DeviantArt is now a social network. If you hadn't noticed over the past week or so, the site has transitioned from using keywords to describe submissions for search purposes to using hashtags instead. Hashtags. Because Twitter. Because Tumblr. Because Instragram. Because hashtags are universally used as they were originally intended and are not at all abused to make crappy one liners at the end of people's crappy one liners. Because DeviantArt is now a social network.
View the stealth journal describing this stealth change by clicking here!
My thoughts are these: Keywords were not broken, so there was no need to fix them. That's all there really is to it. Beyond signifying a shift in attitude regarding the purpose of this site, these changes make writing out keywords more involved and potentially balloon the number of tags that people have to use to even match the searching efficacy of the previous system.
Images with the keywords "sumatran tiger" return in searches for three things: sumatran, tiger, and sumatran tiger, organizing results by popularity and by time (and presumably by relevance at least to some extent; if not, then a relevance search is what they *should* be adding instead of hashtags). So as a photographer posting my work, I write only those two keywords, knowing that the system will pull the image back with searches for any combo of those words.
Under the new system, "sumatran tiger" is written #sumatrantiger, which returns results only for images with that exact tag. Now, if someone searches #tiger, missed are all of my tiger photos tagged #sumatrantiger. Missed are the images posted from before this change, because "sumatran tiger" in the keywords before is auto-translated now to "#sumatran #tiger". Data is lost, and the only way that I can adequately cover my bases is to be incredibly redundant with my tags:
Instead of: "sumatran tiger panthera tigris sumatrae",
I write: #sumatrantiger #tiger #sumatran_tiger #panthera #pantheratigris #panthera_tigris #pantheratigrissumatrae #panthera_tigris_sumatrae
And that's only for four of the usually 20-25 terms I put on each of my images. This system seems to promote more generic tags (i.e. #tiger instead of #sumatrantiger) because the more specific ones are more trouble to search for/are likely to yield far fewer results, and the end result of that is that more images get jammed into fewer tags -- a major problem, given that the journal linked above touts this new system as a way to "better surface artwork." All it's going to do is congest searches even more and make it harder for people to get noticed.
And as I mentioned before, because of how the new system operates, tags on all 974 of my previously submitted images are now broken to various degrees, and it's up to me if I want to go back and fix them.
Really an inexplicable change from my point of view. Was this really needed? Does DeviantArt really need to conform to the lowest common denominator to operate? What are your thoughts?