So, around 24 hours ago, searches began failing for the thousands of people running Weathrman. I was notified by a user a few hours ago that he began seeing strange things happening.
Flickr has made a drastic change to its API: No more than 10 OR terms are allowed in searches.
This is pretty lethal to us; we were doing, in some cases, 15 or more OR queries to select photographs for inclusion, and another 30 or so negative queries to strip away porn, keg parties, musicians, concerts, indoor photographs, you name it; we relied heavily on the ability to provide complex queries to their engine for processing, and managed a comprehensive set of allow and block filters that we used to get the set of matching results from their service.
This leaves us in an odd quandary, and so I have to begin by apologising: I’ve had to remove most of our keywords from our queries. You’re going to see a lot more irrelevant crap, now, and there’s not much I can do about it…
Other than doing one of two things:
1) Stop asking flickr for photos, and move to someone who has a more comprehensive (and less comprehensively restrictive) API for performing queries.
2) Build a parallel database of flickr photos by exporting and indexing everything myself.
Option 1 might be possible, but is a long way off; and there aren’t databases of geocoded searchable photos that are easy to get to dotted all over the web. There just aren’t many places to go.
Option 2 isn’t feasible without charging a lot more money than FREE.
We could be reaching the end of Weathrman’s useful life. If I can’t resolve search quality issues, I may be forced to take it down; we’ll have to wait and see.