Today I thought I'd use the blog to clear up a few myths around, and how the site works.

In the last few years the site has been running I have had hundreds of emails asking about the popular page and various other aspects of the site and how they work.

I thought I'd take the honest and transparent approach today and give away all of my secrets, tell you exactly how they work and why they have been designed the way they have. I may have been intentionally illusive in the past regarding some things (the Popular Page especially), but only because I didn't want people to try and cheat the system (a few have tried - and been caught).

I'm opening up my brain and how the site works, you guys are the life of this site and I'd like to share with you just how it works, and put at ease any concerns about the various systems used.

Most of these pages spawned from my inherent geekiness, and were invented purely to satisfy my urge for programming and building "intelligent" systems and to see what was possible, it's quite funny that these pages have turned out to be some of the most viewed and talked about on the site. They were after all just experiments.

1) The Weekly Top 20 Charts

These run from a Wednesday to a Wednesday and published on a Friday. (Yes it changed) It is based on the number of Fav's each photo has accumulated in the last 7 days. This means a photo uploaded 2 years ago could still make it to the top 20. I haven't seen one yet, but it is possible. The photo must have been taken close to the date it is uploaded for - with some slippage allowed for time zones etc. There is a maximum of 3 photos per user in each top 20 (I got bored of seeing one user have 7 shots in it each week, that's not fair). There is absolutely no manual intervention on the photos chosen.

2) The Popular Page

This page contains photos uploaded within the last 3(ish) days to the site. Every photo uploaded is rated on a score of 0-100 by a computer, the top rated photos within this timeframe are displayed on the page.
There is absolutely no human intervention in this process, and I can't boost or degrade photos even if I wanted to.
The scores are generated through an algorithm that looks at each photo and the number of favs, comments, views and the scores of your other recent photos (as a normalisation process) This hopefully puts all users on a level playing field as super popular people will have a handicap (like in Golf) and have to outperform less followed people to get on the page.
I did my best to make this algorithm as fair as possible and not biased to the 1% of really popular people on the site who may get hundreds of comments on every photo they upload.
Yes the algorithm has no idea if the photo is a "good" photo, as that is subjective, it only looks at the *response to the photo* - So potentially a highly controversial shot (but poor quality), with lots of comments might get on to the PP, but a good quality, mostly ignored shot, would not.

3) New Faces Page

This is exactly the same logic as the popular page but it only features users that joined the site in the last X days (currently 30). This is to highlight the "newbies" as there is some great shots that would otherwise get missed, and it's a great way for new people to gain some followers, which encourages some to continue when they may otherwise give up.

4) Ace member - "Top rated photos"

People often ask me why the order of these seems illogical, but re-read the above point about the popular page and you will see why :-)

5) Ace member - The Suggestions Page

This is another algorithm that suggests photos you may like, it does this by looking at the people you follow, the photos you fav and comment on and what your friends like, it then mixes all that information together and spits out some beautiful photos to look at. It's often an eclectic mix of photos, which I love. I don't want the system to get too clever as you could end up in a "filter bubble" only seeing the same types of photos, and I really wanted the page to be inspirational with lots of different ideas.

6) The Weekly Theme Top 5

Yup, this one I take total responsibility for. I pick the finalists. I don't take this job lightly and every wednesday I spend hours going through all the entries, thinking about how they fit with the theme, if they are within the rules outlined, judging technical aspects of the shot and trying to get a good variety of photos in the final (not all macro or all of cats etc). I know many people have a different taste to mine, and it is totally subjective. If I don't pick your photo I'm sorry, keep being brave and taking great shots and you will make it.
I'm always open to suggestions on a better way to pick the Top 5, but nobody has recommended a feasible "fair" method yet.

I hope this has cleared up some questions, please link to this page if people ask about any of these subjects in the Discussion area. If anybody would like to ask any other questions about how the site works I am happy to answer most things.

