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Author Topic: Someone tricked the Shutterstock algorithm?  (Read 15874 times)

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« on: April 23, 2021, 02:27 »
+2
Brought up on the Shutterstock forum, but some of you might have missed it.

Check the guy's portfolio and then the ranking of his images
(not sure if I'm allowed to put up a link to his portfolio here, but you can find it on the SS forum in the One account phenomenon topic)
The guy has a lot of his images showing up on the first page for highly competitive keywords. (e.g. car, cat, beach, ...)

Now, I'm sure a lot of you have similar images in terms of quality of cars, cats, beaches and so on but most of them are probably nowhere near the first pages.
And he managed to get a lot of his content on the first page for highly competitive keywords. Not just a few lucky submissions which gained traction.
A bit too much to be a coincidence, and the balance between quality, competition and ranking seems to be off if you ask me.

So how did he do it?

My personal theory on this is that he paid clickfarm-like organizations to buy images from his portfolio until they reached on the first page.
Is it true? I don't know, but if it is, a lot of others are probably doing the same. 


« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2021, 03:51 »
+2
Saw the thread too. It's really...curious.

His images are quite decent, probably above average for Shutterstock standard, but not as extraordinary as to explain why they are pretty much all up on the first page when seraching for the most basic words like beach, stone or cloud. When you compare his to other top images for some search results, for example "beach", his images actually stand out as being of poorer quality than the other images.


The sad thing is - We will never find out what happaned here.
Someone having friends buy his photos like crazy the moment they are approved to raise them in the search?
Someone managed to hack into the database?
Someone doing someone else a favor by deliberate placing all his images high in the search?

Whatever it is, it will be impossible to get someone from Shutterstock to even see the thread, aknowledge that there is something strange going on, yet alone look into it, take actions and, most of all, ever tell us what the reason was. There isn't really anyone around from Shutterstock at the forum. Kate, who was hardly present, left, Alex, who according to her still is an admin hasn't been seein in months and when you contact the Support via mail you get fowarded to other contributors with reading comprehension problems who will give you a copy & paste reply that won't address the issue.

So, this will probably stay a big mystery forever.  :-\
But it's obvious that there isn't something right and it's really frustrating to other contributors who play by the rules....

« Last Edit: April 23, 2021, 04:04 by Firn »

« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2021, 03:58 »
+4
I say it's witchcraft.

« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2021, 04:56 »
+2
It's amazing! I tried it with random stuff - tree, clouds, woman, man, truck, grass, color, ... He's always there, usually in the very first row.

And you can always tell which photo is going to turn out to be his!  ;D

For example, this stunning shot is the second result if you search for "rabbit": https://www.shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/little-funny-rabbit-running-on-field-1627393333

« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2021, 05:25 »
+3
It's amazing! I tried it with random stuff - tree, clouds, woman, man, truck, grass, color, ... He's always there, usually in the very first row.

And you can always tell which photo is going to turn out to be his!  ;D

For example, this stunning shot is the second result if you search for "rabbit": https://www.shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/little-funny-rabbit-running-on-field-1627393333

Yepp, that's what I meant - His photos always stand out as being of noticable poorer quality compared to all other images in the top image results. A photo of a bunny turning its back to the camera is not a "top image". A photo of someone's back in a chair at a beach with gloomy sky doesn't fit into the other pictures of beautiful sunlit beaches and so on.... If you look at all the other images, you can always understand why they have a place in the top results, but not with his.

« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2021, 05:51 »
+1
Quote
If you look at all the other images, you can always understand why they have a place in the top results, but not with his.
Agree 100%.

I can't stop trying keywords...

Try "puppy". The guy OWNS the entire first row, and two pictures of the second. It's so funny!

Shutterstock has a picture of a puppy's butt as a third result, and it's a shot that my seven-year-old niece could have done better: https://www.shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/puppy-resting-grass-close-photo-walking-1720311904

« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2021, 05:59 »
0
Many years ago i tried to collaborate with one photographers search utility and stopped after several hours. Any search for any location in the world brought results list with photographers located in India on first positions followed by the photographers from the selected location.

« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2021, 06:15 »
+2

Try "puppy". The guy OWNS the entire first row, and two pictures of the second. It's so funny!

Shutterstock has a picture of a puppy's butt as a third result, and it's a shot that my seven-year-old niece could have done better: https://www.shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/puppy-resting-grass-close-photo-walking-1720311904

Ouch. Seeing this hurts, especially since "puppy" is a competitive field for me. Guess my puppies don't stand a chance against puppy bum.  ::) I don't object to any of the other puppy photos in these results deserving a better placement than my photos, but this? Really?

« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2021, 06:36 »
0
Many years ago i tried to collaborate with one photographers search utility and stopped after several hours. Any search for any location in the world brought results list with photographers located in India on first positions followed by the photographers from the selected location.

