My thoughts on 500px’s Pulse 2.0

500px Jason Waltman

Since posting my original “Getting started with 500px” article back in March, the team at 500px has made a few changes that I thought I should discuss.  Some of the things I said in that original article are now no longer true, and I didn’t want to confuse new users who may come across that old entry.

All images get 24 hours

First of all, the time of day that you post no longer matters as much as it used to with respect to your “pulse” score.  To keep the set of popular photos constantly changing, a photo’s score on 500px automatically lowers by some percentage each day.  It used to be that this always happened at midnight Toronto time to every photo on site.  That put users who uploaded right before that time at a slight disadvantage.  The best time to upload was right after midnight, giving your photo a full 24 hours before having its score reduced.  Now all photos are given a full 24 hours regardless of when they’re uploaded.  This is great for many reasons.  Not only are you not penalized for where you live in the world and when you want to upload, but the Popular page doesn’t get “reset” every night either.  With the old system, there would always be a period of time just after midnight Toronto time where the Popular page would have many mediocre images.  Since images’ scores are reduced at different times now, that no longer happens.

New Pulse 2.0 algorithm

The algorithm calculating the pulse score has changed.  The people at 500px are calling it “Pulse 2.0”.  As 500px grew, the site seriously outgrew the old method of calculating a photo’s “score”.  Users had figured out the system and were basically commenting on and liking 100s of images (whether they were “good” or not) in the hopes of getting return votes and boosting their own images to the top of the Popular page (also, whether they were “good” or not).  The result was a lot of spam comments, a lot of people begging for likes, and a lot of mediocre images on the popular page.  It was also easy for people with lots of followers to get a super high score just due to the number of views and votes they’d get from followers.

So, what’s changed?  In a nutshell, votes are worth less than they were before.  I know that my own photos aren’t scoring as high as they used to.  It’s not (necessarily) that my photos are somehow worse, it’s that the bar has been raised, and that’s ok.  It was too easy with the old algorithm to get a high score without having a stellar image.  Now, you’ll need a stellar image.  This is better for the community.  Since Pulse 2.0 was activated, the Popular and Upcoming pages have had higher quality work (generally speaking).  Also I noticed with Pulse 1.0 that the photos on the first page of Popular were all high 99s (99.9, 99.8, 99.7…).  Now, the first page still has all 99s, but there are some 99.1 and 99.2s on there.  There are less people getting 99 now.  Like I said, the bar has been raised.

New Upcoming page behavior

The Upcoming page is a bit different now than when I described it in my first post.  It now takes a pulse score of 70 to make it to the Upcoming page, instead of 75.  However, it’s harder to reach 70 now than it was to reach 75 before.  The Upcoming page is sorted by the order photos are uploaded instead of being sorted by the order in which photos reached a score of 70.  That’s an important distinction.  This gives photos that quickly reach 70 from the Fresh page more visibility than photos that take a long time to get there.  It still takes a score of 80 to become “Popular”.

No more dislike button!

With Pulse 2.0, the “I don’t like this photo” button has also been removed.  I’m really happy about this as I didn’t like that button!  It was in place to demote photos that received a lot of votes that maybe didn’t deserve them, but I don’t think it always worked in the way the folks at 500px expected. I think more often than not, people were disliking photos (which would reduce a photo’s pulse score) so their own photo could rise higher.

My thoughts and suggestions

I don’t know the details of the new algorithm and, rightfully so, 500px isn’t making it public.  Some suggest that votes from your followers count less than votes from non-followers.  Others suggest that votes from people who vote a lot may be worth less (or maybe their own photos’ votes will be worth less).  There are an endless number of variables that could go into the pulse score; it doesn’t make a lot of sense to speculate.  What does make sense is focusing on uploading high quality images and participating in the community in a helpful way.

Some people on 500px seem angry about the changes, but I’m not one of them.  I want votes if my photos are good, not just because I have a lot of followers.  I think this new system will result in scores which more accurately reflect the quality of my work.  It’s certainly going to be more difficult for new users with no followers to get noticed with mediocre images; it’s more difficult to make it to the Upcoming page which has much more visibility than the Fresh page.  However, I believe that new users with awesome images will find it easy to rise to the top.

Many of the suggestions I made for getting noticed in my first 500px post are still relevant: upload at most one image a day, upload only your very best images, seek out images that you like from all of 500px’s pages, vote on images that you like, favor only your favorite images, leave meaningful comments, follow photographers who have many images that you like, and participate in the 500px Blog’s weekly contests.  Even more importantly, instead of worrying about how to beat the system to get a higher pulse, worry about making amazing images to upload instead!