October 10th, 2013

Long live the magic monkeys.
October 10th, 2013
Thanks for taking the time to explain all of that. I remain in total awe of a geek - oops, sorry I meant guy;) - who can do all of the above. All power to 365 - it is a wondrous addition to the lives of many of us. Thank you Ross.
October 10th, 2013
thank you!! I'm with @byrdlip the magic monkeys :)
October 10th, 2013
Thanks for the info, should clear up a few threads. Amazing knowledge you have to program all this. It is good to know.
October 10th, 2013
@byrdlip @amyhughes with them long live the monkeys
October 10th, 2013
Cool, that should clear up some things for some people :)
October 10th, 2013
You do an amazing job with this's become fun and challenging since I stumbled onto it and joined the 365, so thanks Ross, for taking the time to explain all these little mysteries to us.
October 10th, 2013
Ross, you are an awesome fella with your geekiness, you make us all so happy :)
October 10th, 2013
This is fab. Before I finished work I used to provide stats on how our organisation performed. Bit boring, really - but this is not. I love what you have done creating this site. To date I haven't made it to the PP or any of the other 'top' charts for that matter, but I'm not too bothered really, I love taking photos and sharing them with like-minded people, and getting their feedback. Most of all I like getting their feedback because it keeps on encouraging me to carry on learning. And I have learnt so much since I signed on. Thank you Ross, and thank you everyone who has taken the time to view my pages and comment.
October 10th, 2013
Thank you for all the info,Ross.And thank you for all you do.I will always love the idea of Magic Monkeys,though!Viva la Monkeys!
October 10th, 2013
I'm with @pixiemac, your hard work is really bringing enjoyment to so many people. We have made friends on line and for myself and a number of other 'friends', also in person. I met with @helixconcepts and @Tristansmum in Quebec and Toronto whilst traveling recently. It was lovely to meet Laura and Stephanie in person.

Thank you so much. I work from home and it is often quite lonely compared to an office environment but I have a host of friends on 365. I have never come across a forum with such positivity and support... please keep going THANK YOU!!!!!
October 11th, 2013
Magic monkeys explained via geekiness. Love it!

Bookmarking now to post link whenever such questions arise as you know they will.

Thank you for an amazing site and an amazing experience every day. I am so glad I discovered the 365!
October 11th, 2013
I will now miss those magic monkeys.. :-)
October 11th, 2013
Great idea, @nadaa I was just thinking to bookmark as well.
Thanks, @scrivna.

Heh,@cheribug @mzzhope @byrdlip if I ever win a challenge or theme, which isn't likely, since I rarely enter...I'd have to pick this theme; MAGIC MONKEYS!
October 11th, 2013
Blast! I really thought the Magic Picture Monkeys really did work for bananas. Oh well. I shall have to cancel the order at Ffyfes now.

Thanks for explaining it all Ross but I bet it doesn't stop the perennial postings of "Why isn't my picture on the PP / in the TT when it has more Favs than anyone else in the world ever?"
October 11th, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to explain this and thank you again for all the time, and effort you put into the sight.
October 11th, 2013
Hi Ross. Firstly thanks for such a great website. Whilst I don't really contribute my wife is an avid user, whilst I tend to enjoy being more of a browser.

