What happened to photo.net?

Discussion in 'Photo.net Site Help' started by dant, Nov 15, 2002.

  1. I am a member of photonet from february. I enjoyed most of the time
    spent here. I posted photos, received some feedback on them, rated
    and critiqued other's photos. At a certain point I restricted my
    activity. This was happening after seeing several times the most
    recent photos page (the random one) having 6-7 seven photos of the
    same photographer out of nine. I see now some restrictions in the
    submission limit. I don't know how effective they are. I posted since
    then from time to time some photos. Each time, for two or three days
    seemed that anybody at least looked at my photo. Then, invariable, 6
    ratings were received. No comment, no communication, no feedback. I
    can assume that my photos are so bad that seems to enter in a sort of
    neglected photos list and then I receive a standard quantity of
    attention. Still, I note a big difference between the time I joined
    the site and the situation now. Can anybody explain me what happened,
    or at least what I miss here? Thanks.
     
  2. Since at least 1997 people have complained that photo.net has been going downhill. They decry the unwashed masses that now participate in photo.net and the new policies.

    This recurrent phenomenon could result from at least two possible scenarios. 1) They are right that photo.net has continued to go downhill since at least 1997. That would mean that it was initially fantastic and now complete and utter crap. While photo.net has had to evolve in order to meet the financial, social, and intellectual challenges of increasing numbers of visitors, I don't think it is now the terrible place some describe. 2) People ignore or don't understand the law of diminishing returns, the power law and asymptotic curves. Folks expect that the rate of learning they experienced when first participated in photo.net will continue forever. This cannot be true. At some point in our growth as photographers, we develop faster by consciously developing our own style/vision/craft/art/business than by participating in photo.net. This is not a demonstration of photo.net's weakness. It is a demonstration of its strength.
     
  3. Chris, I think he was talking about the photo critique forum not the discussion
    forums. My feeling from the outset has been that the addition of the critique
    forums has beena bad idea. As songwriter / musician Richard Thompson
    once joked about his legion of fans and discusiion panels: "They are worse
    than professor critics, they're amateur critics!". yes It would probably cut into
    the number of people who come to photo.net, but it would return photo.net to
    something closer to what Photo.net Philip Greenspun originally set out to do.<
    P>
     
  4. Dan, I'm not aware of any upload restrictions, although I've gone on
    record as being in favor. What I suspect has happened to this site is
    the advent of high speed internet connections. If you don't have one,
    going through the request for critique list is much too slow. You'll
    note that a lot of those first six ratings are by new members who
    treat this process as a computer game, spewing out hundreds of ratings
    in a matter of a couple days. Some have no images uploaded. Many of
    those that do have had no training in visual design or how to use
    light. The problem is too many uploads and not enough qualified
    people who have the time to offer a meaningful critique. . .
     
  5. Dan, you should read the FAQ where the operation of the Gallery is explained, and explore the site more.

    When you submit a photo, it is displayed on the Gallery page as a "Recent Photo". How long it is counted as a recent photo will depend on how many other photos are being submitted when you submit yours. The most recent photos bump the slightly less recent ones.

    After 48 hours, more or less, your photo will go into the "Rate Selected Photos" list. The initial order of the photos in this list is determined by their average rating before it went onto the list. The list is ordered into three groups: (1) those with less than 6 ratings; (2) those with less than 20 ratings; and (3) those with more than 20 ratings. Within these groups they are sorted by rating. Thus, a good photo will tend to get 6 ratings unless a lot of photos were submitted and it is very far down the list. It will only get more than 6 if the first 6 ratings were high and people are actively rating that day, so that the 6-20 rating photos come back to the top of the list.

    While it is possible to make comments in the "Rate selected photos" interface. this interface encourages rating rather than comments.

    Once a photo has 6 ratings, if they were high, the photo will appear in the "Top Photos" display for the week, where it will get more ratings. A photo will also receive ratings if you request a critique on the Gallery page.
     
  6. Re Carl's comment, there are upload restrictions, but they are restrictions only on the total number of photos a member can have in their portfolio. See the photo posting guidelines . What is lacking, is any sort of restriction on the number of photos that can be uploaded per unit of time. Such a limit -- say, something like 1 per day, or 1 per week -- would increase the likelihood that any particular photo would get ratings and/or comments.
     
  7. One way to get more feedback is to use the Presentation feature in 'your
    portfolio.' Make it public - but also address it to a number of specific members
    with whom you believe you might share a style or interest. Your presentation
    arrives in their portfolio much like an email.

    Some pointers :
    1. Don't beg for rates or critiques, merely ask for an honest opinion.

    2. Once a person has added a comment, or, should they not respond within -
    say - 3 weeks, delete their address from the presentation. Otherwise it stays
    - forever! as I am experiencing with a particular member. It's a courtesy.

    3. Use the presentation text option, it enhances the overall effect.

    If you like, do one with your 5 favourite uploads and address it to me : but
    please check my portfolio first, just to ensure we are on a similar wavelength.
     
  8. Make all pay at least $5/year to post to a thread and $25/year for full access. That will get rid of people like Mark Crame. *hehe*
     
  9. Dave, reducing the number of images uploaded per unit of time would
    help with the competitive aspect of this site, given that many of the
    most popular photographers flood the market (as I did this week, but
    for only the second time ever :), but would have only a marginal
    impact on the number of critiques offered on 'average' images. The new
    rating system, as modified by Jim Schwaiger's proposal will give
    incentives to photographers who are willing to rate images that they
    would not otherwise be attracted to. A highly visible on-site visual
    design course along with a tutorial on how to deal with various
    lighting challenges would do more for novice photographers than a few
    ratings or even a handful of critiques. The critique circles provide
    this function as well, but for only a handful of members who are in a
    currently active group. Seven's explanation of how to use
    presentations is intriguing, but this seems to be a well kept secret.
    .
     
  10. mg

    mg

    More uploads in a day makes no difference as for the number of critiques and ratings that will be distributed - if we assume that there is a given number of people online, and that each member will spend a certain time here. So, statistically, Brian already posted figures that show clearly no decrease in the participation OVERALL. But invidually, things are not that way.
    <p>
    As stated here, if 5 "popular" photogragraphers are online that day uploading 3 to 5 pictures each, this will certainly get attention and members who will rate them will be likely not to look at many other pictures after these. That's why many pictures are imo getting less attention now, and also because people seem to have lost the community spirit - imo due to a kind of general disinterest (disgust sometimes) about ratings in general.
    <p>
    That's why I see the new rating system as a potential boost for people's moral and activity. I am myself really looking towards this new system and a few other improvements. As it is now, I have just completely lost any faith in explaining in 5 or 10 lines why I like or dislike an average shot. Why ? Simply because of various kind of abuses and sad attitudes I observe daily on the site. The whole thing is starting, sorry, to really piss me off. And trust me, I know for sure that I'm not the only one.
    <p>
    Now, this being said, there are 3 things that can surely be done to facilitate the critiquing process. Nothing new here. These ideas have already been proposed.
    <p>
    1) Allow comments and rating ON THE SAME PAGE.
    <p>
    2) Create categories, so that people may see what they like without going through 100s of shots of what they don't like.
    <p>
    3) Create a section where one can see all the uploads of the day, in a raw, as thumbnails, on a few pages.
    <p>
    I truly dislike Photosig for many reasons, but one thing for sure is that over there, when I used to visit that site, it was really a piece of cake to see in 15 minutes all uploads of the day - thumbnails. Here, I never know whether I've seen all uploads of the day, and when I click on "recent uploads", I see sometimes the same picture a few times. Then "critique selected pictures" shows pictures one by one and it takes ages to see anything, and often I see something I'm glad to comment on only after half an hour...
    <p>
    I find that so bad, to tell you the truth, that I stick nowadays to photo-critique forum and to the top-rated pages.
    <p>
    Everything should be accessible easily, or else we are bound t have threads like this and people dis-satisfied with the response who will drop out. That was it. Regards.
     
  11. Thank you all for the helpful comments. This turned into a interesting thread. Brian Mottershead described exactly what happens technically, that's an important answer to my question. I received tips in how to 'trick' the system in order to get attention. Well, I know how to do it since I spent a lot of time observing things at the begining of my presence here. Still I don't want to do it. This is not a natural system to live with or leave it. There's another possibility here: It is managed by people, therefore it could be changed.<BR><BR> I think we have to define first what's the purpose of this site. Is it a convenient exhibition place for top photographers, is it a learning place, is it a club of friendly people that share ideas and communicate, is it a file sharing site? I think now it's all of the above. From my point of view, it fails short on every aspect. I've learned that I'm far from being a top photographer, I'm not an absolute beginner, I don't always feel that this is a community, I have other places where to share my files (I didn't even give to my friends my address here), and I don't have a high speed connection :)<BR><BR> For me, the rating system by itself is useless. It allows batch one-second-glance critiques. This cannot help anybody. At least tying a rating with a comment would be a good enhancement, even is this is already done with 'wow' comments of top photos. I'm sure this has been said before. And also a lot of other suggestions. I don't have the time to make a real analysis of the problem. I think this is already done by the administrators by analysing the database requests for understanding the users' behavior and by taking into consideration each piece of users' feedback (like this one). I just feel a bit of frustration that was solved by simply retiring (that could only help an already crowded place)<BR><BR> I guess I want too much of this site. Still, on the objective side, I think it needs improvements.<BR><BR>Thanks,<BR>Dan.
     
  12. mg

    mg

    Imo a "club of friendly people that share ideas and communicate" AND WHO ARE GEARED TO HONEST AND SERIOUS AND POLITE CRITIQUING is what the site should ultimately be.
    <p>
    What I see at the moment is:
    <p>
    1) that if I give a low rating with an in-depth critique I get a low rating and no critique in return, in at least 50% of the cases.
    <p>
    2) that if I give a high rating, I get one in return
    <p>
    3) that all sorts of people are abusing the system daily in various ways - mate-rating, verbal abuses, rating abuses, fake IDs, etc.
    <p>
    4) that the POW forum has gone sick.
    <p>
    All this leads me to the conclusion that this is ego-dot-net, and no longer photo.net. For as long as this situation will remain, I will step out of this community.
    <p>
    Photography has been my life for the past 15 years. I'm not willing to give up my respect for photography, just for a bunch of ego-maniac punks, sorry. This site has been losing all its good contributors from the day I came to it till today, one by one. Brian seems to have good ideas as for how to solve all these problems, but well, I'll now be waiting to see solutions actually changing things.
    <p>
    Too bad it didn't work out, as they say in the movies. All the best till this place becomes a paradise. Meanwhile I'll be as quiet as an angel...:)
     
  13. It was not my intention to provoke this kind of reaction. Normally, turning the back helps nobody but the shooter :)<BR>I restrained my activity here not because I thought my gesture would change anything, but just because of some dissapointment. My ego advise me to say: who the heck am I anyway? :) <BR>
    About ego driven communities. I guess that's human nature always trying to compete. And with a proper numerical system, ego boost only come naturally. What I mean is, the system could influence behaviors (not to be read as manipulate behaviors). What's pitty maybe is that artists are human also. Or I'm going to far considering that in each photographer lies an artist?<BR>
    I noticed a strange thing (sorry that I speak out of the subject maybe). By being here too much, my creativity suffered. I was dissapointed sometimes by the poor answer that I received. This led to lack of confidence in my own way of expressing things. Or, worse, I thought that the only valid photography is the one that is the most successful in terms of top photos page presence. So, I guess taking a distance can only help in this regard also.<BR>
     
  14. And, Marc. I remembered now that I received a long time ago (!) two or three meaningful critiques (one of the few on my photos) from you. Not necessarily I agreed with your point, but helpful by no means. This kind of being able to watch and spend time with a photo :) is maybe what's missing here. So, I think you are needed.
     
