DeviantArt versus Flickr

So, I'm spinning my wheels and racking my brain getting the 100 Artist Project the publicity it needs to get the final 30 pieces of art (seriously, it just stopped, no one is sending anything) when I decide to give Deviant Art another try. I know I started a project topic there early on so I thought I'd check on it.

I'd created a DA account about the same time as my Flickr account. Mrs. A had been on Flickr a while before me and was using it for her photos and networking. Up until recently Flickr as been a photo friendly, if not exclusive, gallery networking site. Deviant Art has always been more open to any form of art. However, the differences in the structure made me really start leaning heavily toward Flickr, enough that I'd end up paying a yearly fee so I could be excluded by virtue of my pencil.

DA's major failing to me is it's usability, and the biggest part of that are the uploads.

Many if not all image hosting sites allow users to upload multiple images at a time. You may not have much control over their size, descriptive tags or categorizing methods but you can at least bulk upload. The more prolific you are, the more this becomes a major selling point. DA doesn't allow that. I haven't even seen where it's available if you have a paid subscription. Each time you want to upload a file, you have to give it a category via an inane flash menu, you have to pick the file one at a time, you HAVE to give it tags and you HAVE to give it a description or it won't let you upload it. Then each time you upload, you HAVE to agree to both the TOS and the EULA. It's not enough that you agreed to it by signing up, you have to do it each time you upload an image. To make matters worse, once you fill all this out, it asks you if you want to sell your work. I'm all for making money on my art, but please don't ask me every frickin' time to do it. Let me upload 15 drawings and just let people decide if they want to buy it.

Now, they make it a bit easier by allowing you to put multiple files in a "holding area" but it's useless because the upload page forgets all the information, categories and checkboxes you just filled out and so you have to repeat the process. I was going to throw up 30 robot drawings but I don't have all weekend to fuck around in there.

Another thing I've noticed about DA is the weird community structure. It's both forum and comments and journal and comments on journals and projects in which there are discussions. It's a bit all over the place and today I was noticing there is only one page full of forum. It only goes back a day and there isn't a second page. That's especially troublesome when you're sifting through the "how can we make our site better" forum and there's only 20 suggestions going back to yesterday.

Flickr on the other hand is a peach. I have still some problems with it, namely the fact that ad agencies with low morals assume the site is a one stop shop for stock photos. On the flip side, I believe there was originally such a loophole in DA's EULA that the company was practically selling images without the members' knowledge. Flickr also has had some problems with censorship, but it's run by Yahoo! and it's run all over the world. I think eventually those issues will work out.

Deviant Art also doesn't allow hotlinking, last I checked. What this means is you can't go to your favorite message board and post up the image you've hosted at DA. You can link to the page it's on, but not display it in line. This may sound like an odd thing, but when you're an artist who communicates online, you want people to see your work. Flickr doesn't necessarily allow it either, and it gives you code to link back to the image in your stream if you post it elsewhere, but then it also provides the link for just the image itself. It's like your parents giving you beer and the keys and then saying, "Do the right thing."

I've poured through some of DA's community and while it seems more lively, it's not necessarily more constructive or friendly, at least more than Flickr. Flickr doesn't have the classic message board structure for it's groups, but it's groups provide more options as a way to pool art and also have discussions based on the group theme. As far as I can tell, DA is either galleries or forums and not much in the way of connecting them, I could be wrong.

Flickr is also clean and professional looking. It's simple and easy to find things. My only complaint about it is the official Forums are all a million posts long and searching for official information can be tedious. But not impossible. DA is dark, angst ridden and doing its best to remain cool by offering mobile services (which Flickr does too.) It's more open to all artists, but I get the impression it's the anime and desktop wallpaper designers that are the darlings, just as the photographers still are on Flickr.

Flickr also has so many ways to tweak the site with it's open API that any shortcomings you may find are always just a Greasemonkey script away from being a thing of the past. This makes the site feel more user friendly and hospitable and it makes DA seem restrictive and intractable. I'm willing to give DA another shot if it helps the project, but I'm serious, it's that one at a time upload thing that's just got me wanting to reach through the screen and shake the crap out of whoever built the stupid site.

If you have kind or evil words for either site, I'd love to here them.

Carry on.

No comments: