Originality Ratings

Discussion in 'Photo.net Site Help' started by ross_warner|2, Sep 12, 2003.

  1. I am fairly new to photo.net and am having a mental block
    understanding the originality rating. It seems a photo is either not
    original (a typical stand up straight and smile at the camera photo)
    which would rate a 4 (average), or it would differ in some manner
    that adds originality making it deserving a rating of 5, 6 or 7. My
    question is how can a photo's originality be less than "not original"
    (a 4 rating)? It seems a originality rating of 1, 2 or 3 makes no
    sense unless one rates the stand up straight and smile photo is a 1
    (very bad). What is very bad originality, something that is not
    original? Insight into equitably rating originality is appreciated.
  2. Ross - this is an excellent question and something that has long bothered me too.
    If the originality scale runs 1-7, you would certainly think that a snapshot of someone's cat should get a 1 (not original at all) rather than a 4 (fairly original?).
    That's not the way people use the scheme though. 95% of users give originality ratings that are within 1 point of the aesthetic rating.
    To be honest I don't think the originality ratings mean anything. I don't think people even think about them. If they like an image it gets a 6/6 or 7/7, if they don't like it or gets a 3/3 or 4/4.
    I've never seen anyone get a 7 for aesthetics and a 1 for originality, which should be possible and would not be an insult. However if you gave such ratings I'm betting you'd be accused of "rating abuse".
    Here's the "official" guide to ratings and standards:
  3. I have given and received ratings that have a spread of greater
    than '1', but they are rare.

    One problem with 'originality' is that it contributes to the value of
    some genres far more than others. It also assumes a fairly
    extensive familiarity with the genre on the part of the rater.

    Let's cut right to the chase and admit that 'aesthetics' , as it is
    often applied, is no better at determining whether or not one
    image deserves to get more views than another.
  4. It's not a matter of whether originality matters more to a particular genre of images, the originality rating is a rating of originality, not a rating of how significant the originality is. Or at least that's the way I see it.

    It's pretty difficult to assign an originality rating greater than "1" to most casual snapshots. Unless you get 1 point for pushing the shutter, one point for getting the focus right and one point for getting the exposure right. Then you start at 3 for most images!

    I have fallen into the trap of 4/4 and 5/5 ratings myself, mostly due to peer pressure and not really thinking as much as I should. Everyone else does it that way, so if you start to do it in a more rational manner, you'll probably get complaints.

    It would probably better to have just one rating number rather than two if one of the numbers is essentially meaningless, and I think that's the case at the moment. However it's probably too late now. Too many ratings, too many people used to the current scheme.
  5. I once suggested replacing the "originality" score with, perhaps, "technicality". After all, a picture can look stunning but be let down by some minor technical aspects. What do you think?
  6. I think it's too late for changes. With 500,000+ images rated using the current scheme, any changes will be tricky, especially adding any new category that can't be calculated from existing data.
  7. It is certianly difficult to put a new system in place and not financially worth while. There However could be some direction as to what the seven rating numbers mean about originality. 1-is the photo of the cat, graduate, bride, or the family with the standard stance, expression, lighting or mood. In otherwords there would be no "bad" rating for originality. The photo could be aesthetically excellent (not likely), average (possible), or bad (out of focus or blurred).
    at least giving a objective starting point may help.

    Carl, the aesthetic rating of my photos at least gives me some measure in relation to my rating of my photo. From what I see slight adjustments can substantially increase or decrease the aesthetics ratings of a photo. Let's face it we all need some love. I really don't care if my photo of a horse is original but I do care if it is aesthetically appreciated.
  8. Hi Ross,

    Welcome. And behold the cautionary signpost at the gate. No doubt a contingent of us will be fearing that you are already aligning yourself with the photo.net mentality and its conventions.

    Any numerical system of rating (even binary) tends towards denegeneration: a greater number of users with a wider cultural basis and different reference points as well as photographic biases render it next to meaningless; unless supported by the verbal foundation - a comment.

    My own view is that in a world of oversaturated images, the greatest challenge for an overwhelmed viewer is to not click a 4/4 on it and walk away. The rating system falsifies the essence of any image. That mentality is reductionistic and as meaningless as it is pretentious in a mock 'critical' judgement on an image. Is it not condescending to leave a mark of disapproval on someone's uploaded images without offering any explanation? And lo! That is the norm.

    Regarding ratings without offering a verbal critique: clearly the numbers show that some raters are more proficient and can count up to "7". So skilled are they that they can even count up to "7" twice. On the other hand, there are raters who try their best to count, and get as far as 3/4, or 4/4 but then lose count, and go back to 1/1 routinely. Are these raters still in their infancy or in helpless collusion with the warped rating system?

    An alternative understanding of the current classification system can be grasped from the school of sensationalism which Photo.net has more affinity with:

    1). Shock appeal - Did this image really shock you? (Rate 1-7)

    2). Is this image totally clichéd to the point that your cliché and
    click keys are so intertwined? If so double click 7.

    What is a good image?
    What is a bad image?

    Both meaningless questions which assume absolute omnipotence. If the question is not meaningless, then does aesthetics then have an ethics of good and bad?

    I would rather ask:

    1. Does this image connect with you?

    2. Why?

    3. Can you kindly (or unkindly, depending on bowel habit) say why?

    Kind regards,
  9. Thanks Ross, it was a long time I was looking for such post!
    I have problem with one of statements in 'official guide to ratings' which says:
    "Give a photo a high rating for originality if it shows you something unexpected or a FAMILIAR SUBJECT in a new, insightful, striking, humorous, or creative way"
    specially I have problem with 'familiar subject';
    when I first posted this photo I was expecting to get 3/2 4/3 5/4 ... even 7/3 kind of ratings (first number being originality) but interestingly in the first comment I saw this: 'Very pleaseing to look at. The keys are very sharp and the tilt works well. ORIGINALITY SUFFERS DUE TO THE BLAND SUBJECT...' with a 5/6 rating. and most of the following raters gave aesthetics higher than originality. as I get from peoples' comments they find this photo 'a FAMILIAR SUBJECT in a creative way' but they give aesthetics higher than originality. and IMO this differs from the official guidelines. let me make clear that this is not about the average of ratings but originality/aesthetics balance, I mean if it should get an average of 3.5 it should be 4/3 not 3/4. after this experience I become confused in rating others' photos like this and this.
    seems most raters beleive that a photo with an ordinary subject must get low rating for oiginality anyway, but I don't think so IMO if someone has the chance to photograph a cow with two heads, that is not 'originality of how you photographed the subject' but 'originality of the subject' which doesn't have anything to do with photography which this site is about.
    actually my problem is that I don't know if originality in photo.net means 'originality of subject' or 'originality of how you photographed the subject'?
    I'm not good in English, you can't imagine what a hard time I have trying to tell what's in my mind, if you don't understand this post due to my weak english, just dismiss it and go to next post ;) sorry.
  10. "1. Does this image connect with you? 2. Why?"

