I haven't posted here in a while. In part because I was waiting for this to become a proper blogging platform, and in part because there was little or nothing new about 500px to discuss.
It is now clear that 500px will not offer proper blogging tools, and maybe it was silly of me to think they ever wood. I was hoping that I could use this as an outlet for all my musings on photography, in the same way that I'm using this as an outlet for all my (decent) photography. Stories, however, is even less of a blogging tool than the previous incarnation. It seems that 500px doesn't want you to talk about photography, it wants you to talk about how you took photographs. Pretty radical, but hey, I can only blame myself for assuming that going towards a proper (if sparse) blogging platform was a goal for the site.
I don't particularly like the changes that 500px has recently implemented. The site is, if possible, even less social than it previously was: less sharing options, wall relegated to an obscure sub menu (I was trying to find the Wall of one of my followers this morning and I simply couldn't), market is a joke (download or high-end canvas print is your only choice, US only for delivery, why did they not stick with Fotomoto???)
More importantly, I've come to realise that the ecosystem around the viewership is an illusion. When I joined 500px I bought the premise that the photos would be viewed on their merits and that therefore a decent photographer would get more views here than elsewhere. In reality though, it has become apparent to me that the only views I get come from me tweeting photos to my twitter followers when I upload them. Sure, I have a lot more views here than I had on Flickr, but then I never tweeted my photos from Flickr, so the change is not a result of the platform, it's a result of my own behaviour having changed.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I've come to realise that the single most important driver for photos being viewed and voted on is 500px themselves. Get your photo tweeted by 500px and you'll get views (obviously) and votes (because their audience are all 500px members). And of course, 500px tweets the photos they see, ie. the photos of a limited subset of members, those who have the highest ratings and the highest audience. It's a self-feeding cycle. It's even more shocking with Market since 500px will tweet and point to specific photos for sale on the market, thus distorting said market completely. If you're not in their little books, or if you're not capable of aggregating a large amount of traffic from outside of 500px, you have no chance of selling anything.
Does this all matter? Yes and no. What does matter to me is that it's become quite clear now that 500px doesn't have a vision for what they're doing beyond "Flickr is weak, let's nab some customers off them". Nothing wrong with that per se, except that it's only going to get them so far, and maybe they're already there. I bought a subscription because I was hopeful that they would enhance the social aspects of their platforms and that the "you have 24 hours for your photo to be seen" ecosystem was a temporary solution that would evolve. It's now quite clear that it's at the core of the site, and that's not what I wanted.
On the other hand, the photos look good and people can see them. I now know that I need a separate blog to talk about photography, and I've tried various options. I'm still undecided, but essentially, I know I'll be spending less time here. As it stands, I'm unlikely to subscribe again next year: I subscribed on the hopes of better things to come, and they didn't come.
I'm curious about what others think about all this.