Is Photo.net Dying?

Discussion in 'Photo.net Site Help' started by jwink3101, Oct 20, 2002.

  1. From where I sit it seems like photo.net is dying. There has not been any new post in the general fours, and the forum maintainers are taking forever. Not to mention what looks like an advertising plea to support them. I have also noticed the great quest to make everything politically correct. What about the new rating; are they efficient and useful or are they just a way to shove away the problem temporarily. I plan to renew my membership when it is up I truly would not be surprised if photo.net takes a turn for the worst. What do you think?
    -Justin Winokur
    Jwink@email.com
    P.S What about the never-ending debates (i.e. Film vs. Digital, ratings, digital alterations)?
     
  2. What really sucks is that nothing gets archived anymore. All the action occurs on the non-archived forums, but none of that is kept. Photo.net's strength was as an ongoing repository of information, conversation, and ideas-- however heavy or frivolous. Now everything is weighed for its "value" to the community before it is archived. Which is a bummer because this kind of tight-fisted policing just doesn't jive with the web. Also, photo.net's utility as a research tool is also diminished because you won't be able to look up a discussion of interest that occurred just last week. Why? Because it's gone, zapped, purged as if it never occurred.

    Other forums have much more powerful archiving and search capabilities. Information and conversation has more permanence at those places. Photo.net only lives in the moment. You can contribute what you want, but it'll be gone tomorrow.
     
  3. I agree that it is sad to watch the demise of the General
    (archived) Forum, which was the repository of so much valuable
    information and expertise related to photography. On the other
    hand, photo.net now has a large number of topic specific forums
    that are archived. Personally, I find it harder to track these
    individual forums, even through the Unified Forum, than I did the
    General Forum.
     
  4. Since I only joined two days ago, I don't know. My impression though of being brandnew here is that the site does not navigate in a particularly intuitive, user-friendly fashion and I don't find FAQ or Help to overcome this. When I see pictures, I see lots of viewings but only a few ratings. Last night I tried to comment and rate on a number of pictures (of pictures selected for critique and also of pictures of people I know) and it was rather frustrating with frequents Url Not Found pages for obscure reasons and getting sort of stuck in certain pages without seeing a logical fashion on how to continue. From my novice vantage point I can't say thus far that the navigation of the site encourages the rating and commenting on pictures. That's a pity since most people show here in order to get some feedback.

    It also seems that on pictures listed as Selected for Critique one can rate as high as a 7 but on pictures that *I* want to rate the dropdown rating box doesn't go higher than a 6 ?????
     
  5. Helene, I think that in order to use the highest or lowest ratings, you have to supply a critique along with your rating. Not sure about that...

    Under the General (archived) forum there's a discussion that explains how it works.

    I can't answer Justin's question. My situation is that I'm much busier at work than I used to be and have little or no time for browsing this site lately. The site is certainly changing.
     
  6. Here is the data on archived messages since January 2001. This is all forums. Obviously, the Unarchived Forum is not included since the messages aren't archived. I also removed Critique Forum postings from the data.

    2001-01 7419
    2001-02 6579
    2001-03 7808
    2001-04 7356
    2001-05 7862
    2001-06 8356
    2001-07 9412
    2001-08 9411
    2001-09 8341
    2001-10 9032
    2001-11 10947
    2001-12 13292
    2002-01 15387
    2002-02 14300
    2002-03 16361
    2002-04 15368
    2002-05 15853
    2002-06 11862
    2002-07 14520
    2002-08 19448
    2002-09 17565
    2002-10 11490
    Note that this month is so far a partial month. The activity has shifted for the time being away form the General Archived ("photo.net") forum, and towards other forums. While this data speaks for itself, it would seem that photo.net isn't dying. On the contrary, the last two full months (August/September) set all-time records for archived forum activity. In addition to these forums, there are around 7000 postings per month in the Unarchived Forum. If this is dying, most of the other photo sites on the Net would like to be dying like this.
    Incidentally, the Gallery side of photo.net shows even more dramatic growth in numbers of photos posted, comments, and ratings.
    As for subscriptions, we have been posting appeals for subscriptions because we need revenue to run a rapidly growing site. The computers that we bought in 1999-2001 to run the site are holding up, but just barely, and we would like to purchase new hardware to better handle the traffic. Only 3% of the members of the site have subscribed, and we thought it fair that more of the many people who regularly visit the site should do so, and we thought that they would if we only asked.
    So we have been making regular appeals, and we will continue to find ways to remind people that while photo.net is a "free" site, our ISP, hardware vendors, etc don't provide the resources to run the site for free. Somebody has to pay for it, and the revenue that we get from clickthroughs to affiliates doesn't cover all the costs.
    The appeals have been successful: in August and September we increased the number of subscriptions from around 30-40 per month to over 200 per month. So far in October, it has unfortunately dropped down, to around 30 per week, which is still better than before we started the appeals. For the first time in years we are starting to build up a budget with which to purchase significant additional hardware and to expand in other ways.
     
  7. Is photo.net dying? I hope not. I took up photography two years ago. Over those two years I have learned a lot from many of you. I would like to think that photo.net will be around for many years to come so that others will have the same opportunity I’ve had.

    When I started here, this was a hobby for me. As of recently it has become a way for me to pick up extra money. Last week I shot senior portraits for a very beautiful young lady, some of which I posted here the other day. I’ve also picked up extra cash shooting images of a garden center over the summer. None of this would have been possible without the help of this forum and it’s members.

    We are very fortunate to have a place like this to learn from each other, and communicate in open discussion with professionals and not receive a bill at the end of their teachings. Sometimes I wonder if other members realize how lucky they are.

    As for myself, I would sincerely miss everything this forum has to offer if it were to come to an end.
     
  8. Just for the record, I love photo.net. I have posted this thread in hopes of fining answers to photo.net’s future. I am a young (15) hobbyist photographer who has learned most of what he knows from forums. I have read and kept up with many forums but I just fear what is to come. Thanks Brian for the reassurance of photo.net’s success.
     