The question is: why. Some contributors claim that the algorithms of agencies favor contributors from certain area's or countries, e.g. India or Eastern Europe. Not saying that's not true, but I never believed that agencies are programming their algorithm in a way that it promotes content from contributors in a certain area in the world. Because... why would they?

Maybe some contributors have better connections to dubious service companies that are involved in internet promotion and black hat SEO techniques. Or less shame to contact those companies. Have a network of Shutterstock subscription plan owners and make them all buy the same image so it rises up in the ranking. Pay them some money, and meanwhile get the earnings of being on the front page. Once you're on the front page, and the image is "useful enough" for buyers, commissions should start rolling in.

So far my theory. All the other ones (having someone on the "inside" for instance) all sound way too complicated or even impossible.

« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2021, 06:37 »
0
Ouch. Seeing this hurts, especially since "puppy" is a competitive field for me.

Sorry, Firn. I didn't mean to be tactless. I'm no longer on SS, so I don't care even if they show this guy's entire portfolio first for every keyword in the world.

Your puppy picture is stunning, btw. If it's any consolation, at least if you hacked their system and put all your pictures at the top of the search, they wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb.

« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2021, 06:46 »
0
Many years ago i tried to collaborate with one photographers search utility and stopped after several hours. Any search for any location in the world brought results list with photographers located in India on first positions followed by the photographers from the selected location.

The question is: why. Some contributors claim that the algorithms of agencies favor contributors from certain area's or countries, e.g. India or Eastern Europe. Not saying that's not true, but I never believed that agencies are programming their algorithm in a way that it promotes content from contributors in a certain area in the world. Because... why would they?

Maybe some contributors have better connections to dubious service companies that are involved in internet promotion and black hat SEO techniques. Or less shame to contact those companies. Have a network of Shutterstock subscription plan owners and make them all buy the same image so it rises up in the ranking. Pay them some money, and meanwhile get the earnings of being on the front page. Once you're on the front page, and the image is "useful enough" for buyers, commissions should start rolling in.

So far my theory. All the other ones (having someone on the "inside" for instance) all sound way too complicated or even impossible.

Company as a business doesn't care till the income grows. Fail of the security of the company's workflow and games of the personnel (or contractor providing the software part) is what happened in that company. I don't look for the analogy, this needs the proof, but there is no miracle in the software.

« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2021, 07:22 »
+1
I don't have photos on SS so I don't have a dog in this fight.

A while back there was some discussion about repeated keywords at some site (SS?) influencing the search algorithm. With the link below, check out the first keywords (as presented in German while using the Chrome web browser). Now let Chrome Web Browser do the page translation to English. The first three words are the same English word and that same word is scattered throughout the keyword list. Perhaps this is a case of SS search engine keyword stuffing via language translations.

It's amazing! I tried it with random stuff - tree, clouds, woman, man, truck, grass, color, ... He's always there, usually in the very first row.

And you can always tell which photo is going to turn out to be his!  ;D

For example, this stunning shot is the second result if you search for "rabbit": https://www.shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/little-funny-rabbit-running-on-field-1627393333

Yepp, that's what I meant - His photos always stand out as being of noticable poorer quality compared to all other images in the top image results. A photo of a bunny turning its back to the camera is not a "top image". A photo of someone's back in a chair at a beach with gloomy sky doesn't fit into the other pictures of beautiful sunlit beaches and so on.... If you look at all the other images, you can always understand why they have a place in the top results, but not with his.

« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2021, 08:32 »
+2
He's doing the classic compound keyword spamming which is supposed to be banned. Take his cat photo for example:
black cat,cat look,striped cat,tabby cat = 4 x cat in the algo
Or another photo of a forrest:
big forrest, flying over the forrest, forrest in winter, frozen forrest = again 4 x forrest in the search algo
It's just a matter of time he gets reported and those 37 pages of average stock will vanish along wtih his pay.

« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2021, 09:35 »
0
He's doing the classic compound keyword spamming which is supposed to be banned. Take his cat photo for example:
black cat,cat look,striped cat,tabby cat = 4 x cat in the algo
Or another photo of a forrest:
big forrest, flying over the forrest, forrest in winter, frozen forrest = again 4 x forrest in the search algo
It's just a matter of time he gets reported and those 37 pages of average stock will vanish along wtih his pay.

