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Back to Basics: Finding Flickr Explore Photos

Posted by Melanie Phung on Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Although it’s been a while since I’ve been active on Flickr, my posts on Flickr Explore and the Interestingness algorithm still get steady daily search traffic. People want to know what Flickr Explore is, why photos got dropped from Explore, and what the secret to Flickr’s Interestingness algorithm could be.

But a consistent percentage of traffic seems to be asking the very basic questions: How do I know if my photo got into Flickr Explore? … and, How can I tell which of my photos are in Flickr’s Top 500 list?

If you’re trying to find out if you made Flickr Explore, the easiest way is to go to Flickr Scout, a tool created by Big Huge Labs.

Enter your username and click “Apply” to see which of your photos (if any) made the cut.

The default view shows you which of your photos is currently part of Explore. Click the link “Include dropped” (underneath the line of drop down options) to see ALL your photos that have ever been deemed worthy of Interestingness in the past.

And there you have it, the easy way to find if your photos got into Flickr Explore.

Then What?

Once you’ve identified which of your photos made it into the Top 500 of any particular day, you can tag them with ExploreDDMONYR, where DD is the day, MON is the 3-letter month abbreviation and YR is the two-digit year the photo was uploaded (example: Explore16jul07) and Interestingness###, where ### is the position your photo achieved (example: Interestingness86).

You can also add your photo to the plethora of Explore photo pools (e.g., Interestingness – Top 500, Explore Top 20, etc.)

And don’t forget to check your stats (you have access to stats if you have a Flickr Pro account) to see if which photos are drawing eyeballs and where traffic is coming from.

So what does getting into Explore/Interestingness mean? Hmm… nothing really. You might be able to monetize your Top 500 photos status somehow, but if you figure out how to do that effectively, please let me know because in my experience the attention you get on Flickr is fickle. The amount of effort required to get into Explore is really only worth it if you enjoy being active in the community, not if you’re trying to leverage Explore for some other agenda — which is exactly as it should be. Achieving Interestingness is really just about idle bragging rights and nothing more. 😉

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Category: Flickr

Using PhotoFriday to Get Into Flickr Explore

Posted by Melanie Phung on Sunday, August 19, 2007 at 11:54 pm

Traffic alone can get a photo (back) into Explore.

Odd Egg Out

This photo dropped out of Explore late last year; it reappeared after I submitted it to Photo Friday, which resulted in new traffic, but no new comments or faves. Conventional wisdom has it that views alone are not enough to boost a photo’s Flickr Interestingness — a strong proportion of people viewing a photo need to leave comments or mark the photo as a favorite — but clearly that’s not true.

In September of 2006, the highest position that particular photograph achieved on Flickr’s Explore was #33. Now that it has reappeared, Flickr Scout is telling me that the highest position it has held is #41. I’m tempted to believe this discrepancy has something to do with why nearly all of my photos dropped out of Explore last November. Back when Flickr implemented a major change in the Interestingness algorithm, it seemed to have blacklisted a lot of photos that appeared in too many forced-commenting groups. Maybe the slate has been wiped clean and there’s opportunity to get some of my old photos back into Explore… perhaps I should just submit all of them to Photo Friday!

The only other explanation for this photo’s reappearance is that Flickr is using something like Google’s PageRank to determine that PhotoFriday, a strong third-party site, is linking to the page… and rewarding the photo for it. But it wouldn’t make sense for Flickr to incorporate off-site links into the Flickr algorithm. That can’t be it. It’s got to be the increase in views. Got to be.

BTW: “Photo Friday Spamming” is (until this page gets indexed) a bone fide Googlenope.

For more about Flickr Explore (e.g., how to get into Explore, why you dropped out of Explore), read my other Flickr posts.

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Category: Flickr

Birth of a Viral Campaign

Posted by Melanie Phung on Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 8:38 pm

Doesn’t it seem like there was a time — somewhere between Mahir (“WELCOME TO MY HOME PAGE !!!!!!!!!I KISS YOU !!!!!”) and [anything] on YouTube — when you didn’t get inundated with the same forwarded email from at least half a dozen of your friends telling you about “funniest thing you’ve ever seen”? Probably because that’s when the effects of Bubble 1.0 were really starting to hit home and the dot-commers didn’t have time for such inanity. Not that I have nostalgia for the bad old days of the recession, but …

Inanity abounds again, via content sharing sites like Digg and YouTube, etc. As a marketer, I always wonder, without fail, “how in the world did that become such a hit?” The answer seems to be two-fold. If you want something to spread across the Internet like wild fire, it needs to be 1) ridiculous and 2) photo documented.