The one complaint I have about 500px right now

There is one thing about 500px right now that I really don’t like and that’s the Fresh page.  For new photographers, your only chance of being seen is on the Fresh page right after a photo is uploaded.  The time that a photo spends on the first Fresh pages is very short.  It’s even shorter when someone uploads 20 images at once right after your one photo for the day.  Many users are calling for 500px to limit the number of uploads a day.  They’re not going to do that because they’ve advertised that paying members can have unlimited uploads.  What I would like to see is a limit to the number of photos that can make it to the Fresh page.  If someone wants to upload an entire memory card of snapshots, fine, but I don’t want it to hurt those that are trying to be seen with decent work and are being selective about what they upload.  I propose that when you upload a photo it doesn’t automatically go to the Fresh page.  I think there should be a “Make it Fresh” button in the Edit window of each photo.  Once a photo is uploaded, tags added, description spell-checked, and thumbnail cropped, a user would have to manually click the “Make it Fresh” button to get the photo on the Fresh page.  This would dramatically limit the spam on the Fresh page.  Ideally, a user would be limited to clicking the “Make it Fresh” button on a limited number of images per week (10?) but even if unlimited, just forcing the user who uploads many images at a time to manually interact with each image they want on the Fresh page would help a lot.  Anyone at 500px listening?

Again, if there are questions I haven’t addressed, please ask in the comments!  Happy 500px-ing!

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Comments

  1. […] want to confuse new users who may come across this, so please take a minute to read “My thoughts on 500px’s Pulse 2.0” for all the […]

    1. Lee-Anne says:

      Jason, as a brand new member of 500px I had a lot of questions that I couldn’t find answers for on the site, however, you were a wealth of information. Thank you for taking the time to write this and explain the (at this point) mysterious world of 500px.

      Looking forward to viewing your images.

    2. agnes says:

      Hi,

      Just went through your article above …
      Unfortunately, there is still a lot of “crap” high up the ranking. There are a lot of people posting comments like “please check my photos/gallery” or “voted/favourited” – they don’t get that it’s annoying rather that helpful or nice. You don’t have to write you liked or favourited sth because authors of the photos can see that where the icons appear on the right.
      I agree that comments shouldn’t count at all, because many of them are not truthful – many examples on the 500px site show that for a crappy photo there are many comments like “beautiful, lovely work, love it etc.”. It won’t change unless people don’t change their attitude.

      Thanks for article Jason. Interesting thoughts!
      Regards.

      1. Raghupathi says:

        I totally agree with agnes…should NOT allow comments like the ones mentioned…please see my gallery..ans such like,.as it means, YOU SCRATCH MY BACK, I SCRATCH YOURS!!!!.Come on guys, each photograph, should be voted on its merit..period.

    3. Becky DeSantis says:

      Thank you sooooo much for writing this. I am relatively new to using 500 px in a serious manner and was completely confused as to why I was getting messages about being popular or upcoming or whatever and then going to those pages and never seeing my photos. Your blog is just great and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.I don’t have time to read it all now but I certainly will be back.

  2. Saravana Srinivasan says:

    Thanks for the updates. It is really helpful.

  3. Uri Schwartz says:

    Thank you for the update.
    As a new member of 500 I found a few things somewhat frustrating;
    1. Trying to be seen on 500 is almost impossible for begginers on the site. With roughly a hundred pics uploaded every minute one gets seconds before the image is sunken in oblivion. Thus we are forced to make a considerable effort to network and lure other members to have a look. Highly time consuming but the alternative is to accept that an image will be seen by 10-20 people.
    2. The pictures that get the higher scores immediately from the fresh page need to really pop out resulting in images that over saturated, strongly contrasted and very artificial.
    It is not impossible but it is hard to find a more subtle shot that requires a bit of a gaze among those who meet with success. I think that is a conditioning that takes the whole community into an airbrush posterlike direction leaving the art to die on the editing floor.
    3. Considering any success on 500 is short lived (just 24 hours to reach highest pulse) the only long term benefit is feedback for one’s work. But with comments tending to be ‘Great capture’ or the like, one hardly gets valuable input from others. It helps that those who copy pasted their comments are now blocked but perhaps the 500 should encourage to write more meaningful comments and allow a platform for an exchange.

    Don’t get me wrong, I apprecite the opportunity to be seen outside one’s locality and present among the giants that are there. I just wish 500 would find a way to be a less automated process and other than the editor’s choice would also manualy select some images from those uploaded every hour in a new category like “Have a second look” or something.

    Another issue that came up this week is that images are stolen from rightfull owners and posted elsewhere. I could not believe but I was shown an example. That I think should be handled better if people with no legal representation are to continue uploading.

    Thank you for posting the original and the update.
    Good luck to all photographers.

    1. Jason says:

      I totally agree, Uri. It’s difficult to get noticed from the Fresh page, especially without something that pops in a small square thumbnail. I think getting less images on the Fresh page would certainly help. Even I find myself scrolling quickly to get past the boring images; I’m sure I miss some good ones that deserve recognition.

      I’m not on any other social media, so when I started on 500px I had no friends and no way to get noticed other than the Fresh page. Now, 7 months later, I have almost 500 followers. It’s taken time and a commitment to the community to earn a following, but it hasn’t been impossible. It was really frustrating early on to see mediocre images get 100s of votes where my images, which I thought were often better, get only 1 or 2. The system’s surely not perfect. I can only hope that the folks at 500px are looking at the trends and continually thinking up ways to make their site better and highlight the best work!

