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Pixoto – A Year Later

A little over a year ago, I blogged about my first experience with the photo contest site Pixoto, and during that time, my logs suggest that this was an interesting topic, so I thought I would follow it up.

As mentioned, I have been on Pixoto for over a year now, and I have done essentially the following:

  • Uploaded over 100 images (88 currently online)
  • Received 115 Awards
  • 477,033 Points

Your mileage many vary…


After a Player/User uploads a file, and submits it to a Category, the fun begins.

Your image is now presented to the world, side by side, with another image, and from there, it is either a “Choose” or not… The ImageDuel™…

Sounds pretty straight forward.

If you start to win, your Image Score goes up and vice versa…

In the background, from what I have read, Pixoto has developed an algorithm that analyses the Rank of each Image, as they are presented, and scored accordingly.

So if a New “Image A” (0-0) [Win-Loss], which goes again “Image B” (5-10), and “A” “Wins”, “Image A” gets more points, than a Win against a (4-10) or less image… Simple.

It’s all about the algorithm…

and over the course of time, the Awards, hopefully, start to appear on your profile!


The Awards are broken up into the following basic groups, based on Time –

  • Day Number (Top 10 Only)
  • Day Top (5%, 10%, 20%)
  • Week Top (5%, 10%, 20%)
  • Month Top (5%, 10%, 20%)
  • Year Top (5%, 10%, 20%)

Each Time and Percent Level increases your Image Point score, as well as the Category it is entered in.

What this means, is that I can have several different images that are in the Top 5% for the Week, but because they are in different Categories, they will score differently.

In playing Pixoto for a year, it appears to me, that the Landscaping category is the hardest to score in, but can bring big rewards because of its popularity.

It is also very important to choose your Categories correctly.

Gaming the System

As with any system, folks are going to look for ways to use that system for their personal benefit.

Similar Images

One of the easiest and most common for a Newbie, is to submit their image into the wrong Category to begin with, and then switch it later.

Thankfully, Pixoto ‘zeros’ out the Image Score when switched, but that does not stop one from submitting several similar images across several categories.

Is this Cheating?

According to Officials at Pixoto, they monitor the ImageDuel™s, and deal with them accordingly.

But with a little effort, it can be easy to find “Top Players” that have numerous ‘similar’ images adding to their high scores.

Example #1 – Similar Images (#15 & #30)

Which was ruled “Okay”, because the background was changed, i.e. a Photoshop 101 Tutorial change or edit…

Example #2 – Similar Images

In several cases, it looks like the Photographer just walked around the object taking pictures. No real difference between the images.

I have also seen cases of several images submitted from a single modeling photo session – no change in clothing, makeup, etc…

Example #3 – Similar Images

Someone who clearly seems to have Mastered basic Photoshop layers…

Additionally, there are countless Threads on the Pixoto Help Forum that strongly suggest that the Points System is Broken or out right cheating.

To be fair, Pixoto does seem to take time to investigate Reports, and seems to have gotten better, but there seems to be a need to improve.

The bottom line, Pixoto’s lack of enforcement hurts the credibility of the site.


Now, I have to be legal, and disclose that I have apparently made money with Pixoto over the last year.

About 8 months ago, Pixoto started an Affiliate Program, and I immediately signed-up, and implemented the code into my website.

I did not see much activity at first, and I did seem to have found an early ‘bug’ at one point (see the Comments section [“Oh S*%#!” error]), but…

Since then, I am happy to report, as of this posting, my “Lifetime earnings” are $12.81 USD, which I have not claimed, yet…

and well over 2500 personal credits


From a monetary standpoint, I am not quitting my day job any time soon.

As an exercise to see how my images compare to others, this is definitely one of the many that now are available, and I will continue to use it.

It would be kind of cool, if they could connect Google Analytics for the data nerds…

Is this a site for Artistry?

I have seen many beautiful images over the year, and some real junk, but that is to be expected.

My main complaint still being the liberal use of similar images.

What is also different, to me, is the general un-natural feeling to the top images.

One does have to remember that Pixoto allows and encourages the User to sell their images as Stock, which might account for exaggerated vibrancy, saturation and starkness, that can also be found on other, more well-known Stock agencies.

