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Flickr, why have you screwed up the ALT text?!?

Flickr [1],
you do a lot that I love – you’re easy to use, and you’ve built-in such elegantly simple and strong features. You’re engineered to function well for SEO [2], too – your pages are built with spider-friendly URLs, you have multiple link hierarchies, and you allow users to enter in lots of custom text which can allow for optimal TITLEs, H1 text, description captions, user-tagging, and cool geotagging. you even have a fairly cool blog [3] to communicate with your community of users. But, you’ve messed something up this year that irritates the heck out of me:

Flickr’s ALT text is blank on the image pages!

Yes, it’s true – on each image’s main page, the image has nothing in the ALT portion of the image:

Holly Hill House [4]

<img src=”http://farm1.static.flickr.com/36/112354736_1de2bc367c.jpg?v=0″ alt=”” width=”500″ height=”375″ onload=”show_notes_initially();” class=”reflect”>

I’m pretty sure that your ALT text was working in the past, but at some point, one of your developers made it so that the image’s custom title text no longer gets populated into the IMG ALT parameter, reducing one of the prime signals that inform search engines as to what keywords apply to an image.

Search engines aren’t the only ones that use that ALT text — it’s also important for the vision-impaired who surf the internet using “talking browsers”. Yeah, yeah — I know — why would the vision-impaired be surfing Flickr to begin with? Well, they can run across the pages when searching for various types of information, just like everyone else.

Please, please, Flickr: fix your ALT text!

Yours truly,
A Devoted Fan [5]

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