Welcome newcomers! We found that some are curious about our rating system, so, since parts of our Help section are still not translated, I'd like to give you a quick overview of our system.
First of all, 500px is about your portfolio, so if you don't want to socialize, follow people, see their awesome new works, chat with them, or discover new photos — that's okay. Then you should simply ignore the number on the right side of your photo, and keep on building your portfolio.
For others, rating gives ability to showcase their photos in — and beyond — the community. We needed some sort of an order, and to rank photos in our Upcoming or Popular pages, so we went to the world, and returned with the most sophisticated rating system.
Ratings. Well, your "score" depends on freshness of your photo, and number of votes. Fresh photos get a higher score, and it's easier for a them to reach Popular (you need around 8-9 positive votes). Once it goes from Fresh to Upcoming (those are fresh photos with rating of 30 or higher), it gains more views. And once it goes from Upcoming and also appears in Popular (rating of 70 or higher), it gains thousands more eyeballs.
Older photos will lose rating, and each consecutive vote will add less and less to a total score. For example, first vote will bring 27 points, but 100's vote will bring 0.1 point.
For practical purposes that means that our Popular page will always consist of fresh photos, and older ones will always have to step down, once they had their "moment of glory".
So, if you uploaded a fresh photo — make sure you share it on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon or Google Buzz — your photo (and devoted followers) will thank you.