Lunar and Planetary Institute

Reaching Audiences Through New Media: Lessons
We Are Learning From the International Year of Astronomy


What It Is  
A free online site that allows you to upload, edit, organize, caption, and share photos and videos, and allows followers to comment on images.

Who’s On It
Estimated monthly traffic for April 2009 was 21.7 million people in the United States (multiple hits per person?), with 22% of visits by “addicts” (30 or more visits a month) 47% by regulars, and 31% by “passers-by.” Primary user age groups include  18–34 year olds (39%) and 35 to 49 year olds (31%), with >50 years old comprising 19% of the audience (quantcast).

How It Might Be Used
Flickr is a great way to allow the public to access to your mission photos and to share their thoughts. You can set up a Group account that allows others to post their images and run contests (e.g., best picture at a shuttle launch; best amateur astronomer picture of Mars).  Flickr has an advantage over a traditional webpage in that it does not solely “push” information, but that it is interactive and can “pull” from the public as well.

Getting Around
You must have a yahoo account to get started. Go to Flickr to set-up an account. If you want a tour, take a spin around Flikr’s tutorial. You don’t need an account to take the tour.

Individuals have to have a Flickr account in order to be able to see your Flickr images. Accounts can either be public (anyone can view the images and video), public (invite only), or completely private (only you). You can copyright images to protect the ways in which the images and video you post are used. You also can set the safety level of images so that viewers can see only the images in their specified safety zones. Other considerations/caveats?

If you just want the public to view and possibly comment on your images, set up a personal account for your project.

If you want the site to be more interactive, set up a group account. Every group has a space for sharing photos and videos and a discussion board that allows group members to converse about related topics. As the moderator, you can specify the safety level, remove inappropriate images or comments, and block members that violate the intent of the group. We recommend that you post a notice to members that specifies what is and what is not appropriate, and request members to alert you if they see something that is inappropriate. Consider, also, specifying the number of images posted per member per time period (e.g., three per week; one per day). This allows members full access to the site, but does not allow any one person to overwhelm the site with their images – and eases the role of the moderator.

As with all social media sites, anticipate that people will take images from Flickr and use them in new and creative ways; anything you post may appear elsewhere (even with a well-established copyright or a watermark embedded in the image). From the usage standpoint, the ownership of images, and rights granted by the creator, needs to be established prior to creating a derivative work. Public domain (images paid for by tax-payers or given to the public by the artist) images are free to use, although the source always should be credited. Creative Commons, a non-profit organization, strives to increase the number of works in the public domain ( CC offers copyright licenses that allow creators to document which rights they reserve and waive (e.g., no derivatives, non-commercial, etc.). A wiki tracks organizations and individuals using Creative Commons licenses (Creative Commons Wiki).


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Last updated
June 22, 2009