Topic: Captions

Topic type:

At the Kete Community Day I asked about the caption length (specifically for images but it probably translates to other contributions). Currently the caption length is 30 words and is a site-wide setting... here are my thoughts and waffle on the subject :)

As mentioned at the Kete Community Day, the default thumbnail caption display is 30 words. So the first 30 words of your description/caption are what displays next to the thumbnail image in the search/browse results page. Obviously many Kete will have diverse contributors and contributions so there isn't a standard format across the board but I would be interested to hear (well, read anyway ) other contributors opinions.

I have been uploading historic photographs for the Coming Home project (only 15 - but believe me, network issues made it a real mission!)... I played around with the site before contributing and factored the caption length into the format of my descriptions.

The initial format did not include any purely descriptive data (on the assumption that this would be duplicating what viewers could already see) but after browsing other Kete (thanks Horowhenua!), I soon realised thumbnail images are not that clear and some description is welcome when navigating search/browse results. The Hamilton Historic Photographs collection has many images with limited/vague data available but that can be used to illustrate elements of Hamilton's history (i.e. background/supplementary data)... I decided not to include most of this data in captions even though the background information can be really fascinating (sometimes much more so than the actual photo!) because most historic elements have more than one image associated with them - making the data repetitive when browsing and meaningless in distinguishing images. (NB: I realise topics can link context to images but that's a work in progress and many images will have to stand alone indefinitely)

SO, I tried to make sure that the 30 words on display would a.) Give enough information for searchers to know if the image was relevant to them and b.) Be interesting enough that browsers would want to see the image/learn more. As we decided to include the date and location in the title, I decided the caption should summarise basic description, essential information, plus anything special interesting... and nothing else!

Basically trying to summarise the most interesting/relevant information in the first 30 words, then expanding and providing context with subsequent paragraphs... although, as I tend to waffle on in my sentences, I had to edit a couple after posting to make sure the essentials were in the first 30 words (not the first - overly long - sentences!).

Even within my very few contributions, I had a few where I didn't have 30 words which fit the above criteria... so the thumbnail captions also contain disclaimers / contact information or other generic, contextual or supplementary text...

I don't think there is a perfect number of words that will suit the description (and descriptors!) of every image and 30 words displays well in the thumbnail layout. Most (if not all) images can be summarised within 30 words... but many can be encapsulated in a lot less - meaning non-essential (and sometimes completely irrelevant) data is also displayed.

Why can't images have a ‘summary' box like documents do? I would love it if the description/caption field was subdivided: the first section (caption) as plain text (without links, images etc) with no minimum word count but a maximum of 30ish? (Ensuring conciseness and retaining the current display); the second section would contain the bulk of the description/background, etc and have the same settings as the current description field.

In large galleries, or galleries with similar (or similarly titled) images, the captions will be how Kete users decide if thumbnails are significant /interesting. Having a specific field to enter that data will encourage contributors to summarise the relevant details specific to individual images -allowing searchers/browsers to quickly compare and contrast particulars for related images.

On a completely selfish note, I also find it more aesthetically pleasing 

What do y'all think? Are 30 words too many? not enough? just right?

Does it make a difference if it's an open community kete with disparate contributions/diverse uploaders (many styles, priorities, purposes and POVs)? or a closed kete with specific data/specified uploaders (organisational POVs, agreed/specified formats, encompassing/overarching purposes)?


Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion


Tags: captions, images