As a beginner on 500px, one of the things I’ve wondered about is timing. When is the best time to post a photograph to ensure it has a good chance of being seen and rising to the top? I’ve been posting my photographs around 4:30 PM Pacific time. I might try posting at the beginning of the day also. I’m not sure it matters that much, though. The algorithm 500px uses to calculate the ratings is not publicized, so it’s kind of a guessing game, but it seems to me that if you have lots of followers and people who have “loved” or “favorited” your work, then it will show up in their feeds on 500px, and assuming they log in at some point that day, they will see the photograph and possibly “love” or “favorite” it.
For a beginner who doesn’t have those followers, however, the most important thing is for the photograph to be seen by the maximum number of people when it has that opportunity on the Fresh and Upcoming pages. You can only control when it appears on the Fresh page (by choosing when to upload it), so it’s largely out of your hands.
I have noticed that the higher the rating, the more slowly it rises. I’m not sure if time has any effect on that observation. Photographs quickly rise in points at the beginning. As time goes on, or as the rating gets higher, the effect of a “favorite” or “love” diminishes. For example, when someone “loves” a new photograph, it might gain 5, 10, or more points. But I’ve gotten a couple of new “loves” after the photograph has been up for many hours, and the rating might only go up by 0.1. I think it’s simply a non-linear scale where the higher the current rating, the more difficult it is to get even higher, and the length of time since the photograph was uploaded may also affect that scale. Whatever the underlying algorithm, it ensures that the first Popular page always has outstanding photography, and it also means that it is very difficult to get to that first page.