If you shoot a lot of Stock based photography, you will probably do well, but don’t be surprised, when an image, that might have been well received elsewhere (Facebook, Flickr, G+, etc), may not do well at all on Pixoto.

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Looking at Pixoto

Over the past several months, I have been watching several of my Facebook contacts using Pixoto, and during that time, I would check out the site every now and then, but stopped short of signing up.

Until a couple of days ago…

What is Pixoto?

It is an online Photography competition site, at has recently added other graphic arts formats to the array of seemingly endless images, all vying for Top honors and the potential of money.

How does Pixoto work?

Basically, one uploads their images, with at least a 900px long side, no water-markings to their account.

From there, one selects from several main Categories (Abstract, Animals, Babies, People, etc.) and sub-categories, adding a Title and some keywords that best fit and describe the image.

Once submitted, your image is now in one of several competitions within the Category for Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Yearly recognition(s).

“Playing” Pixoto

This is the easy, fun and potentially beautiful part of “playing” Pixoto!

Clicking on the “Vote” button in the top menu, sets up the ImageDual™ environment, where two images are sent to the screen, and you click on the one you like more.

Two competing images continue to pop-up on-screen until you decide you are done, and by selecting images in the shoot-out, you are also collecting 1 Credit that can be used later for submitting more images, or giving them a “boost”.

One can spend hours in front of the computer screen with the television or something else is going on in the background.

Not all the images are great, but that is the point, to select or weed out that do not reach the mark, for what ever reason.

Your Submissions

Within seconds, you will see feedback on how your image is doing, based on a ‘secret’ formula for scoring.

The algorithm apparently factors in the Win/Lose ratio and the ranking of competing image, to come up with the scoring.

It is not uncommon to see an image rise quickly, and then level off as its ‘final’ ranking is being solidified over the course of time.

The course of time

If an images starts to reach various percentage levels (Top 1%/5%/10%, etc.) during the course of time (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly) additional points will be awarded, and if your image can get to the top, there is the possibility of earning money.


Flickr – Flickr is by far the bigger of the two sites, and has many more competitions, but that is also a big distraction for some. It can be complicated, take a long time to figure out and to compete in various contests. Pixoto is far simpler!

Paid vs Free – Like most sites these days, there are two versions, and a side-by-side comparison can be found on the website, but for me, at least at the moment, I can not justify the expense see so few benefits in my case.

Selling Stock Images – This is a new feature on Pixoto, and sounds very interesting. On the surface, I like the idea of the higher payout compared to some of the other micro-stock sites I belong to, but I have not tried it yet.


If you do move forward and get yourself an account, here are some things that I have already run into:

Watermarks – I am of the school of putting a watermark on all my images, if nothing more as a form of advertising and some copyright protection.

On Pixoto, images are displayed in competition without watermarks, but are shown with the sites default user copyright on your page/gallery, and are some what protected via simple right-click efforts.

Why? – In competition Pixoto is trying to reduce any bias during the ImageDual™, which is easily understandable, and they do take it seriously.

I accidentally uploaded a few files with my watermark, and they were reported.

I did receive a nice, informative Notification from Pixoto that my images had been removed, but it did cost me my ‘earned’  ImageDual™ points, and additional Credits to up load them again.

Upload Issue – I have, on several occasions, tried to upload an image, only to find ‘scan line’ errors on the thumbnails and larger images.

My work around, has been to delete the image quickly, because you do not want to lose points, delete my browser cache (Firefox), and then try again.

So far, this seems to work, but it is a time killer.

If interested, I can be Followed on the site as well!

Click Here is a special Invite Code!


It is very easy to connect to Pixoto via Facebook or Twitter, even though I dislike using those services to link to accounts, but that adds to the simpleness of using the site.

I have also been very interested seeing how my Top images on Flickr are doing on Pixoto, which is helping me to better select images for promotion on my main website, but at the moment, Flickr edges Pixoto in easy of direct feedback on an image.

I do like the idea of being able to sell stock images from Pixoto, but I have not had a chance to test this feature yet, but I do plan to!

With all the above being said, I would recommend using Pixoto to increase your exposure to a larger audience, while fine-tuning your portfolio, and maybe making some money!

Click Here is a special Invite Code!

- Andrew
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