  9. Brian,

    Thanks for the data. People may be posting comments on photos, but they aren't posting many new threads in the General forum. Posts are made in other archived formus that don't draw as much attention from the Mod's as the general. Read through posts arechived in the Canon EOS forum. Many belong hear, and unarchived.
     
  10. I really wish more was archived. This would mean less repeats in The General forum, and make even more information available in the archived.
     
  11. Jonathan, the data above don't include comments on photos, on any other comments. Just messages posted to forums, excluding the Photo Critique Forum and the Unarchived Forum.
    Besides the forums, the site provides many opportunities for comments. In addition to photos and presentations, one can write member reviews of ezShop products, neighbor-to-neighbor recommendations on retailers and labs, news_items, etc. Then one can comment on what others have written. Here is the data on these 'general_comments'. (These are primarily photo comments, by the way.)

    2001-01 959
    2001-02 1266
    2001-03 2970
    2001-04 3552
    2001-05 3754
    2001-06 5182
    2001-07 5968
    2001-08 7079
    2001-09 7424
    2001-10 9168
    2001-11 11433
    2001-12 12098
    2002-01 16919
    2002-02 19434
    2002-03 24678
    2002-04 18744
    2002-05 17548
    2002-06 16364
    2002-07 22362
    2002-08 26894
    2002-09 22299
    2002-10 16606
    So if you look at the recent peak month of August, and consider all types of comments and forum postings (archived and the Unarchived), adding in the 9000 Unarchived Forum postings in that month, there were about 54000 written contributions to the site in a 30 day period.
    Then there were the photos (about 1000 per day) and the ratings (around 3000 per day). Then there are the people who just read messages and look at photos, the "lurkers", most of whom do not register as members. We can't update the database fast enough to keep up with photo views, which we try to count. For example, in one four hour period on a Saturday afternoon (a very slow period), there was at least one view on 15,000 different photos. And we estimate that every forum message is read by an average of 300 people, and this number has been increasing also.
    Then, there are the clickthroughs. One of the most important services provided by photo.net is to serve essentially as a portal to other sites. We offer numerous opportunities for people to post links on the site, and many people take advantage of these links. We generate probably a half-million clickthroughs per month to other web sites, most of them non-revenue clickthroughs to non-commercial sites.
    I know Justin's question was well-intentioned, and I am not trying to bury him with statistics, but the issue is not whether photo.net is dying, but rather whether we won't collapse under too much success and traffic. Because we can't figure out how to pay for the service we are offering, and let it continue to grow.
     
  12. Photo.net isn't dying, but it is changing. The old photo.net may not be dead, but it certainly isn't feeling well - but the new photo.net is growing rapidly.

    Photo.net is FAR from what it was in the early days, both in philosphy and execution. That's understandable. When it was small it was much easier to administer. It started out as a totally academic, philanthropic project. It didn't have to make a profit, indeed it didn't need to make any money. When Philip invited me onboard to run the nature section I had full shell access for managing static content etc. Now I don't have any direct access at all. Not that I should have, but it means the (nature) static content really is static now.

    By sucking all the LUSENT forums into photo.net there is certainly some confusion as to where to post. Equipment forum? General forum? Canon forum? Where do you post a question - or look for an archived response? As for archived vs. non-archived, at this point I'd say just archive everthing. Too much work to sort it all out and not enough reason to do it. Who does a search these days. I'd be interested in the search statistics. What percentage of users actually do a search?

    Currently I presume the first priority of photo.net is to generate enough income to keep its head above water. That's not to say it's better or worse than it used to be(that's for individual users to decide). It may be growing too fast to support itself, I'm not privy to those statistics. Either it will prosper by catering to a new audience, or it will collapse under its own weight, or someone (person or corporation) will have to step in and provide private funding. Time will tell.

    So, no, photo.net isn't what it used to be, but then neither is anything else! I'm sure those who really like image critiques are much happier with the new photo.net for example.
     
  13. Bob, I can probably get the statistics on search from our WebTrends database. However, here is an anecdote. Recently, I was working on the search, and I broke it. It took me a few minutes to notice that our error log was taking a lot of hits. (I mean literally a few minutes, less than five.) It took me a few more minutes to fix the problem and restart the servers. When I checked the error logs, there were around four hundred errors. This was from having the search broken for under fifteen minutes. I must admit I was kind of surprised too, but I believe Search is a heavily-used feature of the site.

    When searching, one currently retrieves messages from all the forums, not just the archived one. Search is not really so problematical when there are multiple forums where any given topic might be posted. What is more difficult is using the categories of the multiple forums, since the "Unified" category view isn't that
    good.

    As for merging the Archived and the Unarchived forum back into a single "General" photo.net forum, just like all the others, with all posts archived. This is the way it was up until about two years ago. Bob can probably remember when the current setup was established. What would people think of this? Actually, I have the last three months or so of the Unarchived forum, around 20,000 messages.
     
  14. Oh, and concerning the question of whether photo.net is growing too fast to support itself.

    The increased traffic mainly impacts our bandwidth charges and hardware requirements. We have a colocation contract, and right now colocation vendors are hurting. So we were able to lock in higher bandwidth than we are currently using by guaranteeing to continue our current monthly payment for the next year, even if our bandwidth usage declines. This is a calculated risk. We now have a lot of headroom on the bandwidth, and we win the bet if our bandwidth requirement continues to increase. But if our traffic falls off, we are stuck with the same monthly expense for bandwidth that we have now.

    Previously, the advertisers were paying for the bandwidth and the colocation charges, and the subscriptions paid for the odd disk or new front-end web server. But the traffic has increased faster than the advertisers, so this is no longer true.

    As for hardware, this is now the factor constraining further growth of the site. As the traffic has increased, we have been able to manage on the current hardware -- by rewriting slow code, by tuning, by being increasingly careful on use of disk space, etc. This strategy only buys time and is not a permanent solution; in fact, I am sure somebody will point out that we have already taken that strategy to the limit and there are already several times per week when the site's performance basically sucks.

    Stretching out the hardware the way we have is not actually a very smart strategy, anyway, because it is labor-intensive and normally people are more expensive than hardware. The strategy somewhat works for now because the people are volunteers, who aren't more expensive than hardware.

    Indeed, the main thing that has permitted the site's budget not to sink is that as full-time employees departed, they have not been replaced. At one time, photo.net had three or four employees. At this point, we have no full-time employees. We could probably scrape together one kind-of-pathetic salary if we had to, but for the past few months we have been able to operate with volunteers, so that the funds can go into our capital (i.e. hardware) budget. This strategy also only buys time, because we can't expect to operate with no employees indefinitely.

    So we need to increase our revenue to buy hardware and eventually to hire employees once more. We strongly believe it is feasible to do so. We are working on some new advertising revenue streams, that won't result in a lot of intrusive banner or pop-up ads, with animated dancing girls and cars zooming around the page. We get tons of offers from ad networks that want to "buy" our traffic. We aren't interested in this type of advertising.

    During the last couple of months, our big push has been to convince people to subscribe. For our budget to work, we needed to ramp up to around 300 subscriptions per month, and we were completely beside ourselves when right off the bat for the first two months of our increased subscription appeals, we came nearly to 250, counting renewals. This is actually a factor of 8 more than we were getting before. However, this month is down to about half that, "only" a factor of 4 better than before, and not so thrilling as August and September. We will be working on ramping the subscription level back towards our budget goal. Meanwhile, if anybody out there feels motivated to support your favorite photo site, there is no time like now.
     
  15. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Well I'd just like to mention how much this sort of debate has improved since Brian came on board. It used to be the case that any question or comment to the "management" of Photo.net was very likely to go unanswered; there was zero chance of getting an objective numerically-based response and all this just meant that the myths perpetuated. Here we've got detailed numerical responses and in general terms a much greater willingness/ability to respond cogently. Looks good (and alive) to me.
     
  16. I don't know about photo.net but I heard that film is dying.

    I personally think digital is dying.
     
  17. Impressive data Brian, and it explains scientifically why photo.net needs resuscitation. New hardware may help to handle growing traffic but no hardware will ever restore the quality of discussions or an easy access to top photography that photo.net once offered. The bigger you become, the less you offer. Your new rating system does not work and the politically correct censorship invented to accomodate totally talentless but memebership paying fragile egos of new members simply kills any honest thought exchange. Altough photo.net may exist as a website for a long time, to many of us it will be as good as dead. I have to say with a deep sadness that photo.net's obssession with control and political correctness became a main issue on photo.net and contributed profoundly to the decay of this site. Your new policies allow anyone who manages to shoot a smiling rabbit or a stretchmarked ass sharp enough to find its way to a top photos gallery because they would be rated by fellow lovers of such shots. Ultimately, the elves will have to award such shots POW titles because they would be hard pressed to accomodate the tastes accodingly. Now, that's a stench of decay Brian and I don't like it.
     
  18. Maria, your comments are full of it. We delete very few postings or photos. Like I said above, there are 50,000 postings per month, and I delete an average of less than ten per week. Most of the other moderators delete even fewer. That doesn't even add up to one-tenth of one percent. Most of those that are deleted are crude pornography, obscene rantings, or some anti-this anti-that person slamming every pro-that pro-this photo he can find as sarcastically as possible. The rest of the deleted stuff is way off-topic posts, generally ads, spam, or endless is-it-Photoshopped? discussions on the POW. Is this what you are talking about as "politically correct"?
    As for the moderation policy being designed specifically to protect the egos of subscribers, that is false. For one thing, once a person is a subscriber, we don't need to coddle their fragile egos in order to get their subscription, do we? By the way, thanks for your subscription and your finanancial support. Because you are a subscriber, I won't delete your post, so as to ensure that you will subscribe again next year.
     
  19. Photo.net is following the path it has to. Once upon a time it was a small "readership" website. Maybe analogous to "LensWork" magazine. But "LensWork" will never make much money or attract a lot of subscribers. It's serious, B&W, somewhat narrow interest and it doesn't take ads or market or review equipment - though it does what it does do better than anyone else in the business.

    Now photo.net is perhaps becoming more analogous to, say, "Petersen's Photographic" magazine. Lots more readers, who want a lot more diverse subjects covered. More color pictures, more ads, and no doubt a more profitable enterprise. It also probably appeals to many more photographers, particularly beginners.

    This is evolution in action. The more users, the more things have to be (or be perceived to be) nice, fair and inoffensive or you risk more complaints than you can handle. If there seems to be an air of political correctness and pandering to the lowest common denominator, this may be part of the reason. You can't please everyone but you have to try to. Every month there seems to be a letter in "Popular Photography" along the lines of "I've had it with you guys, cancel my subscription". I guess the trick to success is minimizing the number of such letters - depending on how you define success of course...
     
  20. Brian, Isn’t the threat of deletion on the basis of it pissing you off just another sign of decay (or corruption). I am a member but that should not give me the right to piss someone off. I should be able to regardless of my status.
     
  21. And now I am "totally talentless" based on my having paid for a service I use? You base this on what experience with my work?

    Conni
     
  22. Justin, I had no intention of deleting maria's post. Pretending not to do so because she is a subscriber was my ironic way of showing what nonsense her point is. Obviously, her decision to subscribe or not next year has nothing to do with whether I delete the post or not.

    On the subject of moderating: I am the only moderator on this site who has any connection to photo.net management. I would be very much surprised to learn that any of the other moderators are influenced in the slightest by financial considerations in deciding what to delete. Many of them are the same moderators who have been moderating the site for years, and I doubt any of them have changed their moderation style in all this time because the site has grown in size. If anything they have become more strict in deleting (or not archiving) posts, which is not a change in moderation policy that is apt to please the crowds.

    That leaves me. The few posts that I delete, even if every single one of them were motivated by financial/political correctness considerations, are not enough in the face of tens of thousands of posts to have much impact on the flavor of the site. And, as it happens, financial/political correctness considerations are not on my mind when I delete posts.
     