      1. Gunnar says:

        I do like your article – it confirms my observations and

        well i also wondered how the new algorithm works when i notices the change. i could not find an official statement yet that explains what 500px wants to encurage. As you mentioned the big ?-mark is how do you get noticed > and without beeing active on 500px. When is someone most active > when you post a picture, but how much activity is yet no spam that is beeing punished.
        I ran a test with a friend we took a picture at the same place and uploaded it > just a week ago he reached 99.6 as mine went up to 98.something .. the pictures were almost identical.
        this also proves your theory that the amount of followers may not be as important anymore .. he has over a thousand followers less than i have.
        Question remaining: Is the “Like” of different person rated differently? Because i had more followers i got more likes but less pulse but may be he got lucky with “likes” of people with a higher lets say 500px status RG score like in researchgate or so in less time. So it could mean that attracting the right followers would be rewarded? If so 😉
        Also i noticed that it may get sooo many extra points if pictures gets shared via twitter or facebook. So sozial media to the outside word of 500px becomes more important than the internal to my impression. The effect is that you try not to spam inside 500px and move outside to attract traffic >> getting noticed!
        the result is visible in facebook groups called 500px.com firends and so on…. iam not sure if that is the goal of 500px > if so its preperation for a advertisement move on the non payers market to be coming soon > rather then selling images. Time will tell!

        I like that less pictures make 99+ and its only good ones up there. But i agree with many otheres here > it is very hard to determine how the rating actually works.

    2. C14kaa says:

      I agree with Uri too. Having just come over from Flickr, I’m finding out all the annoying little things that you don’t see when you first join up. Photo discovery is a bit of a problem. Even when you get into the high 90s, your photos still seem to get little or no more interest.

      The other thing I have noticed is that the photos that are the most popular are highly edited, saturated and photoshopped images. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think they were all from the same photographer. It seems on ya certain kind of style gets your photo popular.

      I’m swaying back to Flickr, but going to give 500px another go as I think they have updated their Pulse 2.0 again today!!!!

  4. Jonathan M says:

    Thanks, great articles that give a bit of insight to 500PX for noobs. I agree, the system isn’t perfect, and the ‘demand’ for over saturated, overdone images is comparable to the skewed demand in say music or book publishing. But hey, that’s the internet! 500PX has been better than Flickr in terms of getting any feedback for me, and viewing some of the extraordinary work on there certainly gives me ideas, and helps me improve my photography skills.

    1. Jason says:

      I’m glad this was helpful, Jonathan! Yes, 500px isn’t perfect, but I think they’re doing a pretty good job, all things considered. Like you, I’ve gotten a ton of inspiration from excellent work I’ve seen on 500px and it’s a community I’m happy to be a part of.

  5. Pedro Bueno says:

    Great article, Jason.

    I’m new to photography, as well to 500px so it was really helpful.

    One thing that I would add to Uri’s comment: Please keep in mind that this is my opinion =)
    – As a newbie, it’s not my intention to sell pictures or being at the spot. I value the work of true and professional photographers, which is not my case. I take pictures from what I enjoy and do it solely for fun.

    With that in mind, I think that 500px is a great tool for professional or top rated amateurs to get gigs or at least recognition for their work, since they will probably have more pictures posted than someone like me and surely a wider network. My friends for example are not part of 500px, so I have only 1 follower (I registered two weeks ago).

    So again, I think is a great social network for:

    – Professional / Real Amateurs: Get more visibility, sell pictures and maybe some gig
    – Newbies like myself: Learn from the pros, enjoy wonderful shots and maybe, in the future, become a real amateur / professional…

    Thanks again for the post, really helpful!

  6. Peter says:

    Good suggestions.

    If an image gets 24 hours before scores start dropping then that image should have the same chance of being seen as any other rather than the x minutes before it gets pushed too far back into the list of pages. If it was made random what images a person sees in the freshness section so that for 24 hours all images have a chance to be seen, that would make it more equitable.

    1. Jason says:

      I do wish there was a Random page to go along with the Fresh, Upcoming, Popular, and Editors’ pages. I know there is a ton of great work uploaded each day that I’m not seeing and a Random page of the last 24 hours of uploads would be fun to browse.

      In addition, really think that 500px could help things a lot by limiting the number of uploads per day, or at least limiting each user to one Fresh page upload per day or hour or something similar.

  7. Rodrigo Luft says:

    Jason.
    Your two posts is really helpful. Totally agree with you. Even more becouse I tried some approaches to understand how 500px works, how can I get more visibility.

    Your posts confirm what I’m thinking about the pulse and clear a lot of things. You make me think about how I’m using the community to get it better – criteria, likes, favs, follow.

    I’m not seen anymore those comments bagging for votes. Maybe it’s related with Pulse 2.0.

    As commented here, sometimes it hard to understand how some pictures get high ranks and get it fast. It seems that more followers make the photos more visible and so far. This is my opinion, not based on some information.

    I’m confused about favourite. I mean when I favourite a photo is because I really like it. So I feel that I must like too. What your though about favs?