  15. Marc is impatient and it is tiring to have him around -- even though he has contributed a lot to the site. While on the whole I will regret his departure, I won't miss his relentless demands for improvement of the site mechanisms at a pace that is beyond our capacity and to a level of perfection that we can never achieve.

    The site's main goals for the Gallery are to provide a venue where photographers can exhibit their work to a very large audience and to receive feedback and commentary from that audience. We don't intend it as a file-sharing site, but we are strapped enough for cash that if people want to use it for that and are prepared to pay us, we accept the payment.

    The audience and the participants on the Gallery are the public. And it isn't even the public of a museum -- where people pay for admission and there are lots of guards standing around to keep people on good behaviour. It is more like a subway station. People are posting their photos on the walls of a busy subway station for whatever commentary and appraisal the public passing through cares to give. On the average day, an average of 150,000 and sometimes over 200,000 of the photos in our database are seen, with usually around 1.5 to 2 million separate photo views. Daily, thousands of ratings are given and comments written.

    It may seem ridiculous to put a Gallery in a subway station and let the people hurrying through decide which photos are best. But, in fact, it mostly works. photo.net is not an orderly museum, where photos automatically gain respect by having been chosen for the walls, but people get feedback, visibility, and recognition. The public doesn't pick the same photos for recognition as a museum curator would, but they pick good photos. Some of the public's decisions about what should go onto the most visible spots on the subway walls are the result of manipulation and politics -- but isn't recognition from a museum or the gallery more plagued by capricious gatekeepers and politics?

    Even though photo.net is not a stately museum with carefully controlled access of both exhibitors and viewers, we have a constant stream of people who don't seem to understand that they are posting their photos in a subway station and insist that the management hire guards and control the access so that no stupid, dishonest, or sarcastic rating or comment is ever lodged against the photos -- that we make the subway photo exhibition a museum. Marc has been one of the most insistent and articulate of this group, but their complaints are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Gallery is and how perfected its systems can be.

    The amazing thing is that the subway crowd is almost as decorous as the museum crowd, just bigger. Unlike the museum crowd, the photo.net audience is given a chance to record its comments, and probably the museum crowd wouldn't be significantly more decorous in writing.

    It is only a small percentage of people who don't behave well. In normal life, everybody who is not a hermit learns to ignore the misbehaviour of this small percentage. Why is it different on photo.net? While we continue to develop systems to control the behaviour of this small percentage, it takes time and experimentation to do this, and the Gallery is not the only part of photo.net to which we have to give attention. Nor will these measures ever be perfect. I don't even want photo.net to be a hushed museum, where everyone gazes respectfully, or at least quietly, at the works selected by the curators.
     
  16. The best advice I can give anyone regarding ratings is to ignore them. No
    need to check who gives what - just value the verbal feedback. The
    photographer in question might simply have disabled the images from public
    view, not deleted them....he'll probably be back in any event.

    PN is cyclical, we have peaks and troughs as to number of "snipers" and
    which clan runs the front page, who is deemed "best" and so on. With a little
    patience it all levels out. I've noticed this in nearly 18 months of membership -
    a positive lifetime in cyberspace.

    And the number of troublemakers is, I agree, a miniscule percentage of the
    whole.
     
  17. Having been a member of photo.net for years... 1998 I think... I want to state that Brian deserves much applause for the improvements to the site. The question of "what has happened to Photo.net" is not a new one. Slowly but sure -- improvements are made constantly...That is what has happened to Photo.net. In my opinion it gets better every day! Today I went to critique a photo and lo and behold....the photo was above the comment box... YAY - way to go Brian.
    I love your analogy to a subway. Sure it is frustrating to see "unworthy" images claiming high ratings through nothing more than politics. Sure it is frustrating to come upon a really great collection of photos that are not getting attention. Sure it is frustrating that sometimes I upload pictures and some never get comments and just a few rates. Clearly wedding images are not popular on photo.net. :)How can I get more rates/comments? Complaining won't get me anywhere... So - I just go looking for other people that do wedding images and request an interchange and/or rate/comment on their work. If someone truly abuses my pages...I can complain and it is taken care of. I find Photo.net to be responsive and receptive to change. As to the rest of it? I have to remember that my opinion of what is the best or worst is just that.....my opinion. I can wish that people were more respectful of other members and behave "the right way". But this is the real world and those people will always exist. You just can't please everyone and I think this site does a pretty good job of trying to be inclusive rather than exculsive and elitist.
    Thanks Brian for all your hard work.
     
  18. This question/problem might have been asked and answered before, so please excuse.

    Mary , all the more reason that we have initial categories to upload our photos to.
    If this can be done with “critique request” then why not with the first upload of the photo.
    Why should landscape photo be shown with Wedding photos? Crazy and unfair. Since
    the system is in place why not refine it.
     
  19. Verna -- read this thread and I think you will get your answer in one of Brian's comments. Changes are coming but with one person working on them - it takes time. Anyway - the whole thread is very interesting and Brian and Patrick explain and make positions on a lot of your questions. http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=003yY0
     
  20. I'm somewhere between Marc and Brian and I respect both. Marc for his prolific comments, ratings and forum contributions as well for his professional expertise. And I respect Brian because HIS efforts have taken photo.net a big step in the right direction. I agree with Mary that the site is improving constantly, but Marc is also right: If the most enthusiastic and active contributors are leaving, there is something wrong and it would benefit all of us and photo.net if there would be further improvements.
     
  21. The photographers who are discouraged, gone inactive, or have
    left are your potential Curators - those who both rate and
    comment honestly on a wide variety of strong and weak images.
    If you think Marc has been impatient, try uploading some good
    images and see what happens to them over a period of time
    while you do what Curators are supposed to do.

    Don't be surprised if you find people who willfully or out of
    ignorance or pedestrian tastes tear your images off the subway
    walls before anyone else gets to see them.
     
  22. Carl,

    You apparently don't realize that before I became Editor of photo.net, I was very active in the Gallery. My photographs are on this site and I have experienced the full range of practices of which people complain. Along with Jeremy Stein, I am now involved in handling the complaints that come into abuse@photo.net. So, I am not unaware of what goes on in the rating system. While I realize that "ratings abuse" is infuriating to the people who feel victimized by it, abuse is not a very important problem on the site, in my opinion. And the only reason it is a problem at all is because people get so worked up about it.

    The site's only requirement for the rating system is that it results in the better photos being more visible than the less good photos. That is all. That doesn't mean that photo #20 has to be better than photo #21. It only means that the photos in the "Top" list should be on the whole better than the ones that aren't. For us to be able to achieve this goal, it isn't necessary to stamp out every last stupid or abusive rating. Probably the system would achieve the site's goals, if we did hardly anything about abuse. As long as the erroneous ratings are more or less evenly distributed, the rating system is fine as far as the site's goals go, even with a fairly high rate of abuse.

    But the system also has to seem fair to the participants, and that, honestly, is the only reason we work on abuse. But my point about the subway and the museum is that there is only so far we can go, and we can only get there so fast, and that when we arrive at a system that is as perfect as it is going to be, there will still be elements of unfairness and abuse.

    And it won't matter. It doesn't matter that much now. Even when a Tony Dummett or Marc Gouggenheim regularly received what they were convinced were retaliatory ratings, that didn't stop their photos from being among the most visible on the site. Could they have been any more visible?

    There is a large amount of noise in the rating system: this comes from the fact that people's tastes vary and they have different purposes in rating and different interpretations of the ratings scale. It is inevitable that even the best photographs will have a range of ratings centered around an average. Certain genres of photos will have more ratings variation than others. That means some of the ratings will he lower and some higher than the average. The ratings lower than the average are usually no more abusive than the ones that are higher. What matters is the overall tendency of the ratings.

    There is enough error in the system that it is absurd to get all puffed up with pride because your photo is #1 instead of #20, or dejected because it is the other way round. The top photographers on this site all receive a number of stupid and unreasonably low ratings. And they all benefit from stupid and unreasonably high ratings. The question is: on the whole does the good work become visible and does the poor work sink into oblivion? There are exceptions, but on the whole I think the answer is yes, especially if you focus only on the last six months or so where ratings inflation is not a factor. If you are a Top Photographer on this site, your work is being seen by tens of thousands of people every day, and that is true whether you are #1 or #40.

    People are constantly complaining because this or that low rating causes their photo to drop a few slots, or mate-ratings cause their rivals' photo to go a few slots ahead of their photos. None of this matters. In short, the random low, stupid, etc ratings on your own photos and the random high, stupid ratings on other people's photos are for the most part just not worth getting worked up over.

    If there is somebody whose work is exceptional who is buried in obscurity because of systematic abusive low ratings, I would like to know about it. If there is somebody whose work is obviously terrible who is near the top because of systematic abusive high ratings, I would like to know about that too. I don't see it.

    I know that people do get worked up over "abusive" ratings anyway, that they get disgusted with the low ratings, abusive or not, and that some of them leave because the site won't "deal with" abuse. That is the main reason why I would like systematically to reduce abuse -- not to make the system more "accurate" in some way. I wouldn't need to do so much work, though, if I could just get people to shrug off the abuse as a nuisance. But I don't hold much hope of that.
     
