In a move sure to upset many long-standing flickr veterans as well as to possibly please many newer users, Flickr is currently in the process of a major overhaul to their popular Explore page where they showcase and feature 500 photos each day. The Explore page was started back in 2005 by Flickr as a place to showcase some of what Flickr considers, “the most awesome content on Flickr.” Flickr has continuously referred to a “magic donkey” at Flickr that selects the images that are included each day.
In actuality, an algorithm is used by Flickr to scour popular photos by their members each day and promote these photos on the site. The algorithm largely measures activity on individual photos including faves, comments, notes, tags, etc.
The Explore page on Flickr is a frequent topic of conversation among Flickr users as they’ve tried over the years to figure out the specifics of the algorithm due to the large amount of traffic that the page generally sends to individual Flickr image pages. Many users have complained recently that a small group of users have been exploiting the algorithm to gain a larger share of the traffic generated by this section of Flickr.
Flickr Community Manager Heather Champ announced this coming change on Flickr in a Flickr forum earlier this week. From Champ:
“I can see that we’re a community divided about the Top 500. Change is coming. Big change. I don’t have a firm date, but we need something that’s far more inclusive. Is there any way that 500 photos a day could capture the breadth and depth of this wonderful community? I think not.
So, for those who are fed up with Explore, please be patient. Don’t let the tired old broken down Donkey change you into something that you’re not. And for those who currently feel blessed by the golden light the donkey sends your way. Well, I’m sorry if the changes that come upset you in that you’re going to have to share your spotlight with many more people.”
I’m not going to close this topic, but I will if I come back and find out that you’re still slapping away at one another (a la Monty Python) with big fish.
One of the first major changes made to the Explore algorithm involved adding both averaging and randomizing components into the algorithm which upset many of Flickr’s most popular users at the time the change was implemented. Killing off the magic donkey may in fact significantly reduce the traffic on Flickr to many of their most popular users currently. I suspect that when whatever overhaul is rolled out it will potentially find many vocal critics depending on how this traffic is affected.
If you’d like to see if any of your own photos are currently featured on Flickr’s Explore page you can check that out at this link at Big Huge Labs here. If you’d like to see if any of your contacts or friends photos are featured there you can use this handy little script by Drew Meyers here.