    About comments. I’m a beginner, so I don’t know technical stuff, terms, etc. I feel I’m not qualified enough to comment a stunning work. In this cases is much more a praise because I though stunning. And I afraid to write something silly to a high end photographer. Something I get how hard is to obtain a result, but even this I avoid to write in more technical way.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion.

    1. Jason says:

      Thanks, Rodrigo. To answer your questions:

      I only favor something I really like and want to be able to go back and look at for inspiration. You have a favorites page which will display all of the photos you favored. A favor does increase a photo’s Pulse score, but doesn’t add to a user’s Affection score. Whenever a favor a photo, I also “like” it. This gives the photographer one affection point and essentially boosts the photo’s Pulse as if it would’ve gotten two likes. It’s possible that by favoring someone’s photo they’ll be more likely to return the favor to you which is why I think some people just “like” and “favor” everything. You can set up 500px to get an e-mail when someone favors your work, but not if they just like it. Of course now on the photo’s page we can see who has liked and favored the photo (this wasn’t the case before Pulse 2.0 and is why commenting was so important).

      About comments…I wouldn’t worry about being a beginner and not knowing all the technical terms. If you feel like leaving the photographer a comment, just write what you like about the image. In some way, not knowing the technical terms or not knowing how a particular photograph was made is nice. You come in with fresh eyes and fresh ideas. Just say what you like. It might not even be something the photographer intended, but it’s always nice to know what other people like about your work.

      Best of luck!

  8. Tim Mulcahy says:

    Terrific post Jason! I agree with everything you’ve written here about improvements at 500px.

    New users of the site would be well advised to follow your suggestions about how to optimize their 500px experience and increase the visibility of their images within the community. The recent changes at 500px mean that the quality of the image has emerged as the major variable. Keep making good images, only post your best and enjoy some terrific photography.

    Thanks for posting this Jason. I was looking for just this type of info when I started on 500px about 2 tears ago.

    1. Jason says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Tim!

      Been following you on 500px for a while and love your work. Happy that you stopped by!

  9. Theo says:

    Thank you very much for all the information, I got here since one of my recent photos make it to 92.2 pulse so far, i was like OMG, so i came here to check the upcoming and popular information, im glad to be on the 90+ pulse, aiming to get similar or better results in the future…

    I don’t have tons of followers or so, but working to have nice pictures 🙂

  10. oochappan says:

    The real handicap of 500px is that old posts become worthless and are seldom viewed, so it ain’t useful to maintain old posts, only to maintain the gathered Affection. 500px could put them randomly in a new section based on a equation of pulse divided by views … now 500px is only a biased competition of new posts, rather poor for a photo-site.

    1. Jason says:

      Yeah, I agree. The old stuff does kinda get lost and I do wish there was some sort of random page like you suggest to just go see some great images that weren’t uploaded in the last 24 hours. I try to keep some of my older photos alive by entering the weekly Monday contests on the blog if I have something older that fits the theme, but of course that’s only a few images a week, if any.

      I also use the sets feature (part of the paid subscriptions only though) to group like photos. I know not many people look at the sets since not everyone uses them, but at least if they do there’s a quick way to get to a collection of similar photos instead of scrolling through the public profile.

      Hopefully someday we’ll see a random page. I follow the feature requests at 500px occasionally and have seen similar requests, so I know 500px is aware.

  11. Arnel says:

    Loved the first and second article. Would like to point out something however. There is the possibility that someone actually forgot to click the vote and or favorite button. I usually comment first, and I only comment on what I truly like, and I usually say specifically WHY I like it–lighting cor lines etc. but sometimes after I’m done I’ve forgotten that I didn’t actually click on the like button. I also frequently ask questions regarding the photo. Your article suggests that if they comment and don’t click the vote/like buttons then there must be some evil ulterior motive which isn’t always true. Sometimes, we just get distracted. 🙂

    1. Jason says:

      Thanks for your comment, Arnel!

      You’re totally right. Sometimes people do just forget. Even I’m guilty of that myself. I guess I was really talking about the people who obviously comment but don’t vote and you can see that they’ve done it to many people. It’s less likely that they’ve forgotten if they do it all the time.

      The recent update to 500px that shows the avatars of users who vote seems to have made everyone more credible. I see less commenting without voting, and also, less commenting for the sake of commenting, in general. Wins all around.

  12. Eduard Dudar says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience. I’ve been using 500px for about 2 months and described weirdness sometimes drives me crazy 🙂 It’s hard decision to make for product developers so I can understand that they cut something out (scores) prior to making a good tool to show your work. Being able to get noticed for a couple minutes only from a fresh page is really depressing. I’m all up for your suggestions.

    BTW, it seems that algorithm has been changed recently. Votes and favs don’t produce that much lift anymore so even you get a dozen people who voted you most likely out of luck to get to Upcoming and you disappear from Fresh as fast as before.

    1. Jason says:

      500px admitted to a problem with pulse scores a few days ago. I noticed some weird behavior myself with scores going down for no reason. I think it’s fixed now. Maybe you got caught up in this and mistook it for an algorithm change?

      That issue aside, I do agree. It is difficult for new users to become noticed. The best thing to do is to be persistent and to try to build a follower base. That way you’ll get more eyes on your work each time you upload.

      I do hope that 500px will address some of our concerns in the future. I’ve been impressed with the improvements they’ve been able to release in the past year, and trust that they’re working to make their site the best it can be.

      1. Eduard Dudar says:

        Seems like it was not a glitch or a mistake but intended change that has been rolled back. Personally I think that they shouldn’t revert that change but stand up and clarify the change along with upcoming tweaks. But whining crowd closed the deal.

        As for followers base. Mine one is really small (41) and I don’t hear their voice at all. Well, just 1 person who’s my friend in real life 🙂

  13. Esteban says:

    How on earth are we supposed to compete with naked Russian girls? And with terribly saturated, impossibly sharp, ND-filtered images?

    That’s the thing I don’t quite like about Popular: the global trend in photography.

    I use 500 as a means to show my best (that I like) images, I used to have a photoblog but I’m too lazy to mantain it and also blogs don’t have the punch they used to, with all this social media going on.
    Flickr is ugly, Smugmug is great but incredibly expensive (I don’t pay 500, use the free account). So all these things are a no concern to me, but I think it they should re-visit their policies for old posts: they get lost in time.

    Best regards

  14. Laura Bartholomew says:

    I actually have a question. I am pretty new to 500px, about a month. Too new to have gathered over 250 followers. A large number of these followers have no profile picture, no images, no favorites etc., and they do not interact at all. I do not believe they are real followers with real accounts. Some days 15 or more of these ghost followers attach to my account. This concerns me because the more followers attached to my account, the more votes an image needs to advance even .1 point. Do you know anything about this or how I can remove these ghost followers?

    1. Jason says:

      I don’t know of any way to remove followers. You can report users to 500px if you believe someone is misbehaving, but I don’t believe that having an inactive profile is necessarily “bad”.

      I hadn’t noticed that the more followers you have negatively impacts your pulse ratings, but it is possible. 500px seems to be constantly adjusting the pulse algorithm to make it more fair for everyone. Once your pulse gets into the upper 90s for a particular photo it does take more and more votes to increase a pulse even by 0.1 points, as you mention. From my experience though, that would be true regardless of the number of followers you have.

      I just checked out your photos on 500px and they’re beautiful! Best of luck!

  15. Todd Wall says:

    Users are still spam voting mediocre images up to the first page and good images are going unnoticed. I really don’t think the new pulse system has increased quality that much if at all.

  16. Todd Wall says:

    I wonder if, in hind sight, you still feel the same way about 2.0 guarding against vote trading. It has become an epidemic BECAUSE of the pulse system.

    1. Jason says:

      Hey Todd,

      You’re right. Once the newness of the change wore off and everyone figured out how to game the system again things got worse. Having favorite buttons right on the thumbnails can’t help either–it’s just too easy to favor a large number of photos in the hope of getting a vote back.

      It’s my understanding that if a person votes a lot their votes count less. From a spammer’s point of view, that’s great: they can vote on everything, their votes don’t count for much so the photos they’re voting for don’t benefit, but their own photos benefit from all the return votes. I’ve argued that if someone uploads a photo and their photo gets 100 votes without them voting for anyone else, that that photo is probably “better” than the person who gets 100 votes on a photo because they voted 1000 times that day. Unfortunately, pulse is really a measure of “popularity” and not a measure of how good a photo is. I’m not sure if the folks at 500px plan to change that.

      I don’t blindly return votes–I only vote on photos I actually like. If everyone did this the spammers would eventually go away.

  17. Hi Jason,

    Must admit, in a bit of a rush; so haven’t read everything. What I have found is that currently, images loaded after 1am in South Africa still suffer from something that affects the Pulse. I just got started and do not understand well yet; but it also seem to be affected about how many users gets to see the image in the initial stage (suppose from the feed).

    I am currently seeing an average of about 10% likes of the views, irrespective of when it is loaded; but the views seems to be affected by time; and I haven’t found the “sweet spot” for upload yet. Have you got some feedback on that?

    Still testing the water, and also checking out some other sites.

    1. Jason says:

      Hi!

      It used to be that all photos on 500px would have their pulse lowered by a percentage at midnight New York time. This was unfair to the uploads that happened just before that time. That practice has gone away and now each photo has 24 hours before its pulse is lowered, regardless of when the photo is uploaded. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t times where more people are using the site. 500px has users all over the world but I’m sure that there are timezones with more users than others. I find that many of my followers in the United States are active in the morning and afternoon than they are in the evening. 1:00am in South Africa is 4:00-7:00pm in the US. I usually upload in the morning which would be in the middle of the afternoon in South Africa.

      But again, there are users all over the world who post and view the site at all times of the day. I’d guess if you’re consistent with your upload times you’ll gain followers who are also using the site at the same time as you and things will even out.

