets.”
Maybe the mis-mapping is some issue with the GPS data captured in my iPhone, but as the EXIF data shows on this photo in flickr, the longitude (around 105 W) is correct.
So if I click the link for flickr’s location in Russia, it reveals 64 of my photos taken around Botsiy!
The clue is in the URL parameters (see why it pays to be curious about URLs?)
it references longitude as
lon=105.71585 which is Longitude EAST. If you flip that value negative to
lon=-105.71585 you get some 2386 photos correctly mapped to my area in Saskatchewan.
The question for flickr is- why can you map 2386 photos correctly why do you mess up in the other 64?
Forum for Help
I decided to reach out for help in the flickr forums with a post explaining the situation. Alot of user replies came in, suggestions, people tried even reporting my photo and got the same result. Oh, and others confirmed its an old bug. But nothing from Flickr Official.
Someone even noted mine was a duplicate post, I had asked the same question in 2021 (but forgot, there’s nothing that really helps me find my posts in these forums).
The key result I did get was that as a FlickrPro user, if I send via a bug report form, I would get direct service. Where is that? I ended up web searching to find it at https://www.flickrhelp.com/ a site that looks different from the vintage layout of the user forums.
The only thing I did find was via a Contact link to a general request form, which, if you read the top sounds like its more about issues with account access. But I will try anywhere! And BOOM! The response was in maybe 2 hours:
I appreciate you letting us know that you are experiencing an issue with the geolocation mab box on your profile.from Amanda at Flickr Help
At this time, our engineers have been alerted and are working to resolve the issue.
While I do not have any exact timeframe for when this will be resolved, we are doing everything we can to get everything smoothed out again as quickly as possible.
To which I replied:
It’s not a significant issue for me, I more wanted Flickr to know if this problem. I have seen it happen numerous times over the years; before 2018 when I lived in Arizona, I saw 100s? Of my photos mapped to remote parts of China (my only visits there was to Shanghai and twice to Hong Kong)
Do you need me to find more examples?
Again it really does not bother me, but as a huge fan of Flickr since 2004 I want to help identify any problems.
Digging into Flickr API
I went deeper in digging for info on the rose photo that set this off using the Flickr API for the method flickr.photos.getInfo and the photo id
52690089339 the API reveals the wrong location data —
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<photo id="52690089339" secret="05b60de37e" server="65535" farm="66" dateuploaded="1676431124" isfavorite="0" license="9" safety_level="0" rotation="0" originalsecret="323b86829c" originalformat="jpg" views="112" media="photo">
<owner nsid="37996646802@N01" username="cogdogblog" realname="Alan Levine" location="Archydal, Canada" iconserver="7292" iconfarm="8" path_alias="cogdog" />
<title>By Any Color</title>
<visibility ispublic="1" isfriend="0" isfamily="0" />
<dates posted="1676431124" taken="2023-02-14 16:31:15" takengranularity="0" takenunknown="0" lastupdate="1676471187" />
<permissions permcomment="3" permaddmeta="3" />
<editability cancomment="1" canaddmeta="1" />
<publiceditability cancomment="1" canaddmeta="1" />
<usage candownload="1" canblog="1" canprint="1" canshare="1" />
<people haspeople="0" />
<tag id="14901-52690089339-986" author="37996646802@N01" authorname="cogdogblog" raw="rose" machine_tag="0">rose</tag>
<location latitude="50.469080" longitude="105.715850" accuracy="16" context="0">
<geoperms ispublic="1" iscontact="0" isfriend="0" isfamily="0" />
Then I look up the same photo’s exif data via flickr.photos.getExif and the location data looks correct:
<exif tagspace="GPS" tagspaceid="0" tag="GPSLatitudeRef" label="GPS Latitude Ref">
<exif tagspace="GPS" tagspaceid="0" tag="GPSLatitude" label="GPS Latitude">
<raw>50 deg 28' 8.69"</raw>
<clean>50 deg 28' 8.69" N</clean>
<exif tagspace="GPS" tagspaceid="0" tag="GPSLongitudeRef" label="GPS Longitude Ref">
<exif tagspace="GPS" tagspaceid="0" tag="GPSLongitude" label="GPS Longitude">
<raw>105 deg 42' 57.06"</raw>
<clean>105 deg 42' 57.06" W</clean>
It looks like to me somewhere the conversion from 105 deg 42′ 57.06 West longitude to numerical is fouled. But I have no idea how it works.
Doing My Own Mapping
My curiosity got to me- was my memory correct? I dug into the Flickr Oragnizr where I can use the bottom options to select my geotagged photos (like 23,000), and then via the Map button I could get a view of all these places in China, Russia, Mongolia where my photos were mis mapped
More than 1100 photos of mine are shown in parts of the world I have never seen. But I can spy the patterns, The locations marked lots south of Irkutsk Russia is where I live now in Saskatchewan. The other area with lots near Henan province in China are ones I took when I lived in Strawberry Arizona. In between these two are photos I took from my early road trips back and forth.
Those ones down in Laos? Some of those were from my times in Guadalajara Mexico.
What we have here is somewhat of a reverse image map of where I have been and roamed over the last few years… let’s see if I can get a comparison map thing going (the location map has to be reversed so the names are backward):
To help flickr I found examples that are explicitly obvious:
- Kamloops, BC https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/33564084071
- North Dakota, US https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/35638697831/
- Death Valley, CA https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/26280891669/
- Mount Rainier https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/29711637615/
- Grand Canyon AZ https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/40057019595/
The one from Kamloops is telling as others have noticed- my good photo friend from Australia, Michael Coghlan commented in 2017:
You’ve taken pix of this photogenic place before…..but seems Flickr thinks it’s in Mongolia!https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/33564084071/#comment72157678621828423
Leave ’em Flipped
I actually don’t care or even want flickr to fix my locations. I like the quirkiness. I just think they should know in case it matters to other people.
As for me? Yes, go ahead and believe I have been up and down the 5 streets of Botsiy, or lived for years in ???, ???, ??, drove through a desert to sea level in ??, ???, ?? south of Jinana, drove through a canyon in Avdzaga, Bulgan, Mongolia… I like the notoriety!
But Flickr, you might want to know what flips the longitude, because it makes a map difference to some folks.
Featured Image: One correctly located!
No response to issue except:
“We’re aware that there are improvements needed within the maps feature. While we don’t yet have a timeline for when these improvements will be made”
As it turns out, the flickr engineers have identified a problem: