What is Flickr Interestingness?

Flickr Interestingness decides which photos will be included in Flickr's daily Explore. Explore is a showcase of the day's 500 most interesting photos. It's purpose is to guarantee interesting content to visitors of the site. Interestingness is a top secret algorithm used to calculate how interesting an image actually is.

How is Interestingness Calculated

The Interestingness algorithm is not a random formula. There are a number of factors that go into what makes a photo interesting including, the number of tags it has, the number of groups it belongs to, how many people have viewed the image, and how many people have made it their favorite. Fickr, owned by Yahoo, makes changes to the algorithm frequently for two reasons: to get the best photos possible and to keep the author's fresh and diverse. 

Ultimately no one knows how the algorithm is calculated except for the Flickr staff. It is a closely guarded secret that they intend to keep. One can speculate that another reason they update the algorithm is that users begin to get a feel of how to crack it. For example, a photographer can submit there work into groups it may not belong to just to drive traffic and manipulate the algorithm to become part of Explore. Flickr has caught onto this and now when am image is uploaded into a large amount of groups it actually loses interest.


One might notice that almost all of the 500 photos picked daily by Flickr are either shot by professional or semi-professional photographers. The majority of Flickr's users are amateur photographers and Explore has been criticized for not being a true representative of the Flickr community. However, Flickr has never stated that the purpose of Explore and Interestingness was to benefit the uploaders. Explore was designed to benefit the viewers of the site by offering a quick link to work that they would find interesting and thus driving the traffic needed to support the site.

Interestingness and Yahoo

Yahoo used to be one of the web's largest search engines before Google cut into its market share. The interestingness algorithm offers the company to reclaim it's lost ground. Image searches often bring irrelevant results that can be very time consuming for a user to sort through. If Interestingness is applied to Yahoo's image search then it may gain an edge of Google and become the defacto image search engine.

But because the algorithm is a closely guarded secret we'll never know how it exactly works. All we can do for now is enjoy the results.

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