In regard to the Top 20 explanation you give above, if I am to understand correctly this is calculated using an algorithm that only takes into account the number of fav's accumulated in the previous 7 days.
How do you explain that within these weekly top 20 lists some pictures with fewer fav's appear higher up the list than those with more fav's?
October 11th, 2013
@zambuk RE: # favs... because they may not have been acquired within the 7 days the favs are measured over, the wednesday to wednesday, by friday they may have overtaken, or they may have got some before the 7 day window began.
October 11th, 2013
Oh dear it's not fun when you have to explain everything to some people.
I am just happy to post and enjoy others who post.
I guess you have to have something for the competitive people.
I'm glad you found something to practice your geek on.
thanks for all, enjoy it and so far have posted everyday since Jan 2.
October 11th, 2013
Thanks for the behind the scenes tour! I notice item #2 states there is no human intervention, but conveniently skips over any mention of the Magic Monkeys. ;)
October 11th, 2013
Thank you Ross. You're doing a wonderful work here and created such a great site.
October 11th, 2013
Great job Ross!
October 11th, 2013
I was told there would be no math on the exam.
October 11th, 2013
Yes thanks for the explanation and for doing such a good job
October 11th, 2013
Wow, that is cool. Very well done. Its a fab site. But having a bit of insight into it is great. Thanks for sharing
October 11th, 2013
Ross just quick question. How do u pick who to interview.
October 11th, 2013
Thanks for sharing this! @carolnorman this answers a lot of the questions we have been having!
October 12th, 2013
@Scrivna I really appreciate this sight and the time and effort put into running it! thanks Ross!
October 12th, 2013
Thanks Ross.
October 12th, 2013
Thanks Ross. I found the info on the Ace Suggestions Page interesting. I figured the photos were chosen by the tags you added to your photos. Learn something new everyday. By the way, I really like that page and am very glad that you added it to the site.
October 13th, 2013
Thanks Ross, but I'm still going to pray to the magic monkeys every now and then!! :0)
October 13th, 2013
Thank you, Ross! Your creation of this site has united people from all over the world. Our love of photography and friendship is what keeps us going...and going...and going...!
October 13th, 2013
@Scrivna Awesome and congrats for you well done work! I was wondering if there is a possibility to ad some kind of message box, it think it could help a lot...
October 14th, 2013
The Magic Monkeys are still Magic, love the site.
October 14th, 2013
Well I realize a lot of work goes into this, and you have been doing a great job staying on top of things, handling questions, getting rid of some of the "unwanted" from time to time. I have enjoyed the site, and appreciate what it has meant to me. So thanks a bunch!
October 14th, 2013
you are doing a wonderful job I my photo just sat on the computer with no one to see them
Now I get to see photo from all over the world
Thank you for the your time and energy
October 14th, 2013
You do an amazing job, Ross. I've enjoyed this site for for three years and it just keeps getting better!
October 14th, 2013
Thanks Ross great job answering the questions and you do a fantastic job on this site.
October 15th, 2013
@plumtree500 I'm not sure that's fair. It was obviously important to enough members that Ross took the time to explain.

Thanks for the explanation Ross. As newbies, not only to the site, but to picture-taking, it's encouraging to get some recognition for the odd photo. It's disheartening when it just doesn't happen, although not disheartening enough to stop trying. This site is one of the most positive things I've done for myself in a very long time - that's my ultimate reward.
October 15th, 2013
This was a good read and pretty much confirmed what I already thought to be true. And may I take this opportunity to also thank you for the addition of the "you've made the PP" stat on our pictures. I love it!!
October 15th, 2013
Thanks Ross for sharing insights of behind the scenes. This may debunk some of the strange theories people create. You should be very proud of the work you have done to create this site. I, for one, am very grateful for your creative work.
October 15th, 2013
Thanks for all the hard work you put into this site.
October 15th, 2013
Thanks for these explanations Ross....I love this site & have made many new friends on-line & meeting in person at meet ups. Thank you for all your hard work!
October 16th, 2013
365 has transformed me from a happy snapper to an enthusiastic beginner photographer.
NOW I understand why one of my early pics made it to Pp. you have no idea of how much of a fillip and rush of joy that gave me.
October 16th, 2013
Thank you for such a great site.
October 16th, 2013
This site has become a massive part of my life! Thanks Ross your the most important & valued geek i know of :-) :-) :-) :-)
October 16th, 2013
Thanks Ross 365 is a brilliant site with so many wonderful people all round the world sharing and supporting each other. Thanks for the information - mind you most of it went over my head!! You are such a clever geek!! LOL!!
October 16th, 2013
You are a true visionary, Ross! Thank you for this amazing site!
October 16th, 2013
Thanks for taking the time to explain it all Ross :o)
October 17th, 2013
Thanks for sharing your time and knowledge Ross!
October 17th, 2013
Great explanation
October 17th, 2013
You mention the number of comments on a photo affects the rating - can you confirm that our own comments don't affect that?

Weekly Theme Top 5
You could allow the last winner to select one or two of the finalists. That way there will be some slight deviation from your bias (not meant in a bad way, just that, as you mentioned, you have your own subjective preferences as to what makes a "good" photo).
October 17th, 2013
I have always wondered how all these things work. Thank you for the explanation! =D
October 17th, 2013
Goodness the geek computer put me up at least three times, I am over the moon chuffed. The PP does push me as an amateur photographer, I suppose it's the 'you are going in the right direction' arrow. Love it! Great work and hopefully one day I may make TT, but until then I am so happy to see others reach there and am super inspired by their lovely shots. Great site Ross!!
October 17th, 2013
Thanks for explaining this and I appreciate the algorithm method being a newbie!
October 18th, 2013
Don't believe you!

