Duncan's blog

July 20, 2008

Flickr Interestingness strangeness

Filed under: Photos — duncan @ 3:15 pm
Tags: , , ,

Stop looking at my bottom

I published the above image on Flickr on December 3rd 2007. To begin with, it didn’t get much views. Then it was used in a blog posted by Alex Walker of Sitepoint, and was also included in the May issue of ‘Design View’, an email newsletter they publish. Initially they didn’t credit the photo to me, contrary to the Creative Commons license for that photo. A quick email to them corrected it.

Then a few blogs picked up on it, but traffic died down after the newsletter. But the views for that photo had gone from almost nothing to I think about 1000+, making it one of my most viewed photos. I kept an eye out for it on my list of most interesting photos, but it never showed up.

Then around the 5th July the photo started getting a lot of traffic from Stumbleupon and Reddit. I don’t use either of those, so I’m not entirely sure how it works, but I suddenly got a lot of visitors, and people adding it to their favourites. 12,000 visitors and 12 favourites, all in one day. Since then there’s been over 100 views of that photo every day.

Stop Looking At My Bottom statistics

Stop Looking At My Bottom statistics

Currently, it’s my:

  • most viewed photo (21,736 views);
  • most favourited photo (68 faves);
  • 7th most commented photo (12 comments).

So you might expect it to also be one of my most ‘interesting’ photos, as defined by Flickr’s interestingness algorithm (patent pending).

But it’s not. It doesn’t appear in my top 10. It’s not even in my top 100 interesting photos. It’s actually listed as my 1103rd most interesting photo. That just doesn’t seem right.

So, why might this be the case? Firstly, what do we know about Interestingness? According to Flickr’s Explore pageThere are lots of elements that make something ‘interesting’ (or not) on Flickr. Where the clickthroughs are coming from; who comments on it and when; who marks it as a favorite; its tags and many more things which are constantly changing.

So it could just be as simple as Flickr disregarding any traffic from the likes of Stumbleupon, Reddit, Digg, Fark, Slashdot etc. Although as long as the Interestingness algorithm remains secret, I’ll never really know.

I’ve also noticed this with another photo:

I'm only popular on the internet

3,185 views, 33 favourites, 12 comments. 82% of the traffic came from Stumbleupon. It’s sitting as my 1165th most interesting photo. Oddly though, it’s also at number 60 in Explore for the day I uploaded it. Unlike the first example, which isn’t in Explore at all, and never has been.



  1. Yup, it’s frustrating to see your favorite photo not hit the top of your most popular list! I have a semi-decent photo I took in San Francisco listed as the most popular of my photos, though it has no comments and less views than others photos I’ve posted. I wish I knew why!

    Comment by jackie — July 4, 2009 @ 6:49 pm | Reply

  2. […] image, trying to intuit how to arrive at an aesthetically meaningful calculation of overall ‘interestingness‘ for any given scene, from a given (playable) vantage […]

    Pingback by Jonathan Blow’s The Witness game wallpaper | Alien Fiction! — July 29, 2014 @ 1:57 pm | Reply

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