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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)

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Gila Bend, Arizona. Diana+ medium format toycam with Kodak E100 ES film. Developed by Tempe Camera. (Explore)

Those of you who know me know that I am a Flickr stats freak, so I cannot help but weigh in on the current controversy in Flickr world.

It has come to the attention of many, perhaps because the data can now be readily seen here, that posting into certain groups will greatly increase your chances of getting into Explore, and if in Explore anyway, will increase your chances of a high rank and even front page. I think the daily data from the link above empirically confirms these hypotheses.

This has led some to protest, claiming that these "Explore Ramp Groups" are counter to the spirit of Flick and "good photography". This group is a good sampling of negative sentiment. On the other hand, proponents of these groups believe that this is what a Flickr group is supposed to be like, and that these are one of a handful of functional groups on Flickr.

The three groups that are often cited are Wink's Place,Golden Garden, and L'amicizia fa la differenza. I'd also add The World Through My Eyes,Karma, FlickrCentral, FlickrToday, and Better Than Good. Of course these trends come and go. Are year or two ago it was A+++ Photo and Utata which were the must-post groups.

First my personal opinion, and then an analysis.

I am all about getting my photos seen, no matter how. All my stuff is Creative Commons, and I expect one day I'll be in a different country and I'll see someone selling a poster with one of my images. And it would tickle me pink (and I'd figure out a way to get famous from it too). I have blogged here that Flickr Award groups have horrible reciprocity, and non-award groups are even worse. So question: Do I want to post a picture to a group that looks at my pictures, or not? Answer is yes for me. Further, I really don't care what the heck my contacts do or don't do, to each their own. All I care about is how good their photos are and how well they treat me.

Why do these groups infer advantage? Because they have reciprocity--when you post to them, there is an expectation that you will comment and fave other pics. When I post to them I generally comment/fave 5 others, same as I would in an award group. The "brilliance" of these groups is that they don't require reciprocity as a rule, it's just the collective norm. The increased views, comments, faves, and the associated ratios all work in favor of increasing interestingness. You have to remember that the difference between #1 in Explore and #501 (not being in Explore) is like 99.99999 to 99.99998, so any tiny positive advantage can make a big difference.

Opponents argue that this leads to faves and comments given to inferior pictures. I don't give faves or comments to bad pictures (unless they're from my contacts!), and I have no trouble finding excellent photos in these groups. Again, to each their own...

UPDATE: I have been banned from L'Amicizia fa la differenza! They say I violated their rules. As this is my most recent shot, and there are no nudes or profanity, I guess this must be because this post is considered "political"? That's odd, considering that the text above is positive for the groups... So so interesting...

UPDATE 2: I have been banned from Golden Garden too now! Here's what the group says about its rules: "There isn't rules! This group is free but, no nude, no porn, good manners an comment and fave what you like in the Pool!" Hmm. I guess there are rules. Again I find it interesting that a post in favor of these groups is met with such negativism. Why oh why?

UPDATE 3: L'Amicizia fa la differenza has unbanned me! Apparently, due to language difficulties, they thought I was attacking their group in the post above. If only we all spoke Esparanto.

As Flickr Turns...

UPDATE 4: I am going to make a bold statement and say--
EXPLORE IS DOING WHAT ITS SUPPOSED TO DO, BUT THEIR ALGORITHM IS MAKING AN INCORRECT ASSUMPTION...

If I was a Flickr Designer, I would make Explore a strong function of Interestingness, but I would also like to get a good variety of people in there. How do I do that? By picking people who generally aren't connected to one another as contacts. In these groups the norm is that you get a lot of views and comments and faves from people who aren't your contacts, hence, people posting to these groups would have the double advantage of increased interestingness yet not connected to one another.

How do you fix, if you wanted to fix it? By also choosing pics for Explore that tended to not be in the same groups. Computationally it's a bit harder but nothing a good graph theorist couldn't figure out.

UPDATE 5: I've been tallying some stats on these groups. I don't think the average number of comments is different than in the "5" award groups like Flickr Hearts or Global Village 2. There may be a higher proportion of faves, hard to say. But the comment that is going around that somehow everyone who posts to these groups is getting 25 faves is ridiculous.

*melkor*, uoıʇnloʌǝɹʍol, and 87 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. Ekler 59 months ago | reply

    i thought to myself - i am tired, not going to reed and tham o just got glued! how do you do that?
    i don't think that the change would work becasue you might giving your wots to people who are your friends and contacts (let me know if doesn't make sence, i am for once trying to be brief.. err)

    anyways, i like this shot - hot vintage stuf that burnes a pleasant hole in my heart

  2. Ekler 59 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Old School Digital, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  3. Ekler 59 months ago | reply

    oh, and you bunned - lol - this is is a highlight of a flickr life! amazing..

  4. LukeOlsen 59 months ago | reply

    Interesting analysis... I really don't care much about explore but I do enjoy seeing the shots my contacts make and some of the groups I do look at. I don't post to the groups you mentioned but I do find it interesting that those groups banned you for non-photography reasons.

  5. sebastian.graeber 59 months ago | reply

    I like the way you captured this moment. The light and processing is really great! Beautiful ...

