I had an interesting experience with my Flickr account last week. Normally my statistics loll along at about an average of 20 views per day. My most popular image for a long time was a photo of a graveyard gate I had taken on the West Coast.
Then whammo, suddenly my photo of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing got 2,295 hits in one day, and the next day received 6,458. What was going on?
Looking down my referrer sites it became evident that someone had discovered the photo on Flickr and posted the URL to Reddit.com, a site that lets users rate news items, videos, photos and more. Regular visitors to Reddit then rate the item, which creates interest within the rest of the community, therefore increasing it’s popularity. Users can also comment and generate a discussion [see the comments on my pic here].
Digg does the same, although their algorithm is much more complicated for getting stories or items on the homepage. According to this blogger Digg is ruled by a few regulars. In fact 20-30% of the content on Digg is provided by just 20 people.
Clearly both of these sites are great ways of generating traffic to stories or online items of interest. My experience is that the interest that is generated only lasts 1-3 days, and you can never be sure what the rest of the community will find of value.