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Makes giving attribution to flickr creative commons photos a one click operation
HTML CSS JavaScript
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Flickr Creative Commons Attribution Helper

by Alan Levine

flickr needs help attribution

Turns the laborious task of giving attribution of creative commons flickr photos into a one click operation. If you just want to run with it make your own now.


Darn you flickr! You make it so complex to give proper attribution for Creative Commons images. The photos available are a bag of gold-- collection of creative commons licensed photos on flickr. Yet to use said images to create a blog post requires no less than 12 clicks and 4 copy/paste operations (estimate).

In 2009 I thought there should be an easier way and created the first flickr cc attribution helper as a Firefox Greasemonkey script. The script detected if a given flickr photo was Create Commons licensed. If so, it inserted directly into the flickr page a cut and paste set of HTML that had everything to put into a blog post- the image code to display the photo, a link back to the original, and a display of the license, the photo owner, and links back. It also provided a second text attribution string that could be used in documents or presentations.

how I like to give attribution

I later modified this script to work as a Chrome extension. I've used this on literally hundreds of blog posts primarily on CogDogBlog.

The pitfall of this approach was that it was completely dependent on knowing the structure of the flickr photo display page-- it was tied to the names of CSS components in the photo page on flickr. The flickr display format has changed 3 times since 2009. Each change required a re-write of my scripts. Flickr does not provide any standard meta data on the page to identify the creative commons license, so getting details called for a set of XPATH parsing and Javascript gymnastics.

And finally the update of the flickr site in March 2014 again rendered the script nonfunctional; made it imposible for me to update my scripts because much of the display is generated dynamically via complex YUI scripts; the information could not be easily parsed.

So I looked for another way.

Because attribution is love.


This new version takes a different approach; a person interested in using the tool intalls a web browser bookmarklet. Just drag the link text on the blur button to your browser's bookmark bar.

Upon viewing a flickr photo, the bookmarklet spawns a window containing the one click copy attribution. If you are viewing a flickr photo licensed under creative commons, it will launch a small window with the one click copy/paste attribution fit for use in a blog post or a presentation.

Screen shot of image helper

As an addition, when you make the bookmarklet tool, you have options to change the size of image used, so you can make use of flickr's different image widths (240, 500, 620, 800, 1024 px). Note that the larger sizes will not work if the original is of smaller dimensions. It also provides a few different formats for the HTML it generates, these act more as less plugins. The basic HTML is what can be used on most web pages and blogs, but since I do much on Wordpress, I added a second version which wraps the attribution in [caption]...[/caption] shortcodes. See below for more details.

Yes pop up windows are not elegant. Hopefully in the future I might be able to generate it as a light-box overlay. Or maybe you can fork this code, and do it for me?


If you want to do basic attribution, you can use the bookmarklet generating tool, and go off attributing. It is powered by the helper tool page residing on github (I love you github).

The Bookmarklet maker

The work of the attribution helper is done via an HTML page boosted with some jQuery code. The bookmarklet passes the unique flickr id (it's in the URL), and the tool page uses the flickr api vis JSON to get all of the information needed to build and display an attribution string.

These pages act as plugins, so the bookmarklet maker can make different varieties of output. There are currently three flavors of attributions generated

  1. Plain HTML - embeds the image and puts a proper and linked attribution text below
  2. Wordpress - embeds the image but wraps it in the [caption]...[/caption] short codes that Wordpress themes use to format images with captions.
  3. Stamped - generates a downloadable copy of the image with the attribution stamped right into it (thanks to John Johnston who created a nifty mobile version of a flicker finder / attribution stamper.

If you would like to customize the attribution output in any way, or just prefer to run your own, you can grab a copy of the attribtion helper on github here, fork and modify, and run on your own web server or better, submit as an update.


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