What prompts this post? None other than a joke played by a bunch of pranksters at InPhonic, which has become a pretty hot topic in the Blogosphere, as far as these things go. The tale of what happens when you take a half a dozen employees, someone’s precious Jaguar, and 14,000 Post-It notes has been blogged in at least half a dozen languages.

InPhonic Post-It Note Jaguar Prank

Seriously? This is viral material? I can swear with 100% confidence that this was never intended to be anything more than a practical joke on a particular InPhonic employee. The photos were published to Flickr in the hopes that the joke’s target would find them before he went down to the parking garage — that’s it. Yet this non-story about the prank’s popularity has been on the ABC World News homepage for 3 days, For God’s Sake!

(Note for those who are still keeping score: It would not be an exaggeration to say that being one of the top stories on ABC’s homepage was meaningless in terms of traffic and popularity next to to getting to the homepages of Digg or Boing Boing. New Media definitely wins this round in the ongoing battle of New Media versus Old Media.)

– do something unique and unrelated to any product or promotion
– the more ridiculous, the better
– take photos and videos!! (and be sure to assign Creative Commons licensing)
– don’t use your own bandwidth, host on a third-party platform
– share!

Oh yeah, and if you enjoy the photos and want to blog about this yourself, be a dear and link back to Scott’s Flickr page in your post.

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Category: Flickr,Social Media

Faking Interestingness

Posted by Melanie Phung on Thursday, November 2, 2006 at 10:45 pm

When Google does an update you’d think the world was coming to an end based on the complaints of webmasters who lost their top 3 positions. And when Flickr changes its Interestingness algorithm (which determines the top 500 photos seen in Explore), the formerly-but-no-longer popular want to know what gives.

Well, three weeks ago, Flickr made a little change to its Interestingness algorithm. (The basics are well explained in this post on And based on my analytics logs, people are searching for answers and stumbling upon this blog. So I’ll break my usual tradition of not providing answers to explain what happened.

If you’ve had lot of photos drop out of Interestingness, it’s because you participated in comment whoring groups.

A Flickr developer explains:

We’ve made some changes in interestingness algorithm last week to compensate inflation of activity metrics introduced by groups that force users to create comments and/or favorites before they allowed to post photos in the group.

Actually, they did more than “compensate.” They seem to have blackballed all the photos in those groups outright.

So how is a person supposed to get comments on a photo without submitting it to a bunch of groups? Not to worry, says Flickr’s SilentObserver,

Only groups that force people to comment/fave on certain photos with no choice, are affected by latest algorithm changes.

I, of course, participated in the comment whoring regularly, so all of my Explore photos (which wasn’t that many), save one, are out. Oh well. Sometimes it’s not about being popular. A few of the forced-comments groups provide really good feedback, so it’s worth belonging to some of them even if it no longer helps to achieve Interestingness.

And for the seriously obsessed, Bill Slawski, the web’s resident algo patent expert, uncovered some patent applications to help deconstruct the Interestingness methodology.

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Category: Flickr

Achieving Interestingness

Posted by Melanie Phung on Tuesday, September 26, 2006 at 10:31 pm

More about Flickr…
Today I was doing a vanity search and found a this on the fourth page:

I had just seen the Flickr Explore page and my name certainly wasn’t on it. So why would this page come up for a query on my name? Could it be? Did one of my photos make it onto the Explore homepage without my knowing it? Did Googlebot then crawl that page during that fleeting moment before the photo dropped back into obscurity? Yep, according to Google’s cache of the page.

Check it out yo — That’s my photo!

Melanie Phung's photo on the Explore page

Which also explains the high number of “favorites” the photo got soon after I posted. A ton of people saw the photo highlighted, were predisposed to mark it as a favorite, which played into a self-reinforcing cycle. After the initial high ranking, however, the photo has been dropping down the Interestingness list, where it will soon hang out in obscurity like my other photos, alas.

A fun case study in how Flickr’s Interestingness algorithm works, though. Not to mention the serendipity of Google caching the version with my photo on it, and then my finding it in the SERPs before the cache got overwritten at the next crawl.

What a wonderful thing Google cache is.

Go to Google’s cache of the Explore homepage or directly to the photo — if you have any interest whatsoever in my little self-congratulatory indulgence, that is.

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Category: Flickr,Images,Navel-Gazing