NOTE: Much of this website was constructed during the early months of Google Image Labeler. In that period, ALL matches yielded 100 points and the game was 90 seconds long. As Google introduced changes, especially varying the match scores with specificity, and making it longer (2 minutes) the strategy of play became very different. Imagine that you make 15 matches in a game. If they are all 50 point matches, your total is only 750. If they are maximal 150 point matches, you have an excellent score of 2250.
Because of this, good players have started trying hard to avoid the simplest 50 point match words, and if you play someone good, you will not get a match on "car" (50 points) but you will on "auto" (140 points) or "red car." Likewise girl or woman (50 points) will be replaced by model (120 points) or blonde or actress or "sexy" (140). Use "model" even if the girl is ugly.
Down below there are some files and spreadsheets suggesting quick shortcuts that will yield higher scores. If an image is in black and white, simply typing "BW" will often yield a fast high scoring match. If you see a map, use "country" or "countries" or "islands" or "world map." Avoid the low scores. Don't say "sea" but coast, shore, island, waves. Don't use common colors (white, black, red, blue) but try for high scoring unusual colors (purple, orange, pink, yellow).
Double check that you typed the first letter of your first word. SO many people type "ar" for "car." If you pass repeatedly, or are very slow to type the first matches, your impatient partner will terminate the game, triggering an apology from Google.
TRICKS: try to be accurate with plurals, most plurals have higher scores than the singular. If you see four of something try simply typing "4". When you match on a number the score is high. If you see a sports player's number on his jersey, type the number. Often the obvious words are in the list of off-limits labels. Remember that points are not awarded for accuracy, so if you see Saturn and that is an off-limit, try Jupiter. Creative misspelling often works, dessert - desert, tattoo - tatoo, blonde - blond, graffiti - grafitti - grafiti, satellite - sattelite - satelite. Painting and art are low scoring labels so look for details or colors in the picture and try "frame", "paint", "nude", "church", "religious", or "sketch." It seems obvious but for some people it is not -- if you SEE a word on the screen, TYPE that word in as a label. Often this results in the maximum score of 150.
HIGH SCORES AND CHEATING. The people who play this game regularly and get the highest scores really do not cheat. It takes away the fun. Because we pay attention to the point values of the labels, we can hit an exact score with some effort. For example if you see an "ALL TIME RANKING SCORE" of 16000000 that does not imply cheating. Good players can get scores up to about 3000, and the current record is 3360. Unfortunately there is a group of juvenile miscreants who take pleasure in cheating, and if you see a score over 3500 it is pretty definitely a cheating score. The technique of cheating is fairly obvious. You can't type "x, x, x, x" because the game will not recognize the same label for two successive images. But you can type "x, men, x, men" and this will work assuming you have managed to connect with someone who is doing exactly the same thing. When fast players use this sort of technique it is possible to get scores higher than 6000 points. When you see a lot of scores in the 4000 to 5000 range crowding out the "TODAY'S RANKING" list you know 1) these are stupid cheats and 2) they can't even do it well.
BASIC SUGGESTIONS: Because the game is timed, the best way to play is to get a sure match on minimum key-strokes. This is why typing any number you see on the screen is an excellent idea, or counting the objects (especially if you don't know what they are) and typing that number. Other good ways to match on fewest keystrokes, if you see something in black and white, you can nearly always get a match on "black and white." But before you type that, type "bw." It may not seem natural but all the best players know that trick and use it. It feels good to match on "bw" because you know you are playing someone good and you know you can try it on future images in the game. Don't neglect to try it every time you see a black and white image once it has worked. PASSING. I am going to suggest a change to the passing trick below. If you must pass, type the letter "p" first. If we can get everyone to do this then we will all get 140 points for each pass, unlike the 100 points for "x." And I don't see many people using "x" these days anyway. Some of the other good short labels from the long list below, which you should always try when appropriate: UK, US, USA, NY, NYC, jet, PC, DJ, mic, TV, DC, F1 for Formula One racing. What follows is the website as it was a few months ago, we have not had time for an overall editing job.
First -- please practice typing the letter "x" before you pass, whether you are passing due to a non-loading image or just a very difficult match. Experienced players will do this and that way both sides get 100 points. You can't type "x" for every image because Google won't allow matches with the same term for two images in a row. If two images in a row won't load try typing "none" or "blank." Letters generally are worth 140 points but "x" was demoted to 100 because it became too common, with many players using it when passing.
Note that depending on the time of day you are playing, some or all of your partners ("Guests") will be robots (see below) who will never type "X". But several of the real human players use this trick.
IMPORTANT On May 4, 2007, Google dramatically changed the game. Players can earn much higher scores (as high as 150) for very specific terms that are matched. "Lazy" generic terms (man, tree) earn as little as 50 points. A match on "x" counts for 100. Even getting the plural correctly instead of the singular adds points. Also the game is 120 seconds long instead of 90 seconds, and the last image, not matched, remains visible and counts as "passed."
UPDATE On August 7, 2007, the scores were provided for each image at the end of the game, making it much easier to see which labels had added value for specificity. Then on October 15, 2007, further subtle changes were made. Instead of displaying all matched images below the current image, only the current image and offlimits are shown. The matched images stay hidden until the end of the game.
Here is a file of images from the new game, with individual scores recorded carefully by Marie Claire.
A sorted spreadsheet of matched terms from the new game, to give an indication of desirable terms (high scores near the top) and "lazy" terms to avoid (low scores at the bottom).
And here is an image from the new game showing the partial score in red at the top. The word "player" isn't all that specific but 140 is the highest common score. It is possible that "Ronaldinho" would have gotten 150, the highest score possible. The new image, of JLO or Jennifer Lopez, has just appeared, and affords another opportunity for specificity. Again, "singer" or "actress" would probably be enough for a rather high score.
Some players have thought about the fact that certain very short labels could result in higher scores if enough players utilize them. A good example is using the letter "x" to pass, which seems to have caught on rather widely. I have seen people use "bw" for black and white, but not so much in recent months. I have used "cpu" for computer, "apc" for Armed Personnel Carrier, "jet" for aircraft which are obviously not jets, "dc" and "ny" for those cities, "tv" for television. Because "man" and "girl" are low scoring words, and the name "pat" can be either male or female, I have in the past suggested using "pat" for any person, and "pats" as the plural. This gets you past the image with a high score. But it only works if lots of people are doing it. Enough people are using "x" now that Google has diminished the value, all other letters get 140 but "x" gets 110 or 100.
Here is a list put together by BSPECIFIC and Marie-Claire. Try and adopt some of these terms. If we use these labels, after a while the "robots" will pick them up -- since robots are recorded games played by real players.
To discuss these ideas write firstname.lastname@example.org