  23. mg

    mg

    An interesting post, Brian... Thanks for this time sharing your thoughts on this abuse issue. First of all, let me say that I know very well that I have added pressure with my criticism of the rating system, abuse issues and other related topics. I personally feel a bit sad to read that you found me "tiring". I thought criticism was rather a constructive thing. Was I wrong ? Was it better to just leave 2 months ago ? I think you should look at it from the bright side, Brian. Yes I am an impatient person - not only so in photo.net, but worse in real life - believe it or not ! :) But in the end, I think you know that I only meant well, don't you ? I haven't deleted an of my images at this point. I have just decided to pull out as a way to show that I disapproved certain things, to the point where I actually lost interest in being part of this community as it is now. It doesn't mean that I give up on the site as a whole and for ever. It means that I will just be waiting to see what happens. I liked many ideas and proposal you made so far, and there is hope, but as you said, the reforms will not be completed in a day. Fair enough. I'll wait. Meanwhile, a few points about what you wrote here...
    <p>
    "While I realize that "ratings abuse" is infuriating to the people who feel victimized by it, abuse is not a very important problem on the site, in my opinion. And the only reason it is a problem at all is because people get so worked up about it." B.M
    <p>
    I somehow agree with this, Brian. But I also call that a fact: people do get worked up about it, and I said so and many others didn't, or said it less, but felt the same way. Now if you ask me (I know, you don't...:) whether it is right or wrong to abuse a system, I'd say it's wrong. And if you ask me whether it's more right or more wrong to get worked up about it, I'd say it is less wrong that committing these abuses. I'm pretty sure you agree at this stage, but you may feel that there's no point in making this very statement... Let's see...
    <p>
    "The site's only requirement for the rating system is that it results in the better photos being more visible than the less good photos." B.M
    <p>
    Agreed.
    <p>
    "As long as the erroneous ratings are more or less evenly distributed, the rating system is fine as far as the site's goals go, even with a fairly high rate of abuse." B.M
    <p>
    Mathematically correct, Brian, but you aren't dealing with robots here, and as you wrote yourself, people do get worked up about abuses. And please note that rating abuses are only 1 of the few types of abuses I listed in my previous post. What's the worst kind of abuse in your opinion ? Imo, it's an insult, not an unfair rating. Are you aware that Emil Schildt has received ratings like 1/1 ? Are you aware that he has been insulted ? Are you aware that he has almost never critiqued a picture on this site, whereas he has critiqued hundreds of pictures on another site ? Ever wonder what could be the relation between these facts ? Ever looked at the ratings on Tony's page ?That was my reason for fighting this battle all the while. Not just for me. I actually received fairly little ratings below 4, and do not consider myself a major victim of rating abuses. I did not fight this battle for Emil, or for Tony, or for anyone specifically, but rather because I believe Photo.net needs a pool of people who can actually give a more valuable opinion on other people's work. If the really great photographers on this site, like Emil or Tony, are discouraged from participating, where are other members going to to get a truly expert opinion ? Don't you think that matters a little ? Tony has already clearly stated that he stopped critiquing and rating images because the whole rating thing didn't make any sense. Then, any idea what happened to Janko Furlan ? To this "Evan" I sent you a note about the other day ? To Jo Voetz ? I have a list of good photographers - who surely would belong in top 50 photogs - who have actually dropped out more or less simply due to the fact that they didn't even get half of the respect they deserved on this site... Well, that matters a lot to me. For your information, I have sent a presentation to Vuk the other day. One can like or not the way Vuk expresses his opinions, but his opinions are solid, strong, and informed. We have lost his voice. And Ian MacEachern ? And Bill Hocker ? And Chris Battey ? And Bradley Hanson ? Tony Goke ? ETC. Why are they so quiet nowadays. Long ago, I enjoyed reading each and every post they wrote... I had a fantastic exchange of ideas with Doug Burgess and Balaji more recently... Do you know why they haven't logged on these days ? Well, I do. All this isn't just a small matter, Brian. These people are the locomotiv that puts the train on tracks. They should get some respect, and their pages should be cleaned up a bit. You said that top pictures still make it to the top. I'm sorry, but that's just no right. Some do. Ian's pictures, Emil's pictures made it to the top, yes. Not Tony's. Not Chris Battey's. You can barely see them in the top-rated, and I am fairly convinced that they are substantially better than 70% of the work seen daily in the top pages. Doesn't that count for something ?
    <p>
    "The system also has to seem fair to the participants, and that, honestly, is the only reason we work on abuse. But my point about the subway and the museum is that there is only so far we can go, and we can only get there so fast, and that when we arrive at a system that is as perfect as it is going to be, there will still be elements of unfairness and abuse."
    <p>
    Yes, this is all agreed as well. But then, why not set as a priority to bring back all these people who could have helped photo.net tremendously ? Why not get some help from volonteering curators to help cleaning up ratings they find abusive on the site ? Why should the entire abuse thing rely only on 1 or 2 people ? On one hand I do realize that you are short-handed, but on the other, I wonder why you do not accept any help in that case ! You spoke about 100 curators quite a while ago. I think they should be able to start work pretty soon, and they could greatly contribute to getting rid of abusive ratings of the past. Yes / no ?
    <p>
    "And it won't matter. It doesn't matter that much now. Even when a Tony Dummett or Marc Gouggenheim regularly received what they were convinced were retaliatory ratings, that didn't stop their photos from being among the most visible on the site. Could they have been any more visible?"
    <p>
    I have never complained about a lack of visibility of my images, in general, Brian. I am rather fairly lucky in fact, despite the few people who had for a while an obviously agenda-motivated way to rate my work at some point. Overall, I am actually surprised myself that it went so fine for me. I have had 2 or 3 of my shots that were "killed" by very obviously mean-spirited people, but that's about it. As for Tony, that is a VERY different story, and I'm surprised you bagged him in here with me. Tony isn't even in the top 100 photographers on this site, whereas he should imo be at least in the top 10 or top 5. Why was his fate so much worse ? Simply because he spoke his mind all the way at a time, and the retaliatory ratings are all over his folders. Simple: If ANYONE rates ANY picture by Emil, or by Tony, uploaded so far a 1/1 or 2/2, I call it an abuse. I don't even need to read the reasons they give - I AM JUST PLAIN SURE. I may be wrong, but 1s and 2s are for the WORST shots on the site, and if one just dislikes their stuff, the technical merits of their images alone warrants at least a 3 - COMPARED TO OTHER PICTURES ON THE SITE. So, very simple, anything below on their work (all the 1s and 2s) should fly to the trash right now. Why hasn't that been done yet ? That takes half an hour, no ? Isn't it fair and worth it ?
    <p>
    I have received no 1s at all since I came back to PN - what a wonderful change ! I have had a few 2s, but very little. When I did get a 2, I went to check the rater's page and I always saw the same thing: no pictures at all or absolutely ugly pictures not even half ok technically, and often a few comments on other pages which were trashing mine or me as a person. I didn't care. I never wrote to you about those ratings, did I ? But I did care about a few people who had obviously started retaliatory actions. Their ratings weren't very low, but they weren't sincere either, and often came with insults - not only on my pages but on other pages of this site. This, yes, is something I care about. I expect people to be polite, not to bad-mouth other photographers on other pages of this site. PN already deleted many insulting posts about me by 3 specific members of this site. One of them apparently left me now in peace. The 2 others are still doing the same thing, and if I write to PN, I'm "tiring", so I rather retire till the site regains control of this situation. I wouldn't want to be exhausting, and I wouldn't want people to insult me for my opinions. I express myself as well as I can in English, and I always explain clearly WHY I dislike an image. That's the best I can do, I suppose. I'm not saying I'm right all the time. Sometimes I'm sure about what I write, and sometimes, I'm not. I'm human, and all I have is an opinion. Why would my opinions then become a reason for verbal insults ? That's another kind of abuse, you haven't spoken about, here. And that's the worst kind, because it discourages criticism. I saw that such abuses are deleted nowadays in the POW - GREAT !! But as I said, one person alone can't possibly control abuses all over the site, so LET'S COLLABORATE to solve this problem. I do not agree that abuses are unimportant - they happen to cause good photographers to leave this site, whereas we need them...
    <p>
    "People are constantly complaining because this or that low rating causes their photo to drop a few slots, or mate-ratings cause their rivals' photo to go a few slots ahead of their photos." B.M
    <p>
    This is almost insulting, Brian. Do you realize that ? You are talking about Tony Dummett out of the top 100 on this site and a few people - and you know well who they are ! - getting rating averages over 5.50 on about every image. If you think that every person complaining to you is whining because he's comparing HIS results to another member's results, you are just palin wrong and worse, you are assuming that the people writing to the abuse department are all ego-maniac idiots. Do you think I need to look at the score of my image to know its true value ? I've shown my work a thousand times to professionals of all sorts, and I roughly know where I stand after 15 years as a pro. Does that make sense to you ? If I get a 3/3, I know what it means, and the importance of this opinion has high chances to be 0 to me. That's not the point at all. The point is to maintain an ETHIC on this site. Some things are proper, some are not. Some critiques help photographers to become better, some are just plain discouraging for certain advanced amateurs. Why would an un-ethical behaviour, that discourages top artists from critiquing, and advanced photographers from posting and critiquing, be tollerated ? Just because it's mathematically ok ? You should pay more attention to what people feel, Brian. You understand the problem, so take it seriously. MORE seriously AS SERIOUSLY AS POSSIBLE. And admit you would need help on abuses, and get the help you need ! That's my opinion.
    <p>
    Photonetters aren't robots. They do have a heart. They do not like hostile reactions, rude posts, direct and personal attacks. So abuses ARE important, despite all the mathematical truths...
    <p>
    If there is somebody whose work is exceptional who is buried in obscurity because of systematic abusive low ratings, I would like to know about it.
    there is somebody whose work is obviously terrible who is near the top because of systematic abusive high ratings, I would like to know about that too. I don't see it.
    <p>
    Wow ! You don't see it ? Well... I do. Have you seen Janko Furlan's work, by the way ? Have a look.
    <p>
    And if you don't see what some people mean by top-rated crap, I suggest you try re-reading the Clifford thread between the lines, and then visit the top pages. Maybe you could rate a few shots ? :)
    <p>
    Anyway, all this is what I had to say about these issues. You need, I think, to take it very seriously, and to get rid of the really obviously abusive ratings and comments on the site - high and low. And for that you need help. Curators may help. I just wish you to stop considering that 80% of the complaints you received are whiners. I wrote to this Evan to try to bring him back to PN after his first upload, which received the first obvious abuse. PN didn't even send a warning to the abuser. Other abuses occured after that, and before that, and no warning were sent as far as I know, and the abusers continued theit little thing. That's not right. Sorry. There are even 2 fellows
    you have actually banned temporarily, but their ratings remain on the site. That's not right. And it's not right to say that what's not right doesn't matter if in the end the mathematics bring back 70% or 80% of the good shots to the top-pages. This thought might lead to the loss of 20 to 30% of the top photographers on this site, and that matters a lot - eventhough maybe only 2 or 3 % out of these 20 or 30% might be actually leaving. The site in that sense simply lacks respect to good photographers and therefore to good photography. The photographer I worked for in 95 in Germany could post here, if he wanted to, by far the best still life pictures you have ever seen on this site. But I suspect people like him never will post here, because great work is not respected the way it should be. Let's be clear: I have never done any GREAT work, so I'm not talking about myself here at all. I'm talking about pictures like Tony's best shots and such. Art of this calibre deserves respect, and sometimes, you may want to build a little museum in a subway for it...
    <p>
    Great art doesn't end up in subways. It ends up in museums. The good news is that if you put a cute little red sofa in a corner of a subway, great artists have enough imagination to see this sofa as if it would be a true museum...:)
     
  24. Brian,

    I am well aware of your participation in the gallery and have
    mentioned in other posts seeing your top rated images. The system
    worked for you. It obviously does not work for everyone or we would
    see more participation from the many members who are on record as
    being totally turned off to both the functioning and the results. The
    number of photographers who turn up on a search of photographer’s
    highest is only a small fraction of the total membership. Other
    things being equal, I would think everyone would want to share their
    images with others . . . . but an awful lot of them don’t.

