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Google Image Labeler 389

vandalman writes to tell us that Google is betting on the obsessive compulsive need for many users to see big numbers next to their name with a new beta service called Google Image Labeler. From the description: "You'll be randomly paired with a partner who's online and using the feature. Over a 90-second period, you and your partner will be shown the same set of images and asked to provide as many labels as possible to describe each image you see. When your label matches your partner's label, you'll earn some points and move on to the next image until time runs out. After time expires, you can explore the images you've seen and the websites where those images were found. And we'll show you the points you've earned throughout the session."
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Google Image Labeler

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  • Too small pics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by avij ( 105924 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @04:57PM (#16030639) Homepage
    This is indeed a creative way to enhance the search results. Some of the pictures could be a little bit larger though.. Or some kind of a mouse-over which shows a larger picture.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by foniksonik ( 573572 )
      yep, they should use DomTT [] (anonymous plug)
  • looks good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @04:59PM (#16030642) Homepage Journal
    its just taken me 4 minutes to accumulate ~1000 points, there are people who have accumulated 190000 points.

    Thats playing the google game solidly for around 12 hours (less if they are good).

    Congrats to those people!

    As for myself, I found the image sizes too small, but I suppose we are basing the keywords on first impressions and are expected to come from the image search.

    I found myself squinting to see what it was meant to be and wasting time, even if it was just 2x larger (scaled would do, no real need for more data) I would spend time there, its actually quite fun especially since you are aiming to get more than your random competitor.
  • Oh boy, points (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lurker412 ( 706164 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @05:00PM (#16030646)
    And those points will get me what?
  • Looks like Google is running out of names for their new Beta products. GoogleWhatever doesn't seem to be cutting it anymore.
  • by Rakshasa Taisab ( 244699 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @05:02PM (#16030651) Homepage
    I wonder, will they provide an option for only labeling porn images?
  • The ESP Game (Score:4, Informative)

    by JeffAMcGee ( 950264 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @05:04PM (#16030657) Homepage
    It looks like google just created a clone of the ESP Game [].
  • [] has the papers and [] is the game implementation.
  • I tried it. (Score:5, Funny)

    by celardore ( 844933 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @05:10PM (#16030684)
    I went to this site. I was paired with someone, then presented with my image. It was one I recognised, the 'broken image link' glyph. I tagged 'broken' and '404' among other things.
    I didn't get one tag in common with my partner!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by radtea ( 464814 )
      I didn't get one tag in common with my partner!

      Even without deliberate abuse, which will be rampant, the odds of two people labeling the same image in the same way are virtually nil.

      Human beings are just barely able to communicate with each other when we are face-to-face. Language functions primarily as a carrier wave for innonation and expression in most (non-geek) social interactions, so the precise meaning of words hardly matters. Because of this we rarely notice that meaning is extremely elastic.

      • by WiFiBro ( 784621 )
        1) the 'broken image' is due to some delay with the system. It is obviously having problems this moment, one wonders why./././

        2) if the image is clearly a 'car' or 'skyline' people will agree. And especially when you can earn brownie points, people will go for the easiest words. I just had some hits with 'room', where the room was obviously full of people, and 'internet music; because those words were projected on a screen.

        It would definitely be good if you could also give an opinion on a photo: too many ar
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by WiFiBro ( 784621 )
          Nice, a beta without a reaction form. Ok google, i know you read this.
          1) Do some bloody usability tests with non-cooperating users. if there is no response in 20 secs, block that user and give me a new partner
          2) also save non-matching words, I enter brilliant things!
          3) the game often gets stuck. give me a bail out button
          4) add a response form or forum

          and most of all:
          5) at the end tell me what the other idiot suggested.
      • Re:I tried it. (Score:4, Informative)

        by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @07:25PM (#16031065)
        Even without deliberate abuse, which will be rampant, the odds of two people labeling the same image in the same way are virtually nil.

        Huh? I just played the game for five minutes and my 'partner' and I repeatedly labelled images the same way. Telephone, tree, meeting, magazine... Lots of common tags.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pilkul ( 667659 )
        Er, sorry to burst your bubble, but my current record is 15 matches in one 90-second session and I regularly do above 10. I mean, if there are people in the picture you type "people" and if there are trees you type "trees". No deep philosophy of language issues here.
    • by mindriot ( 96208 )
      It does seem to be a bit buggy. About half the time, when the other player wants to pass, I click "Pass" as well. The message changes to "Waiting on your partner to pass," and a moment later changes back to "Your partner wants to pass." My Pass button is already inactive since I'd already pressed it. After this, nothing more happens and I have to end that session without taking any points along.

