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.