A previous post highlighted a couple of newer Flickr search tools that have come out. The intent was to share some resources that teachers (and their students) could use to locate copyright friendly images. I was especially intrigued with Compfight, a nice tool that provides a series of search filters. One that I like allows for a search that would filter out inappropriate images. And it does . . . up to a point. But probably not safe enough for direct student use. (Though I still think it’s very useful for teachers who are looking for images to use as part of instruction.)

I wrote the creators of Compfight to ask more questions about the SafeSearch feature of the their site. Portions of their response is posted below. The good news is that they are discussing the idea of a true school-friendly search tool and would like your ideas. Post a comment or two and let them know what you’re thinking.

Compfight was originally intended for the advertising community so safety wasn’t a big concern. It was just annoying that any search term including “tack,” “paperclip,” and “stapler” seemed to produce something weird showing up on our screens.

I looked into the issue today because we had also been asked if we could make a site that is “safe only” making it safer for schools to use.

Right now our “safe search” is no “safer” than the one on the actual flickr site as we are using their rules to determine what is safe or not. A lot of what you’re seeing is people saying their photos are safe when in fact they are not.

We have some ideas on how we might be able to pull off a more bullet proof solution considering we have the power to limit what our site is asking flickr for and I’ll discuss that with my partner. As this was a basic non-profit side project for us, I am curious to know your take on a tool like this for education. If we made a site specifically for kids do you think there would be much interest in this? Besides making it as safe as possible, is there anything else that might help you guys out on the site?

A later email:

We had an initial discussion today about the possibility of making a school oriented site.
The general idea is that we can block “loaded” search terms using a known blacklist and then combine that with the safest level of access to Flickr. If done correctly it should completely block 99% of the problem as kids won’t be able to ask for anything inappropriate.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Let ’em know what you’re thinking. Post a comment or contact them directly via the link under the About button at the bottom of their site.