  23. To get to the point; what is happening Brian. Give us some inside info. You have given me statistics and examples but what’s your opinion. Stop worrying about who on the photo.net management you are going to piss off. What’s you opinion.
     
  24. Sorry to upset you Brian -- unlike yours, mine was meant to be a personal attack. And Connie, the answer is no unless you write lenghty e-mails to the modeartors complaining about harassment because you got only low ratings in your portofolio.
     
  25. I don't know about your statistics, but there is only ONE thread in the general archived section which is 11 days old. As far as I can see, no useful topics go to the general section any more. Wouldn't you say that the general section is dead? A lot of archivable stuff gets posted in the unarchived section. That definitely indicates something is wrong.
     
  26. I second that Vincent. Just to add two more points. I do not use the search. The general forum is outdated (1 block for archiving too much). I also repost asked questions because I can’t remember the answer and I can’t look back. By re-asking, I get an email of the answer. The second point is look at this thread. We are staying on topic but it is also and name calling bitch-off. Is this a sign or a fluke?
     
  27. My current policy on deletions is to remove only posts which are clearly abusive. If I deleted on the basis of technical accuracy, I'd have to give up my day job.

    As for archiving posts, it was an interesting idea to have a high quality, searchable, database of questions and answers and when photo.net started out it was certainly an achievable goal, or at least it seemed to be. Unfortunately I fear it's too late to achieve that goal. The archives are full of all kinds of junk as well as gems. Since all the other forums are archived by default and the effort required to clean up the general forum archive would be herculean, why not just save everything? Call the non-archived forum an interesting, but failed, experiment. No more complaints about 24 or 48hr limits or slow moderation either. No more complaints about what should and should be saved. Less work for moderators. Think about it.
     
  28. Mutating may be the right word. Then again, it's not just Phil's little photo site anymore and we all sometimes fail to step away and recognize that.

    OK. Distilling all the bullshit away and stripping out extraneous issues (some of which MAY be germane), we have one major issue here. The complaint about the main Archive forum. Maybe as a minor secondary, problems with usage of the LUSENET ones that were folded in a while ago. Figuring out that one is easy - people are basically stupid. It's not rocket science people, nor will someone knock on your door and take you away in the middle of the night if you make a mistake and post in the wrong forum. Jeez, like I've always said, too much angst around here. But I digress . . .

    Let's go back to Philip's original concept (and no, I don't think the changes since Phil started PN make a damn difference). Maybe everyone needs to have the posting guidelines tatooed on their arm (shoot, no one reads them anymore anyway-check out the Feedback forum). We've had a LOT of posts on the issue of Arc forum continuity in the past. So it comes down to the fact you either subscribe to the thought that (1) questions need to have a VALID photographic objective (how do I take this picture) and (2) it's not covered in the archive, Or you don't. Well, the first is definitely a problem. I'd say the percentage of questions like that around here are the minority, much more so than they used to be, especially compared to "make me feel good by justifying my equipment purchase" type of post that has become the mainstay around here (sorry digital). The second point goes back to my statement about stupid people.

    There's a boat load of info here for those who have the patience to go through it. Unfortunately those seem to be in the minority category also. The average user probably puts in one keyword, two if you're EXTREMELY lucky, runs one search and either gets back nothing 'cause they don't know how to search using common sense or they get back a return that they feel is to big to go through so they ignore it and post another question. And then complain when it doesn't get saved. FYI, the assumption on search is based on usability and survey info on web usage that I have access to from my employer. I'd say our demographics are close enough that I can draw some basic conclusions. Face it, Search can ALWAYS be better. But so can the customer.

    Now, if you disagree with Phil's original vision (which I endorse and would like to get back to even moreso than now) then I'm not sure where to go with this. Maybe y'all could start your own site? Phil will provide the s/w (as stated somewhere around here) and I'm sure you can do a better job of it than the people in charge of PN have. So don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
     
  29. Expecting users to follow rules and guidelines is a recipe doomed to failure. You can have all sorts of rules which basically say "don't post dumb questions" and "search the archives" and you'll still need a staff of full time moderators to make a site work. Just look at all the damned messing around with the image critique forums it took in order to prevent the users from screwing them up.

    I think we just have to accept that the photo.net forums have become Usenet, and live with it or stop reading them. Given time, all forums become Usenet.
     
  30. ...that's a term I've coined to describe a particular human failing: the notion that our personal experience qualifies us to make global assumptions. The arrogance of experience. (FWIW, I'm 44 and realize I have only just enough experience to know that I don't really know much.)

    The arrogance of experience is rampant on the web which invites and tempts us all to become pundits. Typical of pundits we employ a combination of statistics, observations and opinion to demonstrate that we are usually dead wrong about current affairs.

    Brian's statistics show that photo.net is thriving. Justin's comments (and those of others) show that many folks are dissatisfied despite the statistical health.

    Why the disparity? I suspect it has to do with expectations and how those expectations are met or disappointed.

    At the risk of over-generalizing, photo.net consists of two parts: 1.) forums for ongoing discourse; 2.) image galleries. For the sake of convenience I'll lump all the forums, equipment reviews and the like into the first category.

    Folks here for the ongoing discourse may be disappointed at the fact that as more information is accumulated and search engines improve in speed and accuracy, lively discussions will diminish. People who know how to use search engines and prefer to do their own research won't ask questions that have been asked and answered many times before. Those who are either dissatisfied with searching or - for better or worse - prefer a "live" answer to an oft-repeated question will be disappointed by a fairly mature (in terms of age and experience) site like photo.net, which has many longtime members who've read and answered these questions enough to find 'em tedious or unrewarding.

    It's up to newer members to reinvigorate live discussions. That's a fact. But too many folks, here and elsewhere, passively read and don't participate, for various reasons ranging from fear of appearing foolish for making uninformed or incorrect remarks to simply being disinterested in engaging in these discussions. Considering photo.net's penchant for being occasionally dominated by know-it-alls who ridiculed others at worst and, at best, simply negated the opinions of others rather than contributing to discussions...well, it's no wonder some folks choose not to participate.

