Flickr Explore – Randomness, whoring & Likes – Discuss

Flickr Explore, what’s it all about ?

Let’s be clear from the outset, I don’t take pictures for other people (out with family snaps etc.). I’m not really intending to foist my images on the world and bask in admiration. I know I’m no Ansel Adams or David Bailey. I’m no artist, I’m a film shooting geek who likes the tech and part of that is getting a good image. And whilst I do like most folk enjoy feedback, I’m find the obsession to some around Explore a bit odd.What I never set out to do was get a shot in Explore. Explore is intended to be a changing showcase for interesting shots posted on Flickr and is more about showing Flickr off to the outside world. In a 24 hour period around 500 shots are selected with some remaining longer than others. Flickr describes this as

“Photos displayed in Explore are selected based on an algorithm we call Interestingness. Periodically, we will refine the algorithm with the intention of ensuring the maximum variety of photos and photographers with a high degree of interestingness. At times, these changes may cause some photos to disappear from Explore.”

But to some it has become a goal and is seen as a pinnacle of achievement and adoration. There is a little bit of a cult status around it  and a lot is written on how to achieve it by “Explore Whores” (a term used both derogatorily  and as a badge by some)

Now whilst I’d by lying to say it’s not nice when your shot gets a like. Humans are geared to like and seek positive feedback and lets be honest it can an indicator that you are doing something well. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs would point to this (infact many folk never move out of the Esteem stage where this positive recognition is craved) But the point is Explore is not about rewarding people or showing the best (some will disagree but read on), it is about interestingness and even that can be a bit contradictory.

To illustrate this I’ll use my own experience of explore

Vintage on da Hood
Kodak Brownie No2 with Kodak Portra 160. 2015

This shot taken on a Humble 1930’s Brownie No2, end up on explore earlier this year. I didn’t realise it was there until the following happened

  1. The view and like rate when through the roof
  2. I got a congrats on your explore comment
  3. I got invited to add it to seen in explore group

This isn’t my best shot by a large margin although it probably was one of my better ones with the Brownie. I’m also not entirely sure why Flickr deemed it interesting. At the time of writing this it’s been viewed over 8000 times. I’ve only 10 shots on flickr that have had more than a 1000 views and only one other has more than 2000 views  (oddly a shot of a Halina 6-4 )

Halina 6-4 camera
Halina 6-4 camera taken on Nikon D50 – viewed over 2000 times for some unknown reason on Flickr

The Brownie Explore shot has over 60 likes (twice as much as the next most favourite). But here’s the thing. If you look at my stream on Flickr’s own measure of popular shots, it only ranks #3 if you look at interesting behind –

In the fog
Dumfries Dec 2014. Taken on Lomo LC-A with Kodak BW400CN


Angular fiscal
Scottish Parliament 2014. Taken on FED 50 Ilford with XP2

I’d like to think these are better too and certainly are more interesting IMHO. It does strike me as odd that folk Favour something just because it’s in explore

Of course it may be that the reasons I got those favs is that I fell for putting the shot in the In explore group (okay I’m weak but human nature does mean that we like to be asked to do things)

Pre-emptive festive strike
Leeds Nov 2014. Olympus Trip 35 with Kodak BW400CN

It however turned out not to be my first  shot in Explore.  Later using  Big huge Lab’s scout, a third party website that allows you to historically check if someones’ photo has been in Explore (Flickr doesn’t record or acknowledge explore picked shots), I discovered this shot was in last year.

Pre-emptive festive strike
Leeds Nov 2014. Olympus Trip 35 with Kodak BW400CN

Again not my best and I’m not sure of the interestingness of it.  I suspect it was replaced quickly as I never got a load of Favs, congrat messages and invites. It has garnered less than 500 views.

I can understand Explore as a showcase of Flickr to the world (and yup using a concept to select shots by ‘interestingness’ IMHO is better than relying on favs as there is a lot of nepotistic backslapping going on) but why do folk within Flickr pay so much attention ?



One thought on “Flickr Explore – Randomness, whoring & Likes – Discuss”

  1. Hey Alan-
    I know, very late to the party on this one. But somehow I landed on this post after checking out your current post. Anyways…

    I’ve been in Explore several times. It’s always weird when it happens because like you some of the shots are just so “random”. My most popular shot is of a plate of pizza, a very boring shot indeed:
    But it got in Explore, somehow, and the likes and “congrats on Explore” came a-flowin’.

    What’s worse is the people who get bent out of shape about your Explore shot. One shot was of my bike against a bridge with Union Station in the background. Nothing exciting, but after it got featured, some idiot commented “Well, I guess the quality of Explore has gone down if we’re seeing this.” I check out his (of course it’s a he) photo stream and it’s all macro shots of bugs with blackened backgrounds, shots shouting “Hey Explore! Over here!” Maybe he’s butthurt that he hadn’t got anything in?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.