      That happened to me in Firefox (Debian). Has anyone had the same problems?
  • by d2_m_viant ( 811261 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @05:11PM (#16030691)
    Doesn't Google already use Content Based Image Retrieval [] anyways for their image search? If so, why would they need to attach a bunch of metadata to each image?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by navarroj ( 907499 )
      Because humans are much better at image recognition than computers?
    • by sparkz ( 146432 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @05:27PM (#16030749) Homepage
      At the end, it says "Thanks for your contribution. It will help us improve the relevance of image search results so that you and other Google users can quickly and easily find the results you're looking for." Which is better at recognising what's in a picture? A human, who can say "oh look, that's Natalie Portman pouring hot grits down her pants", not a computer which will just say "a person" at best.
  • Yipee! (Score:4, Funny)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @05:14PM (#16030707)
    It's like the $20,000 Pyramid [] gameshow, but without the $20,000.
  • by rakerman ( 409507 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @05:20PM (#16030723) Homepage Journal
    Ah, precious Google points, the currency of the future.
    Until then, it's like Amazon Mechanical Turk, except you work for free.

    On a completely unrelated note, this would be a handy service for spammers to get their CAPTCHAs solved for free.
  • Who thought working for google could be so much fun :-)???

    "Charlie", if you are out there, thanks for the amazing 15 rounds we had in a row...

    Also, can I get some props for making the highscore with "SMMM"???
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just type "picture" for every image shown. It's foolproof if you have a savvy partner.
  • by QuantumFTL ( 197300 ) * on Saturday September 02, 2006 @05:31PM (#16030760)
    I think it's pretty ridiculous, but I do find myself competing for ranking in the system. It's human nature to be competitive, and I know from experience that I'm competitive in even some rather ridiculous circumstances.

    It's actually a lot more fun (and social) than many computer games I've played, because it's not just about finding applicable labels, but labels that you think the other person will guess. Also looking at what kinds of things matched before gives you some feeling of who you're partnered with, and what words they will likely use.

    To me this looks like a winner, for Google at least. And you know what? If this is entertainment, and it helps people find the information they need, I don't mind doing "work" for Google, not one bit. So far they've been very good to me, and as long as that keeps up, I can't feel bad for supporting them.
  • Amazon Paid (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lambticc ( 563530 )
    Remember when paid $.03 to identify pictures through their mechanical turk program? Now Google wants us to do it for free.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by silentbozo ( 542534 )
      Mechanical Turk was work. This is actually fun, if you get a decent partner, and the images are loading at an acceptable rate. The problem though (this may be good or bad) is that to get a match, you try the lowest common denominator terms first, or at least that's how it seems my partner was trying. Thus instead of Google Wallet, you get wallet, instead of Nascar, you get car, etc.

      I'm sure they must be keeping track of the terms entered though, to see if they can average approximations between different
  • What happens to the valuable points earned by tinfoil hat wearing geeks like me that don'a allow google cookies?
  • by Buzz_Litebeer ( 539463 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @05:41PM (#16030786) Journal
    Google is now harnessing a distributed operating system, you and me. They use games to get us to essentially program for them and reduce error by having multiple people do the same task and use what answers come out.

    Very clever. Of course this was done by Amazon as well I think and I dont know what has come of that effort.

    But it really means that they are using the processing power of people to avoid having to create artificial intelligence. And why not? Just use real intelligence from people and let them enjoy it by thinking it is a game!

  • by Selanit ( 192811 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @05:45PM (#16030803)
    This is quite definitely beta stuff. Maybe alpha. In particular, the "pass" system seems borked. I came across an image that was unidentifiable, and clicked "Pass." It said, "Waiting on your partner to pass." Long, dreary seconds ticked by, and then it said "Your partner wants to pass." ... ???

    Why yes! I'd be glad to agree with my partner's request, except that I ALREADY SENT a pass request, and now the button is greyed out.

    This happened several times. The first time, we were almost done anyway, so I let the timer expire. Guess what? If time expires while in this confused "we both want to pass but the system isn't working" state, then it doesn't actually complete the sequence (ie redirect you to the "completion" page). It just sits there, leaving you no choice but to manually return to the beginning page.