    I see less of what I'd consider negative discourse now than I did a couple of years ago. Interesting, tho', that this corresponds with observations from Justin and others that photo.net forums are dead. Perhaps these forums need the barbs and blades to remain active.

    OTOH, I've lost track of how many people I've seen "quit" a forum over perceptions of excessive negativity or being the target of personal attacks. I recall a woman (an excellent photographer, BTW) who seemed to "quit" another website on a regular basis, only to return within a few days of pleading by other members to return. I think some folks simply enjoy being the focus of attention. The same thing has occurred here on photo.net, several times this year alone. Me, I've occasionally become either frustrated or weary enough with photo.net to need a break. But I just quit visiting for a few days or couple of weeks. I don't make a big public announcement that I'm leaving. However, it takes all kinds of people to make a community and my way is certainly not better than the folks who pronounce their departure, only to return later.

    As for the other popular criticism of photo.net, specifically "The galleries/critique activity is dead", well...once again, passively waiting for something to happen won't cut it. The reason CompuServe's photo forum has managed to keep its Monday night live photo critique session going for so long, despite an overall decrease in CompuServe forum participation, is due to the ongoing efforts of a tiny handful of people who stay in touch with others and maintain an atmosphere of a public forum to which all are welcome rather than a cliquish closed circle.

    An example of that spirit here has been demonstrated by Phillipe Gauthier, who has invited folks to participate in a website designed for photo critiques. I haven't joined that site, despite his having invited me by e-mail more than once, but not out of disinterest. I'm simply too busy and am satisfied with photo.net. However, he has demonstrated the type of initiative it takes to keep a thing alive.

    So, Justin, despite your youth and relative inexperience, you're obviously a smart fellow who writes well. If you're dissatisfied with something about photo.net, why not do something about it?

    Likewise you other folks who find photo.net flagging or lacking in some area. Griping is a bit like sitting alone at the only empty table in a community center while others around you are playing games or chatting, and then claiming there's nothing going on.
     
  31. I agree with you Bob but don't understand why Brian want me to pretend that photo.net is what it used to be? Just a little example: I am around this site for 3 years now and I remember it did not have that many sponsors back then. Now it has, among others, B&H and Adorama. Mine and other comments, perfectly civilized and on the photo topic, but regarding Adorama and B&H unfriendly service to women, were taken down without a word of explanation (well,it was self-explanatory when I think of it now). The fact is, these two places are just that but we cannot discuss it here anymore. And that's just one example. As you already said, the photo.net is following the path it has to. I just regret that I cannot any longer voice my opinion without being attacked, censored, or told to watch my ass on my way out.
     
  32. Thanks for the great explanations of what's going on brian!!<BR>You do what you have to do.<P>Oh ,if i get more time i'll gladly volenteer as a moderator--i love to have idiots with no manors abusing me,hehe
     
  33. I think we just have to accept that the photo.net forums have become Usenet, and live with it or stop reading them. Given time, all forums become Usenet.
    Bob, I don't see it this way at all. Certainly you've been a participant here much longer than I, but the way I thought it was supposed to work (prior to the LUSENET migration), is, that items posted to either the archived or unarchived forums, are vetted by the moderators. Those that the moderators deem worthy of archiving are kept in / sent to, the archived forum; and everything else is allowed to expire.
    What I've noticed happening, though, is that virtually everything posted to either of these forums goes unarchived. My supposition, on seeing this, is that it's easier to leave it unarchived, or send it there, than it is to read it and make a determination based on value.
    I realize that there is a great deal of time involved, even as is, in moderating one or more forums. I realize as well that much of what now lies in the archived forum is dated (or worse). But the idea of adding to the chaff by archiving everything is a bad one, in my view - too much of value gets lost in the sheer mass of postings. Also, it's useful to have a forum in which to post threads that you know are silly or otherwise not intended to be in a permanent record. And, lastly, it's good for the moderators of other forums to have a place to send the rare off-topic post, short of totally deleting it.
    I don't know about your forums (do you still moderate?), but the forums I follow are far from USENET. Your suggestion sounds like a plea to end all moderation duties. Maybe a vacation is in order?
     
  34. photo.net has changed and so have I. I find little of value and little to contribute. this evolution has made me appreciate what photo.net was and allowed me to move forward. in my heart, I think this follows Philip's initial vision of what a photography forum could bring to the experience. there are many new things to pursue photographically, with less time now spent reading of exhausted topics, and more time with a camera in my hands and negatives on the light table.

    as it should be ....
     
  35. At some point, if you are diligent in following photo.net, you have gone really fast down the learning curve. And then the posts seem redundant and less interesting (uninteresting?). The old-timers have seen it all but I think they may have forgotten how much they didn't know that they learned here and are just looking at it from where they stand now. At some point almost all the questions have been asked and answered. And so the population changes to those who haven't seen it all and heard it all. That's when, if you've been around awhile, it seems to have changed from what it used to be. Daniel is right -- we have changed due to our exposure to the information provided.

    There is a large, very often silent, population here who do not miss the nastiness that Phil finally put a stop to. What is viewed as his overreaction, was really just a response to a situation that went on too long before he got involved. People aren't good at policing themselves. And no one wants censorship, but there had gotten to be some truly unacceptable personal attacks here. That was going to destroy the site and Phil obviously recognized that.

    Kudos to you, Brian, for the work you have done and do.

    Conni
     
  36. I don't agree with Bob that all forums are doomed to become Usenet, and in particular photo.net is a long way from being Usenet. The fact that the forums are moderated is important. Most people don't need moderation (most of the time) in order to conform themselves to reasonable norms. A few people who might be excessively boisterous in essentially anonymous forums will be influenced by the presence of the moderators and will become almost indistinguishable from the people who didn't need moderators. The number of occasions actually requiring moderation should be miniscule, and so it is on the photo.net forums.