    The quote above says it all. . . . . . . or perhaps you could add " Is
    there something positive in this photograph that you think is
    worth discussing in this forum?"

    Bob, You can keep the number of views and scrap the rest.
  11. Maybe we could judge the content and realization (meaning technical quality) of an image instead than it' aesthetics and originality.

    Content: Is the picture interesting? Is there a subject worth looking at? Does this move any feelings?

    Realization: Is the picture well taken? Is it well composed, exposed, etc..? What about the colors/b&w tones?

    That would make more sense (well, for me at least :)

  12. Originality is a hard one to rate. And many will not agree. You know what you feel is original, go with that. You will never please everyone here. And rating are your opinion, good/bad indifferent. Asking others how to rate is along the same lines as asking someone else to tell you your opinion. There are many who would like to tell you what to think. Don't go down that road be true to yourself.

  13. Arash, your english is better than most that live in North Dakota, no appology necessary.

    I feel originality is how you photograph a subject. However, originality can also affect the aesthetic rating. For example, lighting direction or intensity can be different "than expected" affecting the originality, however, it could in that case also affect the aesthetic of a photo. It is possible that raters and commenters confuse originality with aesthetic. I think I would do that with your piano keys. I take the angle of the keys as aesthetic rather than originality.

    In your other examples, I would see little original in the building example but I do see originality with the photo angle the apples. The lighitng on the apples I think affects my concept of aesthetics rather than originality.

    Now I have confused myself over the merits of the concepts of originality and aesthetics. This better not hurt.
  14. Thanks Carl.

    The quote might indeed say it all, however as you know, I have a tendency to say a little extra.

    The struggle I have with adding only one pole of comments is that "positive" rapidly equates to the development of a mesmeric mutuality.

    Simone - content and production of content do not work if the image does not "connect" with a viewer. Even with this criteria - then the problem of a rating system still needs to be tackled. The problem with a rating system, which most photo.netters fail to see, is that a rating system operates through the relationship of rater-to-image. It is a "construct" - read - "relationship" constructed by the viewer looking at the image. There is no external objectivity or hard criteria which can deduce the qualities of an image without the viewer 'participating' at some level with the image. If this was a competition, it would be different. Horses for courses?

    Again, "content and its technical realization" is far too left-brained. Usually men come up with such reductionist tendencies. And then transfix their lenses on women as the content :)

    Kind regards,
  15. I would like to add that many people seem to be confusing 'originality of a photograph' with 'originality of the subject matter'

    Not all photos of cats, or all landscapes are trivial, mundane and boring. Originality is a measure of how clever, creative and uncommon the representation of a subject is. Hence, a flower shot can be original if it portrays a flower in a way that we haven't seen before or at least in one that we don't see very often. There are fine examples in this site and I invite you to look at my personal favourites to see what I mean. You will find flowers and landscapes and cats, but not the ones you have seen before.

    On the other hand, it's again misleading to give high originality ratings for anything that merely has an exotic or rare subject. The fact that someone swam an Amazon tributary and got a candid shot of a hitherto unkown tribesman eating his breakfast doesn't mean that the shot is necessarily original. It can still be as much an uncreative snapshot as your kids in disneyland.

    The question is, does the photo penetrate the portrayed reality to show something truly interesting? Does it present something in a new way, or in a way that makes us think about things that would not spring to mind with a normal 'depiction of reality'?

    On the numerical scale now, I tend to use the following scheme, more or less:

    1 - Please come to my folder and underrate me to oblivion

    2 - Pretty bad, shouldn't make it past the contact print

    3 - Can find one like that in every vacation roll (e.g. say cheese)

    4 - Nothing trivial, nothing special (e.g. well-executed landscape)

    5 - There's something interesting or innovative about it

    6 - Thought-provoking, unconventional, stuff you learn from

    7 - How do I sing-up with your followers' cult?
  16. It strikes me that most reviewers have no concept of originality.
    If I take my camera, walk up to a cat and take it's picture, it's probably going to be a "1" on my originality scale. Of course you COULD take an original photo of a cat, that's so obvious it doesn't need saying. However the vast majority of pet photos show about the same degree of originality as a network sitcom, i.e. none at all. I'm not just singling out pets, it applies to landscapes, cars, people and just about everything else. Zero originality in any meaningful sense. Most of them are indistinguishable from the rest.
    Here's what ORIGINAL means
    Not derived from soemthing else; fresh and unusual; showing a marked departure from previous practice; inventive; a first form from which varieties arise or imitations are made
    Here's an image picked at random http://www.photo.net/photo/1697994
    Not a bad shot, aesthetically it maybe rates a 5. It's a nice shot. But using any realistic scale how could it possibly rate a 5 for originality? What's original about it? How is it different from the typical landscape type shot? I've seen dozens of mountains reflected in lakes. It's almost a cliche now. And if it's typical and a photo cliche, it's not original by definition and so rates around a "1". How could it be LESS original? [I apologize the the photographer in advance. This image really was chosen randomly! It's a nice image and many, if not most of MY images would rate "1" for originality too]
  17. When we rate an image, we are saying to the site "please
    increase the visibility of this image - or not." No more; no less. If
    we recognize this as being a cliche shot and rate it low or ignore
    it, than we won't see very many landscape shots in the gallery.
    The rating on this image is almost 6 for aesthetics which is too
    high in my view given the less than ideal lighting, dark
    foreground, washed out sky, etc. There are no details or
    combination of unusual elements - originality - which make it
    distinct from other shots we might stumble into on any hike in a
    national park, yet it avergaed over 5.

    So this guy's shot doesn't deserve high visibility . . . . BUT it's not
    so hopeless that it doesn't deserve feedback. You'll notice that
    he got some, From J. Scott Schraeder in particular who does this
    sort of thing professionally. Unfortunately, it must be said that
    had the image not been overrated, IMHO, he may not have seen
    it and the maker wouldn't have known how to improve it next

    Here's another image that got virtualy the same ratings, but I've
    rated it a 7/7. I just found it the other day . . . in someone's
    'favorites pages'. Anyone interested in this genre should see
    this shot.
  18. forgot the URL . . .
  19. But Carl, you didn't address the issue of why this image deserves a 5 for ORIGINALITY. In what way could it be different to get a LOWER originality rating?

    I'm not disputing it got a 5 for originality, I'm just asking if that is reasonable. If you think it is, just tell me how it could have got a lower score. What does an image have to be to get an ORIGINALITY rating of 1?

    Aesthetics is easy. He could have slanted the horizon badly. He could have got the exposure wrong. He could have cut off the peak or the reflection. He could have got the tripod leg in the shot. All those things would drop the aesthetic rating. But what would he have had to do to drop the ORIGINALITY rating, or is the originality rating totally meaningless?

