Bumping Flickr Photos

There’s a trick on Flickr for getting more views that’s starting to get annoying. Your photo appears on people’s default screen in Flickr if they’ve added you as a contact. Its place in this ‘stream’ is based on the date the photo was posted, not the date it was taken, which makes sense. The problem is, Flickr lets you edit the posted date stamp yourself. So you can post your photo, wait a couple of hours or so for it to pick up a good number of views, and hopefully some faves, then ‘bump’ the posting date, pushing it back to the top of everyone’s lists. Do it a few times over a few days, and your photo will be seen a lot more times, and pick up more favourites.

That’s all very nice from the point of view of the person posting it and bumping it – they’re getting more attention, which is why they’re posting on Flickr in the first place. When I’m looking at my contacts photos, I’m seeing the same photos several times, which isn’t so good from my point of view. I don’t follow thousands of people – I suspect those who do don’t care about the photos they’re seeing, they’re just trying to get attention for their own photos by following people and hoping a few will follow back – the same borderline spam following you see so much of on Twitter. For those I do follow, I try to see most of what they post, going through my contacts photos every day, usually more than once a day. Pushing your photos at me repeatedly makes that harder, and gets you unfair amounts of attention.

So, I’ve now started watching out for people who are doing this, and unfollowing them. It’s a shame, because I’ve unfollowed some really outstanding photographers in the last couple of weeks, who take photos I enjoyed seeing. But I’m trying to be consistent about this, because I really don’t like it being done.

It’s usually fairly easy to spot – the obvious signs when you’re going though your contacts photos are photos with more faves than you’d expect to see for the length of time they’ve been there, and (obviously) ones you’ve seen more than once. If you’ve seen a shot before, or even faved it before, and it’s in the middle of other photos you haven’t seen yet, you can be pretty sure they’ve bumped it. If it has, say, 50+ faves, and says it was posted 15 minutes ago, it’s probably been bumped. Check how long ago the main list says it was posted, then click it to open the photo and see the comments. If it was posted 15 minutes ago, but the first comment was 3 hours ago, you know they’ve bumped it.

Personally, I’m hoping Flickr will nerf this by either turning off the ability to edit the posting date, or keeping another permanent posting date that isn’t shown, but determines the position in the contact streams. I think some people do this trick when they post another photo, to keep one they consider their best recent work as the most recent in their photostream, which isn’t a problem, and the second date would let people do that still.

I’m sure the people who do this think it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and that the photos they’re doing it with deserve more attention than they get. To me, though, it feels disrespectful to the attention I’m paying to their photos by following them, so I’ll stop.

New Yahoo! Weather App for iOS

Weather apps on the iPhone are a great playground for app developers. I’ve tried a few of them, but keep returning to WeatherPro from MeteoGroup – it isn’t the prettiest, but it’s got lots of data, fairly well presented. When Yahoo! released a new weather app, though, as a tie-in with Flickr, I had to try it out. And it is good.

The big selling point is the photography – the main screen is a big photo of something similar to your current weather conditions, somewhere near your current location (or the location you’re checking the forecast for).

There isn’t as much detailed data as in WeatherPro, but that can be a bit much sometimes. The basics are beautifully presented, in a nice simple, flat design, with a nice modern look, and there’s as much detail as I generally want. It also ties in with an official Flickr group, so Flickr users (like me) can add photos to the group, and they’ll be used to represent the weather at that location. It’s a weather app that looks great, presents just about the right amount of information, and that you can take a little part in yourself.

It’s become my weather app of choice for now at least.

Update: Oh, one little detail I forgot to mention originally – it’s free.

What I Want from a Photo Sharing Site

Cabot Circus Roof, Bristol Don’t get me wrong. On the whole, I’m pretty happy with Flickr. It does a decent job. But Thomas Hawk got me thinking recently with his enthusiastic (Is Thomas ever anything but enthusiastic?) promotion of 500px. It does a nice job of showing off your photos, but one of the things that’s different about it, at least for now, is the focus on top quality photography.

There’s plenty of top quality photography on Flickr. But there’s also a lot of mediocrity, and quite a lot of complete rubbish. I try not to post too much complete rubbish, but I sometimes do, because I want to show something I saw and just didn’t get a good photo of. Much of the photography I post would come under the heading of ‘mediocre’. Not bad, but not really ‘portfolio’ stuff. I’m happy posting it to Flickr, but would feel bad about uploading it to 500px. It would lower the tone of the site, and I don’t want to do that.

It would be good to have somewhere to point someone who doesn’t already know my photography, to show what I have done. The best pictures I’ve taken. Like a portfolio, rather than introducing someone to my most recent photos, which may happen to be a bit, well, crappy.

It’s certainly good to have somewhere to share the photos I’m taking day-to-day. Some are better than others, but I don’t want to only share the very best. I want to show people the reasonably decent stuff too.

I also sometimes want to share photos that really aren’t very good. I may have spent an hour trying to get a shot of a swift flying past our window, and failed, so I want to share the blurred black shape that was the best shot I managed to get, to tell the story. Maybe there was an interesting bit of street art, and I want to show it, but screwed up the one photo I took. I still want to be able to show these off, but perhaps don’t want people thinking I’m actually happy with this sort of shot.

500px is pretty good for that first category, for showing off those portfolio pieces that you’d want to show anyone while modestly saying “Well, you know, I dabble a little in photography – never really taken anything good. What these old things? Well, that’s very kind of you, but…”

Flickr is good for the second category. It doesn’t show the photos off well enough for the first category, though, and the default view is just your n most recent photos. Sometimes, my last few photos weren’t very good. It has a bit of a work-around for the final category. I’ve seen some people who will post their single best photo from a set as an actual public photo, then post several more as private photos, so other users don’t see them. They then add comments to the public photo, with small versions of the other photos. People can see all the photos if they want to, but the photostream only contains the very best. Neat trick, but only works in some circumstances, and it’s extra work. It also means people you can’t link to many of your photos, and people can’t comment on them.

For the third category, the really rather bad photos, I just upload them with the rest, but I don’t really like to.

The obvious answer would be to use 500px for what it does well, and Flickr for what it does well, and either compromise Flickr with the bad shots, or stick them somewhere else – maybe even leaving them on the hard drive, tale untold. One problem with that is that I’m lazy. I can export a batch of pics to Flickr quite easily. I can upload there directly from my iPhone for pics taken there. Adding another step to send a couple of the best each time to a different site is likely to get put off, and never done. If I also upload them to Flickr, they’ll be in more than one place, which doesn’t feel right to me. If I don’t, then the majority of people, who will only look on Flickr, won’t ever see my best photos.

I think the more practical answer for me is to keep using Flickr, and live with its faults. Maybe something will come along that beats it firmly enough to take over, but the number of users Flickr has causes a lot of momentum. Maybe Flickr will get the work put into it at some point to sort out its problems, and really bring it up to date. Unfortunately, the former is looking more likely than the latter these days.