    But photo.net is a tough room. I think the forums here are only slightly more decorous now than they were a year ago, Maria's complaints about an excess of political correctness notwithstanding. Perhaps there are fewer solar storms. As for the quality of the discourse -- well, if you read the photo.net archives from 1996-1999, when photo.net was moderated like any of the other forums today, with no Staging forum or Unarchived Forum, I don't think you can argue that the general level was much different than now in the moderated forums. If there was a difference it was because of the contributions of no more than a dozen or so people who don't contribute as often today. But even this is hard to say. All this nostalgia for the photo.net Golden Age is a lot of hooey. As we all know, the human species has been declining, each generation less intelligent and well-behaved than its predecessor -- for about 5000 years.

    Anyway, what should be done with the General Archived (photo.net) forum now? Perhaps we should just eliminate the Staging Forum and let people post to the General Archived Forum directly. Let it be moderated by the current group of moderators, the same as any of the other forums. Keep the Unarchived forum for people who know that their posting is of ephemeral interest, or somewhat off-topic, or who don't want it archived for some reason. Also let the moderators of all forums move posts that don't belong in the archives of their forums to the Unarchived Forum.
     
  37. A suggestion on the what to archive, what to let expire question... Why not add a checkbox at the bottom that says "Check this box if you think this post is worth archiving". If a post gets X checks, it's automatically archived. If it doesn't, it expires X days after the last response is posted to it. That will keep active discussions alive, and inactive, but useful discussions archived.

    Like anything, it is suseptable (sp?) to abuse, but should cut down somewhat on the need to hand moderate. Adding a "Report this post to the moderators" link would be of use, too, if someone sees nonsense being posted to keep it alive, or for those that are bad (read: abusive, etc) posts to begin with.

    I think one of the biggest problems with photo.net is that it is simply too huge for the handful of volunteers to manage. You all are doing an admirable job, but there is only so much you can do. Providing tools to allow the community to help with the moderation would reduce the amount of hands-on moderation you need to do.
     
  38. Well, since there's already a lot of words here, I'll try to keep it to a minimum.

    a) Michele has some ideas that deserve consideration and/or trial. The theory is that it becomes a true democracy rather than the oligarchic republic we have today, with all the benefits and problems appertaining. We'd still need a guiding hand with a light touch, but I think her proposal has much merit and a way to deal with growth.

    b) Complaining without suggestions for improvement is worse than useless.

    c) Berating those whose roles/jobs you don't understand is rude and ignorant. Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. And when you do criticize them, do it politely (not politically correct, but politely - there's a big difference).

    d) I don't enjoy being around rude people, therefore I choose not to be around them. The good news is that rude people are a tiny minority. The site was becoming a rude community, driving away civilized people. The moderation to excise that cancer was well needed.

    e) The financial things are a reality. Advertisers wouldn't be needed at all if the people who used the service paid for the service.

    f) Is photo.net dying? Not from where I sit. It may be evolving, but all things MUST evolve.

    Any questions?
     
  39. photo.net is a wonderful resource. problems arise when folks lose sight of its intended educational purpose and use it for recreation or that it supplants the actual photography endeavour.

    when posting a question or answering one, if we asked ourselves 'am I contributing anything worthy of my time and that of others' I believe the forum will benefit greatly. I don't think photo.net is dying, but a transfusion in the form of stricter categorization, with the main Q&A page segmented into category links instead of discrete threads, might help the patient. this would afford a migration path around many of the inane threads that could be collectively stored in the 'digital versus film' category link.
     
  40. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Perhaps we should just eliminate the Staging Forum and let people post to the General Archived Forum directly. Let it be moderated by the current group of moderators, the same as any of the other forums. Keep the Unarchived forum for people who know that their posting is of ephemeral interest, or somewhat off-topic, or who don't want it archived for some reason. Also let the moderators of all forums move posts that don't belong in the archives of their forums to the Unarchived Forum.
    As a moderator, I would prefer the opposite. The posts that people send to the staging forum for archiving tend to be the least likely to belong in the archived forum. This has to do with not reading rather than a difference of opinion - there are a lot of posts to the staging area like "I can't find the manual to my flash" and "I don't like the ratings my photos received" that just don't work there. It happens at other forums too, and they don't have staging areas so the work is increased. Just this morning, I removed a post on "What flash works with my camera" from the People Forum.
    On the other hand, posting everything initially to the unarchived forum and moving over the posts that are interesting would be far easier. I have done this before and would do it more if people were posters were aware that it could happen.
    As for the general decline, I would agree with Bob here. However, the more specialized forums tend to act more like the smaller "old" photo.net and as a result have more of a community atmosphere and sometimes a higher level of expertise.
     
  41. I second what Jeff said. I just moved the "Which Zeiss SLR MF
    lens is better optically...?" question from the staging area to the
    non-archived forum. If you look at the question you'll see it meets
    none of the criteria for posting on the archived forum.

    And despite Brian's insistence otherwise, photo.net is moving
    inexorably downhill. As Bob Atkins said, photo.net used to be
    Lenswork and is now Popular Photography. Maybe we haven't
    sunk to USENET levels yet, but questions like the one cited
    above push us dangerously close.

    What's the solution? More how-to articles and in-depth
    equipment reviews written by people who have expertise in
    particular fields and the writing skills to pass along their
    knowledge. As someone mentioned above, complaining does
    no good, so let's start doing something about it.

    I volunteer to review the Canon 1Ds as soon as Brian can get
    Canon to send one to me.
     
  42. And your jerk response to him was so indicative and why this site is going downhill. And from a "moderator" no less. Why did feel the need within you to have such attitude in your answer? Do you feel better somehow?

    It was not one of those vague "which is better?" and leave it at that questions. He specifically asked if he could hear from others their opionons on such things as "flare, bokeh, crispness, distortion, saturation, contrast". What's wrong with that?
     