  18. Mads says:

    Hey J,

    I can see I agree with Todd. What’s more, I’m really tired of spending so much time on compo, capping, processing, lightplay, storytelling etc. – and then seeing images with lower views, likes, faves – more or less unprocessed having a higher rating. At the end of the day I don’t care about the pulse or how high it goes – I hate popularity contests, since they are never based on skill. What annoys me is that when good images get overlooked and ignored, they don’t go viral either – I could care less about the rating – I want views and comments – comments that spot stuff I haven’t and thusly make me better. And why an aversion to creating a system that rewards effort, skill and talent? I don’t get it. What’s the point in a mediocre image with a high rating – when anyone with visual talent can see its flaws – what does that achieve? A slight feeling of happiness for 5 secs for the person that put it up. I’ve seen stunning stuff with a rating of 40…200ish views. My theory is that the same thing is happening to 500px that happened (in a different way) to imdb when it got popular. Imdbs discussion board got stupid and the ratings on the movies stopped making sense. I don’t know, as I joined 500px recently. Loads of good work is getting attention, I know, but if this is about figuring out the system – then 500px is a game – I really thought it was something else when I joined. But that brings me to what I like – people of same frame of mind and interests are communicating via images, now that is brilliant. I can’t describe it, but it’s a special relationship with some of the people you follow/that follow you – and that will make me stay and be active, not only because of the relationship, but also because they know what they are talking about – and that is worth much more than the pulse.

    1. Darren says:

      I am brand new to 500px and wish I had read this before joining. I spent a brief time with ViewBug and some other contest style websites but left because of the same issues I’m seeing described here. Wonderful pics shoved to the bottom and contests won by someone’s snapshot of their pet, all because the work the game and get their friends to vote. I’m leaning toward going back to Google+, at least there I could curate a circle of like-minded people who I’ve come to trust over time due to the quality of work and their insightful feedback. At with G+ I at least have the ability to moderate and manage such a group if I so choose. I am not in this as a popularity contest, I was really looking for a mature community of like-minded individuals who I could follow and hopefully learn from and I was hoping the platform would help me find who those people are without being skewed by people who learn to game the system. Maybe 500px could create a method through which people could create and moderate their own trusted circles of ‘friends’ and let the customers have the option to participate in the popularity contest or not, but then that may go against their whole premise for the site.

  19. Brian says:

    Great article Jason, I really connected with it. I too am frustrated by seeing average to even poor photos get high ratings as well as frivolous comment and voting activity. However, you’re exactly right, as photographers all we can, and should, do is upload our best photos and vote/comment on other’s photos that we admire.
    Good work!

  20. David says:

    Thanks for such a comprehensive guide to 500px and their scoring. When i first signed up I was really lost. i didn’t know how to get exposure. Still struggling to get followers and whatnot. But my images are receiving input and for that I’m happy. Just gonna keep truckin along and uploading my best work. I love that this community is for artists and by artists. Was gettin NO love over on the other popular social media sites for posting up images with 8 hours of retouching 🙂 Feel the love and appreciation here. Thanks for everything so far.

  21. Thank you Jason for this article:)
    I am considering to join 500px but without much social media experience was feeling very lost.Knowing the difference between likes and favourites sounds really important to me.
    Maria

  22. Jose says:

    I always go to the “Fresh” page and put a “Like” on images I find pleasing to me. I actually go through each of the images as much as I can since some images can’t be judged from a smaller thumbnail. I rarely go to the “Popular” images since I find them rather boring since they’re oversaturated with overly HDR’d images of landscapes and scantily clad women. LOL!

  23. Vlad says:

    Photography is just a hobby for me and, even if I would like to learn more about it in order to become a decent photographer.. I must confess that my profession wouldn’t make that possible. I have no time.
    Still.. I like to browse through awesome photos @500px, liking some, favoriting a few and uploading some personal stuff.
    Like one of the persons who commented above, I also noticed people without photos following me and I think they’re probably… fake/ghosts. Unfortunatelly, couldn’t find any option to remove followers.
    Anyways.. thanks for both articles.

  24. Lauren says:

    Great article, it was exactly what I wanted to know after reading that pepole who posted just after midnight had an advantage. Personally I think it’s a great site, I usually post on Flickr and have to add my photos to groups to get one or two likes. My second photo on 500px has 21 likes and 6 faves and became popular!

  25. It’s 2015 now, 2 years later and to my mind it has bettered even though only a bit. So there are less oversaturated pictures now at 99.x pulse but tons of those are on a pulse of around 80.
    I already have a huge number of 22 followers *lol* and can say that it’s extremely difficult to get to 90 pulse. I think I’m at 500px now for like half a year and I hope I have improved a bit. But it’s a sad thing that you can’t only upload great work(don’t know if mine are great, concerning the pulse they’re mediocore, concerning serious comments they’re “awesome”) but you also HAVE to interact with groups and actively look for followers. You constantly have to invest masses of time giving positive and of course constructive critics just to offer the one being critized to stay tuned about what you upload(where I’m tryin sth new and givin tips how I’ve edited my pictures and how I’ve taken them). It’s always great to see that you have helped someone at composing his picture but it’s quite harrassin when you see that your pic which you’ve edited quite a long time(milky way always consumes like 15 minutes per image) and where you’ve wrote a long text and then your pic goes to like 69 pulse. Another time you upload a pic which, you think is worse and BOOM it goes up to 92 or even 95. And you simply don’t understand why. Sometimes I even think that it’s sort of a luck game(don’t know how to express it cirrectly) if you get over this 70 pulse or not. If you don’t get over it within an hour or two you can be sure for 70% that it won’t be recognised anymore. But if it’s a good pic(I always try to upload good pics) and it goes to over 70 you just can hope that you’ve uploaded it the right time so the right people can see it. My dad and I we’re both on 500px(I’m 16 he’s above 50) and we recognised that it’s MUCH easier for him as a “newcomer” with only 3 followers to get to 70+ than it is for me. It also seems to me that pictures of cute babies and birds raise the best. And of course the ones of beautiful women, no matter how bad the composition is.. Well that’s quite a lot of text. It would be nice if you could have a look at my pics and maybe could write something improvable here. I hope you’ll answer even though this is such an old thread.
    Best regards, Othmar Ortner

