I've been a big fan of 500px ever since I found them on the Internets a few years ago. Browsing through their Popular Pages has always been a big source of inspiration for my own photography. For me, they were the standard for high-quality photographs. Were?
Well, here is the thing: I've noticed lately that the number of "mediocre" images on the first few Popular pages have started to increase and 500px seemed to have detected that problem some time ago as they blogged about it in 2011.
I think the problem are a group of "vote-collectors". These are users that found other users who help them casting Votes and Favorites in return for votes and faves on their own pictures.
I therefore decided to conduct a little test. I created a new 500px user-account with a fake name and uploaded a picture of a pelican and marked it as nude plus tagged it with keywords like Birds, girl, naked, lady, nude.
At the same time, I posted that picture on my "real" 500px page, too where I have 600+ followers. I didn't mark it as nude and I've used regular keywords that fit the photograph.
With the new fake user, I started commenting and voting on pictures of users that I suspected were part of the "vote-collecting" mafia, sorry community. I very quickly noticed that most pictures I commented and voted on had the same comments from the same users all over the place.
After like 35 minutes, my nude pelican was viewed 27 times with 22 votes and 23 comments, became popular and reached a pulse of almost 90. Besides that, nobody complained about it not being an Adult Content picture so I don't think anybody who commented really looked at the picture itself.