  43. Mine and other comments, perfectly civilized and on the photo topic, but regarding Adorama and B&H unfriendly service to women, were taken down without a word of explanation
    If this happened it shouldn't have. I certainly did not remove such comments. If people want to say Adorama or B&H sucks, as far as I am concerned they are welcome to do so. Sometimes they do suck. Sometimes they screw up. Maybe they are rude to women. If so, then I see no reason to censor such posts.
    Forums and archiving. The reason that selecting posts for archiving is of far less value than it should be is the amount of crap already in the archives, from the days when EVERYTHING was archived. Sure you can add some new gems, but finding them will be like looking for a needle in a haystack. The search engine may spit back 50 threads of which a couple contain what you're looking for.
    I suppose if you had a team of selfless, dedicated moderators, willing to work long hours for free in support of what is now effectively a commercial website, you could do something with the archives. Once upon a time there was a scheme to clean them out and I think we even had volunteers, but it went nowhere. You could moderate every post and decide where it should go. I no longer have time to do that. In fact I think the decline of the moderated forum was partly due to my going away on vacation for a few weeks and just not having time to do much moderation since I got back. Not to say I was the only one keeping it running of course. I still moderate in that I check all the posts in the EOS forum and the Nature forum (along with Shun Cheung), plus I moderate here when I see something that's clearly out of place. However I have neither the time nor the desire to read every post in every thread, so I certainly don't see everything.
    Sometimes I wonder where photo.net is going. It's not a non-profit corporation. I don't know who is currently funding it. If it goes under I suppose the staff will lose money. If it's a raging success I suppose they'll get rich from subscriptions and advertising or by selling the site. Right now they are struggling to keep their heads above water. I'm not sure you can run a site like photo.net wants to be and depend on volunteers to do much of the work. You need full time staff. Unfortunately I don't think there's funding for that.
     
  44. Bob, I agree that from Maria's description of it, her post should not have been deleted. One of the defects of our software is that once a post is deleted, it is gone, and we don't have a record of who deleted it. (It wasn't me, by the way, and I think I would recall if it were.)

    On the issue of moderation, one of the problems with the General forums is that they now have quite a few moderators listed, so that each of the moderators might be assuming the others are picking up the slack when they have to be away, and this may not be the case. The General forums (including the Unarchived) still account for a third of all postings and this is a tremendous number to be left unmoderated or only intermittently moderated.

    Another question: who is "funding" photo.net? Nobody, through advertising and subscriptions, it pays its own way, provided you ignore the depreciation of the hardware and the fact that the site uses unpaid volunteer labor.

    If you like, right now most of the external "funding" is coming from me, because I run the site full-time (a 7 day/60 hours per week job) without a salary in return for equity in the photo.net company (and eventually a salary, I hope.) But I am only the latest in quite a long series of people who essentially did the same, starting in 1999 when Philip turned photo.net over to several of his MIT friends to operate as a business. Unlike me, some of these people and their relatives put in actual cash, not just "sweat equity". Another reason the site can continue to operate is that these long-term creditors are more interested in having the site succeed than demanding repayment.
     
  45. Here's a suggetion to improve the archives and search functions. There is already an (unused) "interest level" field in the database. Let users "vote" on thread quality. Then return search results weighted to that field, so the threads rated "10" are higher in the list and the threads rated "0". Archive everything. If you want to "clean house", toss out the bottom 25% from time to time.

    This will work as long as you can stop users sabotaging each
    other's threads by giving them low ratings, or inflating their
    own ratings of course...

    A site works best when the moderators can devote their limited amount
    of time to tasks that can't be automated, like removing abusive posts, rather than
    deciding what should and should not be archived. That invariably leads to
    complaints anyway. Just let everyone vote, that way I'll get less email
    complaining about moderation decisions!
     
  46. Bob, the interest level field in the database couldn't be used to capture "interest" votes. Since it would be necessary to prevent people from voting more than once, we would need to keep a record of who had already voted a thread interesting, and this is more than the interest level field could do. However, probably the "interest level" field would be appropriately used to summarize the results of a vote for the sake of performance.

    But I like the idea. What if I put a "I find this thread interesting" button on each thread, and provided an option to sort threads in the forums by "interest"? The "interest" of a thread might be (weight x the number of different respondents)+(the number of interesting votes). Presumably, contributors to a thread find it interesting and the effort involved in writing a response should count more than just clicking an "interesting" button. Accordingly, the number of respondents would be given extra weight.

    In combination with a system like this, I think it would be good to eliminate the General Staging forum, and have only one General forum. At the end of two days only threads meeting some "interesting" threshold would be archived, automatically, and the rest would be expired. A moderator could still override the interest level and archive or expire a thread. Moderators of the topic-specific forums would be allowed to zap threads to the General forum where the threads would still be able to attain Nirvana, I mean enter the archives, through the "interest" mechanism. The threads listed specifically on the home page would be the most "interesting" ones, in all forums.
     
  47. I'd have two buttons.
    <p>
    1 - Archive this thread<br>
    2 - Delete this thread
    <p>
    Those who feel neutral just don't vote. Of course people just LOVE to give numerical ratings, so a scheme of 1-10 would be much more popular, but no doubt also more work for the programmer.
    <p>
    I'm not so sure the number of responses is a good measure. Some of the
    most inane questions ever posted have recieved a large number of
    inane responses. Flame wars often generate huge traffic. Quantity is
    no guide to quality.
    <p>
    The ultimate would be to rate each response on a scale of 1-10, so not only would the interesting threads be marked, but the best answers could be highlighted too.
    <p>
    I do not suggest publishing a list of who gets the best ratings.
     
  48. Let’s combine two of the posted ideas. Let’s make it so the moderator takes from the unarchived and archives it, not the other way around. And let’s have the unarchived one expire after a certain mount of time from the last post not the posing of the question
     
  49. Bob, it has to be 1-7, photo.net's new signature rating scale.
     
  50. And once again it is questions like this that produce the most
    responses. I guess the Nikon vs Canon debates are old hat. (^:

    I really only have two suggestions: One is to again allow
    archiving of specific material as concerns equipment and
    usuage of same. I see answers that are just goldmines being
    dumped after two days, and believe me I know alot of it doesn't
    exist, especially for older cameras, as I reaseach more than
    most. Number 2, and which I mentioned before, is to archive the
    travel questions and answers into their own forum. I know Brain
    had said there was no moderator, but I offered my help which
    went unacknowledged.

