The problem

The contest that provides the photo of the week has been very successful. A large number of entries have now accumulated. There are 114 right now. This large number is split over 4 pages, each of which load slowly. It also makes it difficult to look thru everything easily.

However, the real problem is that our current algorithm is unsustainable. One picture gets removed every week, but entries are coming in at a faster rate than that. Without a change in the algorithm, the number of entries will keep growing indefinitely.

Even worse, the average quality will go down. If one good picture gets removed every week but bad ones never do, then clearly there will be relatively more and more bad ones over time. As far as I can see, the only way for a picture to get removed is for the owner to delete the entry. It seems that happens so rarely as to be essentially never in this context.

The Solution

Any entry that is at least 6 months old and has less than one vote/month on average should be automatically deleted.

Current leaders are in the 25-30 vote range, having been in the contest for 3-9 months. Let's be realistic and realize that any entry that has only received 6 votes in 6 months isn't going to ever be the picture of the week. If that's all a picture can do in 6 months, it's time to cull it out and move on.

To clarify how this algorithm would work, let's say the dead pictures are culled on the first of every month. On 1 December, any picture with 6 votes or less submitted in May or earlier would be deleted. For 7 votes, April or earlier. For 8 votes, March or earlier, etc.

It's time to clean up and keep things clean going forward.

  • Might want to throw the solution into an answer – John Cavan Nov 13 '13 at 20:28
  • @John: I was considering this meta "question" to be a proposal in itself, not a solicitation for proposals. – Olin Lathrop Nov 13 '13 at 20:53
  • However, soliciting for ideas isn't a bad thing. – John Cavan Nov 13 '13 at 21:02
  • @John: People are of course free to make counter-proposals, just as they are to upvote/downvote/comment on this one. – Olin Lathrop Nov 13 '13 at 21:25
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    Okay... let me try a different way. Voting up on the question assumes agreement with the problem, not necessarily the solution to it. Having them together makes it difficult to separate the two in that sense. – John Cavan Nov 13 '13 at 21:38
  • Which, by the way, doesn't mean I disagree with the proposed solution. – John Cavan Nov 13 '13 at 21:45
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    I don't see a problem here. I don't think there's any real harm. As you note, there are four pages, so cutting the photos by anything less than 75% has little practical value. I suggest that instead you just ignore the "long tail" of low voted answers that you've seen already. Instead, look only at the first page, but switch between top-rated and active, which will generally show you the newest submissions. – mattdm Nov 15 '13 at 0:38
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    Also note that deleting posts only changes things, as deleted posts are visible to high-rep users anyway. They're not completely gone; this makes your suggestion less workable than it might seem at first. – mattdm Nov 15 '13 at 0:38
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    And, having to go through and see if posts qualify for some sort of deletion criteria equals more work for moderators, which we definitely don't want. – mattdm Nov 15 '13 at 0:39
  • I'm definitely on side with the less work suggestion by @mattdm. I don't mind the weekly task, but I'm not super keen on adding to it. – John Cavan Nov 15 '13 at 4:28
  • I like to have the option for recently voted post filter. – Bala Nov 20 '13 at 7:46
  • I personally stopped being very interested in voting once I noticed that some people seem to publish many, many images to the contest. That just isn't interesting to me or fun. – dpollitt Nov 27 '13 at 17:50

I'm not sure that it is really a problem. If you sort by active photos, you can keep up on what has changed recently. It makes for a lot to go through initially, but isn't hard to keep up with. I suppose that some people may not realize this and sort by votes though, in which case new images have a hard time being picked up.

I'm also not opposed to the solution of purging really low vote ones that have been around for months either though, but I do like the idea that someone with a photo that isn't necessarily the best can eventually creep to the top for some variety even if it's only rarely that one of their images makes it up. Any that clearly won't make it to the top are safe to remove though I think.

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    I notice that really interesting new photos often get at least half a dozen votes very quickly. To me, this indicates that the system is working. – mattdm Nov 15 '13 at 1:06
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    We could also look at a calendar year, start fresh, concept. – John Cavan Nov 15 '13 at 4:29
  • @John And maybe transfer the top few photos across (with zero votes). – damned truths Nov 17 '13 at 8:51

I was thinking this, too and almost posted a new question. The list is continually growing. It seems that some of the most voted pics are roughly 2-2½ years old now. Many more entries that are 2+ years old do not have so many votes. What if the entries that are older than 2 years with 12 or less votes get culled? I propose this number, because it seems that most winners have around 25-27 votes, so just more than double that number. 12 votes in 2 years is only ½ a vote per month.


We could at least start with only allowing one photo per user at any time (I thought this was supposed to be the case).

Other than that I'm not against a kind of "pictures will be deleted after X time unless they have Y votes or are in the top Z pictures".

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    The current rules allow one photo per week per person. – Olin Lathrop Nov 14 '13 at 13:39
  • I'm not keen on either rule, really, because I don't think anyone is actively enforcing it. I'm not, that's for sure, and I doubt my compatriots are either. – John Cavan Nov 15 '13 at 4:31
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    I agree 100% with this. Allowing an unlimited number of photos per user(max 1 per day) has really added to the overall quantity and in my opinion lowered the quality. I would much rather us discourage or prevent the practice of posting many images per user, than deleting a users only entry. – dpollitt Nov 27 '13 at 17:56

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