    1. Jason says:

      I understand your frustration. When I first started uploading to 500px I’d see my work basically go unnoticed where other images that I didn’t feel were as strong would make it to the front page. The thing that you have to understand is that Pulse is a measure of popularity and not necessarily how good your image is. With only 22 followers it’s just hard to get people to notice you. Your image is on Fresh for just a few minutes and depending on the habits of your followers a relatively small number of people will see your work. By liking and commenting on others’ work there’s a chance that they’ll seek you out, but you’re right there is some work involved. When I upload a new image I try to interact with others for a while and make sure I have time to do so. I’m not expecting a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” situation, but if I’m hoping that people will take the time to like and comment on my work, I feel that I should contribute to the community too.

      I’ve grown since joining 500px–I enjoy seeing others work and learning from them. When I favor an image it’s because I truly love it. Sometimes I’ll just browse my favorites and ask myself how I can take more images like the ones I’m favoring, then I make an attempt to do it. If an image I upload doesn’t become as popular as I thought it would be, I ask myself why. Did I have some sort of emotional connection with the image that was keeping me from seeing that it wasn’t the best version of that image? Could I have made a stronger composition? Could I have shot with better light or at a different time of day? I answer those questions in my head and move on and try to grow. That’s what I’d recommend you do. Don’t get so caught up that you’re not getting a high Pulse, take a close look at others’ images that you like and ask how you can make your images better. Understand that users on 500px do tend to like certain types of images over others. If you’re not creating images that the masses on 500px like it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re making bad images, it just means that they won’t be popular on 500px, and that’s ok.

  26. m.merab samii. says:

    Thank you for your very informative article. Tell you the truth about 500 px’s voting system It is very disappointing. I have on many occasions noticed the discripencies An example: a photo with lets say 100 likes,50 faves, and 10 comments has a higher pulse rate than another with 200 likes 70 faves and 20 comments can anyone explain this huge difference.

    1. Jason says:

      This is pretty common. A photo’s pulse increases by different amounts depending on who likes or favorites it. If a like is from a follower or someone who is going around liking everything in the hopes of getting return likes, their vote is worth less. I’m sure there are other factors at play too. This is actually one of the things that has helped. Previously very mediocre images were making it to the front popular page just because the owner spent all day liking every photo and were getting so many return likes. It still happens to some extent, but it much less of a problem than it was before.

      Based on a few observations, I think the best way to get a high pulse without a lot of likes or favorites would be to upload a photo that is good enough to stand on its own. It wouldn’t need to be backed by a lot of followers and wouldn’t be supported by return likes or favorites. That’s a tall order, especially with all the great work being constantly uploaded to 500px these days, but that’s the goal.

  27. Linda Dyer Kennedy says:

    Great information. Thank you!

  28. mycaddisfly says:

    I am getting started as a paying member to 500px. I viewed it many times [a year] and did not understand how it worked ..your comments both in the original and about pulse 2.0 were most helpful.
    I would like more exposure and feed back ..is this the proper format?
    Thanks

  29. Enrique Waizel says:

    Excellent information Jason and I really thank you for taking the time to write this.

    I joined 500px in the past, posted a couple of pictures and after nothing happened, I stopped using it.
    I wanted to give it a second chance.

    As photographers, we are always trying to find ways to share our stuff and get feedback and eventually leave something behind. Something that stays for that time when we are no longer around.

    After reading this blog and spending some time checking what is really “Popular” in 500px, I can better see where this place is aiming to.
    If the type of photography you practice is similar to what most people like, this is the place.
    I personally love Landscapes, plants, abstracts and animals; 500px is the perfect place to grow.

    On the other hand, during recent years I started caring more about culture, people, street photography. You know, something with a little be more content than just a “nice” colors and lines.
    My first impression is that this is not the place.

    I love Flickr groups that clearly allow me to share not so recent pictures in my collection and still reach like minded photographers that also contribute with frequent images.

    Thanks again

    1. Jason says:

      Thanks for your very nice comment, Enrique, and welcome back to 500px! 🙂

      The 500px community certainly loves landscapes, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for other types of photography. You just need to find the people that share your interests. I’m more of a city/architecture/abstract/street/travel/food guy. There’s enough good content in those genres (especially architecture) to keep me entertained. Most of the people I follow upload more than just landscapes.