51 favs over the last 7 days and not in TT!
December 14th, 2013
@Scrivna Ross, however the magic monkeys work their magic is fine with me. I love the site and appreciate all your work and expertise you put into the project.
December 24th, 2013
Thanks for explaining all of that. Being a "newbie" I am still trying to find my way around :)
January 7th, 2014
does anyone know if the New Faces page photos are affected by number of followers or comments? Hubby started about a week ago and none of his pics have made it.

January 27th, 2014
This totally destroyed all my faith in magic monkeys
February 13th, 2014
@dmdfday I agree. As a newbie, I am loving it especially the ideas in the blogs for getting people to explore and share what they like (e.g. recent entry about sharing something from the Latest page).
Thanks Ross @Scrivna
March 3rd, 2014
Thank you for all you do!
July 7th, 2014
I'm in awe of your technical savvy with all that algorithm stuff! I can barely set my camera to take nice shots let alone conjure up an algorithm to sort thousand of photos so concisely! A BIG thank you for your brain power and tireless work on the site!
I love this community! xoxo
July 20th, 2014
Thank you very much for the information it makes perfect sense. AS an ace member it is beyond exciting to be on the trending page or popular page. It keeps me inspired especially with the amazing standard on this site when I think that people also like my stuff.
Best site ever
July 21st, 2014
Thanks for clearing this all up! I wish more people made it. I have made the TP a few times, but never the PP, so that is my goal! It's what keeps me shooting! I do use the photos on there for stimulation and technique ideas. You are a cut above for starting this site . . . you have made the world a more colorful and beautiful place!
September 6th, 2014
One thing I wonder about is why I get less views than people that comment (excluding my replies).
October 7th, 2014
It has taken me a year to see this so thanks to @dulciknit Alison for showing this to me.
October 20th, 2014
Thanks, Ross! I've enjoyed the site for almost two years now. Thanks for everything you do to keep it going! It is SO MUCH FUN! And, I've learned a LOT from others. :)
November 28th, 2014
Thanks Ross - it's great to have everything explained and I'm sorry you didn't come to the last London Meet Up but hopefully, we'll catch up in person soon. It's a great site and I must admit I have to restrict myself to the time spent on here otherwise I probably wouldn't find time to go to work!!!!
December 23rd, 2014
Thanks, Ross, for clarifying all this for us.
April 13th, 2015
Thank you so very much Ross for all you have done. I have been a member for only this year, but I have enjoyed being a part of this wonderful group more than I could have imagined. I learn so much from what other people do, and am inspired to improve by the encouraging comments that I have received from others. It is a truly rewarding experience, and for that I thank you and all the other members of this supportive group.
July 11th, 2015
Because of you Ross I have met some fabulous photographers and made some dear close friends. Thank you! This site has also helped me improve my photo techniques and this group of wonderful people has given me motivation and inspiration. It's fantastic that I can follow people from other parts of the world and get a small glimpse into their lives and share their photos of places that I would not see otherwise.
January 4th, 2016
Thanks Ross. As a newbie it's good to have this info so I understand how things work. Love this site. My first year on 365, 4 days in and I love it. Everyone is so friendly and you're doing a great job. All the best for 2016.
April 19th, 2016
Thanks Ross. Great site. Nice to know how things run. Enjoying the site.
April 24th, 2016
I am curious if there is no manual intervention how you ensure only 3 per user - and personally I think it should only be one so more users are exposed.
P.S huge thank you for running such a great site
January 15th, 2017
@annied the algorithm must only allow a max of 3 post per user but I do agree 1 shot per user would seem more appropriate
April 9th, 2017
Thank you so much for this intelligent site. I belonged to a different one for 2 years and much prefer this encouraging site that has many opportunities for growth. So appreciate what you have done here, Ross!
June 28th, 2017
Thanks Ross love the site
December 31st, 2019
Thanks for all you do. I love this site. It is such a positive, inspirational, and motivational site for anyone who loves photography. Thanks.
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