It's been a week now since I started looking at ipernity as a replacement to flickr, in response to Microsoft's bid to buy Yahoo!. That possibility is out of the way now, but since I took the time to explore ipernity to some extent and compare the two sites, I might as well complete the review and write my conclusions.
I don't pretend to be un-emotional about this review, quite the opposite. I have been an advocate of flickr since I first created my account there and have invited (and helped) everyone I cared about to use the site. Flickr has been my homepage for a long time and I consider it one of the best sites around. Right before the Microsoft bid, I had been making plans to use it for a couple of projects I am considering to participate.
If it wasn't for Microsoft's bid, I wouldn't even think a second time about ipernity, which I had already try when there were censorship issues with flickr. But beeing a Free Software advocate I'm very biased against Microsoft and the prospect of it buying my "beloved" flickr hit me like a stone. I was sure that Microsoft would start moving things towards it's windows-centric way of working and would be just a matter of time before compatibility issues started popping.
But now that that prospect is out of the way, I'm able to look at things on a less emotive way. Now I no longer feel the need to move away from flickr so I am no longer looking at ipernity as an escape route but rather as a possible way forward.
I consider flickr the best photo sharing site on the web. The site is very friendly, clear, easy to use and has all the basic features one might need. It's major feature is it's powerful API that allows creative minds around the globe to access the images and metadata it stores and build upon it.
Flickr also has the highest quality content on it's market and is home to a large number of outstanding photographers. The excelent classification algorithm they call interestingess works wonders (most of the times) at enabling the best works to easily stand out.
Again, this review is from te point of view of someone moving from flickr so the fact that one already is part of a community is an important factor.
While interestingness is very useful, it has a huge downside: people frequentely fall into the trap of trying to gamble the system to get exposition. There's too many people collecting comments and favorites and too many comment groups and comments threads.
I think the social networking features of ipernity are very well balanced with it's photo sharing features. The addition of a blog, the ability to reply to comments, enhanced tracking of comments and the network of contacts approach give users very flexible ways to build communities. One interesting thing for me is the way groups are almost unused on ipernity.
Ipernity has a strong position supporting Free Software, not only using it to run their services but also by promoting the use of Firefox and not being shy on thanking the community. Also worthy of note is the fact than ipernity relies on the community for help on translating the site.
I also like the way different languages are so commonly used on ipernity's comments, blogs and discussions. Due to this exposition I'm considering to restart learning Esperanto and maybe begin to learn German. The world is a much richer place when there's diversity.
While claiming to be a "web 2.0" application, ipernity lacks the support of a good API that enables interface from outside.
The lack of a high quality content classification makes it hard to find works, specially if they are from a few months ago. Also the searching function is very poor at the moment.
During the last week I've been very busy and had no time to take photos. What little spare time I had, I spent it looking around ipernity so I had no time for flickr. While at the start I thought the hardest part of moving would be missing the community, I found out that I already feel quite at home in ipernity and looking forward to spend more time here, exploring some more.
Looking back through my review, Flickr has only one thing that ipernity doesn't: API. The other strong point of flickr, it's community, isn't something that ipernity lacks, just isn't as large. On the other hand, ipernity's tools for communication are more flexible and I look forward to find out what improvements are planned.
So I guess I'll be taking a holiday from flickr and give ipernity a try. I'll probably crosspost from time to time to compare the reactons I get on both communities and also say hi to my contacts there, but I'm switching my home page to ipernity. This is not because I think ipernity is better, but mostly because at the moment ipernity gives me more to explore.
Now I need find some time to go out and take some photos.
Small print: This review is from someone who has been using flickr for over two years and only has about two weeks using ipernity, so if you have more experience with ipernity and notice that I'm missing something, please mention it.