"Where Is This Geotagged Place?," Wonders Instagram User

I’m fairly prolific on Instagram and I have a lot of followers. 1 As a result, I believe I get a glimpse into the average user of the service. And that user is fascinating.

I rarely post a photo that isn’t geotagged at some location. But without fail, for every picture I post, I get the same comment below my picture: “where was this picture taken?”

At first, I found the question amusing. I mean, the answer is right there above the photo. You have to scroll by it to ask the very question for which you should have already had the answer. But now, I find the question more telling.

Instagram is a service with hundreds of millions of users. And it seems that a large percentage of them are not aware of a key feature of the service. Sure, it’s not a vital feature. But it is one that has been there in everyones’ face since very early on.

So I suppose the takeaway should be to never assume that a user will understand any single feature — no matter how visible. The geotagging of photos may seem obvious to me and many people I know, but most users either don’t care to learn or don’t care to know. It’s not actually what Instagram is about, so why bother?

Lot of services have similar features that aren’t core to the product but are front and center. What’s weird about the Instagram geotagging is that it does answer a commonly asked question: where is this? Yet it doesn’t answer the question in a way that’s obvious to users, apparently.

Perhaps the location of the photo should be the first comment on the picture, rather than above it? I have to believe everyone would see that before asking their question. Or maybe it should be stamped on the picture itself?

I always like stumbling upon things like this. It causes me to question my own knowledge of a topic or service. I know how to find where a photo is geotagged, but that doesn’t actually matter if the vast majority of Instagram users cannot.

Maybe the design is too clever or too obvious. Or maybe it’s not obvious enough. Maybe, just maybe, Instagram, which is actually a pretty simple service, is still too complicated for some users. That’s a fascinating thought.


  1. Roughly 145,000 followers who live or die with my every breathtaking photo. I definitely don’t have so many followers because I was on some sort of suggested user list early on. Nope. Can’t be. 

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