    Show me an image that gets an originality rating of 1 and deserves it. There must to a least one totally unoriginal image in the gallery somewhere. I'd just like to see how it differs from those which get a 4 or 5.
  20. Bob Atkins wrote: "Show me an image that gets an originality rating of 1 and deserves it. There must to a least one totally unoriginal image in the gallery somewhere. I'd just like to see how it differs from those which get a 4 or 5."
    OK. I will show you an O=2 instead because most of us don't give 1's. It is actually quite convenient to reserve the score of 1 to pick off the crackpots and "rating abuse" types.
    I scanned through my 270-odd ratings. Some data on my ratings for calibration purposes: I apparently give on average O=4.5, I occasionally give out 7's, but normally never drop under 3, I regularly have 2 points difference between E and O, so I at least I think about it.
    Here is the only photo I have ever given an O=2: http://www.photo.net/photo/1746648 It is a photo of "the" Tower Bridge in London (which is roughly the London equivalent of the Eifel Tower). The photo was taken on a color digital camera, but converted (in camera or at home) to sepia.
    Here is my comment I wrote at the time to justify the rating: "If this had been in color, it would look like hundreds of other snapshots of the Tower Bridge taken each day. How does a conversion to sepia help?". It arguably deserves a 1, but let's make it a 2 because the photographer explicitly took the non-trivial initiative to convert it to B/W - something which the other 100 tourists on the same boat that day will not have done. And again, I never give 1's.
    My working criteria of Originality is roughly "If the photographer told you about an idea for this photo, how would you rate the idea". In this case the answer might be something like "I'm on this tourist cruise boat about to pass under the bridge, so I walk all the way to the front of the boat to get the boat out of sight." I personally don't think that sepia was part of the original plan, but was added because the photographer suspected that some modification was needed to make it look more interesting.
    My interpretation of AEsthetics is simply "How visually pleasing did the photo turn out" = "Would you hang it on a wall" = "How long did you look at the photo?" = "Did you smile when you saw the photo".
  21. Good morning,

    Bob - you may do well to ask "if that is reasonable" to offer a "5" for originality. The application of interpretation again is already vast, and as this post will/has proven, viewers have their own preconceptions of originality which go beyond the dictionary definition offered up.


    It is a little surprising that your comments have not been addressed to the photographer who has requested help. How are your comments helpful?

    Firstly, you indicate the oversaturation of the type of imagery of London Bridge. I think that is helpful, even if perhaps it sounds dismissive: it locates a perspective (a critical one for the photographer to start thinking more).

    Aesthetics is not "easy"; had the photographer slanted the horizon, then the consideration is one of technicality. Aesthetics is a different domain. Unfortunately photo.net encourages an approximation and confusion of the two categories.

    I think the explanation you have posted here is helpful; but to whom? Anyone but the photographer? HGave you considered in kindness whether the photographer might have appreciated finding out what the "2" meant? Your comments here are far more meaningful that the 2 slapped onto his image.

    And again, "because most of us don't give 1's" and "I never give 1s" is not a solid basis for refusing to give a 1. If a viewer uses a rating scale, he had better use it properly. Otherwise photo.net then has a plethora of viewers using their own eccentricities to rate.
    "I don't rate 7s because its an unlucky number" is similarly indefensible as a modality of critique.

    Returning to your example.

    Before colour film became universally available, most monochrome images of the London Bridge would have had a similar resemblance. These are 'original' in the sense that originality is recovered, even if unintentionally....even if the originality was suspect in the 1950s. My own view is that your rating of a "2" is ingenerous. His work is at least on a par with most of photo.net uploads. At least a "4" for O.

    Others are welcome to disagree: from just one deviation of perspective....and the snowball effect, it should become clear why a numerical system of rating applied by rank amateurs; holidaymakers and professionals cannot work. There is a risk that there will be a trickling exodus of the latter minority.

    I think a little kindness in recognising that holidaymakers and snapshooters also like to improve their photographer would not go amiss. It is not any viewer's fault. Photo.net doesn't encourage raters to do this; it then falls on the behest of the viewer to comment as he sees fit.

    Kind regards,
  22. mg


    Nice to see for once a peaceful and logical - argumented - conversion about the problematic originality rating.
    I believe Nikos is actually perfectly correct, from the first capital to the last full stop of his post. It also seems to me that his understanding of the Originality rating, which is about the same as mine, is pretty close to what the photonet guidelines state.
    Now why is this originility rating so problenatic ? Simply because each rater will have a different interpretation of what it means.
    Bob asked a very good question: was this randomly chosen picture he posted worth a 1 in originality - since it has indeed be done a zillion times exactly the same way ?
    Imo, no, it wasn't a 1. It was a 3 - for me. And I'm not simply trying to be kind. Bob asked: how could it be LESS original. Well, I'd tell you this as an a answer: there is something WORSE than unoriginal, which is called SILLY.
    I reserve my 1s and 2s in originality for SILLY pictures, meaning: for pictures that are taken in such a way that they fail dramatically in giving any interest to the subjet at hand. For example, if the photographer who took the picture Bob posted had waited till the sun would be hidden behind thick clouds and would appear behind this hill, then he would have completely misunderstood what this picture of his was all about. He would have been silly. But he wasn't ! He actually to the shot at a more or less appropriate time of the day, he made sure he had a visible reflection in the lake. This is some form of "cleverness" to me, and cleverness is the other word acknowledged by Photo.net as an alternative to "originality".
    With a rating of 3 on that image, what I would mean is that the photographer did nothing silly; he wasn't very creative, that's given, and yes, I have seen zillions of such shots, but most of them were not really more UNUSUAL than this one. So, 3.
    What gets a 2 ? A silly shot. A shot for which the photographer's intent converts a fairly interesting image into something uninteresting and ridiculous or into an overdone black-velvet-Elvis-like cliche. What's a 1 ? A 1, for me, is an absolutely stupid approach to a subject that was anyway going to be trite at best, but which turned ugly, awful, or annoying or all this at the same time.
    At least a photographer who shoots a boring ultra-conventionnal flower picture or landscape or portrait is not being silly. So, he'll get a 3.
    Bob, since you refered to your own pictures and said most of them deserve a 1, I don't think so. For the reasons stated above, I've rated these images of yours a 3 or a 4. And to the great annoyment of some top-rated photographers, I have occasionally (rarely) rated a 2/2 some images that had an average above 6/6. I may of course be wrong, but I'd say that hill reflection is any time less silly (therefore more clever) than adding something in PS to anotherwise nice image if it ends up looking like a totally ugly manipulation that fits the black-velvet-Elvis-antology.
    On the other end of the scale, if you take a picture for which I enjoyed your approach, whereby you showed you saw something interesting because of your interesting way of seeing it, that's a 5. Not a 6, not a 7. A 6 would be an excellent approach that works powerfully on my mind or heart - or read Nikos's definition of a 6. A 7 is a breathtaking aproach, and generally something that really got my attention in a very impactful way.
    In that sense, the picture Carl rated a 7/7 would be an O5/A6 to me.
    If a picture is not somehow special, then I'll give it a 5 at best - generally speaking. My originality rating average is about 5.5 so far, mostly because I rated by priority shots that interest me to some extent. Shots like the one Bob posted here are all over the site, but why rate them ? I used to rate shots like this only when I saw them getting sky high ratings, to express a contrary opinion, and basically say that I did not think this picture should be given such visibility in the gallery. Which is now pointless anyway since unoriginal shots are now the only winners of what Bob said wasn't a competition...:))
    What to do about the originality rating ? Well, how about averaging originalty and aesthetics ratings and only display the result for the images that were already rated under the A&O system, then simply dish out the 2 words ? That seems quite easy to do. Then people would only rate the image on a single scale of 1 to 7 (possibly with .5 indents to limit inflation, or without).
    A unique rating scale could then read:
    1) I find it awful... 2) I don't like it at all... 3) I don't really like it... 4) Quite good... 5) I like it a lot 6) I really love it ! 7) Absolutely outstanding !!
    The problem with the originality rating, right now and for ages, is that it means a different thing to every rater, and in the end you are averaging apples and oranges. An originality rating makes perfect sense if it is very well understood, but right now, most people rate subjects, because that's easier than finding out in which sense the approach was good or not. As it is, the originality rating also gives unfair visibility to Pshop creations because a moon on top of a neck is of course more unusual than a face...
    I won't insist much here since I'm no longer rating much anyway, but I thought I'd contribute my 2 cents. The originality ratings just need
    to go. Simply because it means different things to different people and because it priviledges certain genres and certain subjects over others. Regards.
  23. Everyone does indeed have different interpretations for both
    originality and aesthetics and most will continue to defend their
    right to their own rating patterns even when asked to change to a
    fairly clearly defined approach. And yet we keep the system.

    Compare the landscapes above. If someone can find a better
    landscape shot than the one I chose, please post the URL and
    explain why you think it's better. If you can't find one, then you
    MUST give this 7/7. To not do so is to express a genre
    preference for other types of work where you would offer higher

    Rates have no meaning, EXCEPT to determine which images IN
    EACH GENRE get relatively more visibility. Ideally, everyone's
    personal favorites pages should have your picks of the best
    images of each genre on photo.net - best by whatever standards
    you think appropriate for the genre. Forget 'originality' and
    'aesthetics'. If there are no landscapes in your personal favorites
    pages, then you shouldn't be determining the visibility of images
    in that genre for others who like the genre more than you do.
  24. "I am fairly new to photo.net and am having a mental block understanding the originality rating." It all started there... interesting point of views from all of you.
    I think a sociological study can be done, however im not able to do it.
    My only advice would be to use photo.net as a comunicational system. If you dont understand how a picture can get 3 or 7 or 1 or whatever for originality from someone then go ahead post a comment asking his/her point of view. Or request his/her email address and write him / her an email.
    It is the smarter and faster way to understand. If you dont get a reply and still dont undesrtand the why: forget about it. If the rater wont give his her opinion after asking those numbers mean nothing at all for anyone except the rater.
    Here we talk about individuals who are very different in different ways and things. Dont be afraid of asking, you may also make him/her think about it which is what most people will want here.
  25. Compare the landscapes above. If someone can find a better landscape shot than the one I chose, please post the URL and explain why you think it's better. If you can't find one, then you MUST give this 7/7
    That makes no sense (to me anyway). Just because I like an image and give it a "7" for aesthetics doesn't mean I can't give it a "1" for originality.
    Suppose someone found Ansel Adams tripod holes for "Monolith - face of Half Dome". Suppose I think that's a great image. Suppose that same someone does an excellent job in reproducing that image. Suppose I really like it and rate it a "7" for aesthetics. It's a wonderful shot. Why would it not rate a "1" for originality? Suppose it was slighly different (the actual tripod holes couldn't be located). It would still rate a "1" for originality because it would obviously still be 100% the idea of Ansel Adams, not the photographer. Originality also has to be taken in historical context. If photo.net had been around when he took the shot and if he'd posted it to the gallery, it would not look like anything anyone had seen before. In that case it might have justly received a 7/7, or perhaps a 7/6.
    Mark makes the point "Bob asked: how could it be LESS original. Well, I'd tell you this as an a answer: there is something WORSE than unoriginal, which is called SILLY
    But it's not a "silly" rating, it's an "originality" rating.
    Mark continues: if the photographer who took the picture Bob posted had waited till the sun would be hidden behind thick clouds and would appear behind this hill, then he would have completely misunderstood what this picture of his was all about
    And the aesthetic rating of the image would drop accordingly. However the originality rating shouldn't depend on technical execution. You could have a very original image with very low aesthetics and low technical quality.
    As I see it, "originality" is about the idea behind the image. Did the photographer approach the subject in a way unlike other photographers have in the past? It's not about whether the shutter was pushed at the right moment or whether the exposure was right or the foucus was good.
    So from my understanding of the words "aethetics" and "originality" (and the dictionary agrees with me!), I'd say that aesthetics is concerned with the exectution of the idea and the aesthethic appeal of the idea, but originality is about the idea itself.
    Obviously the vast majority of raters don't use this concept. They basicaly give one number and apply it to both aesthetics and originality, perhaps using "originality" as a "1/2 point system, so that if an image doesn't quite deserve a "7" for aesthetics, but is better than a "6", they'll give a 7/6 rating, even if it's just a good execution of an idea they have seen a thousand times before.
    I don't suggest we change anything, since rating "originality" in my way needs something of a knowledge of photography and photographic history which many raters may not have. We all know what we like, so aesthetics is pretty easy. If the current system is really an aesthetics rating scheme with "originality" used as a "fine tuning" of the aesthetics score, it probably as good a scheme as we are likely to get.
  26. Please think outside the box. Please.

    Can you imagine wanting others to see an image that is not
    particularly original? If you find tripod holes and have the
    knowledge and / or luck to get the lightening dead perfect - as
    good or better than anyone else has ever done it - then let's
    promote the picture. That's all the rating system is supposed to
    do - sort out the worthy from those that are less so.

    This whole thread could just as easily have been about the
    gross misunderstanding and misuse of 'aesthetics', so why
    don't we concede that this system doesn't work very well and try
    to be receptive to a more simple, direct, and honest way to
    promote pictures that avoids using numbers to describe them.

