An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

Send your tips to

September 1, 2006

Google Image Labeler

Update (2013): the site is no longer available.

Google Image Labeler is a place where you can help Google improve Google Image Search by tagging images.

It's similar to what you do in Google Video. But Google transformed this boring activity into a nice interactive game. Everytime you login, Google finds you a partner and shows you the same images for 90 seconds. The first label found by both of you is considered a good answer and brings you 100 points (while two people can both fail in finding a good label, the probability is much smaller than for one person). After the time expires, you can see where the images came from and what were your partner's labels. And then you can start again, as the game is addictive.

The same images will be shown to other people, so, in the end, the images will keep only the best labels. This way, when you search for "car", you'll only find pictures of cars. I wonder if Google intends to use the labels directly or it's just a test for their recently acquired object recognition system.

A similar game is The ESP Game and this was the inspiration for Google Image Labeler. Here are the rules of the ESP Game:

* two-player online game
* partners don't know each other
* partners can't communicate
* the goal: type the same word
* only thing in common: an image


  1. I dont like you anymore.. this game is too too addictive.. L)-

    I wish that they can have a methiod where we can invite someone else to play-rather then a random users..

    It would be great if they included this as am "game" in all their services.. like if I invite you for calendar, why can;t i invite you to play tag with me ?

    Anyhoot, thanks for sharing

  2. It would be fun to invite someone, but maybe the results would be a little skewed. What if we think the same, have a similar background or we chat on Google Talk and cheat?

  3. I've seen this game before, in a Google Tech Talk video about Human Computation. The guy in the video explains that there are some tasks that humans are a lot better than computers at doing.

    If the task can be turned into a fun game, then the human computation power can be harness. Check out the video its really interesting.

  4. This would be more fun if the pictures were worth looking at. I have looked at tiny pictures of empty fields, exterior shots of buildings, weird screen shots... I'd rather do this on Flickr where I am interested in what I'm looking at.

  5. You say that when the game is over that you can see how your partner labeled...but I don't see that. I wish it were the case because it would be interesting to know how others think of what is in the images.

  6. Hover over the images and you'll see the guesses (it's the alt or title attribute set).

  7. This really is addicting. Reminds me of Graffiti on Yahoo Games.

  8. Yes! This really is addicting! Ionut, I saw you name next mine! Your punctuation is almost the same as mine, hehe

  9. Could use some bigger photos - some of them are really hard to make anything out

    I think a lot of photos will just end up lablelled "man" or "woman"

    Good fun!

  10. Some tips to get a lot of points:

    * type something and fast
    * use general descriptions (I know it's a Van Gogh painting, but your partner maybe doesn't know, so use "painting")
    * if you don't know what's in the image, type the color of the image, objects, shapes
    * if a picture depicts people try the obvious: "man", "woman", "people"
    * type the short and obvious labels first

  11. The game is based directly on Luis von Ahn's ESP game. Google actually licensed the game, after hearing a presentation from the Luis von Ahn about 2 weeks ago. Where he stated that Google could possible tag its whole index of images in about 2 months with this kind of approach. And yes the game is very addicting.

  12. Here's how to win: Everybody label everything asdf

  13. It is very strange but i have not seen ANY animals in ANY of the pictures and I've been playing for more than an hour.

  14. I heard this game mentioned on radio1 but i cant find it anywhere i realise im being really thick but whats the adress for it?

  15. I do try to label the images as I see them but I also use the smallest words first that relate to the image. Also, people should know that when they pass, they lose 100 points for each pass. Therefore if you can't match your partner just say the most prominent color of the image and when there is no image, it's just a blank square, I always just type x for the little red x on the top of the blank square. It's worth 100 points and a fast guess. I love the x boxes :). I really wish people wouldn't try to name the type of car, the person's name etc. Just type car, man or woman. If it's a painting then art is a quick word for that. Anyway, I haven't been able to get over 1400 but if I could come across someone who thinks quick, types quick and doesn't get too in depth, I'm sure I will top that someday!

  16. I have used Google Images for years but now when I use it I get a page full of blank squares with writing under each one.
    What has gone wrong?

  17. it would be better if they had kooler pictures to look at, instead of dumb planes nd stuff

  18. For those trying to play for points, I don't think thats the final purpose. By focusing on the simple descriptions like blue and man and car you can power through many photos with a savvy partner. But how descriptive are these terms? Eventually the system will make these words unavailable. Then we'll see the real creative, concise and accurate descriptions begin. That's what I'm looking forward to. I still find this game really fun, but it'll be a blast when we'll have to put real thought into a description and not just a set of rote naming conventions to gain points. Right now it's like Dance-Dance Revolution for tags. Scores will drop, but the game will get better.

  19. just use the word prozac, sky, or sky, or skyman.

  20. i cant even find the damn game

  21. Me neither. Luckily, though, I saw your post otherwise my dumb self would still be trying. Just wanted the source code so me and my wife could play... Well on to another project, I guess...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.