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How Rating Works (And Why There's A Lot More To a Rating Than Just a Number)

Published by Evgeny Tchebotarev · July 20th 2011

We had many requests and questions about rating, ranging from “Do someone specifically targets my photos?” to “Why do I have a sudden drop of rating?” to “How does rating works?” to “Why don’t you remove the dislike button?”.

I tried to cover some of those issues in my blog post, but it’s definitely time for a more elaborate answer. So, let’s take a deep breath and dive into details...

It's All About Exposure

Despite a lot smaller size, both members that are new to photography and heavyweights, like Thomas Hawk, Marina Cano, Gorazd Golob, Scott Kelby and hundreds of others enjoyed an interesting phenomenon.

Despite smaller size, both famous and new photographers get a lot more exposure. You can see it daily at the Popular — fresh photo quickly gets thousands of views, dozens of comments and likes. It’s all deeply tied with the rating system.

The rating system itself is fairly easy — you can “Like” the photo or “Dislike”. We often check the stats, and over 95% of the votes are likes. That doesn’t mean that 5 remaining percent of votes are haters. More often than not they are helping, by sifting through the Fresh daily, disliking bad photos (yes, we have those, but that exact rating system keeps it in check), and liking good photos.

What is the top rating you can get? It’s theoretically possible to hit 99.9, but that’s in theory. In practice, anything above 95 is usually a work of art.

Does the Rating Matter?

Does the rating matter? Yes, it does. But only for one thing — a placement of the photo on the page. It has nothing to do with qualities of the photographer, because the rating is also time-sensitive.

On Flickr and many other sites, you always have favorites. I mean, favorite photographers, who are always at the top. They are social, they have thousands of friends and they have a reputation. So, their photos are constantly on top, as a personal reminder of their ego.

We at 500px don’t have that. I’m sure that by the time I publish this post, Scott Kelby’s photo will be taken over by some relatively obscure Russian photographer. Why? Two reasons: time-sensitivity and the love of the crowd.

It's Either Fresh or Not

The ratings on 500px are time sensitive. Remember than great photo that got 99.5 points to yours and ours astonishment? You won’t see it on the first page. Most likely, you won’t see it in the Popular altogether. Our system downrates all photo ratings each day, so that world’s greatest photo will have an approximate rating of 50 points after half a year. Just fifty! That’s just 3 votes for the new photo! Second level of sensitivity comes from the freshness — first vote on a fresh photo brings 27 points. If you wait, the same first vote will bring about 25 points on the second day. The same vote on not so fresh photo provides for less ‘love’. Why is that?

We thought hard and tweaked the system numerous times to achieve that balance. That helps quickly bring new exciting photos to the top, provide photographers with maximum exposure, and help them sustain it though the time, by uploading 2-3 of their best photos per day.

That’s why the site, which is 500 times smaller than Flickr can bring same exposure to both amateur and professional photographers alike.

It’s not Flickr, so dumping thousands of photos in hope of exposure will, in opposite, most likely alienate you from the community.

Love of the Masses

Each vote is unique. I mean, literally. Each consecutive vote brings less points. For a fresh photo it is like this: 27 > 42 > 52 > 59 > 65 and so on. First vote brings 27 points, second — only 15, third — just 10, then just 7, then 6 and so on. On super popular photos with already hundreds of votes your vote can bring just 0.1 points or even less.

After than, just one dislike can throw a photo long way — removing, say, 6 points. But each consecutive dislike will remove smaller points, and each like will get a little more points. The idea is that the placement of each photo is the work of the masses — it can move across the Popular page in matter of seconds. And that's fresh! Because if you come next day, most photos will change, so you are presented with a fresh view of today's mood.

Killing Me Softly with a Dislike

I know that some have received dislikes on their photos and take it personally. My advice — don’t. You can go to my page and dislike the photos you don’t like. It’s OK! I still have my portfolio at iansobolev.500px.com which I refresh based on your feedback in the community. That actually helps!

