Ten things you can do to improve interestingness and increase chances of getting into Explore
I know that some of you are going to yell that Flickr "interestingness" and Explore are silly things to worry about, and that's fine... But for those interested in how it works, let me run down a quick top 10 list. (Yes, this pic made Explore)
Caring about getting into Explore per se is silly, because Explore has a big random component to it. However, Explore is important because it is the only "signal" we easily have about how "interesting" the photo is. Flickr doesn't give us the actual interestingness number so Explore is a good way to know it must be pretty high.
Why does interestingness matter? If you get happier the more people that see and appreciate your work, then you care about interestingness. Beyond your contact network, the vast majority of Flickr views come from search engines. Flickr has a zillion photos, so if you're photo isn't Flickr-interesting, people will never see it come up in the search engines.
Ten things to do to improve Flickr Interestingness:
1. Take good photos.
2. Have a good network of contacts who will view and comment and fave.
3. Post to at least one group, but don't post to more than five for the first few days. During the first week, posting to lots of groups hurts; after the first week, it helps.
4. In first week, don't post to more than a few award groups.
5. Have notes.
6. Have map and camera data. If you block camera data, or use film and don't add the camera meta data, you'll be penalized, A LOT. There's thousands of film people or people who don't want to give up their "secret settings" who can't figure out why they can't get into Explore... This is it!
7. Have a title and tags and text that people will search for, as that drives search engine traffic.
8. Don't upload too much per day. Maybe 3 max? If you upload more than 3 per day it not only hurts interestingness, but it taxes your contact network. It also means any given photo is de facto seen by less people, since most contacts only look at last 1-4 photos.
9. Be active. If you give significantly less than you get, it terms of views, comments, and faves, all of your photos will be penalized significantly.
10. Challenge yourself. There's a lot of competition when it comes to grabbing people's limited attention. Take interesting photos!
To answer Steve-H's question about why if you get into Explore do you not get in their more highly ranked?
I am in same boat. Had one reach #9 that is now permanent at #26. Some of it is random. The difference in interestingness between #1 and #500 is like 99.99999 to 99.99998. If you are the lucky one to get in the top (e.g.) 50, then you get a lot of additional views and it becomes self-fulfilling (esp. if women are in pic).
Some of it may be network related. I don't know if they sample central people, or people who are boundary spanners, but that would make a difference too. I do notice that everything else can be essentially equal between two photos and they differ in interestingness because different people commented and faved.
It also depends on the interestingness and timing of surrounding pics. If you have a strong network like ours your pics tend to get the same views, comments, faves, roughly. This is good for getting in but not getting into the top. I think a pic at the top of Explore tends to have much much much better stats than other pics by that artist around the same time. So in the example below, Joe would get one pic high into Explore, whereas Sally would get two into Explore but not as high:
Joe: pic 1--8 views, 3 comments, 2 faves; pic 2--100 views, 21 comments, 28 faves
Sally: pic 1--85 views, 24 comments, 18 faves; pic 2--100 views, 21 comments, 28 faves
Update 1.29.09... I may be wrong about the groups, at some level. Above I conjecture that posting to too many groups may be harmful, and I do believe that is still true. However part of the negative effect on Interestingness that one gets from posting to many groups is that it decreases the ratio of comments to views, and faves to views, which in turn decrease Interestingness.
I have also discovered a possible cumulative limit to how many pics one can have in Explore at one time. Most of the time, I have about 5 or 10 pics in Explore (versus the hundreds that were in it at some time but aren't at that moment). Recently some of my older pics have been getting in and staying in, or mostly staying in, the top 50 or 100. (This is mostly due to Yahoo! using my photos for news stories, blogs, etc.) As this has happened, my daily likelihood of getting into Explore has decreased, even though my other "stats" are the same. It may be that 20 or 25 serves as a practical limit.
Update 11.18.10... Regarding the point above about Explore, I now have about 50 in Explore at one time and don't seem to be getting many more in, so that may be a saturation point, but who knows... Since I last updated, the Interestingness algorithm has changed. I talk about it here:
Update 5.14.15... Much has changed over the years since I first wrote this. The general guidelines noted above still hold very true, but Explore and Flickr's Interestingness algorithm have evolved and become more nuanced. Since Explore is and always has been about "sampling" Flickr's community, there are various limits and constraints that have been added to ensure a few people don't dominate Explore day-to-day. Additionally, from what I can best gather from other experts on the subject, some people have been excluded from Explore due to a glitch on Flickr's side (I fall into that camp now). But if you're asking - why didn't I get into Explore - the most likely answers are still reflected in the principles above: you're not getting enough faves/comments, not including EXIF data, posting to too many groups, or not acting with reciprocity to other Flickrites.
For the best and most up-to-date discussions on Explore, Interestingness, and analytical topics re Flickr, see Saffron Blaze's "In Explore" discussion pages.
Here are some other essays that may be of interest:
* All About Flickr titles, text, tags, and views
* All about Creative Commons
* At a loss for Flickr comments? Here's a catalog
* Five key decisions in photography.
* How I make the Christmas light paintings.
* www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/3084967790/in/set-721576... on how to improve your photography.
* The Impassioned Eye, Henri Cartier-Besson.
* You can't always get what you give: A study of Flickr award groups
* The skills of enthusiastic amateurs
* Open source photography--are you in or out?
* See the World Through My Eyes and Explore the Motel at Wink's Place in the Golden Garden of Karma because L'amicizia fa la differenza! (or, Flickr the Soap Opera)
* Why is one of my photos more Interesting than the other?
* All about Flickr contacts