TagCow Photo Tagging Service

Wednesday, May 14, 2008 by Mistlee

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TagCow Photo Tagging Service

By Thomas Hawk

I got an email from TagCow today thanking me for participating in their beta tagging service (they've tagged thousands of my photos on Flickr for me) and letting me know that to thank me that I was credited with "100 free tagging credits."

100 Tag credits get me their tagging service on 100 more photos.

"Dear TagCow.com Customer,

Let us begin by saying thank you for being a beta user. By using TagCow.com you have provided invaluable feedback and information during our Beta testing. From your feedback, we have made many improvements to our tag quality, performance and processes. We are now looking forward to the next phase in our development and are readying our site for a release to a broader audience.

To say thank you, we have credited your account with 100 free tagging credits. We hope you will continue to use the service and see the improvements that we have made and will continue to make.


Is Tagcow The Future of Tagging on Flickr?

Now of course I knew that TagCow was too good to be true when it first started out. And I had no idea of how a company could offer something like this for free.

The cost of the tagging service is by tag as follows:

• 250     -   $9.95
• 500     -   $19.95
• 1000   -   $39.95
• 2000   -   $69.95 save 10%
• 2500   -   $89.95 save 10%

So basically you are paying 4 cents per tag that they put on the photo with discounts if you buy 2000 or more tags at a time.

Now TagCow says that they use a "secret" method to tag your photos. From their FAQ:

"We can't tell you all our secrets but we can say that it is a combination of both computer and human technology. There have been numerous attempts to have computers do some sort of facial or other type of recognition. But let's face it, the technology is just not there yet. We incorporate the best of both "technologies" to solve a fill a very simple need: searchable personal photos."

How they are tagging is actually pretty simple though. They are basically just using Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk service and paying other people 4 cents per tag to tag your photos. Read here at TechCrunch for more on that. They do also have a automated technology that does text recognition from photographs, but my own experience is that this part of their tagging service is pretty worthless. The worst and most inaccurate tagging that they did on my photos came from what was obviously their text recognition engine. (See the last 14 tags on this photo on Flickr to see what I'm talking about).

Continue reading this article.

About the Author:
Thomas Hawk is a San Francisco based photographer and technology writer. He publishes the web site Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection and is also the Evangelist and CEO of the photo sharing site Zooomr.
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