Dislikes are not unlimited. Everyone has a limit of dislikes per day, and after certain amount, you are asked to provide an explanation. It’s not that anyone can go and dislike hundreds of photos at once. No. It’s very limited.

We did had haters, who created multiple account to dislike photos on the top and like their own photos. Guess what — we take measures, and do something very, very special to them...

Becoming Better Photographer

Would you click on the dislike? I doubt it, and over 95% of you rarely do. But do you really think your photo should go up until 99.9 and stay there forever? I doubt it too. 500px is not a sport, and you are totally free to setup your free Portfolio, absolutely separate from comments, likes, votes. But if you want to participate, comment, vote and fave photos — then, I’m sure, everyone should have an objective vision of themselves and just go and try take even better pictures, regardless of your name or status.

They are among us

Back to the questions "Do someone specifically targets my photos?” and “Why do I have a sudden drop of rating?” We have recently checked a dozen of photographers that have asked us to investigate a sudden drop of rating, and we are... smitten. Photographers who argued that they have been a victim of a troll attack, disliking their photos, had zero (as in 0!) dislikes on all of their photos.

The reason behind such questions is pretty simple — our algorithm downgrades all the photos daily, so a great 90+ photo will be in the 80’s by next morning (unless it is significantly upvoted by diminishing like votes).

So if you feel that you have been a victim of an unfair dislike — think for yourself, take a look at other photographer’s profiles and notice how their great photos have fallen to 60’s, or 50’s or even 40’s with time. It’s just a part of the algorithm that we are proud of, and which works to display ever greater new photographer every day, without getting boring or repetitive.

If you don’t like votes and can’t stand this rating fluctuations, simply visit Portfolios and setup your rating and comment-free environment, where your works can be shared to your visitors, clients and friends.

Crunching the Numbers

When you first upload a photo, it appears in Fresh and on your Friends' pages. When it reaches a rating of 60 (that is, just 5 positive votes for a fresh photo), it gets to the Upcoming. This shows last 7 days of photos, sorted by upload date. Upcoming photos have a great chance to get to the Popular, and are a great way to discover already pre-filtered photos. Popular contains 50 pages of photos with the highest rating. Currently, it takes a rating of about 84 to get to the last page of the Popular.

Editors Choice is a curated category, where our Editors (including me) select 1-3 photos per day. That is, an average photo has just 0.02% chance to get to Editors Choice.

PS: Feel free to ask me questions, I’ll add replies to most common one’s to this post.

Icons for Social Media

Published by Evgeny Tchebotarev · July 12th 2011

Thank you for all the feedback we are getting!

Not so long ago I was approached on twitter (follow me @tchebotarev), being asked about social media icons. Do we have those? We didn’t.

So I created one. But obviously, that’s not nearly enough. That’s why today I’d like to introduce few more icons.

First set was inspired by SocialShift icons, a great set by Manuel López. The other part of my set was inspired by Elegantthemes, a great set, designed by Nick.

Click on the image to download PSD with icons

Second set is influenced (and based on) by Social Media Mini Icon Pack, where one photo site icon (yes, that was Flickr) was replaced with 500px icon. Download PSD here.

Click on the image to download PSD with icons

If you want to start creating and using 500px in your social media icons, feel free to start by downloading vector shapes for 500px logo and infinite shape for use. You can use it any way you want.

Click on the image to download PSD with 500px logo shape

If you have created a set of icons that includes 500px, let us know on twitter @500px, so we’ll share it with our readers. Thanks!

Lightbox, Keyboard, and Navigation

Published by Evgeny Tchebotarev · July 4th 2011

The last week has been pretty busy, as usual, for us here at 500px. Apart from exploring Google+ (yes, we’ve got invites), we’ve got some interesting updates.

First of all, your photos are now safe from copying across the site — in community, portfolio, blog. You can’t drag or save the photo.