    Imagine how much more peaceful it would be and how many
    more serious photographers might be attracted to this forum if
    low rates were not an option.
  27. One image I would promote if it was uploaded today for the first
    time. Two of them I would not put in my favorites folder later even
    if I liked them a lot because they're already easy to find in the
    POW list. I'd like to see the favorites folder reserved for images -
    and photographers - that some members, especially newbies,
    may not be familiar with. The third image is a bit too contrived to
    suit me. I wouldn't check it, but you would. Fine. That's how the
    system would work.
  28. mbb


    1 Multiple, major flaws.

    2 Significant flaw in One photographic aspect - otherwise, OK

    3 No significant flaws - adequate technically and compositionally, but THAT'S ALL!!! Nothing particularly noteworthy. "Photo just doesn't do anything for me". Can think of a number of improvements

    4 Technically good. Showing some promise.

    5 Very good image, but still has some minor improvements.

    6 Outstanding - no technical or compositional problems.

    7 Extraordinary, amazing, WORLD CLASS, can't imagine any improvement
    Above is a scale I adopted to give a points when judging a photo - originality or aesthetic all fits in it. But yes, I am guilty on not using it on photo.net. Yes, I was not rating weak images. Yes, I over rated some in the past spreading the scale on quality in particular portfolio rather then whole site. Yes, I practically stopped rating. The main reason to stop (not the only one) is I don't want anybody rate me as the return favor or in hope that I will return one (in 7/7 of course). It is better for me to not get rating than get a fake ones - this is taking me nowhere.
    When I came here over a year ago I thought I fond a "gold". I thought that this is a finally the site were you can get honest opinion at least from a few good photographers and you don't have to give them back higher rates then they deserve for doing it. What a disappointment. Site IS dominated by group raters. Just look at the top pages, look at the rating habits of those there. All mean less. Some (if not all) the best photographers on this site like Emil Schildt, Ben Goossens (to name a couple for an example) are push down by some fake kitsch done by people who throw 7/7 like mad man. Not mention it seems that they really believe they are so good and every kitsch they produce is the best. The only real benefit we can get from this site is to learn about our mistakes and improvements. Unfortunately this is tied with getting on the top pages to be visible. With honest rating it is fine - if you don't get any it says you have to improve. There are sites handling the rating system much better - they let the mob throw all kinds of crazy ratings but the final score and award is in the hands of site judging committee. So mob is happy by giving all the 1's they want but it has no impact for the final score. Unfortunately they not have writing critique option what make photo.net superior to others. Only if that option was used here the right way.
    Do I believe photo.net will change - NO. Do I have a hope? Yes - even if I don't believe. I see a few possible solution to try to start with. OUTSIDE judges to rate every photo (critique on selected) presented by paid members (yes, I can paid yearly few times more than actual duties for that option). That I don't believe can happen
    Group of twenty or more photo dot netters which can honestly accept mine or similar scoring list and on daily basis apply those scores to as many photographs as they can. No favors, no retaliation, no personal preferences in genres, no trying to 'balance' the scores, no looking at the photographer's name as a base to score, no fear of getting back 1's on their photos - rate one by one photos as they showing on the pages plus write a comments on some selected ones. It will take less time then writing all those long discussions I see all the time with no affects on the site.
    Best Regards, Mark
    I really still have a hope...
  29. mg


    You wrote:
    "But it's not a "silly" rating, it's an "originality" rating."
    followed by:
    "...originality is about the idea itself."
    My point is precisely that an IDEA can be SILLY. And again. let me remind you that the "originality" rating is also refered to, on Photo.net, as "cleverness" - which is a word I like better.
    Yes, an idea might be absolutely new, never done before, and still I might give it a 2 or a 1, because it is not a CLEVER approach of the subject, and rather ruins the image completely.
    And on the other hand, a picture might have been done a thousand time in very similar ways, and you would then rate it a 1 and me a 3. Because, to me, if the most common of all possible approaches makes sense, then it deserves a 4, and a 3 if it is quite boring. Basically, I don't like novelty for the sake of novelty, and if the novelty is silly then it is a failure in originality, though it is not "unoriginal".
    And when you talk about aesthetics, not for a single line did I talk about aesthetics in my post. Waiting for the sun to be behind the hill will of course have bad aesthetical consequences, but it will first be AN IDEA, and most likely a bad one, therefore a failure in "originality/cleverness".
    But again, I'm here just defending my own interpretation of this rating, and respect perfectly the fact that others will have their own. Though I would agree with Carl when he says that an originality rating should not turn into a preference of genre.
    BTW, Carl, if you go to my favorite photos, on page one and page 2, you will find 2 landscape shots. Forget about the 1st one which was manipulated ina way that I find original and clever, and just look at the second one, on page 2 (by Jan Jensen), or at Jaap's POW landscape: these two represent perfectly what I would call a 7 in originality in the landscape category. Why ? Because of the unusual angle combined with amazing textures and light.
    To me, if there is any originality at all in landscape photography, it's about a unique location, a unique angle, and a unique light, with a unique combination of all parameters. I do not expect any landscape would be ABSOLUTELY NEVER SEEN BEFORE. There have been landscape photographers for centuries and they all take pictures of hills, fields, mountains etc, so they have at least that in common.
    Anyway, we all disagree on these issues and always will, and if Bob believes the best thing is to keep the system as it is because that's what works best, fine be me. Doesn't really matter. One may just observe that heavy Photoshop is all over the top pages nowadays, partly due to many 7s in originality, whereas a simple but subtle portrait with a very novel approach or a unique expression will rarely get more than a 5 in originality. Who cares anyway ? It's not a competition, after all...
  30. Can you imagine wanting others to see an image that is not particularly original? If you find tripod holes and have the knowledge and / or luck to get the lightening dead perfect - as good or better than anyone else has ever done it - then let's promote the picture. That's all the rating system is supposed to do - sort out the worthy from those that are less so.
    That's fine. You're basically saying that the originality rating has no meaning and no function and that users should more or less ignore it and just give a score that reflects if they think the image should be promoted in the system. If it's a good image give it a 7/7 since that will move it up. If it's average give it a 5/5, if it's really bad give it a 3/3
    That's fine. In that case why do we have two numbers? Why don't we have just one? Why confuse people with a concept of originality if it has no function?
    One possible reason is that we have what we have and it's too late to change it. That's fine too. Just don't expect people to understand the concepts of rating then. We have guidelines for aesthetic and originality scoring. Should we pull them down and just say, "give it a score that depends on whether or not you think more people should see this image"? Currently it says "Give a photo a high rating for originality if it shows you something unexpected or a familiar subject in a new, insightful, striking, humorous, or creative way. Is this wrong? And if not then if the image show you something you fully expect, in an old, familar way the surely you should give it a LOW score, whatever the aesthetic appeal of the image.
    I don't expect the system to change, but let's not pretend it actually works in any meaningful way when it comes to originality. Basically pictures people like float to the top, pictures people don't like get lost in the pile. You're correct that that's the best we can hope for. In fact it's a reasonable goal and on the whole that is the end result of what we have.
    I'd like to hope that if I selected images on the basis of originality scores, I'd actually see the most original images, but I don't expect that will happen. Just looking the current crop for example, there's a slot canyon image that's beautiful. It's just as beautiful as the million other slot canyon images I've seen. In fact in a lineup I don't suppose I'd be able to pick it out of the bunch. Aestehtics get a 7, but Originality? I couldn't give it more than a 2 at best and I'd be hard pressed to justify why I didn't give it a 1. It's been done a million times before and I'm sure it will be done a million times again.
    There's not much point in arguing the issue. I think we've adressed Ross' question. There is no logic to originality ratings. There's no such thing as "less than not original". In any logical system an image which showed no originality and was just a boring snapshot or a good rendition of a cliched theme image would rate a 1 and a highly innovative image would rate a 7 even if you didn't particualrly care for it. However we don't have a logical system. We have a system where you give a 4 or 5 originality if you don't particularly like the image and a 6 or 7 if you do. Or in Carl's scheme you give a 6 or 7 if you think more people should see it and a 4 or 5 if you don't. In practical terms, this is fine. It works and the "best" (or at least most popular) images float to the top.
  31. Who cares ?? It's not a competion??

