Monday, November 10, 2008

The Fickle Flame of FlickrFame

This weekend was quite unusual for me regarding our Flickr photostream. First, a photo I posted made Explore. That's a set of 500 of the photos loaded each day that Flickr's algorithms find to be the most interesting. I've had a few photos in the high 400s, but nobody notices those. This one ranked as high as 71 (we monitored its progress at various times over the weekend) before falling (which is to say other photos gained interestingness, relative to mine) to — as of this writing — #179. Still pretty respectable, and satisfying, but not the most significant thing to happen. [Update: I see it has dropped off of Explore altogether.]

The other Flickr happening was that a photo I posted in March 2007 started getting marked as a "favorite" by people. I couldn't figure out why; I hadn't posted it to any new groups or done anything to give it attention. Looking more closely at its stats, I was astonished to see it had 12,000 views. That's 10x as many views as my next most-viewed image. I added a query to the photo's description, asking visitors to tell me why there was this sudden avalanche of viewers. The answer was posted almost immediately: Digg.

Digg is a site that helps people find interesting stuff on the web. Somebody finds something they think is interesting, and they report it to Digg. As other people check it out, they upvote or downvote it, causing it to become more or less prominent in the Digg listings. Somehow (possibly in a search for turkey images for Thanksgiving), someone found my image, and Digged it. After a while, it made it to the front page, and I was getting hundreds of views a minute. This went on for several hours, before it finally fell off the front page, and my turkey picture had over 60,000 views.

As it happens, the one other photo I'm aware of that made Digg's front page wound up with over 100,000 views. It was worth it.

Shelly and I both had fun watching the progress of these two images. The excitement has ended, now. Maybe one day I'll have another photo in Explore, but I doubt the Digg frenzy will be repeated.

I guess I've had my 15 minutes. It was fun while it lasted.

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