    I’m not inclined to stick my neck out and name names of either
    underrated or overrated members, but I think that if this thread was
    more visible, you would get more feedback than you might imagine.

    I have never nit picked about the difference between being rated
    number #20 vs #40, but rather getting on the top pages at all vs being
    tossed back into oblivion. Look at my portfolio and tell me if you
    think the ones that got 30 ratings are clearly better than the ones
    that got 6. I’m sure I’m only one of many members who have noticed
    this rather arbitrary selection in their own portfolios.

    I think if and when the photographers’ personal favorites gallery gets
    up and running, you will see a lot of good images that got little
    attention because a couple raters thought they were merely OK/4. Is
    that abuse? Sometimes it is, depending on the pattern of the behavior
    and the motivation, when that can be determined. Examples of low
    ratings by agents from a few ‘top’ photographers have been pointed out
    to you in the past and have been ignored. Your assertion that there
    is a more or less equal distribution of inflated / deflated and
    abusive / nonabusive ratings all across the images in the top pages is
    simply untrue because the behavior patterns of all the top
    photographers themselves varies dramatically in terms of their own
    uploads, ratings and comments. People react according to those
    patterns.

    You didn’t address my point about potential Curators anticipating more
    abuse if they rate and comment objectively on a broad range of images.
    I’m honestly wondering if it will be an honor that could bring more
    grief than joy, as with the POW selections.

    I’d like to think that the many ideas that I’ve shared with you over
    the past few months have been motivated by a vision for a smoother
    functioning harmonious site. The anticipated reduction in the number
    of complaints that flood your office would be the icing on the cake.
    I don’t see this level of frustration as being permanent. I realize
    that you may not be as confident. . .
     
  25. Marc and Carl,

    Neither of you see all the whining mail that is sent to abuse@photo.net. I was not referring to anybody in particular. We receive tons of complaints from people about abuse who just cannot believe that a 3/3 rating is not abuse. How can it not be abuse when almost everybody is rating their photo 5/5? They want the management to lop off the low part of the distribution as abusive and only keep the high ratings, which of course were completely honest. Then they will be all happy that they have a top photo.

    Yes there is true abuse in the system, but even that is not so easy to distinguish from honest ratings. Many people send us mail with their hunches and feelings that this or that is an abusive rating. We can't delete a person's ratings because somebody else suspects that their account is bogus, or that their ratings are retaliatory or politically-motivated. We have to wait for a pattern to emerge. If you recall, I tried to remove all old ratings of people who had never rated more than 50 photos, where there weren't enough ratings to discern any patterns. The complaints went through the roof.

    We are working to make the rating system more fair, but I am afraid that no matter how fair it is, people are participating in a system that requires a basic understanding of statistics and a somewhat thick skin. If they don't have either, they probably should put their photos up on a file-sharing site where their friends will look and say nice things, and nobody else will be able to find the photos.
     
  26. Marc,

    As I said, you make the case that photo.net should be a museum. A place where an elite of informed people select the Top Photographers who are deserving of respect. The role of everybody else would be just to look, and not say anything that would upset the selected people or prompt them to leave.

    There are tons of sites like that on the Internet, generally small and run by art gallery owners trying to sell prints. The photos that are admitted are the ones the gallery owners think they can sell, which means either the photos should be decorative or the artist should look like he or she might become famous/notorious and collectible.

    It is a long, tedious and basically impossible process for most people to get photos into such places. But if somebody is talented, original, or potentially notorious enough to get his photos into an art gallery he should certainly try. Once in, he will be treated very well in the ego department, although the process of getting in can be more ego-bruising than an impolite comment or low rating on photo.net.

    Once in, the photos won't be in a place that receives 80000 visitors in one day, but the photographer might sell a few prints. So if you don't insist on all-respect-all-the-time and would like "to keep touch with the masses" (as one person put it), you might try photo.net for the visibility and the art gallery sites for the honor, as several excellent photographers do on photo.net.


    Brian
     
  27. mg

    mg

    Well, again Brian, this is all agreed and understood. But there are other things in my previous post, which imo deserve more consideration than the "whining" you are here refering to here. I think that you basically answered here about the less important part of the problem, not about the main issues, namely insulting comments, ratings like 1s and 2s on images like Tony's or Emil's, the possibility of getting help from curators against abuses, etc. That's the future of photo.net. That's what needs appropriate actions and discussions, imo. Regards.
     
  28. Marc, one last point. YOu frequently ask why we don't avail ourselves of "help" with the abuse issue. The answers are simple:

    First: basically the people who want to help with abuse for the most part seem too self-interested and I don't trust them to be as judicious as Jeremy Stein. I fear that they will start cutting wide swaths through the ratings and comments of other people based on hunches, feelings, and suspicions, rather than evidence.

    For example, even though I very much admire the work of Emil, and would never consider giving his photos a 1/1 rating, I also would never make the statement that a 1/1 rating of such-and-such a photographer (even Emil) is automatically abuse. The rating scale runs from 1 to 7, and all of the values in the scale are legitimate ratings. And it doesn't run from 5 to 7 once you are a Top Photographer, and 1 to 7 for everybody else. The "1" value is not there to trap abusers. People are entitled to their reactions and to their interpretations of the rating scale.

    On the other hand, a person who has made 30 or 40 ratings and has consistently been an outlier on the low side (or for that matter, the high side) of the distribution -- that starts to seem like abuse to me. Or a person who only rates a small group of apparent friends high and everybody else average or low.

    Looking for patterns like this is the approach that Jeremy takes also. It happens to be an approach that requires a lot of tedious investigation. People intent on abuse must be smart enough to disguise it, because getting clear evidence is not easy. I don't get the feeling that the people offering help are prepared to do this type of work, but rather would just delete the ratings and comments that seem obviously "wrong" to them, and ban the people who made them without solid evidence.

    Second, we don't really need help. The problem of dealing with abuse is not a workload issue; as I said it is an issue of having sufficient evidence to get a conviction. I am overloaded, but Jeremy is able to keep up with the abuse mail quite well. (One reason is most of the abuse mail is fairly quickly dismissable as whining.)

    Since the person reporting the abuse generally believes it is screamingly obvious, this produces some conflict.
     
  29. As the originator of this thread, I'm very pleased on how animated it became. I pointed in a previous response what photo.net roles would be. Reading the discussion, I may draw the conclusion that this place is mainly a "convenient exhibition place for top photographers". <BR>
    My issue was visibility. And this not to be appreciated, but evaluated. And maybe to share with others the moment when I took the photo. And I want to know if and why I succeeded or fail in my attempt. I had pictures hanged on an exhibition hall. This was satisfying in a way. Just to know that somebody is looking at them. I didn't stand next to them, asking people: "what do you think?". I have choosen photo.net for this, to be critiqued, evaluated, discussed. I tried to play this role for others.<BR>
    I guess I have to be first a top photographer and then I might be visible (don't mind the paradox). And then I would have other specific problems, mostly ego related :) Some understood that and they became top photographers :) not only by the quality of the work they exhibit here but also by tricking the system. My problem was that I have not received any input except the 6 speechless ratings (it looks like just another ego problem, I agree). I have spent a lot of time in schools being rated about everyting. And there, at least, there were other signals and possibilities to understand why you are so good, so bad or so briliantly mediocre. I didn't receive even insults. How could I get at least some of these? :) They could be meaningful sometimes.
     
  30. Brian,

    There are surely positive steps that you can take which would reduce
    the impact of the ratings which cause all the whining. You can
    consider the source of the high and low ratings by measuring the
    credibility of the rater by tracking any number of variables - time on
    the site, number and length of comments, content of rater's portfolio,
    deviation from image's average, and many others. This is what Jim's
    formula does. You could simply lop off the high and low scores. You
    can go to a votes only system. There may be flaws in all these ideas,
    but many of us are convinced that the improvement would be worth the
    effort.

    We're being told to wait patiently month after month, but on the other
    hand you tell us that the system will always be inherently flawed and
    that we should simply accept it. I wonder how much work would I be
    willing to put into modifications that in my heart of hearts felt
    would not really change anything? . .
     
  31. Dan,

    You should put your energy into promoting Critique Circles. That's
    where you can separate yourself from the ratings game. Those of us
    who are willing to offer suggestions for improvement find little
    satisfaction in a note dropped on an image that is not part of a
    discussion and may or may not be appreciated. We have also learned
    that many 'requests for critique' don't really mean that at all, but
    are rather requests for high rates. .
     
  32. Brian,

    " The rating scale runs from 1 to 7, and all of the values in the
    scale are legitimate ratings. And it doesn't run from 5 to 7 once
    you are a Top Photographer, and 1 to 7 for everybody else."

    I would suggest to you that it does.

    You're a good photographer; I've gone through your portfolio.
    When was the last time you took a 'bad' picture, much less
    uploaded it? I'm saying that once you learn the basics, it is
    virtually impossible to take a poorly composed image with
    inappropriate light. They're not all going to be 'very good' or
    'excellent', but yes, they're all 'good' - 5. That's your minimum
    standard for taking the picture rather than walking away. The
    people who would rate you low or even OK don't yet recognize
    that what you took was better than what they would have done in
    the same time and place.

    Students have no business rating teachers. The difference
    between this sort of behavior and abuse is perhaps a difference
    without a distinction. . . .
     
  33. I'm sad to see that Marc has deleted all of his pictures once again. I call him a friend and like most of his work a lot, even though his constant crusades to save the world sometimes get on my nerves. He's right most of the time, but I wish he was more thick skinned and patient. Some humor could help him make his points, too. Spinak's "Clifford" made the same points more efficiently, in my opinion.

    Anyway, what can I say? I'm far from being a top photographer. What's funny, though, I that although my recent pictures are far better than those I posted in the summer of 2001, they received less attention and, in some cases, comparatively lower ratings. I think that the 6 ratings "limit" is part of the problem. A single user who didn't get the finer point of a picture is enough to sink it.

    There are a few instances where I suspected malicious intents, but overall, I'm not an interesting target. The fact remains that I don't make it very high in the top pages nowadays, whereas I sometimes scored high with (I feel) lesser photos a year go. I cannot explain this.

    A thing worthy of notice: even though I'm often a harsh rater, I never recieve retaliatory ratings, or very rarely. I probably give as many 3 as 5, and almost as many 2 as 6. My page reads: "You have rated 3304 photos on this site, with average ratings of 3.95 for originality and 4.01 for aesthetics." This is very close to the "4" target, and MUCH harsher than Marc's rating. His page reads: "This member has rated 4500 photos on this site, with average ratings of 5.63 for originality and 5.62 for aesthetics."

    I suspect that Marc's problems are caused either by the fact that he targets some people he feels are cheaters (and then they retaliate, perhaps because they indeed are) or by the fact that beaing a top photographer, there's some childish gain in attacking his ratings. I don't know how this observation fits in the bigger picture but I just thought it was worthy of notice.

