Need a Flickr RSS feed that includes and excludes tags
June 24, 2011 1:52 PM   Subscribe

I run a tumblr blog. Every day I post a Lego-related photo or video, mostly culled from Flickr. To facilitate this, I have subscribed to the RSS feed for the "lego" tag, so that I get in my feed reader every image tagged with "lego". This is a lot of images; it's not unusual for me to go through over 500 images a day.

Most of them, though, I can scroll through pretty easily. Out of those 500 there are usually fewer than 10 I'd consider for the blog.

I've been doing this for about three years now and it's starting to wear on me. The thing that's killing my enthusiasm? Star Wars. The Clone Wars stuff is super popular with the kids and hey, more power to them, but if I have to see another picture of a Stormtrooper doing something "wacky" (or not doing something wacky, just being a Stormtrooper), I'm going to scream.

In addition to the "stormies", there are also the Halo, Zombie, and WW2 freaks. Brickarms and Brickforge make custom Lego weapons and people feel a need to photograph and share every one of them they own. Folks, every single "zombie apocalypse" thing looks exactly alike. And there are only so many Lego Willy's Jeeps I ever need to see, and I'm 3x over my lifetime limit.

So what I need is a way to browse images on Flickr but be able to exclude certain other tags. I know I can do it manually and such, but it would be great if there was something out there that would make me a custom RSS feed (you can subscribe to a tag in Flickr, but not a search, and you can't have exclusions in subscribed tags.)

Someone had pointed me to this from Yahoo! pipes, but it seems to be a one-time deal. It generated a small set of images and hasn't done anything since.

I've considered trying to code up something in PHP using the Flickr API, but that looks like it may be above my skill level. Any ideas?
posted by Legomancer to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
[Link removed, feel free to mention your blog on your profile page if you want.]
posted by cortex at 1:56 PM on June 24, 2011

Yahoo pipes is exactly what this is for. The problem that you're seeing is strange. They aren't one-time; the pipe should re-fetch and re-run each time you query it. I have made many pipes to assemble custom RSS feeds and they've worked for years.
posted by zsazsa at 2:11 PM on June 24, 2011

I just added that pipe with the configuration of lego/starwars to my Google Reader. Let's see if it updates.
posted by zsazsa at 2:24 PM on June 24, 2011

fyi, here's what I put for the inputs to that pipe:

lego, legos


Here's an example of an image that my plain old "lego" tag subscription caught but the pipes one has not (yet, maybe):
posted by Legomancer at 2:27 PM on June 24, 2011

Not sure this is exactly what you need but I wrote this Greseamonkey script for Google Reader a while back (though it doesn't have includes, but only excludes). There is also this script which has excludes but it's global not per feed.
posted by pyro979 at 2:38 PM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

pyro979, I'm not sure the Greasemonkey script will work because it's acting on the RSS feed, and the feed itself doesn't include tags. So it works if the word "brickarms" is in the text of the Flickr image, but not if it only appears as a tag.
posted by Legomancer at 4:05 PM on June 24, 2011

Legomancer, I've done almost exactly that kind of searching of RSS feeds for years in the hunt for new words using several hundred keywords which would turn up thousands of hits a day. The list of things I am just plain weary of seeing all the time is more than 900 items long, even after using all available exclusion options. :/

I've used the script pyro979 links to and it can work enough of the time to take *some* of the unneeded content out of your way, if you use Google Reader. I've also used Yahoo Pipes to filter. That, too, can work.

But as you say, both require that the words appear in the right place, and that's simply not always the case.

So, my best advice (and what I ended up doing, more or less, with Google News) was to start with restrictive Flickr combination tag results and just accept that you are not going to see all the awesome stuff. You may miss something. C'est la vie.

Maybe combine keywords lego + blocks, which shows few of the bad results. Others are lego + sculpture and lego + art. You'll likely think of more.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:17 PM on June 24, 2011

(By the way, using keyword inclusion as a MUST INCLUDE restrictor is a lovely art that is often more brute and also often more useful than using a NOT excluder, which gets to the heart of the problem of precision vs. recall.)
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:23 PM on June 24, 2011

One more bit of advice on coming up with inclusion keywords to use: Take a look at the successful Lego photos, the ones you've posted to your blog, and list all of their keywords. Find out which keywords are most common. Then look at a lot of the Lego images you don't want. Find their common keywords. Then compare the lists. The common keywords on the good Lego photos that *don't* appear as keywords on the bad Lego photos are the keywords you should use to build your Flickr tag URLs.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:30 PM on June 24, 2011

Mo, that won't work because most of the photos I like have only the tag "lego". This is because of what I tend to feature. Instead of "check out this cool Lego spaceship" which is territory well-covered by other blogs, I like to focus on things like graffiti, tattoos, foreign knockoffs, architecture, design, and also just kids playing with Lego. For what I'm interested in, about the only thing they'll all have in common is the tag "lego", so it's the exclusions that are going to be important.

I really appreciate these suggestions, and I'm not trying to be the guy who has a problem for every solution, just pointing out the thorniness of the problem. I'm about to start googling for "an introduction on how to use APIs" to try and bang something together myself.

Worst case scenario: I keep doing as I have been for three years now, as it's not killing me, I just wish there were a better way.
posted by Legomancer at 5:39 PM on June 24, 2011

« Older Which country is this from?   |   Q: What do baby Triops wear? A: Diapause! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.