The diary and photos of Chris Beach. I'm into windsurfing, coding, badminton, drawing and composing music using computers and synths.

Let's start with a quote:
"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours" Stephen Roberts

email: password: - a zero-maintenance website

The idea behind my new site Caption Competition is simple - pull an interesting photo from Flickr every day and let people add captions which can be voted on. Photos can be browsed with their best captions, and there is a "top captioneers" list, showing the users who've added the best captions.

I already have some scripts for handling photo uploads but I have deliberately avoided using them. Using Flickr gives two important advantages:

  • I don't have to concern myself with accepting uploaded photos, which would require some form of manual moderation. Instead I've set up a group on Flickr which is moderated by Flickr users (and Flickr's own system which blocks porn, politically incorrect images etc). An automated job on my webserver loads the most interesting new photo from the group every day. To do this, it sorts the photos using Flickr's "interestingness" algorithm, which works surprisingly well.
  • The Flickr API allows me to serve the images on from Flickr's own webservers. All I'm serving is the HTML and CSS, which are negligible in size. If my server was serving images, the bandwidth usage would be orders of magnitude greater, and very costly as the site grows.

I have also written a script that posts a comment back on the photo within Flickr to say the photo has been featured on, with a link to the relevant page (a shameless advert for the site!). The script waits until several good captions have been added to the photo before posting. To work this out, it takes an aggregate of the vote score, and posts a comment when this score exceeds a set threshold. Without this check, a Flickr comment could be posted and bring visitors to to see a page of bad captions.

As of today, there are 128 photos, 548 captions and 50 signed-up "captioneers" (users). The site is growing, and is now the number one result in Google for a search on "caption competition." It's satisfying to reach a conclusion on a website project, such that the site can now run itself.... though I will undoubtedly be tinkering with it for some time smilie face

written by Chris Beach
16/09/07 1:56pm
(10 years, 7 months ago)
comment 6 comments

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