    Outside the above it's the same old place, except for being
    bigger with more problems and with quite a few of the old timers
    gone most of the time.
     
  51. Wow. You people need to lay off the...whatever. I enjoy PN, I post my shots, 1000 people look at them, 8 people rate them...it's interesting. But it's fun. Just the amount of education I've gotten from the articles, ratings, forums, access to other GREAT photographers shots... that's worth the $25 I plan to send in next month.. and It's FUN too. It's an AWESOME site. I'm so GLAD I stumbled onto it a few months ago...I appreciate the people whu run it. They use their time and money and skill to give thousands of people the opportuinity to become wonderful photographers. That is PRICELESS. Quit being so b*tchy and greedy people. Be glad it's here... and if you're able to, pay the $25 a year.. just to show your support.
     
  52. Perhaps we should just eliminate the Staging Forum and let people post to the General Archived Forum directly. Let it be moderated by the current group of moderators, the same as any of the other forums. Keep the Unarchived forum for people who know that their posting is of ephemeral interest, or somewhat off-topic, or who don't want it archived for some reason. Also let the moderators of all forums move posts that don't belong in the archives of their forums to the Unarchived Forum.
    Late getting back into the discussion - took most of yesterday and today off to . . . would you believe it? shoot photos.
    I like this idea, Brian. I think it could work just as well doing it Jeff's way. Either option would be a big improvement, in my opinion. More things of value getting archived.
    I have klittle patience with the "old timers" complaints about P.net becomming "Popular Photography" or going downhill. Please. If you're a longtime contributor (much less, moderator), such a state of affairs here as you claim, doesn't reflect well on you (and your grizzled old colleagues in crime), does it? Photo.net is fine, and getting better. As I said, perhaps some small (or not) self-imposed breaks are in order.
    I'd like to voice my strenuous dissent to the idea of voting on forum contributions. A horrid concept. What we are after here is open, substantive dialog - and friendly chat - not contests and competitions. Let's get the voting on the images sorted out, before we spread the disease, shall we? If you want to add any sort of check box or evaluation to the forums forms, count me out - or rather, count out any forums that I have anything to do with. Okay?
     
  53. I'd like to voice my strenuous dissent to the idea of voting on forum contributions. A horrid concept. What we are after here is open, substantive dialog - and friendly chat - not contests and competitions. Let's get the voting on the images sorted out, before we spread the disease, shall we? If you want to add any sort of check box or evaluation to the forums forms, count me out - or rather, count out any forums that I have anything to do with. Okay?
    Just to be clear, what I was suggestion is nothing like the ratings system on photos. No 1-10 (or 5 or 7 or whatever), no lists of who gave what rating, none of that. Just a simple checkbox at the end that says, "I would like to see this thread archived". No one but the moderators would see who wanted archived or how many. The only indication to the general public would be if they notice the thread shows up in the archived forum.
    Of course if someone is really fond of their own words, they could get all their buddies to "vote" for their thread, but that's why we still have human moderators to keep an eye on things.
    As far as keeping it out of forums you are involved in, the only forum it would make any sense to use this in is the unarchived forum. So if seeing a check box at the bottom of the posts would cause you difficulties, there are plenty of other forums to hang out in. :)
     
  54. Of course if someone is really fond of their own words, they could get all their buddies to "vote" for their thread, but that's why we still have human moderators to keep an eye on things.
    I do see the value of your suggestion, Michelle. And it might, indeed, be helpful to have a little checkbox. But my concern is exactly as you say - that it would become a popularity contest, or, worse, a popularity campaign. It would also relieve the moderators of having to decide, what goes and what gets left in - so they would likely not really be around to "keep an eye on things".
    As far as keeping it out of forums you are involved in, the only forum it would make any sense to use this in is the unarchived forum. So if seeing a check box at the bottom of the posts would cause you difficulties, there are plenty of other forums to hang out in. :)
    I was, of course, being facetious. As long as it didn't devolve into some sort of asinine orgainzed effort to get posts archived or have them deleted, it wouldn't cause me any difficulty at all. And even if it did "devolve" into that, there are, as you mention, other forums.
     
  55. So much complaining from a list that has so many non-paying users. Be happy that someone is providing this forum "FREE OF CHARGE", even if you wish not to become a paying member. Good constructive ideas are important to any forum, but some comments are, in my opinon, delivered in an abrasive tone. A little sugar in your lemon juice may help those who are so angry. If that doesn't work for you, vote with your feet and find a place which will provide the services, at the same price, you desire. Or better yet, start your own forum with the added services you wish, at the same price.
     
  56. Doug, did you turn your e-mail on? It's been off for quite a while now ... I am not trying to be sarcastic, I can only imaging how hard it must be to keep up with all that traffic lately.
     
  57. Photo.net is really a riot! After 9/11 our local sports arena bans SLRS and Zoom lens cameras for security reasons. I take in my Leica M3 and Zorki and shoot some hockey photos. A couple were posted last fall on a Leica thread............................. Then I got several emails stating that "rangefinders are not the proper camera for sports; you should be using an autofocus camera like the Canon EOS"

    Folks these are BANNED cameras at our sports arena!
    This season I will attempt to bring in a Pacemaker Speed Graphic; this should really screw up the expert "Security Guards" minds!
     
  58. Actually, Maria, the only reason I might mistake it for sarcasm, is that, compared to well-established, long-running forums such as the one for Leica, the new Nikon forum doesn't appear, to me anyway, to be all that busy yet. But it's already picked up quite a bit, and I imagine that will continue. Anyway, to answer your question, no, I haven't turned it back on - getting a copy of every question and every response in my email box is a bit much; especially when all I have to do is click on one link to arrive at the forum. But you, Maria, can send me an email any time you'd like.
     
  59. This post is getting off topic. I didn’t ask about a person email working or how to photograph a game. Actually the game post did prove a point about people contributing ideas whether right or wrong but it is still off topic. This post was to ask about the future of photo.net and not who or what is giving you false info due to ignorance. Just to recap: I don’t CARE about your problem with the post or whose email is working. I care about the future of photo.net.
     

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