I don't think that's what is happening here. I have some photos where I repeat keywords as well - not with the intention of spamming, but just because it makes sense to me (plant, house plant, potted plant, etc... for example) - yet you won't see my images in the first row of the serach results for "plant" or even anywhere on the first pages. I don't think repeating a keyword 4 times is anywhere enough to cheat the algorithm and end on the first page. Also, if you look at some other pictures, for example the search result for "beach" - his image is No. 1 in the search results, yet he only uses "beach" in the keywords one time.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2021, 23:56 by Firn »

« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2021, 09:49 »
+3
Insider privileges

« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2021, 10:53 »
0
He's doing the classic compound keyword spamming which is supposed to be banned. Take his cat photo for example:
black cat,cat look,striped cat,tabby cat = 4 x cat in the algo
Or another photo of a forrest:
big forrest, flying over the forrest, forrest in winter, frozen forrest = again 4 x forrest in the search algo
It's just a matter of time he gets reported and those 37 pages of average stock will vanish along wtih his pay.

I don't think that's what is happening here. I have some photos where I repeat keywords as well - not with the intention of spamming, but just because it makes sense to me (plant, house plant, potted plant, etc... for example) - yet you won't see my images in the first row of serach results for "plant" (or even anywhere on the first pages). I don't think repeating a keyword 4 times is anywhere enough to land on the first page. Also, if you look at some other pictures, for example the search result for "beach" - his image is No. 1 in the search results, yet he only uses "beach" in the keywords one time.
That beach photo is a mystery. He's clearly being pushed in front at the expense of others

« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2021, 20:49 »
+1
He or his sources might be purchasing his own images to make them at top.


« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2021, 19:07 »
0
Insider privileges

This was always my theory. Getting a bunch of people to buy photos, then reimbursing them, etc. sounds like a lot of work to get your photos to the top. But schmooze some of the insiders and boom, youre in.

« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2021, 03:42 »
+9
"beach soccer" out of 21000 plus he gets #1  ???

"airplane" out of 1,678,201 he gets #1, #2 !!!

The more I look at this the more I think the fact his twitter profile says he's a
"GoDaddy worker" based in Phoenix and his Facebook page states

Олег Ёрникъ - Oleg Yornik
Меня не существует - I don't Exist

All his FB photos were posted in March to April

His FB page is filled with nothing as is his Twitter account.

His Linkedin page doesn't exist

Even his shitterstock profile photo is computer generated ~ he looks fake.

Conclusion - I think dear Oleg is a piece of AI masquerading as a person and is probably being used to test search functions and software as there is no way anyone could get the top slot in all of these search terms.

« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2021, 04:21 »
+1
Conclusion - I think dear Oleg is a piece of AI masquerading as a person and is probably being used to test search functions and software as there is no way anyone could get the top slot in all of these search terms.

Little doubt the account is fake. It would be foolish to sign up with personal credentials and information when your goal is to manipulate the system, and violate the TOS. And manipulated it is. But whoever is behind it is not a lazy person, he/she sure took the time and effort to make it look as legit as possible. 

« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2021, 09:28 »
+3
Is he on any other sites? Are we sure the portfolio doesn't just belong to SS so the stick it front and centre to avoid paying comissions as much as they can?

« Reply #21 on: April 25, 2021, 10:00 »
0
Maybe it's because a lot of people look at his portfolio?

I looked at it too, and also find it strange that for example a photo of a camel on his last page, when sorted after popularity, show up as number one when I search for camel at SS.

« Reply #22 on: April 25, 2021, 14:11 »
+2
Is he on any other sites? Are we sure the portfolio doesn't just belong to SS so the stick it front and centre to avoid paying comissions as much as they can?

Yes, he is on other sites:
https://nl.123rf.com/profile_telas1020
https://www.pond5.com/de/artist/telas1020
https://www.dreamstime.com/telas1020_info
https://de.depositphotos.com/portfolio-29995906.html?offset=2500


Conclusion - I think dear Oleg is a piece of AI masquerading as a person and is probably being used to test search functions and software as there is no way anyone could get the top slot in all of these search terms.

Interesting theory, but since he has real accounts on various stock agencies, I doubt that's what's going on here.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2021, 14:23 by Firn »

« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2021, 17:46 »
+3
His linkd profile does exist. You need to search Google for his profile picture. This takes you to a contact. He is listed in that persons contacts on linkd. Listed as his current position are these details.

QA Test Lead AS PNB Banka
AS PNB Banka
Nov 2012 - Present8 years 6 months

Latvia

- Organize the work of the testing department
- automatic test creation (Java, Selenium, JUnit)
- Control the quality of products developed
- to provide a technical task of developing
- authorization device (DigiPass) Storage and Release.
- Internet bank and the bank's Web page maintenance / administration.
- The update preparation to the real environment (Internet banks and the bank's web-site, SVN, GIT)
- Incident solving.


Source https://tinyurl.com/27sthyp7


« Reply #24 on: April 26, 2021, 03:14 »
0
...
Interesting theory, but since he has real accounts on various stock agencies, I doubt that's what's going on here.
Yeah, thanks, so not an SS owned portfolio


 

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