      I think there’s something for almost every niche on 500px, you just might not make it to the top of the Popular page unless you have a landscape. 😉 (But I think that’s ok.)

      Happy shooting!

  30. Sarah Lopez says:

    Thank you so much for both of your articles on 500px, they were really insightful and helpful to me as I am just starting out on 500px. I try to take great care in uploading only quality images that I have taken the time to make great quality and I agree that the Fresh page is really frustrating to those of us who take this seriously. I am still somewhat new in my professional photography journey but not my passion and it is really difficult to highlight any of my work on 500px with every single users photos going in to the Fresh screen. I truly agree with your comments on what you do not like with the way the Fresh page works and I hope that 500px will eventually help out those of us trying to produce quality.

    1. Jason says:

      Happy to help, Sarah.

      It doesn’t look like the way the Fresh page works will be changing anytime soon. 500px likes to promote uploading a lot of images (if you pay you get unlimited uploads, for example), despite the fact that early on they tried to separate themselves from flickr by having more quality content.

      I still wish they would allow unlimited uploads but only allow 1 or 2 images to go to the Fresh page each day (or even each hour). There are many more users uploading to 500px now than when I first started. I think it’s just getting harder and harder to become noticed from Fresh views alone.

      Still, if you continue to upload good content, and are active in the community, I believe your work will eventually be noticed.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  31. Stan Rose says:

    I have been posting a few pics on 500px to give it a ‘second chance’, but I haven’t noticed anything different than what drove me away a couple years ago when I first tried it. I get the usual “awesome pic, check out my latest photo” comments that have been cut n pasted and it still seems to work for those folks, cause their mediocre photos get comments in return and do considerably better than they would otherwise. Not sure a new algorithm can solve this sort of thing, it’s just a nature of the beast. Eventually, the fakeness will kill the site as it has every other popularity contest on the net.

  32. Dilip Somani says:

    Jason, your both articles were very informative for an amateur like me. At present I have even not a DSLR. I am using my Sony Tab SGP321. But by profession, I am a Graphic Designer and Offset Printer for 30+ years.
    As a graphic designer, I am very used to Photoshop. But in my personal experience, nowadays No Photograph is without Photoshoped. I am greatly admire the Photoshop. But, I personally believe that it ruins the basic accent of true photography skills. Great Ansle Adams have done miraculous work without Photoshoped.
    So in purely my personal opinion, all the platforms should add a “Untouched ” category. Only than we will able to view true clicks and real photos. Just Cropping, Straitening and Resizing should allow.
    Forgive me for my any wrong technical words or by any means I have pointed wrong points. I am sorry for any.

  33. bob jackson says:

    I agree 100% with your comment Dilip Somani. I would like a site that would not allow a photo to be posted if it has had anything done to the picture with the exception of resized, straightened or cropped. Call me a purist but this would be a welcomed addition to my photo sharing.

    Bob

  34. Hi Jason,
    I don’t know if you are still monitoring this thread, however I would like to offer my contribution to this topic. I first registered on 500px last year in June but after posting a few pictures – which, by the way, did relatively well, always reaching the 90s and in a few cases above 97 – I stopped posting because I was very busy with leading workshops. In the last month, having a lot of spare time, I gave it another try and here’s my conclusions:
    – It is certainly true that for reaching the very high 90’s your picture needs to be of very high quality, but it’s as well true tha this is far to be the only requirement: the other vital thing is that your picture makes it to at least 96-97 in the first 15-30 minutes after you have posted it.
    – If you reach, say, 96 in the first 30 minutes, the only way to push your picture further up and eventually reach page 1, is to have tons of followers.
    – Why you need many followers? Well simple, because when your pictures becomes popular, and this is absurd – it disappears from fresh, it disappears from upcoming (which are for 99% of us the only two places where our pictures have some chance to be noticed) and it gets to popular. But, and here is the absurd thing, if your picture gets to popular with, say, a pulse in the 80s, it will be places way down in the popular timeline and, big laugh, noone will see it anymore!!!
    – So, the only way for you to have your picture climbing the popular timeline is having gazillions of followers that regularly come to see what your last post is and give it a view and a like.
    – Evidence: if you check the popular page #1 right now, you will first notice that almost all the pictures there are “great pictures”, no doubt on it. But then, if you scroll down several pages, you will see that also those scoring a lower pulse are “great images”! So, what makes the difference? The number of followers!!! If you take the time to click on the first 30-50 pictures of the popular timeline (i.e. all those that are scoring from 99.9 to 99.0) and you go to check the homepage of the photographers, you will immediately notice this: right now (9:29 GMT) all this photographers have thousands of followers, from 3000+ up to 75000+!!!
    -Conclusion: cheating the system should be ridicolously easy, you only need enough time to go liking pictures and following people until you reach enough followers. I suppose that when you have 3000 or more followers, (and the images you post are good enough of course) you will see that your images will reach the top of the popular timeline very often!

  35. Thanks for your clear explanation how 500PX works in both articles.

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