    Also, people are dumb. I got a picture of a mountain road bordered by pine trees with a large cloud on the horizon. So over the course of about twenty seconds I suggested:

    - Cloud
    - Mountain
    - Road
    - Trees
    - Pine Trees
    - Thunderhead
    - Cars
    - Car

    My partner still hadn't suggested any terms. So I suggested:

    - nincompoop
    - light weight
    - My partner is an idiot

    None of those matched, thankfully.
  • it's too frustrating - for both players !
  • by Hortensia Patel ( 101296 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @05:58PM (#16030849)
    And it's kinda flawed at the moment. Seems to hang a lot for one thing, but the main problem is that the images are so ridiculously tiny. Google aren't going to get useful tags that way - most of the points of agreement end up being words like "man" or "people" or "building". It's frustrating, because often it's clearly a specific building, maybe even with a sign saying EXACTLY what it is, except that the text is half a pixel high.

    That said, the end-of-game summary is an illuminating (and terrifying) revelation of just how bad some people's spelling is.
  • I've run across a few partners so far that do nothing but "pass" on every picture.

    A picture of the night sky, filled with stars. They want to pass. They can't even type in "stars" or "sky"? Oi... It wouldn't be a real internet experience without the trolls...
  • Hmmm... (Score:2, Funny)

    by lattyware ( 934246 )
    1) Google Points
    2) Ebay
    3) ???
    4) PROFIT!
  • Too small. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sbaker ( 47485 ) * on Saturday September 02, 2006 @06:05PM (#16030870) Homepage
    It desperately needs larger pictures - at that scale it's very hard to see what they are.
  • by osgeek ( 239988 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @06:07PM (#16030876) Homepage Journal
    I played about 10 times. 9 out of the 10 times, I got really lame people who mostly wanted to pass. 1 time, I got someone who was actually mentally engaged in the game and we got 900 points. It would be fun to do better, but if finding a non-retarded partner is typically such a pain, I'm not sure if it's worth it.
    • And if you got to pick your partner, that would make the game prone to trolling.

      I wonder if, perhaps, you could narrow down your partner-search a little. Perhaps "somebody with enough points that they at least know how to do this" or "only show me pictures from sites that might be related to some subject I'm interested in". Though that opens the possibility of not finding anybody at all.

      Or perhaps to gaming the system again, as you and your troll partner pick some unlikely but existing set of key words.
  • Lokos like they need to add some horsepower to that server, I'm getting timeouts.
  • First step (Score:5, Funny)

    by while (-1) sleep (1) ( 903796 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @06:10PM (#16030886)
    This is just Google struggling to become self-aware. No need for concern...


    I am, therefore I should think
  • Is it me or is the server getting a bit slashdotted?

    Typical though, the slashdot crowd turn up and only half can get a partner.
  • My prediction: at some future time, somebody, somewhere is going to sue Google for conning people into performing valuable work for free. The suit will demand back wages, social security payments, health and retirement benefits. Not to mention m/billions for the class action attorneys.
  • Buggy as hell (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArsenneLupin ( 766289 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @06:22PM (#16030918)
    Dunno if it's the slashdot effect, or just poor programming, but the site is buggy as hell:
    • Often shows broken images
    • If you try to login, it pretends you've disabled cookies, even if they are enabled
    • When it says "Your partner has asked to pass", and you click on pass, it goes to "Waiting on your partner to pass.", even though he already has passed.
  • its called human computation similar to captach's etc,
    the esp game or idea behind getting people to annotate
    images with words was i think developed by luis von ahn

    Arash Partow

  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @09:32PM (#16031368) Journal
    Lowest common denominator, that's the quality of results they'll end up with. I might see a picture and label it "bird", where my partner, being an ornithologist, labels its exact scientific and common names. Until he enters "bird" we don't get a match.

    Dan East
  • ingenious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by z_gringo ( 452163 ) <> on Saturday September 02, 2006 @10:08PM (#16031450)
    Holy crap, that is clever. Where do they think this stuff up? What a great way to get people to work for them for free.

    I wish Google would hire me.

  • Strangely useful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ma´djeurtam ( 101190 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @10:45PM (#16031524) Homepage Journal
    As a non-native English speaker, this game has allowed me to learn new words, and how people from other cultures see a same image. I see hands where others see labor, that kind of think.

    If you haven't tried it, try it: you'll learn things about how people perceive pictures. And if your random partner has the same thinking schemes than you, you'll get points!

    Google points worth nothing, but that's Google points. Yeah.
  • by QuestionsNotAnswers ( 723120 ) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @01:56AM (#16031798)
    After playing for a short while, you realise that there is a common set of words that everyone knows are the best first tries.

    Lady, Girl, Man seem to be really common (even if not right) and colours too.

    So it soon ends up that pictures are labelled by the words that help you win, rather than the most appropriate words for the image.

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"