The JPG Blog

Introducing Hotness

Posted by Derek Powazek on 20 March 2007.

Flame boy By benjamin broletWe're rolling out a couple new JPG theme features today: Hotness and In-context Submissions. Check 'em out on the theme pages, or read on for the details.

New Feature 1: Hotness

Here at JPG, we see our website as a creative space - a giant room full of tools and people where the community (that's you) can make cool stuff. The printed magazine is the output of that community. So on the web you can see everything and in the magazine you can just see the best of the best.

But there's a middle-ground. Sometimes you just wanna see some cool stuff - to cast a wider net than just the published stuff, but not so much as to look at every last submitted photo (8,000 submitted to issue 10 already).

So we came up with an algorithm that takes into account all the action around a photo (votes, views, and more) and use that information to create something we call "Hotness." ("Interestingness" was taken.)

Starting now, when you visit a theme page, the first batch of photos you see are among the photos we consider hot. If you want to see all of them, no problem! Just click the "Newness" tab to show all photos, newest to oldest.

One of the things that's always been important to us here at JPG is to enable peer review mechanisms that empower you to shape the magazine, without falling victim to the gaming and negative aspects of competition that can so often plague community-driven sites.

So one thing we'll never do is create a scoreboard. We will not display a ranked list of photos by their Hotness score. Why? A few reasons:

1. As soon as you have a scoreboard, you have a game. And in a game, pretty much everything is allowed, so long as it increases your score. Of course, some aspects of gaming are great (like having fun and being social), but some are not (like "gaming" the system to pump your numbers, and the bad behavior that comes with ruthless competition). We don't want to make JPG a game to get a high score - we want to make it a game that results in talented photographers getting the recognition they deserve for the quality of their work.

2. Algorithms are good at rough sorting, but bad at minute differences. We think what we've come up with is a great way to highlight the photos that the community is responding to positively, but we don't trust it to say that one photo is a 3 but another is a 4. Computers just aren't that smart.

3. This is just a first draft. The results, and algorithm itself, will change over time. So we don't want anyone to get too attached to the numbers. The numbers really don't matter. Only the work matters.

4. Finally, this is in keeping with our general approach to privacy on the site. It's the same reason we tell you how many Yeah votes you get on your submissions, but don't tell everyone's numbers to everyone else. If you want to share your numbers, that's up to you.

So instead of displaying a ranked list of "hot" photos on the theme pages, we show a random bunch of hot photos in no particular order. Don't like 'em? Reload and you'll see a few more. Come back tomorrow and they'll be entirely different.

One more note: This change does not affect the way we do voting. If a theme is votable, you can select any photo to vote on it, and the next photo you see will be entirely random. So it's just as likely that you'll get an old photo as a new one, hot or not. We do this to ensure that every submitted photo gets an equal chance to be voted on.

And lest you get too excited about your photo getting hot, consider this: A photo that appears in "Hotness" on the main theme page may not stay there. It could just as easily collect Yeah votes as Nah votes.

We hope that this new feature becomes one more way for great photos to get the attention they deserve.

New Feature 2: In-context Submissions

There are many places on the site to submit your work. You can pick a theme in the upload process, on the edit screen for a photo, or drag and drop on the submit page. Today, we're adding one more.

Now you can select one of your photos right on the theme page itself. Even better, you can also return to the theme page to see how your photo is doing. The new submission box on the theme pages will report how many Yeahs and favorites the photo has collected.

We added this because we realized it was getting confusing trying to remember which photos you've added to which themes, so we wanted a simple way to show your submission in the context of the theme itself. We think the result is pretty cool.

So that's the new stuff. Give it a spin. And, as always, please let us know what you think.

Thanks for JPGing with us.

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