Of Pictures and Privacy

Pictures are expensive

That is true quite literally -- it costs a lot to have a web server with a big enough disk to store lots and lots of pictures, especially if they're big enough to see details. But a picture is worth a thousand words.

I could take the route of requiring members to upload their pictures elsewhere, like Flickr or Photobucket, and only link to them from within the content of Dollation. That doesn't work for me for two reasons:

  1. It's too much of a pain to go to another site to upload photos and I want adding things to Dollation to be as easy as possible. This is partly selfish -- I'm designing Dollation to be the ultimate doll resource for me to use to keep track of my doll collection and I want it to be as quick and easy as possible because I have a lot of dolls to document.
  2. Pictures can go away from external sites, leaving the dreaded red x (or nothing at all) showing on Dollation. One of the sad things about sites like eBay is how all those gorgeous pictures and descriptions go away when the auction ended more than 60 days ago. I want the information on Dollation to be lasting. Plus, it's easy to forget that you linked to your picture when you're cleaning up your albums on a site like Photobucket.

So, I want members to be able to easily upload their pictures but I need to make sure they're sized appropriately for Dollation. (We don't need high resolution uploads because it's not like we're Snapfish and we're making money off of members ordering prints or calendars made from their photos.) We're going to have to rely on sponsors to foot the cost of web hosting sufficient to store the photos because photos are the most important way we have of sharing our dolls with each other on-line. (So, sadly, there's no way Dollation can be ad free. It's either ads or a membership fee which I will never require.)

There will be a cost to uploading your photos, but it won't be $$

One of things I hate about on-line albums of doll photos is not knowing the identity of the dolls (or dolls stuff) is in the pictures! That's going to be my price for adding your photo to Dollation -- tell us who/what is in it. I'll make this as easy as possible by having an 'Add picture' link to an item in your collection so it is automatically linked to the other information in your item description. (And that information is automatically added for you if you clicked 'I have one' in the Dollipedia to get it into your collection list.) This way, too, we can show a gallery of member's photos when looking at a doll (or outfit, or what-ever) in the Dollipedia.

But what if I want to upload a doll photo but I haven't added the doll to my collection tracker yet? That's the "price". But what if nobody has added the doll to the Dollipedia yet, so I can't click "I have this"? That's the "price". By being the first to add a picture of that doll, you are sharing information with the rest of us as well, besides just the pretty picture.

Tell me a story, show me your settings

The other thing I love is photo stories and pictures of scenes and settings that people have set up. Judging from the number of people who wanted to take the Virtual Tour of my collection on my old Maria's Doll House website, I'm not alone. These will be accomplished with albums on Dollation. They'll be nested albums in the case of scenes and settings (so I can have an album for my AG-size dollhouse, for instance, with sub-albums for each room). And they'll be specialized album views for showing long captions with pictures in the case of photo stories.

Whose picture is this, anyway?

It's going to have to be part of the Member Agreement that we only upload pictures that we own. (I suppose I will have to add a 'Flag for abuse' link to content on the site so that members can help monitor this.) The exception is unattributed photos for the Dollipedia that are understood to be owned by the company that we're documenting. I will probably have to deal with companies that do not want us to share their photos, but since we are giving them free marketing, I don't anticipate many will be silly enough to not want us to promote their products. (A notice at the top of Edit pages for these companies will hopefully be enough to address that along with the abuse flag so members can alert Ruby when someone uploads one anyway.)

You may have noticed that most uploaded pictures have a Dollation.com watermark. This is because it emphasizes that the photo is on a site that is not the official site of the company that owns it (if it's a catalog photo) and so that random folks can't save members' photos and use them, for instance, in their eBay ad passing them off as their own. I will also be putting the link to the user account that uploaded the photo under the picture (such as in the Member's Pictures galleries in the Dollipedia) and I'll investigate adding that info to the watermark too.

Privacy

Which brings me to privacy. What if I own several valuable Sasha studio dolls and I'd love to share pictures with other Sashaphils (I wish that were true). Or I own a small set of museum-quality antique dolls that I have lovingly created an elaborate setting for, complete with period-appropriate toys and accessories? But I don't want people to hound me to buy them or (heaven forbid) to somehow track down my identity and where I live and steal them.

Everyone should have the option of keeping their pictures unattributed when they show up in galleries such as those in the Dollipedia. There is going to have to be a setting (maybe global for the member, maybe set for every collection item) about whether the pictures should be attributed or not. Everyone's collection is private, though (so nobody can see a list of what you have). Albums will be public, so if you'd like to show off your collection, you can create albums in the Scenes and Settings section or Picture Stores and let other people see your displays.

I think those measures will provide the best balance between sharing and safety and we'll have to adjust as needed.

These are my thoughts on the issues involved with Dollation as a doll photo-sharing site. Now I'm going to spend the next few hours translating these thoughts into features on Dollation.

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Taffy
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Joined: 10/31/2011 - 12:31pm

One of the issues I have with "I have this" is that to join my comfort of dolls, a doll has to be comparable to an AG, i.e., about 18" tall, can stand on its own and have full-length vinyl arms and legs.

Consequently, a good number of my dolls are Frankenstein-like creations, heads from one vendor and bodies from another.  Am I to say, "I have this," when anyone looking at her will say, "That's not what she looks like..."  Additionally, many of my dolls have been rewigged (almost all the blonds are no longer blond), so they no longer look like the doll in the Dollipedia. 

I realize that rebodying and rewigging dolls, not to even mention tossing out their "meet" outfits and dressing them in completely different styles sends "collectors" up the wall, but my dolls are "playdolls" and I dress them in the styles I think makes them look their cutest.  To those who are shocked by this, I have Rhett Butler's quote handy and on my lips...

Taking a Corolle doll's head that had a toddler body, putting it on a Berenguer doll's body and calling her a young looking AG target age doll is perfectly reasonable to me.  Anyhow, how would you know the what the body looks like unless you required us to provide a photo of her buck nekkid; I will only do that for the comparison pictures and even then she has to be wearing underwear.  Much of my girls' wardrobe has shorter hems and short sleeves, so the lack of 3/4 length limbs will be visible, as will the lack of doll stands.

Taffy

--
Taffy Cheerful -- taffy@cheerful.com
Take Your Doll to Work album: http://www.taffycheerful.com
"Growing old is inevitable; growing up is optional..."

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