    That said, I cannot agree with Brian when he says that the good stuff eventually emerges and that the bad stuff always sinks. Some of the good stuff is lucky enough to emerge, most of it is lost forever (it's increasingly difficult to access old stuff, many commands don't work anymore) and some crappy stuff makes it on the big list because it's colorful or because the photographer has many friends.

    Participation in the rating system seems low and makes manipulation easier. Erratic feedback doesn't promote participation. Being an active participant isn't rewarded in any way (better priority for ratings, etc) which makes it a loss of time even more. If you're fair, you don't receive much "positive retaliation" either, making it even less worthwhile. I wonder why I was crazy enough to rate several hundred pictures in the past weeks because frankly, I gain very little from it.

    Sorry for the long rant, I have little to propose as a solution, but I thought I'd share some of my observations with Brian.
     
  34. Philippe, I didn't actually say that the good stuff always rises and that the bad stuff always sinks. I said that I don't know of any cases where the discrepancy is due to abuse. There is a lot of good stuff that sinks, and not just because of inflation, and I would like to do something about that.

    There is also bad stuff that rises, but again I doubt that it is generally due to abuse, but more to the fact that people persist in applying wrong standards of aesthetics -- that is to say, not the correct standards that I apply.
     
  35. I've just returned to photo.net after a break, and find the reduced range of ratings a bit pointless, to be honest. I suppose an odd number of steps gives a "middle" rating, but it might as well be 1-9 or 1-99. The ratings are only really meaningful if taken in context, or so it seems to me. That is, taken with reference to the way a person tends to rate, their preferences, the relative qualities of similar photos by the same photographer and so on.
    I don't tend to rate photos that I don't like, whereas some people only rate photos they don't like, some rate everything. The ratings are pretty much random, except when taken in context.
    If a photo of mine is rated, I usually go and look at the rater's profile. This tends to be the way I find most interesting photos, and I'm aware that my photos are most-seen in response to my rating others, which is about the only reason (for me) to rate at all when the rating is so nearly "thumbs up" vs. "thumbs down". It hardly breaks my heart if someone vindictively low-rates one of my pictures. It's pretty obvious when checking back that someone with an average rating history of around 1, nothing but negative comments and no photos of their own is best ignored, and I really can't understand why people get worked up about such folk. (Admittedly, the "rankings" are of absolutely no interest to me whatsoever, and never have been.) If anything reflects the popularity of a particular picture, I think it's the number of times viewed, but that's also subject to the vaguries of chance, the preferences of the "critique" list selectors, and, dare I mention, how much the photographer is willing to pay.
    In light of the above, I tend to see the ratings as a kind of shorthand for "I noticed your picture, would be interested to take a look at mine?". I think the comments system is far better for that in principle, except for a couple of small problems. The worst problem with comments, IMO, is that there's still no way to delete comments which have been orphaned by the photographer having removed their picture, nor do such comments seem to vanish by themselves (I just tried). [2]
    The orphaned comment syndrome is only going to get worse now there are quotas [1] and now that various photographers are withdrawing all their images, for whatever reasons. I can see the reason for quotas, and why they may well be unavoidable, but I'd rather they weren't necessary (and having to put a cap on the number of images on pnet seems to weaken the site, to me - albeit probably unavoidably.)
    Aside from the orphaned comment thing, the quotas and the crude rating range, I can't say overall that I think photo.net has gone entirely down the tubes :). There are things I don't like, but then there always will be. I can understand people getting annoyed when things aren't as they'd like, though. All the while it's a free service, folk have "only" invested time and effort uploading their pictures (though that investment might still be considerable, albeit with an implicit understanding that it's at their own risk) but among paying subscribers I would expect to see a more militant and ungrateful attitude towards changes with which they disagree and towards any extra restrictions like quotas.
    Notwithstanding this caution against gratuitous change, I guess my wish-list for photonet at the moment includes:
    • that the comment mechanism be fixed to prevent orphan comments (ideally a link to the delete URL from the logged-in user's list of their own comments)
    • that the comments have a link to the photo and the photographer
    • that the user's workspacce include a list of recently rated, as well as recently commented-on photos.
    • that someone donates enough hard disc to get the quotas lifted :)
    • Finally: I think I've worked out what POW is for - I suspect that it's a honeypot for the mean-spirited who like to vent their spleen. It keeps them busy away from the rest of the site, and as such should be maintained at all costs :)



      [1] and I had to look mighty hard to find what the quota is - 100 images, if anyone's still wondering.

      [2] nor do orphaned comments provide a link to the commented-on photographer, which can be very frustrating if you know that the deleted photo has been re-uploaded after a bit of re-touching, say, but can't remember who uploaded it. The work-around is to comment, click on "edit comment" straight away and bookmark the "edit comment" page just in case you need to delete it. (Or whine to the already overstretched maintainers... :) Perhaps a benefit is that it does give prospective critics pause to consider.
     
  36. mg

    mg

    ... Always raising at the right time and place...:)
    <p>
    You said about my page: "His page reads: "This member has rated 4500 photos on this site, with average ratings of 5.63 for originality and 5.62 for aesthetics."
    <p>
    Yes, it does read this. But I think I can safely say that the highest number of shots I rated in a day from the top-rated pages must have been about 10 to 15. Out of 300. Normally, I would rate the best ones by priority, or the ones that I feel are highly interesting, though maybe imperfect. And yes, you are right that I often make a point to rate pictures on the very first pages that I feel are way over-rated. But I rarely rate them 3s or below because they are rarely THAT bad. The standard thing is a picture that's rated a 6 and which is a 4.5 to me, and I'll drop a 5 and an explanation. Or on the other I'll see a shot at 5 or 4.XX, and give it a 6, because I feel that it has been tremendously under-rated. In such case, I'll look at the ratings it received, and often find a 2 or a 1, and at least 3s that brought this very good image down the drain... That's how I found out about what I would call abuses - which Brian doesn't call that way, as we read above. And that's how my average rating is quite high. Also because I almost never rate outside of the top-rated pages (too inconvient and slow to do so) and critique forum (rarely).
    <p>
    "I suspect that Marc's problems are caused either by the fact that he targets some people he feels are cheaters (and then they retaliate, perhaps because they indeed are)"
    <p>
    I have never "targetted" anyone specifically, in the sense that I have never done anything else than expressing my sincere opinion about what the work was worth. But indeed I have targetted in general, on my way, over-rated shots and under-rated shots. Often, if I see a picture that has the average I feel it deserves, anda few good comments, I just pass. So of course I rate by priority AGAINST the flow, not going with it, and that may have made me the target of a few. But again, I do not feel I have been the victim of "serious" abuses. A few obvious retaliations, yes, but mild ones. So, no major effect on the pictures. My problem on PN is rather the general atmosphere.
    <p>
    "I cannot agree with Brian when he says that the good stuff eventually emerges and that the bad stuff always sinks. Some of the good stuff is lucky enough to emerge, most of it is lost forever (it's increasingly difficult to access old stuff, many commands don't work anymore) and some crappy stuff makes it on the big list because it's colorful or because the photographer has many friends."
    <p>
    I think you are right here, but I also think that Brian's reply to this makes sense. Many people actually do not go for the same thing as we may go for. Not everything is in that sense an abusive intent.
    <p>
    Finally, I completely agree with the end of your post, Philippe.
    <p>
    Now to Brian,
    <p>
    I think you have clarified your position very well, Brian. To you, a 1/1 on Emil's work is not necessarily an abuse. Well, I have a different opinion. (Check who rated Emi 1/1 by the way, and you won't be so surprised...:)
    <p>
    My opinion is that a 1/1 on Emil or Tony's work - again, as an example - is not necessarily an INTENTION of ABUSE, but it is nevertheless an abuse.
    <p>
    To me, an abuse is not only a low rating targetting someone because you don't like him as a person or such. I also call abuse all abuses that may not even be intentional. Basically, if an opinion is so obviously out of order that the rater seems to have forgotten to even consider the OBVIOUS positive points in a picture - technique for example -, it's an abuse to me.
    <p>
    You said that people are entitled to use the 1 to 7 scale based on what ever interpretation of it they may have... Well, that explains it all. That's something I'm absolutely opposed to. Let's say I like dark mood shots (and yes, I do), and let's say that sunsets bore me (yes, in general they do, not always), then nothing stops me from rating a good sunset a 3/3 and a bad sunset a 1/1, whereas I will maybe rate a good mood shot 7/7, and a bad one 5/5... IF THAT MAKES ANY SENSE AT ALL, THEN I'M THE QUEEN OF PNG. :)
    <p>
    Ratings are based on an average here, which means that a picture rated low once goes down, and that it may even disappear. I do not see why a good sunset picture would disappear because I happen not to like sunset shots !! Well, that's what happens daily on PN. To you it's normal, to me it's an abuse. It's abusive because I do not put my pictures up to PN to know whether people like PS in general or not. I want to know, among those who can accept PS works in general, what is their opinion about this or that piece I upload.
    <p>
    If people wanted general opinions about sunsets, PN could just provide them with a statistic - 65% of people like sunset pictures, or such. What people want is an opinion about their sunset shot compared to other sunset shots, and to know what's right or wrong with it... If anything at all is right, imo, it already can't be a 1/1. Now show me one picture by Emil or Tony that has absolutely nothing right ?! See my point...?
    <p>
    That's all. I've nothing else to say. PN is a subway, where people are welcome to spit all over the floor, because there are no signs saying not to do so. And they are welcome to throw down a wall if they don't find the door that leads to the platform... Fair enough. That's exactly why I'm out of it, and will remain out of it for as long as people will be set free to rate Emil's work or Tony's work 1/1. And free to insult others repeatedly without ever getting kicked out.
    <p>
    I think that some of your opinions stated on this page, Brian, are clearly flawed. I agree with 90% of what you propose in general, but I think your position about abuses is just not logical. 1/1 is ONLY for the worse pictures on the site, which have nothing at all going for them, and it stops there.
    <p>
    You said you do not trust people to go about abuses the way Jeremy and you do, and now I can say: you are right not to trust me in that sense. We just don't have the same definition of what's an abuse. Period. A wonderful reason to leave rather than trying to "save the world" once more, as Philippe puts it...:)
    <p>
    (By the way, Philippe, some day you'll have to tell me what's wrong with trying to make any place a better place...? :) Cheers.
    <p>
    Brian, all the best, and I hope that the new rating system would be strong enough to almost annihilate the effect of nonsensical ratings that I call abuses. If so, I'll be back, but I'm tired of being a tiring person for now...:) So, I'll give you the peace you certainly deserve... I do disagree with you in this case, but well, that has no effect at all on my respect for you and for what you have done so far. Just keep up the good work, and do let me know when time comes if you can bare with a windmill-chaser as one of your curators...:)
    <p>
    Cheers.
     
  37. The problem is not trying to change the world, Marc. It's trying to change people. People won't change. Some will remain honest, some will remain cheaters whatever you do with the system. What we want is for cheaters to have as little impact as possible - a faint background noise. Another problem is that nothing short of perfect will ever satisfy you. We live in a real world, not in a philosophical contract, and I welcome any improvement, even if not revolutionnary.

