Verifying that user-submitted photos are big enough to be useful

18Jan11

While looking at a few stores and restaurants on a popular local business website, I was amazed at the sheer volume of pictures that some of the venues had. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon for the more popular places to have dozens of user-submitted photos, and I think I saw one restaurant that had 50+ images. But as is often the case with user-generated content, the quality of the pictures left a lot to be desired.

On average, the user-submitted photos were blurry and poorly lit. There’s not much you can do about that without hiring human editors to curate them. But smart programming could definitely help prevent another common issue: photos that are simply too small to be useful to the viewer. When it comes to these postage stamp-sized images — where you can barely make out what you’re looking at — local business sites are better off without them.

How do you keep tiny, useless pictures from clouding up your picture galleries? Just set a minimum size for all your user-submitted photos, and automatically reject any pictures that are smaller than those dimensions. Of course, I’m talking about pixel dimensions rather than size on disk, so perhaps the minimum would be something like 640×480 or 800×600. By requiring that every picture meets these minimum size requirements, you’ll ensure that each image is big enough to convey useful information about what a business or its products actually look like. At the same time, you’ll be training those who upload the photos to focus on larger and more expressive images, which should increase the quality of user-submitted photos in the future.



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