The meaning of the Flickr Fave is bewildering to me and perhaps to others too. I will try to decipher it here as best as I can. This is not an easy task since the favoring system doesn’t really make sense. But it seems to me that the most apparent and purest meaning of the Flickr Fave (or any social media Fave for that matter) is that it is being used to express that the photograph is liked. However, to complicate things, the reason to like or dislike is subjective and varies tremendously. In my humble attempt to make sense of it all, I have come up with a list of categories for people who favor photographs on Flickr. The list is by no means complete or exhaustive and I welcome comments and suggestions for additional categories.
- The Fave Addict: This individual is repeatedly and compulsively checking his or her own Faves and also the Faves of others. The quality of the photographs posted by this person may in fact be great, but the main purpose is not to share creative work but rather to gather as many Faves as possible. This category overlaps in part with the Fave Collector.
- The Fave Bully: This person does not favor a photograph even if it is outstanding simply because they dislike the person who posted it. The reasoning behind the not adding a Fave is purely subjective and at times a friend may even be recruited not to favor also. This is when feelings of dislike of another person interferes with appreciation of art.
- The Fave Catcher-Upper: This person favors many, many images of one photographer at one time because he or she is simply too busy to regularly check the Flickr People postings. There is not enough time in the day to favor photographs individually, however, he or she still wants to be part of the Flickr experience. This person will check in now and then when time allows.
- The Fave Collector: This individual Faves most photographs whether he or she likes them or not. The reason for liking someone’s photograph is simply to get as many likes back as possible. There is a great deal of planning invested here, like adding photographs to hundreds of groups to get as many Faves as possible. Collecting Faves becomes like the thrill of a game.
- The Fave Forgetter: This is the absentminded person who simply forgets to Fave a photograph on the spot when they really intended to. He or she may remember months later when seeing the photograph again and Fave it then. This individual is then left feeling like he or she has perhaps “missed the boat.”
- The Fave Ignorant: This is the individual who could care less about getting Faves. He or she also doesn’t care about giving Faves. This person is solely invested in posting and sharing photography for the sake of displaying their creative work.
- The Fave Purist: This person will Fave a photograph simply because the image is appealing and he or she genuinely likes it. His or her reason for liking a photograph is purely objective. This is the true Fave giver!
- The Fave Socialite: This person Faves the photographs of friends generously, not because the photograph is great, but simply to support the friend. These individuals are not really that invested in getting Faves back, but merely interested in using Flickr as a means of social communication.
- The Fave Supporter: This person Faves a photograph in order to provide support. He or she will liberally give Faves and sees positive elements in most photographs. This individual is someone who offers encouragement and positive reinforcement whenever possible (provided by ~ Cody Zaytsev ~).
Most of us can probably identify with several of these categories. Some of them overlap. So what is really the meaning and importance of the Flickr Fave then? Is in our checking for Faves on our photographs perhaps simply reflected an innate need that we have as humans to be liked? And most confusing to me, what about the stellar photographs that barely get any likes and the mediocre ones that get hundreds?
Addendum: This topic ended up becoming a meaningful discussion between a few Flickr members, take a look here!
Photograph by Kate Bergdorf