Is 500px Just a Popularity Contest?
After writing about it on more than one occasion I finally gave the photo hosting service SmugMug the heave-ho last week. SmugMug wasn’t a bad service, in fact, the last year they did a good job of bringing the visual experience up to date with all new layouts and themes. I just didn’t think it was worth the money. On the back-end they really didn’t do anything to help you sell images and services. Enough said.
I am currently trying out the service from 500px. I had heard nothing but good things about 500px but to be honest I had never, not even once been there. Part of that may have been intimidation because 500px has always promoted the notion of nothing but the best of the best, but mostly it was because I don’t have time to sit around scrolling through photography sites. Don’t get me wrong I look at a lot of pictures and I make time for that but it is in a more targeted way.
500px is a popularity contest and they don’t make any bones about that. I have to admire that, they come right out and say it “popular” not the usual weasel words like “trending”. Popularity works too, we all know that from our high school days. I don’t particularly like this method of rating photos. It is often confused with a real critique. On whole 500px also displays the best photos because of their formula. It works because when I do view images I don’t want to see snapshots. I am not all that impress with 500 as a service though and the chances of me staying with them is about 50/50 when the trial is up. I don’t much like the default (free) theme, it is crappy. If you are not paying for a portfolio showing your best doesn’t look too good. The mobile app is marginal too. It seems to me that rather than picking a side or doing a spectacular job at both the service is stuck in between being a portfolio site and a social photo site. All those things don’t really bother me that much either but there is one big thing that may really break the camel’s back. Wildlife does not get a fair shake at 500px, there is no doubt in my mind. You can prove it to yourself by looking at the ratings and popularity (pulse) and you will see wildlife images are far behind others. I am going to say that a big part of that is the category listing of “animals”. It should be Wildlife, maybe wildlife and animals but using just animals is totally inappropriate and the fact that no one there doesn’t know that is troubling. The term animals immediately makes ones mind think as to farm and domestic life and wildlife is just that wild and natural. I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for a wildlife category and I couldn’t find one so either it is really hard to find or it doesn’t exist. 500px, you are in no way a bird shooters best friend.
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