Lightroom Keywording Bug

I have become the victim of my complex Lightroom keywording scheme.  It’s grown to over 8,000 keywords (including synonyms). I organized them into a complex hierarchy to enable me to find photographs by two major criteria:

  • WHERE it was taken.
  • WHAT it is of.

I can go into more detail of the structure and the reasons for it in another post. Most of the time it words very well and I can keyword my pictures down to a huge degree of detail.

I wanted to mention here a bug in Lightroom that can be hugely frustrating. What happens is that I add an already existing keyword to a picture but Lightroom creates a new keyword for it instead.

It happens for a small number of keywords. The example I present is for a “Mazda 3” automobile.

The keyword for Mazda 3 is actually deep in the VEHICLES top-level hierarchy in my keywording scheme. The hiewrarchy is


However carefully I apply that keyword, Lightroom invariably creates a NEW keyword in the wrong hierarchy:


I do not know why it chooses that particular position. Other hierarchies have a similar structure, for example VEHICLES > AIR.

It does not happen for all keywords – else my tree would be in a real mess. It seems to happen for 1 or 2 character leaves. It happens for the Mazda 6 – but you don’t see many in Thailand. I have also had it happen for models of Hino truck which are two letters, e.g. FE or FF.

I avoid photographing Mazda 3s so as not to have to clear up the mess.

I find I have made the problem worse since I added another level to the tree structure for certain vehicle manufacturers. Companies like Mercedes-Benz have many model names for their cars, buses, coaches, and commercial vehicles. To make things clearer when I browse the tree I added categories CAR, BUS-COACH, TRUCK. I did the same for some other manufacturers like Volvo. I do not export those names – they’re only there to make the tree easier for me to read.

Now when I see a Volvo 940 and add the 940 keyword under Volvo it ends up keyworded as a Mercedes-Benz CAR with a new keyword.

Clearly I have exceeded the design specs of the keywording process either in number of keywords or the breadth of my trees. It is failing in a strange way – not a crash, but a logical error. At least it is reproducible: not caused by an alpha particle.

Maybe I have to reduce the depth of my keyword tree. Lightroom seems to have no problem with the number of keywords, but once you allow users to build trees it gets hairy. (To mix my metaphors shamelessly).

I could circumvent the problem if Lightroom had an option to prevent users from adding new keywords in the Keywording panel. I suggested that weeks ago here.

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2 Responses to “Lightroom Keywording Bug”

  1. GB-in-TH Says:

    I can post screen grabs of all the steps in the Mazda 3 keywording if anyone is interested.

  2. BKKPhotographer Says:

    Whenever I add a “Chevrolet Colorado” to Lightroom it ends up as a Mercedes-Benz, even though I select Colorado > COMMERCIAL-TRUCK > Chevrolet rather than Colorado > United States.

    So it does not only happen for short keywords. I cannot characterize it as any more than random in that it does not happen for most keywords. But there are some that LR does not like.

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