    We both know it IS a competion - for views, and that you really do
    care a lot.

    But I forgot. You mentioned finding another site recently that
    gave you much better quality feedback, so perhaps the
    separation is in effect from the PCF, even if divorce from the site
    is not part of the plan.
  32. BTW the following image is #7 in the all time list of the most original images ever posted to photo.net. The other 499,993 images must have been much less original.
  33. "You're basically saying that the originality rating has no meaning
    and no function . . . "

    No. It CAN be a selection criterion and helps the site if you know
    the genre.

    ". . . give a score that reflects if they think the image should be
    promoted in the system.

    No. Just a vote for promotion. No numbers. If you don't think it
    deserves visibility in the daily rotation, leave it alone.

    "One possible reason is that we have what we have and it's too
    late to change it. "

    No it isn't. Every goal that the site has, even 'normalization' to
    some extent can be preserved. (Keep in mind that connecting
    old images with new is not working now, so continuity is a red

    "Should we pull them down and just say, "give it a score that
    depends on whether or not you think more people should see
    this image"?

    Yes. Please. The tutorial is useful if people would like some
    guidleines on how to look at photographs ciritically. In fact I
    would be glad to greatly expand the idea to give examples of
    each genre, but you don't need to expand the tutorial
    immediately, especially given that people select images for their
    own reasons anyway.

    "Currently it says "Give a photo a high rating for originality if it
    shows you something unexpected or a familiar subject in a new,
    insightful, striking, humorous, or creative way. Is this wrong?"

    No. It's one of many ways we might want to look at an image to
    consider if others might want to see it.

    "And if not then if the image show you something you fully
    expect, in an old, familar way the surely you should give it a LOW
    score, whatever the aesthetic appeal of the image."

    That's what's getting us into trouble, as these daily threads
    surely prove.

    "I don't expect the system to change, but let's not pretend it
    actually works in any meaningful way when it comes to
    originality. Basically pictures people like float to the top, pictures
    people don't like get lost in the pile. You're correct that that's the
    best we can hope for. In fact it's a reasonable goal and on the
    whole that is the end result of what we have."

    Except that far too many people are 'deselecting' images that
    others wish to promote.

    "There's not much point in arguing the issue."

    It will come up again tomorrow . . . and tomorrow, until we fix it.

    "It works and the "best" (or at least most popular) images float to
    the top."

    I would like to think that my system, with a few other
    modifications, would give the better pictures more exposure at
    the expense of the more popular, but arguably trite ones.
  34. My conclusion after all this long poll: <br><br>

    Use your biography space to tell other users what things you have in mind when rating for Aesthetics and Originality.<br><br>

    I think theres no point of continuing this debate in the forum. Email would fit better.<br><br>

    Best regards.
  35. I use Originality to cover "quality of thinking". Almost everything has been done before, but has the phtographer put something into it ?
    Michael Caine was doing an acting masterclass which was on TV some years ago and told the students "Don't try to be original. Steal. But only steal from the Best".
    Tom Lehrer had a song with the words "Plagiarize, let no-ones else work Evade your eyes, remember why the good lord made your eyes, so don't shade your eyes, Plagiarize,Plagiarize,Plagiarize, only please always call it research".
    I've seen good ideas "borrowed", "re-used" call it what you will, and if the photographer has found a good idea, and Plagiarized it, if they have made a good decision about what is the "Best" to steal from, then I think a good originality score is in order. If its the same thing you see time after time, or if the photograpger just snapped it, then it probably doesn't.
  36. Use your biography space to tell other users what things you have in mind when rating for Aesthetics and Originality
    Doesn't this just make ratings even less "accurate" than they are now. If everybody rates on their own personal scale, the aggregate numbers are meaningless.
    On the other hand, I guess that's pretty much how it works now...
    I'm not saying the current scheme doesn't work, in fact it does an excellent job. However I don't think it would do a significantly worse job if the entire scheme was simply an "I like it" scale from 1 to 5. There's no need for change, since that's essentially what we have (except the scale runs 3 to 7). We just have the external appearance of something more complex and "scientific" and which can be a little confusing to users who actually think about these things - as the original question shows.
    I'm not knocking the existing system. The idea is sound, but with a huge audience of untrained judges it just doesn't work well. The good thing is that it fails in a good way which preserves the original purpose - to make the better images more visible.
    In fact what we actually have is this:
    • 3/3 - It's bad (score of "3")
    • 3/4 or 4/3 (score of "3.5")
    • 4/4 - I don't like it but it's not awful (score of "4")
    • 4/5 or 5/4 (score of "4.5")
    • 5/5 - It's OK. I have no strong feelings about it (score of "5")
    • 5/6 or 6/5 (score of "5.5")
    • 6/6 - It's pretty good (score of "6")
    • 6/7 or 7/6 (score of "6.5")
    • 7/7 - It's great, I really like it (score of "7")
  37. Bob's example of what is rated as the 7th most original image on this site is exactly what gets my panties into a bunch. (It's just an expression, I'm not really wearing panties). And it's a perfect example of why the rating system is pointless, pun intended.

    There are approaches to photography that are not overtly original in style but they are valid and appropriate nonetheless. Black and white portraits by window light have been done countless times for decades, and hopefully they will continue to be done countless times in the future because it is a wonderful approach to portraiture, and they can be extremely effective. The sad truth is that most people would view this type of portrait as being average in originality, so the photographer who chooses to work in this style is penalized. No matter how brilliant they are.

    We all know that for many people the farther you push the hue and saturation slider the more ORIGINAL your image becomes. A nude photograph of an attractive woman always rates higher in originality than a nude man. Some people view every flower macro as being worthy of a 7 for originality, while others feel they all rate a 3. Lets just do away with the originality rating, it really is pointless. Pun intended. :)
  38. The problem with making any changes - even if everyone agreed on the changes and what they should be - is that you have maybe 1/2 million images which have been rated using the existing scheme.

    People are very sensitive about where their images are in the rankings.

    So how would you convert all the old ratings (using aesthetics/originality) to any new "single value" scheme? You could average A/O ratings I guess, but you'd have huge debates on whether that was "fair" (especially from people who went down in the rankings!).

    Personally I wouldn't care since I'm not invested in ratings. Plus just about everything gets a x/x rating anyway, so the averge would be x. Some people wouldn't see it that way though. And maybe people LIKE giving two scores more than one scaore. Who knows.