As always, we’d like to remind that it’s just a visibility of security, as there is not technology on earth that can save your photos from copying. Not us, not Flickr, SmugMug, PhotoShelter or anyone else. It’s not possible. So, this security measures only makes it a little harder to copy the photo. Currently, it’s on by default for everyone, and we’ll make a switch to turn if off for those who like openness.

We’ve also added a lightbox, available for all photos. Just click on the photo.

We like to add features without cluttering the interface with hundreds of buttons and switches. So, some features will be hidden, until you find them. For example, navigation. Or navigation from the keyboard.

So now, when you browse from Popular, Upcoming, Editors Choice or Fresh, you are treated to the custom navigation, that takes into account where you came from, so you can browse faster. How much faster? You can flip through the photos with “J” (backwards) and “K” (forward) buttons on the keyboard, and also use “F” to fave a photo, and “L” to vote with “Like”.

We've also added new language to the mix — this time, Brazilian Portuguese (Português Brasileiro). We'd like to thank all our friends in Brazil and Portugal who helped translate it.

Of course, we also added tons of fixes to EXIF reading, deleting accounts, translation and UI.

What’s coming up next? We hope to further simplify login and sign up, making it less prone to user or system errors, optimize speed to make things even faster, fix search, and add some nice touches to portfolios.

This Week in Features

Published by Evgeny Tchebotarev · June 26th 2011

Well, fortunately for our users and unfortunately for us, we still don’t get to have normal weekends. A weekend is a day when you can come an hour or two later to work and leave an hour or two earlier.

We have made some changes on Saturday night, that caused a little outage for the site (about 1-2 minutes), but overall change have made whole site more responsive. So, since last 2 weeks and for the foreseeable future we’ll be focusing a lot on speed, responsiveness and uptime. Our ultimate goal is to have at least 99,9% uptime during a single year.

This week we also introduced some changes to the site.

First of all, we’ve got our iPad, so we put it down to work and debugged the site to work a lot better with iPad. Currently, it is UI & UX fixes for now, but a lot more improvements will be coming.

We also introduced ‘Right Click Protection’. Once again, unofortunately, nothing in this world can protect your photos from being taken, because that’s how the technology works. And even most advanced technologies can be hacked or avoided with scripts, add-ons and different browsers. But we want to make sure that your images are protected, so we work actively to find and delete accounts that post copyrighted images that do not belong to them (unfortunately, that happens sometimes). You can report any photo or user and we’ll act quickly.

EXIF support has been finally added, so we now read your titles, descriptions and tags. As before, you can crop your thumbnail in Photo > Edit after the upload if you didn’t like how it looks. Now you don’t have to do double work when uploading to 500px. Thanks for the patience!

Hemos añadido a la lista española de nuestras lenguas. You can switch it at the bottom. Our translation currently applies to the basic navigation within the site, and we hope to make the whole site available in all supported languages at the end of this year. And, of course, more languages are coming!

So, what’s next? This week we’ll focus on stability, and some important features, like unlinking and relinking of a Facebook account (we currently do that manually). We’ll also work on adding navigation back (along with keyboard shortcuts), since we introduced it a two weeks ago and that caused a site to go down (yes, it’s that popular!).

Let us know how we can help. As usual, we are almost 24/7 on twitter @500px!

Yes, you can!

Published by Evgeny Tchebotarev · June 22nd 2011

So, with popularity growing, and with fresh people coming onto the site (thank you, guys and ladies!), we have some questions appearing over and over again. Of course, we are always in the works to improve user interface and experience on the site, but let's run a small list of things that you can do on the site already:

Can I change my username? Yes, you can
Can I delete my account? Yes, you can (careful, there's no undo)
Can I enable the store to sell prints? Yes, you can
Can I edit thumbnails? Yes, you can (on a photo page, click edit)

Have more questions about 500px? Let us know here :-)

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