Sunday, June 27, 2010

Banned from Flickr's Explorer

Well, almost banned you might say. I've had just one image pop in to Explorer since the one I had on 2/23/2010. I wondered what it was when I didn't get anything in for a few days, then weeks, then months.

I posted something here after googling it about the ban and wondering why.

No body but someone on the inside would know for sure, so this is just from pure observation of stats and then guessing as to why or how...

For years people have gamed the system trying to get photos in to Explorer. For the uninitiated Explorer is a way for flickr to promote images via a common area on the site, not just a users page or stream. It used to be easy to trick the system by posting to lots of groups, or the comment trading groups, etc. Over time things have evolved and the flickr admins learned how to prevent abuses. The users also adapted to the changes and the war raged on.

A couple years ago they made it so posting to more than a few groups penalized images, and in general the system got smarter.

I stopped doing invites almost completely (both giving or responding). And I stopped posting to more than a few groups per image. I wasn't trying to game Explorer, and I wasn't trying to pimp my images. Some folks put their images in comment of other ppl to gain views, or email all their contacts.

Anyway, my low key approach actually worked pretty well and I have over 500 images pop in to Explorer in around 4 1/2 years (from Aug2005 to Feb2010). By not trying to trick the system I was allowed to have many of my images bubble up. Sometimes 1 in a week or two, some times 5 or 6 or 7 in a couple weeks. (And they'd mostly drop out too, but they did pop IN.)

Then in late February they changed something, right around 2/24/2010. Since then I've had just one image pop in to Explorer. I'm not saying my stuff deserves to be in there. Or that I shoot for explorer, but, the change was like a light switch on then off, except for one image after the switch went to off.

And I have a new theory on that part after a bit of research in to other popular photographer's scout pages.

Many people seemed to have a fall off from Explorer right after 2/24/2010 too. Then a number of the most popular photographers that were out, made it back in, and all their dates seem to be similar. This leads me to think maybe the "ban" from flickr was lifted in a such a way as to let the new algorithm do its thing, and ban the old blood / popular old times except for the "whitelisted" few. And the rest were allowed to have just an extremely minor presence going forward so it wouldn't appear as an outright ban, just a change in the logic, that almost always excluded them.

Here's a list of photogs that I think got added back (starting) around 3/2/2010 or so, (*updated - since they had to add folks back the dates aren't all one date, but appear to start on 3/2/2010):
Imapix 2/22 last, next was 3/2
hvhe1 1/24 last, next 3/2 - (she doesn't post daily)
MikeJones 2/23 last, next 3/2
James Neeley 2/27 last, next 3/9
StuckInCustoms2/24 last, next 3/15.

My last was 2/23, with just one since then - I wasn't "whitelisted".

Why post this?
Well, for one they obviously changed their criteria for explorer. No one can deny that or call observant photographers crazy for noticing that. Late February 2010 it changed.

And because I've read a few times now about people wondering, and I felt like I might have been banned or burned myself by it too.

And because the people I follow, and mentioned above, shoot roughly what I shoot - nature, wildlife, landscapes, colors, earth, wind, fire, the beauty of the world. So these things haven't gone out of style, and are still able to bubble up in Explorer.

I doubt anyone with knowledge from the inside of flickr will read this. If they do, doubt they comment. And further if those 2 things were to happen, the magic of Explorer is a secret so I'd expect anything said to not be honest if it purported to explain it in good faith.

added from orig post
(or maybe to be more accurate I mean if they said no you were not banned or banned 99.999% while others with similar photos and criteria were not affected at all - would be uninformed or untruthful. Someone with API data access and the skill to look at Explorer contents from roughly the last year could detect the change easily in users and then the drop off of all old users, and then the minor addition of certain folks back in... I don't have the time or skill to do that work. fd?)

I've learned a lot from flickr and my fellow members, it has been great. And explorer helped to promote my stuff, and for me to find new people and make new connections. Photography will be my passion regardless of Explorer. And plain as day Explorer changed around 2/24/2010 and did a soft ban on many of the most common photographers found there. A week later or so, some members appear to have gotten exempted from the new way of removing users from explorer.

I guess it is just too bad for me that I got the short end of the stick.

p.s. I waited about 4 months to say anything other than a little post in that thread. I didn't go off whining right away, I'm not leaving flickr, etc. I wanted to see how long it went on for, if it was real or if it would get tweaked again and let me back in....

p.p.s. some have said it is just a change to the algorithm and no users were targeted (and I'd infer targeted with removal of the new math for just them), and to that I say if it were still pure chance, a huge mathematical equation, without special rules for users, and the odds were fair for all then I'd have more than one image in 4 months compared to previous numbers. That fair chance would have not made me change from my old stats to 1. And I say fair not because flickr should be fair to ME, but because some say "flickr isn't singling out users when they change explorer". I basically call shenanigans on that.

These are all vertical shots...

-- commenting here made me turn this in to a post.

p.p.p.p.p.p.p.s. - Maybe I'm just totally mistaken. Maybe someone just stole my mojo. I looked at a few other "explorer" stars' stats and it was harder to find ones that matched the pattern. But I do know that other folks felt the same thing happened to them this time. In 4.5 yrs I averaged 1 image every 4 days or so, now in 4 months 1 image. IDK, night and day or is it day and night...