    The advantage of a simple, one numer scheme is that it would be much easier to understand and explain to people (bad, don't like it, it's OK, good, great). Everyone would be voting on the same basis - though it would be subjective not objective. The disadvantage is that it looks too simplistic - "you can't give a single number that actually means anything". The counter argument is that that is what we effective have right now and it seems to work OK for the purpose of sorting the good from the less good.

    There's no point in programming for the sake of programming though, and if what we have now serves it's function (which it does), there's no urgent need to change it. Brian's done a great job with the gallery and there's no point in asking him to do additional work that (a) isn't really essential and (b) would result in all kinds of arguements that he'd have to deal with.
  39. "People are very sensitive about where their images are in the
    rankings. "

    Actually only a very small minority feel that way. I'm sure you
    recall the fairly recent, long, and rather acrimonious thread that
    dealt with that issue.

    The site has a choice to make. It can continue with a system that
    rewards those photographers (and their images and comments)
    many of whom manage their rankings, or it can convert to a
    system that will attract new photographers and reactivate old
    ones who have left who know that ratings are actually
    counterproductive to the goals of this forum - to encourage
    uploads and discussions of as wide a variety of good images as

    You're acting as though converting to one number is a big deal.
    You're still thinking inside the box, Bob. There is a long list of
    excellent photographers, many who have made significant
    contributions to this forum in the form of meaningful comments,
    who want no rating numbers at all.

    If you really think it's important to rank photographers and / or
    images, then keep the number of views, as I mentioned earlier
    in this thread.
  40. Carl - just so you know, I have no more input on how the gallery is structured than you do. Brian makes all decisions with regard to the gallery and he does all the work and carries the responsibility. It's easy for us to make suggestions, but if changes are made that, in fact, don't work, there's a big downside. The system "works" now insofar is it enbles better images to get higher visibility.

    It's a tough call whether any tweaks will make it better or worse in the long run, or indeed whether they will make any significant difference to the vast majority of users. Whether it's better or worse for a few vocal members matters much less than whether it's better or worse for the other 99% of the population.

    The old adage that "if it ain't not broke, don't fix it" may apply. If the vast majority of users don't see it as "broke", then "fixing it" could be counterproductive.

    These things are rarely simple. I expect that if at this point we were designing a new system from the ground up, and we had the hindsight we have now, that things might be structured a little differently. However that doesn't mean it necessarily makes any sense to try to warp the current stucture into a new one.
  41. I know you have no say over what changes should be made. I do
    appreciate your responses nonetheless.

    The selection process proposal probably wouldn't help most
    users' images, except that I'm convinced that it would attract
    more of the kind of people who write meaningful comments
    which benefit everyone. The vehicle that will help newer users
    best was and still is the Critique Circles, but neither of us are in
    a position to do anything about that at the moment, so let's keep
    this discussion simple.

    I'm well aware that you, and more importantly Brian, look at this
    issue as a risk / benefit issue, and that I'm essentially playing
    the game with your chips (pardon my mixed metaphors.) My
    analysis of site behavior over the last year plus is that there is
    virtually no risk at all. . . and the upside is well worth the effort.
  42. Bob:'And maybe people LIKE giving two scores more than one score. Who knows.'<br>
    why PN doesn't have a voting system? these days even weblogs have it, I think it would be interesting to have a vote box in the first page to know what majority thinks about changes before execution, rest of the times when there is no such questions it can be used to ask interesting questions about photography.
  43. Well I guess one reason is that photo.net isn't a democracy, meaning if most people want voting system "A", but voting system "B" is 10 times easier for us to use, then voting system "B" is probably what we'll use.

    Most users are unaware of the large number of issues that have to be considered for any site change.

    The danger of a poll is that there can then be a barage of questions as to why the "top choice" wasn't used and accusations that users opinions are not listened to. I think we do listen to user input a lot and it's a very important factor in any decision, but it's not the only factor and sometimes other factors (such as financial issues and manpower issues) have to come first.

    We could have a poll where results weren't visible to anyone but the photo.net administration, but then we'd no doubt get accusations that we were hiding results and demands for the results to be made public!

    On the other hand non-binding "fun" polls do seem to generate interest and people like to vote. We should have something like that. For the first question I propose either "Is digital better than film" or "Is Canon better than Nikon". You get one vote, "yes" or "no". That should be fun...

    I know there are some commercial packages that you can buy to run polls, but photo.net doesn't like buying anything if we can avoid it! If there are open source freeware "poll" packages that run on UNIX/AOL server, please point me to them.
  44. I'm repeating myself, so maybe I'll repeat everyone else for a change.

    "Originality" ratings -

    1. Many viewers have a mental block about this.

    2. Those who don't think they do, have an "opinion" on "originality".

    3. Having an "opinion" follows from a subjective interpretation of
    the image. Then ratings are used to justify opinions. However
    without a comment, the opinion (rating) is not justified for the
    photographer. Unjustified opinions are therefore the foundation
    of photo.net's rating scales. (Boy I love my syllogisms too).

    4. Scoring images low for originality is inevitable because viewers
    use "convention" as a reference point for originality. Some
    viewers are more conventional than others. Yet scoring an image
    highly its reproduction of clone-like tendencies also scores high
    for originality.

    5. The function of "originality" therefore is very dubious, and seems
    less comprehensible (i.e not understood well across the board)
    than "aesthetics" which is also misunderstood.

    6. Keeping "originality" as a rating will be the path of least
    resistance for the administrators of photo.net , because there is
    most resistance to original thinking i.e. commenting on an image
    as the basis of mass preference for conventional images, rated
    highly as "original".

    7. Keeping "originality" as a rating also encourages mass appeal, and
    a dominance of conventional genres of photography, without aiding,
    facilitating and educating other photographers about precise
    learning issues in photography.

    8. The resulting trend is then for photo.net to become
    less "critique" orientated and more of a gallery image with a
    guestnote book appended. This is the emerging stereotype of the
    typical photo.netter which a sociological survey might indicate.
    Shame on the photographer who wishes to sincerely improve his
    skills (being sincere just isn't good enough to survive on

    9. The difficulty about changing the originality ratings is that
    photo.net has its interests in people-pleasing most of the time,
    rather than creating its own vision. There are economic and
    extraneous factors dictating such a tendency, despite the fact
    that photo.net has no such duty to preserve any members ratings

    10.The words used in this post have a function in "identifying"
    and "clarifying" the confusion around originality ratings.
    Comments and not the bullet numbers are used to convey

    There is no solution then to Ross's question - not until photo.net reconfigures its rating system; even better - dumps it - a consideration which is not on the mastermind agenda.

    Slight impasse then for the minority (the majority just keep on getting in the way!). Ho hum.

    Kind regards,
  45. a consideration which is not on the mastermind agenda
    No need to get sarcastic about it.
    For all I know Brian has been up all night for the last two weeks working on a huge revision of the whole system! I know he is working on some aspects of the gallery presentation.
    But let's face it. With who knows how many unqualified people judging images based on their own personal subjective standards it's a total waste of time to try to come up with any truely meaningful measure of image quality. And don't suggest dropping numeric ratings because the vast majority of people WANT numberic ratings and they do perform as a pretty effective selection filter.
    There are ways we could have truely meaningful critiques of images, but no simple way and not in any way that would serve all users. Since there are vastly more people who want critiques than are qualified to give them, there's a problem.
    Email me a CD of your images and enclose a check for $5 per image and I'll provide all the detailed feedback you want.
    Maybe if more people actually SUBSCRIBED to photo.net we'd be able to get staff to do this as part of photo.net, but most people are just along for a free ride and they more than get what they pay for. Some might say they get too much...
  46. mbb


    MAYBE like any other good business photo.net should offer more for the money paid then more people will subscribe. It is hard to pay first and then wait for ‘MAYBE’ some improvement. I paid my subscription from the first day I signed, being on the second year now and don’t see much improvement but rather quality of the critiques going down as well as the value of the rating system. Make the good changes first and offer them only to paid subscribers. If the changes will work that will attract people to sign and paid.
  47. mbb


    It takes money to make money. Business starting with no investment but only promises usually doesn’t last long …
  48. Looking over all these discussions, examples, complaints, philosophy about "originality", I start to worry if there's any point anymore to take photos. Soon there's no such place on Earth that wasn't photographed lots of times, (unless you're a national geographic coworker) so, for some people your picture won't be original, whatever you'd do!
    Cliche,cliche, at the dawn of our civilisation, the whole world becomes a cliche!
  49. "And don't suggest dropping numeric ratings because the vast
    majority of people WANT numberic ratings . . . . "

    No they don't. They want meaningful feedback (we've discussed
    at length here how numbers are pretty much meaningless) and
    have always stated a preference for comments. More and more
    people who have the ability to provide those comments have
    expressed a distaste for ratings. My anecdotal evidence is at
    least as compelling as yours.
  50. Thanks for starting this thread Ross. It has generated many interesting views and opinions which I have not had the chance to read all, but have skimmed over quite a few.

    I don't know if this was mentioned above, but why not have just one rating category that encapsulates both originality and aesthetics, as well as other presently non-ratable categories such as technicality, artistic value, emotional satisfaction, etc. At the moment, I see a lot of confusion over the concept of rating a photo for originality. Originality and aesthetics seem to be rated hand in hand, i.e. [6,6] or [4,4]. Often ratings include the typical one-point spread of [4,5], [5,6], or [6,7] combinations. Sometimes I come across two point spreads, and very rarely I come across those over two-point spreads (are these raters being original or malicious?).

    I feel that confusion in the individual ratings leads to confusion with the final ratings. I have to admit that I sometimes don't understand the final ratings at all. However, having said that, I see that the very best photos get the excellent ratings they deserve. But, what about those photos that aren't very good, but are still good. I often see a final rating of [4.75,4.50] which doesn't tell me anything useful.

    I find that the two category rating system, of aesthetics and originality, is quite an original concept (no pun intended), yet I feel it has not worked out as well as imagined. Is it because users are not quite informed on how to rate for originality, or is it because each user has their own interpretation of originality. I think that most people would feel it is a bit of both, with more because of the latter.

    Isn't a one category rating system sufficient? This seems to be the norm when ratings are offered for movies, music, restaurants, etc. at other websites. Why not have one rating category that cover the gamut of all possible categories a photo can be rated upon (as I have listed above)? I don't mind a numeric rating system at all, however I think it should also be tied in with comments. That is, a user must include a comment with a rating. This will not only limit the excessive compulsive raters, but also give more confidence and validity to the rating system. It can possibly deter the occasional spam rating and hate rating as well. Isn't a one category rating system quite subjective enough that we have to have two subjective rating categories?

    I feel the Photo.net staff are doing a very good job with this website so far, and I hope they will take this into consideration to make the website even better.
  51. "It seems a photo is either not original (a typical stand up"
    "straight and smile at the camera photo) which would rate a 4"

    I got banned from dpreview for posting questions of this nature and trying to unsuccessfully deal with the antagonism that followed:)

    Here's an example of something I posted that was given many three's but I've not seen one similar image posted of this nature, anywhere. The image was all natural light in a venue with only light coming in through the stained glass windows.


    The feeling that I felt then and now was very emotional and yet it received ratings that equaled it to nothing more the a basic snapshot of a dubious nature. So part of the question goes from what is original or unique over to the question of what makes for a valid criticism of an image. The two are inextricably intertwined. Why? Because the reviwer/critiquer is going to be evaluating and applying a rating and the qualifications of the critiquer will create a number that represents their interpretation of Asthetics/Originality.

    One of my rated images, unintentionally I'm sure, was scored by the same individual and the second time it was rated, the ratings dropped by one point. Why's that? Was he in a good mood the first time? Was he in a bad mood the second time? This fact and this fact alone, lacking consistance, shows the invalidity/inconsistancy of the rating system. I've also noted that some of those that rate images, are unusually harsh in their ratings as they rate everybody low with few exceptions. Example would be an image that receives many six's and then one or two reviewers posts fours. Is the four valid in that you have to understand that a four is really a six in the eyes of the person leaving a rating number? Is the rater just in a bad mood, for what ever reason? Is the reviewer just an overly critical critic? Is the reviewer down on your particular subject matter (burned out)? The above points all need to be taken into consideration when asking the question as to what makes originality.

    Also, another thing that I've discovered in the rating process and what is considered unique, is cultural and sub-cultural biased attitudes. Do you have a punk rocker rating traditional images as opposed to a Westerner classically trained rating American getto art or Someone from SouthEast Asia rating African Art? Does someone from Europe have it in for the "American"? Is the denigration some sort of enthic hate/love thing? The reasoning runs far, wide and deep as to the validity issue of those doing the rating.

    Myself, I'm beginning to believe the rating of images and the act/art of critiquing images is so subjective that it only has a cursory value for the purpose of weeding out snapshots from "art". Seeing the process/action as anything more then that is highly subjective and politically driven. The politics of judged shows, is well known.

    I've been working on the answer to this question for about a week to ten days now:)

    Hope the above helps:)
  52. Unfortunately, this would be subject to the same problems as the other categories.
    As a studio photographer, some shots may take days or even weeks to set-up. There
    are sets to build, props to find, models to select, etc. I'm sure I have no idea what a
    nature or landscape photographer has had to endure to get that beautiful photograph
    that might seem perfectly unoriginal to me. I alway look at the portfolio of anyone
    who has given me the courtesy of a rating, and find it interesting that the lowest
    ratings often come from those with portfolios unlike mine.

    On the digital maniupulations, I often wonder on the technical side, did the
    photographer shoot all of the images for the composite? Are they compiled of a
    bunch of free clipart, perhaps with one image of his/her own? How can I rate it
    unless I know?
  53. r_e


    There is no general answer relating to a personal feeling. So you have to decide and underwrite (ethical) by yourself.

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