    --
    Seen on your photo stream. (?)

  6. Tom Jaynes 59 months ago | reply

    I'll leave the stats to you, my friend, because you know what you are talking about, through statistical analysis or otherwise.

    I don't like groups anymore and don't accept any invitations. Have given up on all the "Explore" people. That's the only thing that matters to some. That is so sad. They are missing the experience of a lifetime in this great field of photography.

    They add more contacts daily, some as high as 8,000 contacts. No matter what they photograph, they get two or three hundred comments on it almost immediately, and that is how they measure their art. Some Flickr folks spent up to eight or more hours a day trying to comment on their contact's pictures. The comments are totally useless.

    I saw a picture posted about a week ago that could have been taken by a caveman (GEICO). There was, in my opinion, no thought whatsoever
    about composition, the backbone of all great work. That photo had over 200 hundred comments, and here is what they were saying to the photographer:
    great compo
    very good composition
    Fantastic composition
    a lovely composition
    Beautifully composed
    good composition
    wonderful composition
    well composed
    very beautiful composition

    and on and on they went.........not even knowing what they were talking about. They wouldn't know good composition if it smacked them in the face.

    I've been a photographer too long to bother myself with such trivia at this late stage of my life. I still enjoy everyday as a photographer and learn something new everyday.

    It has been my life, my vocation, my love, for over 50 years. What makes a photograph good is the same as it was when I started out in 1955. There are only new cameras, and I love the digital revolution, and all its related fields of editing software. But I've not seen new photography.

    Flickr is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I never dreamed anything like this could be. Now I have friends all over the world, through this technical achievement. It staggers the imagination.

    If anyone is interested, my profile covers my entire life to this point. I am slowly but surely eliminating folks from my contact list, keeping only those who I feel have a great love of photography, whether a newcomer or an old timer (I am 75).

    All that is required is an inquisitive mind and a desire to learn, and you, too, can enjoy photography.

    I have loved teaching photography. There is no greater feeling than seeing someone you taught succeed in this vocation.

    I have lots more I would like to say, but I seem to have forgotten that I am in the Comments Section of my friend. Sorry , KD. I shall now go back to my photostream where I belong.
    WT

  7. MyOakForest 59 months ago | reply

    great work here!

    GOLD STAR AWARD (invite needed)

    You are invited to add this exceptional image to
    GOLD STAR AWARD (invite needed)

    please add the tag GoldStarAward

    Your photo deserves a Ruby

    Please add this photo to the The Ruby Awards group
    You can tag your photo RubyPhotographer

  8. Now and Here 59 months ago | reply

    Hey, I kind of thought you were just satirizing these groups, but I took the time to read your text, and I think you have a balanced view of things and some good ideas. Much appreciated.

    --
    Seen on your photo stream. (?)

  9. i_still_believe_in_u 59 months ago | reply

    excellent interplay of shape, shadow, && perspective!

  10. B.S. Wise 59 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called . TV . room ., and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    Fascinating essay.

  11. cd de plastilina 59 months ago | reply

    que preciosidad
    awesome

  12. ξωαŋ ThΦt (slowly back...) 59 months ago | reply

    HAHAHA!!!

    "If only we all spoke Esparanto."

    All this made me LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Really creative title. I think people gives too much importance to Explore.... it's just mathematics, not about talent or something... Of course, a way to get pop and get more nice contacts!

    Keep it up on CC!!!

  13. pc1986 55 months ago | reply

    Group Logo
    You are Invited to post your
    Picture to Olym(pics)

  14. Stuart Stevenson 54 months ago | reply

    very interesting debate

  15. Hanyi® 46 months ago | reply

    It's so amazing!

  16. JuanApo 30 months ago | reply

    Interesting photo and much more interesting comment.I´m Learning....

  17. Bruno LaLiberté 13 months ago | reply

    Going through ALL of your essays
    and I find it makes for an interesting reflection on Flickr,
    and what can be expected, or not...
    Personally, I post my pics, visit my contacts and accept invitations.
    But adding to these groups,
    I hardly ever get responses.
    I presume I don't fit in with what people like to see there.
    That's OK!!
    I'll just do my thing and be happy with it.
    I did come across some marvelous people here on Flickr
    that have been a source of inspiration and support,
    which has help me grow as an amateur photographer,
    dare I say an enthusiastic one?!?
    I guess so!!!
    Sure, we all want our pictures to be seen,
    but first, I want to like what I see.
    If others like it too, that's great,
    if not, I've enjoyed the journey anyway.
    Can't take that away from me.
    One thing's for sure,
    being kind to one another is primordial.
    If your contacts feel you respect them, beyond the photography,
    they will come back.
    I fave those I really like, for one reason or another.
    I comment when I have something pertinent to say,
    or when I feel encouragement can go a long way for the person.
    I just don't do it "because of the rules"!!!
    I do it because I want to.
    So,
    those groups, not really for me.
    Also, the way many are managed,
    you find things that don't fit in any way with the theme of the group,
    and yet, they're allowed to remain there.
    Not very serious, me thinks...
    Anyway, this was my ranting for tonight.
    Still got a couple more essays to read.
    Have a good day,
    whenever you wake up!!!
    :)

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