Scribd isn’t Flickr. Sure, they’re both similar: both are social “web 2.0” websites established on the principle that people love to share stuff, both let you tag and group objects, both give you unlimited space, and both are great examples of the internet being put to good use. And, let’s not forget, both seem to love to Murdr the English language (pun intended)… But that’s where the similarities end.
So why is that so hard for people to get? Something about Scribd’s ease-of-use and flexibility has made people forget – and it looks like the people up top don’t seem to mind much, either. For instance, “i LOVE Milla Jovovich,” a group with over 1500 photos pretending to be documents was one of today’s “Featured Groups” on the Scribd homepage.
But the thing is, Scribd isn’t only not intended for photos, it’s not optimized for photos either. Users are uploading photos as PDF documents – unnecessarily increasing their size and limiting the photos’ usages. It has limited tagging options, doesn’t support any form of EXIF implementations, and offers all the wrong tools.
What Scribd is good for is full-text searching of documents and essays, downloading a file uploaded in multiple formats – regardless of the initial implementation, playing back text as audio, and more. It makes it easy to view documents quickly and easily with their Flash-based reader instead of forcing the users to double-check that they have Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat installed on the PC they’re currently using. In short, it web-enables content that isn’t already natively supported by browsers – and that’s not something that photos need.
Photos are already natively supported by just about every browser on the planet. You embed them, you play them, you save them, and you share them. You don’t need a special program to view them, nor do you need to worry about different proprietary formats and codecs. They just work.
So what is it about Scribd that makes people flock to it instead of Flicrk, even when the latter is so much more enticing when it comes to photo-based options and features? Well, it’s not too difficult to find out.
- Scribd is 100% free. No limits on file size and no “Pro” accounts.
- Scribd doesn’t require you to register. This may sound stupid since it’s just a click away and doesn’t cost a thing, but a lot of people hate to have to go through the whole process of signing up for an @yahoo.com email just to get access to Flickr. Scribd doesn’t even block you from doing things just because you’re not registered – you can do anything real users can!
- Scribd has the sexiest uploader(s) on the planet. With a Flash, Java, HTML, and ActiveX interfaces to make uploading multiple files simultaneously straight-forward and oh so easy, that’s another reason to snub Flickr and its primitive upload interfaces.
- Scribd has great SEO and SEO tracking. Just click in the sidebar to see a map of user visits to your site, search result rankings, and indexing activity.
So what’s a site to do when it’s too popular for its own good? Not that the Scribd admins seem to mind, of course, but seriously?
When Scribd first kicked off, pretty much no one realized what a gold mine sharing text could be. A lot of people wrote it off as something only academics and geeks would use – and they turned out to be quite wrong. People love to read, and they love to share. Combine that with an incredibly flexible system, and you’ve got a killer service.
Our opinion? Give it six months or so, and Scribd will give in to popular demand and provide a more comprehensive & full-range of media options that will do away with all pretense and fully support both text and photos.