    BTW, I rarely, if ever, rate from the top pages. Maybe this is why I receive no retaliation - the people I rate usually have no position to lose or to defend. The down side is that I rarely get much inflated feedback either - no one is trying to recruit me in a circle of friends or whatever.

    Believe it or not (I barely can myself) I rated over 200 pictures from the "Editor's choice" today. Well, let me tell you this: I don't believe the editor really picks 100 pretty good pictures as he did some time ago. The quality of most of these pictures ranged from boring to truely horrific. They usually received ratings in the 2-4 range, with an occasional 5. As a principle, I never rate 1 - it's just too offensive to people.

    The incredible thing is that I sometimes got 10-12 almost identical and really bad pictures from the same guy. I takes at lot of patience to rate 200 pictures that way. Yet, this is exactly what Brian expects from us, with his idea that our rating should go along a standard curve. I wonder how many users do it.

    On the other hand, if you only rate the people who are already on the front page, you do absolutely nothing to give some deserved visibility to new talent. All people on the front page are there because they have friend and relations who regularly check their pages and rate (hopefully honestly) their pictures. If you're a top photographer, people will look at your pictures and you'll make the front page pretty often. If you're not, chances are that no one will notice your stuff and you'll never be on the front page, no matter how good you are.

    Rating from the editor's choice page is often tedious, because there's so much crap, but it's the only way we can insure the occasional pearl can emerge and be seen by everyone. But as few raters with a good eye ever wander in these lands, of course lots of stuff remains buried - the eye candy sometime emerges, but the edgy stuff is very likely to remain unnoticed.

    I don't say this for my last beautiful picture, uploaded twice without ever making it to the rotation system, of course. It's not really that edgy. ;-)

    (Again, sorry for that long rant that adds nothing constructive to the debate; at least I'm not trying to put Brian in an embarrassing position, so maybe I'll be forgiven.)
     
  38. Philippe, I agree with your comments about the quality of the images in the critique queue. I am also very reluctant to rate on the high-rated pages, I seldom go there to find the most interesting images.
    I understand that Brian is introducing a new "favourites" feature in the medium term future that might facilitate our search. I've decided to start one of my own in the interim - you might like to take a look hotlinks
    It's still very much an infant, but that will change.
     
  39. Just to add that I agree with Phillipe, too, re: rating from the top pages, and to add a complaint about the disabling of "browse by date" (and all the others), which further emphasises the bias towards the pictures on the top pages. How long is "temporarily" in this context?

    If I'm in a mood to go through a load of photos, it's nice to be able to see what's been uploaded recently, rather than to rely seeing a percentage of what the editors choose to put in the critique queue. Many excellent photos seem not to surface at all.

    Someone earlier suggested a quota per unit time, and I think that's a better idea than the overall quota.
     
  40. Actually, the interface for critique ('Editor's list', 'Critique by cathegory' and 'Critique circles') hardly encourages anything other than batch ratings. Maybe it would've been better if the browse had been made by actually jumping form one photo page to another (a sort of frame or a modified layout for photo's pages). Seeing the photo in context, with all information and existing comments would request maybe more attention from the critics. I agree that seeing just the image with the ratings and opinions hidden could help objectivity, but batch rating is a side effect not to be neglected. Just an opinion among others.
     
  41. It's true that the "Editor" no longer picks a 100 or so pictures. I used to do this every day before I was the Editor, just a volunteer. It used to take 45 minutes every day. The advantage was that the pictures in the selection were better, in general, than they are now, since now it is basically all the pictures that are submitted. But the software was presenting them in a fixed order, basically by submission time, and the "Editor" had no control over that. This meant basically that the handful near the top got huge numbers of ratings, and those more than 30 or so from the top, hardly any at all. Some people called it a "rotation" but it wasn't.

    So when I could change the software, I changed it so that they rotate, as I described above. I continued to pick them for a while, but with all my new duties, I didn't have time to select any more. I thought I would run an experiment and see whether the rotation algorithm would bring mostly good ones to the top, and that the weaker ones would move towards the middle, where only the most persistent raters would come to them -- making it not matter so much that they weren't being selected. I don't know whether this experiment is successful or not.
     
  42. Brian, there's no way to know since there are so many different places
    where someone can view a recent upload. I do know that my last three
    images that got to six ratings - two from RFC - just missed the 2-day
    deadline. That's never happened before. Expanding the two-day to
    three, as you suggested recently, might help, but since so much of
    that view is redundant, maybe get rid of it and double the number of
    one-week pages. A lot of us really do go to one-week front page and
    hit 'previous' to start at the back. . . .
     
  43. Update. The one not selected for critique just made the two-day.
    Most raters do in fact seem to be from the rotation . . . only one
    regular visitor that I recognize. Since I've never had a non - RFC
    image make the two-day, yes, this modofication seems to have had the
    intended result. Hope others with 'good' images will test the system
    and upload some images without requesting a critique .
     
  44. Admittedly, the "rankings" are of absolutely no interest to me whatsoever, and never have been. I couldn´t agree more with Carl. I am pretty new to PN. One of the first threads I read was about the abuse on comments and ratings, and the subsequent creation of the Critique circles. Although I did not join the circles, as I don´t have a scanner and a way of uploading pictures, I did spent much time around them, reading the comments. I did find lots of people whose comments were really helpfull, at least in my opinon, saw their portfolios, and ended up making them my "favourites", not because of their pictures, but because of their coments!! People like Carl, Marc, Jeff, Philippe, Doug and lots of others. I spent lots of time going to previous comments made by these people, instead of going through new or top rated pictures, simnply because I could learn something with those pictures. I think my pictures have improved a lot since I joined PN, or at least I think I know how to make them look better the they did. All this because of the comments. I did join photsig a while ago, but hated it. People are only interested in getting their own numbers high, so they´re all rating high and saying "Nice. Now take a look at my picture". I don´t know how something like this can be usefull. Except maybe for boosting up one´s ego. I´ll never forget one sentece I read here on PN, by Emre Safak: I don't know about the rest, but I don't need the attention. At least not the chin stroking type; I'm not a fine art photographer. I also did´t mind the ratings. Because if you don´t like a picture, you´re bound to rate it low, at least lower than a picture you like but is not as good as that one. I just want to learn, and to get sincere opinion of my pictures and others. I did post 5 pictures during the last 2-3 weeks. I said that I did not want any ratings, just comments. I did get a few ratings, but no comments!!! They weren´t great pictures, just some that I could get scanned and wanted feedbak on how to improve them. 3 of them are just awfull, I just uploaded them because I thought they were funny, but wanted to make them better. But I got no feedback at all. I don´t want to be a top photographer, just to take better pictures. I think I´ll just mail some people whose comments I trust next time I upload a picture. Not because they will praise it (which I seriously doubt they will, I´ll probably get even lower ratings) but because I want them to tell me their sincere opinions. This will help me. I started rating pictures when it was suggested that ratings of people with less than 50 ratings would be disconsidered. But even so, I would only rate a picture after I commented on it. And I do try to make my comments usefull, even if I just repeat what other people said, if that´s what I also think. I try to say what I did like or dislike about it, because that´s what I want people to do with mine. I´m also sad that Marc deleted all of his pictures, I did learn a lot with them. Not because they were perfect, but because they weren´t. I can´t remember a single picture where everybody agreed on everything. This was great. This is what I want (and hope) to see in Photo.net. That´s the main reason I joined this site. To learn. And I did learn a lot. Too bad there are some people who just want some chin stroking attention.
     
  45. Brian, if I understand the changes well, pictures that get high ratings in the two days between the time they're posted and the time they get in the "rotation" start at the top of the list and rapidly get their six ratings. On the other hand, pictures, good or bad, that don't get a single rating in these 48 hours can end up anywhere in the list - possibly so far away that no one will ever see them.

    Given the fact that there are fewer easy way to browse recent pictures, this would favour those who have a lot of friends - getting a couple (hopefully honest) ratings in the first 48 hours is critical - or those who use a phoney ID to get their first rating.

    On phoney users, I sometimes notice that pictures close to the top of the list have suspiciously high first ratings. I see that very easily when I'm the second rater. Sometimes, I get a poor picture, rate it 3/3 and see that the average rating is 4.5/4.5 for two users. "What, the first user gave 6/6 to that crap?". Of course, opinions may vary, but the opposite case (rating high a good picture that received crap ratings before) almost never shows up. Odd, hey? ;-)

    I'd say that the current system works better than expected in many ways (rating inflations seems to be a thing of the past) but that the small number of users and certain glitches makes it very vulnerable to abuse. We're lucky that cheaters are rarer than before - maybe because there's no top photographer's list where to show up and because it's funnier to accumulate thousands of points on Photosig!
     
  46. I left photo.sig totally disgusted of a site where people go just to get kicks out of ratings. This do not happen over here, thanks God.<p>But, unfortunately, the interface here is not easy. I have uploaded a couple of photos to-day, within the last couple of hours, and I haven't managed to see them displayed in the recently uploaded photos page. No surprise thay haven't been viewed by anybody! <p>So, I'm wondering what's the interest for me to post photos here... If I don´t get any comments whatsoever
     
  47. I wonder if you made them available to be viewed by the public. There is a check box where you must remove the checkmark then your photos will be viewable. Look over the information and see if your photo says "YES" to the spot where it asks if it is available for public viewing.
     
  48. Thanks, Margaret, for the help... If you check this link (http://www.photo.net/shared/community-member?user_id=492640) you'll see that they figure as uploaded public photos. So, why aren't they displayed?
     
  49. Your images are visible, Alberto. You might improve the chances of a critique
    by marking one "for critique" and inputting some text plus categorising. I
    think you can include 1 image per 24 hours to go into the Critique Photos
    section. (Community>forums>photo critique.) Photo viewcount is updated
    every 24 hours.

    You are putting a lot into the community through your comments - be patient,
    you'll get your reward.

    Glad you're back - much more mature on this side of cyberspace.
     
  50. mg

    mg

    Just a wild guess: who wrote what's below, and how long ago ? And since then has it changed ? And if not, why not ?
    <p>
    "I suspect good photos get higher ratings by good photographers and genuine and striving amatuers and lower ratings from "critics". I always check the work of each person offering a comment...and the most helpful critiques come from people who have work up. Photographers have a deeper understanding of photographic art and what it takes to create an excellent image. Critics (who are not photographers or good photographers) are not necessarily "wrong" in their opinion... they are judging based on what they like and don't like. And although perfectly entitled to their opinion -- they are speaking from personal taste (which is fine) with no understanding of what it takes to find the shot, create the shot, make decisions re: camera, lenses, lighting, composition, exposure etc. Then there is - I suspect - the sour grapes syndrome. Those people that like to bash a photo out of jealousy as well as show how much they know about photography technique and rules...however, oddly enough those people don't have any work to show! I'm not talking about anyone here or anyone in particular.... Just something I've noticed over the past two months.
    <p>
    As usual the POW becomes a forum for controversy. I was not saying non-photographers didn't have valid opinions... I was simply saying that the pattern I've seen in this forum is that the most harsh - and non-helpful and amost mean- spirited citiques are 99% coming from people who are not brave enough themselves to put work up...or are possibly the are not photographers themselves. Everyone DOES have a right to put in their two cents.... "
    <p>
    .......................?
     
