Why interestingness just got harder (to game)

It looks like Flickr have changed their algorithm to decide what makes an image interesting. I noticed this a few weeks ago when my number of interesting photos almost halved to 14 photos.

What has happened is that Flickr doesn’t count views and comments from certain groups on the site. Why? There are many critique and comment groups where members are asked to comment, favourite or view a certain number of other’s photos for every photo they add. In the past this has been a great way of getting your photo to the top of the Interestingness ladder but was obviously not always a realistic view of how good a photo is. I expect these groups will become less popular and groups on a specific subject will grow in popularity. New critique and comment groups will appear in an effort to outrun the Interestingness filter but I’m sure there’s a little “ban group” button the guys at Flickr can push so it’s probably a futile effort.

I’m disappointed, but also glad that this has happened because it may stop people dumping photos into groups, leaving short and useless comments and obsessing about popularity. What else can you do?

  • Tag every photo you upload with short descriptive tags. Don’t spam.
  • Upload one photo a day, or make sure the last photo you upload is your best, and/or looks good as a thumbnail. This image may have been so popular because the thumbnail had a strong X form.
  • Join niche groups and contribute photos and to discussions. Don’t dump photos and run. Participate in the group forums.
  • Apparently it used to matter when in the day you posted a photo but not now. I disagree. From the perspective of someone living in Ireland, if you post early in the morning and contribute to groups your photo may appear for longer near the top of that group’s photos. On the other hand, if you post later in the day you may get more immediate eyeballs but more photos will be posted too. It all depends on what time it is in the American continent. If your photo is particularly good then posting later in the day might be better.

Good luck, I’ll update this post from time to time with new tips when I come across them.

PS. I’m helping my brother Donal with spot prizes for his charity table quiz tonight. Can you help?

Making the top ten of Interestingness

The Swan Gang, a photo I posted three days ago, became the 4th most interesting photo on Flickr two days ago.


Nuggets of Gold
Flickr Interestingness uses a secret algorithm to decide what is interesting, but is biased against users who consistently get a lot of attention. Up until last month I would add my photos to many groups in the hope of attracting attention and eyeballs and yes, a number of my photos are in the interesting list but it was getting harder for me to get high results.
Last month I got married, took the month off and hardly touched a computer. Most of the photos published that month haven’t been added to any group so I think that helped me when it came to publishing this photo.

There are a number of photo groups on Flickr where members are encouraged to leave comments on the photographs of other users. If you look at my Swan photo again some of them are listed down the right hand side. That’s a good way of getting attention. Don’t even consider posting to these groups if you haven’t got time to participate yourself. For every photo you post, you may have to leave comments on up to 5 other photos. It’s extra work, but viewing other people’s work is inspiring and always a good way to improve your own technique.

The thumbnail looks good. The swans have these bright orange beaks and are looking into the camera. It screams “Click Me!”

The Swan Gang

I uploaded the photo to Flickr around 10:30am Irish time but I didn’t add it to any groups until much later in the day when the US is awake. I have consistently noticed that photos I add to Flickr groups early in the morning don’t build up the same number of views as quickly as when they’re posted later on in the day.

One other factor that interestingness is judged upon is where traffic comes from. If someone links to your photos from outside Flickr like happened here that will help a lot. I have seen this a few times and each time it made a noticeable difference to how high a particular photo went.

And then add some Flickr magic to finish off!

Further Reading: