Have You Got a Case of the IKS (Inadequate Keyword Syndrome)?

Inadequate Keyword Syndrome, or IKS for short, is something to be strenuously avoided as it tends to keep the patient in a chronic state of bad health.

Its symptoms include: difficulty finding images, difficulty sorting images, and low image sales. Related conditions include chronic customer dissatisfaction and acute research staff frustration.

Causes are many, but chief amongst them is a lack of knowledge of metadata systems and inadequate search mechanisms which lead the patient to believe that keywords are of limited value.

In all seriousness, we had a potential editorial photo client say to us recently that images required no more than five keywords including the name of the person in the image.

Take out the person’s name and you’re left with 2-3 keywords which add extra meaning. In a fashion-obsessed world this would leave little ability to describe clothing, shoes, jewelery, let alone the facial expression, the location and so on.

As a real life example, I was once asked by a client to find a picture of Madonna, but all the client could think of was that she was wearing a grey blouse. “Grey blouse” was all I needed to find the appropriate image out of many thousands in less than a minute. With a five keyword limit it would simply be a lottery to as to whether “grey blouse” would have made the cut. More likely, you’d have to trawl through a huge number of images because “grey blouse” wouldn’t be found.

Clients faced with having to wade through unnecessary pictures eventually go elsewhere for their images. Let’s face it, there’s plenty of competition.

One insidious aspect of IKS is that when patients realise they’re afflicted, the cost of the medicine to cure the problem is often the full cost of reputable keywording. That means the labour already expended has to be junked along with all those lost sales and work hours wasted on slow searches. Better not to contract the disease in the first place.