  51. Alberto, They are visibile on your site, of course. They also go
    into a list of recently uploaded images that anyone can click through,
    one by one. The problem is that there are quite a few people on this
    site and there is no limit to the number of images you can upload on
    any given day, so only a few people with high speed connections will
    see them. They may be motivated to comment, but seldom do unless the
    image really grabs them. Requesting a critique on your image improves
    your odds somewhat, but then again, only if someone finds the image
    compelling.

    Seven, The number of critique images permitted for upload to critique
    circles and elsewhere is currently four per week, at least 24 hours
    apart. .
     
  52. I felt I had to add to this thread. I have been a member of photo.net for little over a year and a subscriber (which just expired a couple a days ago and I plan not to renew). While I like the opportunity for feedback, what I’m finding is compared to the “real critique world” (academic institutions and galleries) time and time again my worst rated images on photo.net are the images the art world are most interested in. I guess one reason for me personally is that I do come from more an artist direction then a “photographer” point of view. Now I don’t want this to become one of those photographer’s are not artist sort of things, because I don’t believe that and I personally fight all the time for the photographers place in art. BUT I agree there is a difference between a photographer and an artist using the photographic medium.

    Back to my point for writing this... I would say that over 90% of the members of this site are photographers and not artist using the photographic medium. That’s fine, but the problem is that the rating system and critique system give this site an impression of work being relevant to an audience. If you think about it, even bad images here get more viewers then any gallery that I go to in San Francisco. If someone actually goes through the effort of putting an image up on a web site, he/she are in the mindset they want an audience for this image. The problem is that most of the viewers here are ego driven and some IMO believe they are god’s gift to the photo world (just like most people who work in a photo store). Look, I’m not under the impression that everyone has to give an actual critique when they add a comment to someone’s image, but, “I like it” or “I don’t like it” is something you say to a friend when you are already well in the know about their work. This is supposed to be a critique site where peers help one another evolve their work. I don’t see that happening and have all but given up on this site.

    If you don’t think photo.net needs saving, then things here are going great. If you do see problems, what I recommend is getting rid of the ratings system. You don’t need it. First that will drive all the egomaniacs out of photo.net. You don’t need them even if their images are in the top 10. Next have Photo(s) of the week. Chose two or three for every image category (fine art, landscape, portrait). Have a photographer of the week based off a portfolio (more then 10 images that relate to each other). This is where the elves can give reasons for why the person was chosen. Third, allow people to delete others comments off their images. If someone doesn’t like what someone has said about their work, fine, let them delete the critique. So what if someone only keeps the positive ones. They are not doing any disservice to the viewers. When you go in to a gallery, you do not see posts from everyone that has visited. If people know that their comments can just be taken off, I think they are more likely to actually give a reason why they are writing what they are. I would personally keep a comment that was unfavorable but told me why in a relevant way, then someone who write “I see no point to this” or “are you kidding?”.

    If photo.net were really about a community to learn and share in, then there wouldn’t be any competitive aspects. You are not teaching anyone anything with the way the system is now. You are just creating egos and are sending people in the wrong direction with their work. I have seen some contributors here with great potential only to change their work because they started getting better ratings and nice comments. Two of them were trying to get in to top art schools in their relative countries (personal emails with them divulged this information). If they had a portfolio of their original work fine tuned a bit, there would have been no issue for them IMO. Instead people in this community who seem to be so focused on technicalities and female flesh, turned their work in to tired old "been done a hundred times" (which seems to be the prefered photos on this site)images lacking any meaning, style and artistic value. Consequentially, they both didn’t get in to school. Is photo.net all to blame? No. But this system, which is supposedly here to teach and help fellow photographers, did fail them.

    Look at Loreleiah Velvety’s old work (she has kept all her work up since her first image) compared to her newer images that she started getting all positive comments (the type of comment that just inflates ego and not say anythimg about the image) and you will see what I mean. (I don’t mean to turn this in to a critique of her work but I think it represents the point I’m trying to make.) She started out very new to making images. Her ideas were great but her images a little rough. Then her style and technique started to really improve. The problem is then people really started to give "I like it" and great ratings when her images became more technical, commercial and showed more flesh. Her ideas (which are the most important part of an image) have started to be pushed aside. Again IMO photo.net is failing this young photographer who wants to be an artist, not a commercial photographer.
     
  53. Thank you Cristopher for your comment. I almost totally share your points. I tried to touch this point of photographer as an artist on a post in this thread. Instead, sometimes if not always, the signals seen on photonet speak about photographer vs. artist. Also I had the feeling that creativity could die if improperly exposed. Or it can be turned in other directions (due to popular demand). Anyhow, the thread discussed other issues finally.<BR><BR>
    I just wonder how a painter's community would look like. Would they talk about brushes, dyes, canvases, trendy techniques? The most hype colour, the latest rule o 3rd available? And the most (say) Picasso like paint would be a top rated paint? I don't know, maybe they do. I just feel that, sometimes, a photographic creation is treated just like a sum of technical ingredients. Which is at least unfair.<BR><BR>
    And ratings? Just competition, a concept that drives the world. It's just a reflection of our egos actually, we need numbers to compare. Even art, even feelings, even creativity. Even egos :)<BR><BR>
    Why should we care who votes or why as long as we are winners.
     
  54. Well from my experience, when I am around other artist and not photographers, content is the most important factor in critiquing art. More specifically content and execution. Yes technique falls in the execution part, but what fascinates me about photographers is this obsession with technique, copying and rules of what a photo is. There is science and mechanics involved with photographing, that is how it was created (by scientist), but it seems that most photographers can only related to that part. They obsess about technology and mimic what they have seen. Then at the same time, photographers expect their images to be welcomed in to the art community as “legitimate” art. All the while most of these same photographers are scoffing at painters, sculptures, etc as being wacky and not in touch with reality based on not understanding the painter’s work. It seems to me that photographers want it both ways (and maybe see a naked woman as a bonus). When I’m around non-photo artist (and I have been around many types so it’s not me just being lucky with my company), there is this passion for content and execution that I don’t see with photographers. They don’t go around asking if they turned this work in to black and white would it look more artsy or call their work fine art because there is a nude body in it or something amazing because it’s high speed macro work. They are more concerned about getting their point across. They might think that a piece is too dark or light, but they accept that the maker of the piece did it for a reason and try to figure it out. Here on photo.net, if an image doesn’t fit the notion of a photograph, it is considered a failure and is graded so by the majority. With non-photo artist, if the point doesn’t come out, the piece isn’t successful. I think if you gave the majority of images here to non-photo artist, you would see a very different set of rules applied and many people at the top of the group here as well as the bottom, would be flipped around. Again, hey, if photo.net is for photographers fine, then all this makes sense. But I think that most people here are trying to be artist and just don’t have the foundation to do that. The problem and my concern becomes that the amateurs and beginners here who are trying to do work are being lead astray, that is why I have told all intro photo students not to put up work here and/or not to take the comments and ratings as actual representation of being successful or not in their piece. I say this to them not because art is subjective (which is the easy cop out that most photographers like to say) because it’s not. Art does have a set of rules and history. The problem is that it’s so subtle that one who hasn’t been given experience or taught this thinks art is a free for all. It is not.

    Now again with the ratings… If this were something that really worked, wouldn’t academia use it? I mean it would have been so much easier for me to walk in to class and just say, “3..3..5..6..7”. You could argue that grades the teacher gives are an equivalent, but they are not. Grades are based not on how well or popular you work is, but how you have progressed throughout the semester. If a student gets from point A to point B and has progressed in their understanding of whatever the class is teaching and has applied that to their work, then they receive a good grade. If there has been no progress, even if their work is outstanding, they will not get an A.
     
  55. Excuse me for bumping in like this. But when I came across this thread I read some things I really had to reply to. And this is already the first example of a statement I want to oppose.
    "While on the whole I will regret his departure, I won't miss his relentless demands for improvement of the site mechanisms at a pace that is beyond our capacity and to a level of perfection that we can never achieve." Said Brian Mothershead.
    I completely disagree here. I strongly believe that critique is a necessity. A society, wether in a country or on a site like this, can not survive (regarding photographers leaving) or improve (regarding fixing the flaws), cannot do so without critique.
    The people in charge are probably competent people, but they are not competent enough if they do not listen to the people that inform them on the problems. Now I'm not saying anyone isn't listening, but when I hear B. Mothershead say that "While I realize that "ratings abuse" is infuriating to the people who feel victimized by it, abuse is not a very important problem on the site, in my opinion. And the only reason it is a problem at all is because people get so worked up about it." then I do get the feeling that something is being ignored in some way.
    What's my plan? I don't have a plan. Photosig is a lost case, I did try, but you just get opposed by people that think it is useless to try to change anything. Philippe said it isnt a problem to save the world, but it is to change people. But in this case the people make the world of Photo.net. I kind of believe in reason, and in arguments. And in the possibility of making people come to their senses. So it is not about changing people it is about convincing them. The problem isnt that there is Marc being "tiring" (with which I do not agree) but that there are too few Marcs! YES (what a though :-D) But yes. I come from the Netherlands, the last couple of years we are dealing with this phenomenon called useless violence. For example a student got murdered a couple of weeks ago by a person. Why? Because he insulted this person. How? By saying to this person that he should have more respect for older people as he came driving by on a motorcycle or something with a high speed. How could this person kill the other with a great number of people standing by? BECAUSE they were standing by... watching, saying nothing... why? Good question. What I try to say with this is that if the members of this community do not stand up and say what they feel and critique the system where there are flaws, nothing will change. (I do not know how much the admins have changed here since the beginning as I am not much present here, simply because I think this site is not very transparant, I cant find my way here, could be me) but it's that's not really the point regarding my ideas.
    Now to continue; the critique system is supposed to filter out all the good images and let the bad ones go down the drain. Two things, one has already been mentionned 1) sure good photos get to the top pages, BUT not all of them and as someone said, a lot of the good photos get lost, and it is more like some good photos having the lucky chance to get to the top, and many don't. 2) it are probably the more interesting photos, the more controversial ones in terms of aesthetical apreciation that get lost, the ones that are not really perfect but that show of great creativity and talent. This is a shame. But yet it is confirmed by Christopher who said "While I like the opportunity for feedback, what I’m finding is compared to the “real critique world” (academic institutions and galleries) time and time again my worst rated images on photo.net are the images the art world are most interested in.". A way to solve this I think is to create (as on Psig) categories. The members will jump into their favorite categories, and discover the "talents" so to speak and can then put the attention on these photos, by mentionning them in forums.
    The point of a site like this should not be confirmation or affirmation but discussion. Even the quality of Darwin Wigget's work should be a point of discussion! (example)
    BUT the problem remains that the majority of people tend to be conservative. (let me take photosig as an example) they like receiving green thubms. It's a game to them, it has got nothing to do with receiving feedback. And those who join the community because it pretends to be a community that is about feedback are dissapointed, and critique the system hoping to change it... but the community remains a composition of people of whom the majority are blinded by green thumbs, and here probably by high ratings. I suppose that you can not function in such a community if you are not mundane enough... but the battle will be lost in advance, if those who are in the position to change the way the members are directed - the admins - declare critiquing a source of annoyance instead of a source of inspiration for inovation.
    Best regards,
    Julien
     
