Interestingness

As an amateur photographer I upload all my photographs to Flickr. Most of the them are mediocre, but one or two are good enough that I think they can stand along side the photos from more professional users of Flickr.

For the same reason that I blog, I put my photos on Flickr because I feel that I have something useful or interesting to offer and to interact with new and interesting people. My blog gets between twenty and thirty visits a day – not much, but roughly the same as the number of visit I get to my photos on Flickr. The difference is that I only have twenty posts on my blog, whereas I have 2,000 photos on Flickr!

Plenty has been written about search engine optimisation for blogs, but not much has been written about SEO for Flickr. The majority of my photos have five or so tags, a title and are geotagged. Flickr does allow you to write a description and this would increase the about of text thereby giving search engines much more to go on. The key to gaining exposure on Flickr though, is to appear on Explore.

Flickr are not explicit about whether photos that appear in Explore are influenced by humans or not. They certainly imply that it’s chosen algorithmically though. If it’s chosen by computer then it should be possible to help your photos gain more exposure, beyond just taking nice photographs. If you look at the people who have their photos on Explore two things just out at you. Firstly it’s that they have a lot of contacts, and secondly that all their photos have lots of comments. You’d expect photos that appear on Explore to have a lot of comments, but typically all their photos have lots of comments. This implies two things, that you need to be active in the Flickr community, and that your contacts need to be active in looking at and commenting on your photos.

It appears that Flickr’s definition of Interestingness rewards not only excellent photos but also active community members. This is a really excellent design decision on Flickr’s part because it almost completely removes the ability to ‘spam’ Explore – you do have to be active and to be producing great photos to get features.

So, how do you get your photo featured on Explore? Well, you need to be taking great photos, submitting them to groups and interacting with other users. Like the best photos, it’s hard work, with a touch of luck.

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Author: Andrew Wilkinson

I'm a computer programmer and team leader working at the UK grocer and tech company, Ocado Technology. I mostly write multithreaded real time systems in Java, but in the past I've worked with C#, C++ and Python.

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