  56. Excuse me for bumping in like this. But when I came across this thread I read some things I really had to reply to. And this is already the first example of a statement I want to oppose.
    "While on the whole I will regret his departure, I won't miss his relentless demands for improvement of the site mechanisms at a pace that is beyond our capacity and to a level of perfection that we can never achieve." Said Brian Mothershead.
    I completely disagree here. I strongly believe that critique is a necessity. A society, wether in a country or on a site like this, can not survive (regarding photographers leaving) or improve (regarding fixing the flaws), cannot do so without critique.
    The people in charge are probably competent people, but they are not competent enough if they do not listen to the people that inform them on the problems. Now I'm not saying anyone isn't listening, but when I hear B. Mothershead say that "While I realize that "ratings abuse" is infuriating to the people who feel victimized by it, abuse is not a very important problem on the site, in my opinion. And the only reason it is a problem at all is because people get so worked up about it." then I do get the feeling that something is being ignored in some way.
    What's my plan? I don't have a plan. Photosig is a lost case, I did try, but you just get opposed by people that think it is useless to try to change anything. Philippe said it isnt a problem to save the world, but it is to change people. But in this case the people make the world of Photo.net. I kind of believe in reason, and in arguments. And in the possibility of making people come to their senses. So it is not about changing people it is about convincing them. The problem isnt that there is Marc being "tiring" (with which I do not agree) but that there are too few Marcs! YES (what a though :-D) But yes. I come from the Netherlands, the last couple of years we are dealing with this phenomenon called useless violence. For example a student got murdered a couple of weeks ago by a person. Why? Because he insulted this person. How? By saying to this person that he should have more respect for older people as he came driving by on a motorcycle or something with a high speed. How could this person kill the other with a great number of people standing by? BECAUSE they were standing by... watching, saying nothing... why? Good question. What I try to say with this is that if the members of this community do not stand up and say what they feel and critique the system where there are flaws, nothing will change. (I do not know how much the admins have changed here since the beginning as I am not much present here, simply because I think this site is not very transparant, I cant find my way here, could be me) but it's that's not really the point regarding my ideas.
    Now to continue; the critique system is supposed to filter out all the good images and let the bad ones go down the drain. Two things, one has already been mentionned 1) sure good photos get to the top pages, BUT not all of them and as someone said, a lot of the good photos get lost, and it is more like some good photos having the lucky chance to get to the top, and many don't. 2) it are probably the more interesting photos, the more controversial ones in terms of aesthetical apreciation that get lost, the ones that are not really perfect but that show of great creativity and talent. This is a shame. But yet it is confirmed by Christopher who said "While I like the opportunity for feedback, what I’m finding is compared to the “real critique world” (academic institutions and galleries) time and time again my worst rated images on photo.net are the images the art world are most interested in.". A way to solve this I think is to create (as on Psig) categories. The members will jump into their favorite categories, and discover the "talents" so to speak and can then put the attention on these photos, by mentionning them in forums.
    The point of a site like this should not be confirmation or affirmation but discussion. Even the quality of Darwin Wigget's work should be a point of discussion! (example)
    BUT the problem remains that the majority of people tend to be conservative. (let me take photosig as an example) they like receiving green thubms. It's a game to them, it has got nothing to do with receiving feedback. And those who join the community because it pretends to be a community that is about feedback are dissapointed, and critique the system hoping to change it... but the community remains a composition of people of whom the majority are blinded by green thumbs, and here probably by high ratings. I suppose that you can not function in such a community if you are not mundane enough... but the battle will be lost in advance, if those who are in the position to change the way the members are directed - the admins - declare critiquing a source of annoyance instead of a source of inspiration for inovation.
    Best regards,
    Julien
     
  57. I agree with JS, insofar as I, too, think criticism of the status quo is healthy and necessary. And I appreciate what Christopher Lovenguth is saying re: art vs. technique, art vs. craft I suppose, but have to point out, through sheer devilment if nothing else, the circularity in his assertion that artists are primarily interested in content, and photographers in technique. As he says himself: "... I think that most people here are trying to be artist and just don't have the foundation to do that." - this surely is the point: you need to speak the language to say anything meaningful. For artists, that means you need to have a grounding in what has gone before, a knowledge of the symbolism which is understood by (a) other artists and (b) the society in which you expect your art to work, which, if you are honest, includes your fellow artists and critics. If you don't speak the language, no-one can understand. If you want to invent new language, you need to start off with an understanding of current language, or at least some sort of common ground with your audience.

    I would venture that, for me, without wishing to put any noses out of joint, that art which is only meaningful to artists of a particular school is always going to be irrelevant to the majority (though it may prove very important eventually), and it's evident that some artists derive satisfaction from the exclusivity of their work (which is perfectly fine, of course.)

    So it is with photography - there are basic assumptions people have about photographs, and it's fine to challenge those assumptions but, to be taken seriously by photographers and those who hold the assumptions, you need to speak the language. In photographic terms that generally means a certain mastery of technique, and in that it differs little from art - it's all so much more credible to the lay person if there's some evidence of technical ability (or draftsmanship). As with painting or poetry or music, there's always
    the risk of an inspired and competent artist being dismissed as merely
    unskilled by an audience who don't understand the message, if the artist chooses to throw convention to the wind and produce work which
    may be seen as technically careless or un-accomplished. An artist may choose to narrow his or her audience this way but, having thus chosen, there's no point at all in whining that people don't "get it". If an artist wants people to "get it" then that artist has to speak their language, or at least take the trouble to teach them a new language.

    Artists, of all people, should understand that symbolism is an unavoidably pervasive and essential aspect of human thought. A lot of this symbolism goes unexamined. Perspective, for example: that way of representing depth in a flat image is artifice, but it's ingrained, accepted, widely-understood artifice (and it's informed by photography, lately.)

    Painting down the years has embraced many conventions, as has music, as has poetry, and all ground- and rule- breakers tend to be seen in their own time as merely not very good, except possibly by a pretentious few who are dead scared that they might reveal their ignorance if they say "what the hell is *that*?", and a vanishingly small number of people who happen to be on the same wavelength as the artist, assuming the artist isn't just cynically exploiting the dead-scared people.

    Getting back to photos, I would say that there are photos on photo.net which challenge stuffy and restrictive conventions about what a photo should be like, and which *do* work, for a reasonable sized audience - obviously they're still going to attract censure from those (larger number of people) with a checklist of "good photo" qualities and for who the image has no immediate impact, but that's always going to be the case. I agree that it's a shame if the rating system reduces the audience for such pictures.
     
  58. mg

    mg

    Man, how refreshing to read the latest posts in this thread ! Glad to see that a few souls still believe there is some value in criticism...
    <p>
    One thing I totally agree with, besides all JS wrote, is this phrase from Christopher: "If photo.net were really about a community to learn and share in, then there wouldn’t be any competitive aspects. You are not teaching anyone anything with the way the system is now. You are just creating egos and are sending people in the wrong direction with their work."
    <p>
    That's undoubtedly true ! Yes, people can still read threads and learn a few things from them - that's clear, and that's why I started reading very old threads rather than taking part in the silly rating game... But globally, this place has been overtaken by ego-driven posters and by the idea that who ever writes a detailed critique is a "know-it-all" or pontificating in a way or another. I honestly blew a fuse when I saw Richard Sintchak and Tony Dummett being told in the rodeo POW that they were basically critical simply to show off !! Puh-lease ! And if you read about any of the latest POW threads, you will find similar attacks directed to wnom ever dares to say that a few things could be a lot better... The idea that governs this site at the moment is: "Ignore what you dislike, pass, don't you criticize it !" I am well aware that this isn't (at all) what photo.net's administration wants, but that's what's happening. If you want to be critical about any picture nowadays, make sure 1) that you are not interrupting any pic-celebration-party, and 2) that you have no uploads for people to retaliate ! Then you can be sure to be called an a****hole by half the population if you dare to find a weakness in an image !
    <p>
    Have a look at about half the POWs on this site: ok shots, even good shots, yes, but most of the time clearly not the best shot the photographer has uploaded, and very very very often pictures that are far from outstanding, to say the least. One may agree or not with statement, and conveniently, art will be called "subjective" at the end of the day. Well, I have a bad news: art is NOT 100% subjective. Only preferences are, and that makes a huge difference ! When I dared to say that a certain image on this site was pure crap, I was told that "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" ! Sure ! And if the beholder is blind, does it matter...?
    <p>
    Now a glance at the CRITIQUE CIRCLES... WHAT A FABULOUS IDEA ! Thanks, photo.net. BUT... If I remember well, Bob Atkins was one of those who promoted the idea, and he did at that time mention that there should be no ratings involved... Am I not correct ? Well, when one now uploads a picture to a critique circle, if I'm not mistaken, it appears to many people who aren't in the circle as well, and this whole crowd is set free to play their rating games again... I registered in one of the critique circles with a very clear idea on my mind: I would'n rate any picture within the circle below 5 - meaning 5 and above or no rating recorded at all, and each time I provided a clear explanation of my opinions, and even took time to work in PS on some member's works... What was the result like ? I received 3s and nonsensical justifications by those I dare to criticize a bit too much... What's the point ? Why would I bother critiquing such a person's work again ? One particular picture I'm refering to, was really a 2 by any standard you could apply. The photographer was an obvious beginner. And that's the "thank you" you get...? Sorry, I don't buy that kind of attitudes. When I see it, I walk in another direction, and if I see no good direction anymore, I leave. All this is daily stuff on PN. EVERYONE knows about it. Question: why do we need to have ratings involved at all in critique circles ? Is it just to encourage people to be the same kind of narro-minded ego-maniacs this site is becoming famous for ? Another question: why can't we get rid of ratings in these circles AND LET THE GROUPS BE FORMED BY THE MEMBERS...?
    <p>
    You know what ? When I need a real opinion from photonetters nowadays, I e-mail to 3 photonetters, and I generally - lately - get their reply via e-mail, and you don't believe how smart their comments are compared to what I get on this site most of the time. So, tell me, what's wrong with getting rid of the ratings AT LEAST in the critique circles, and to form your own group of people whose opinion you value ? The circle would be open to anybody to READ, but no ratings, and you would need to apply if you want to get in... Elitism ? Not at all. Just trying to leave the trash at the door, that's all. Not letting ego-maniacs interfere with the successful and constructive direction set within a circle seems to be of primary importance. Let the egos in, and they'll eat you all up in a glance. They will praise to death any crappy image simply because they have no idea what's a good picture, or maybe with the hope of some sort of returned favor. Add the ratings to this, and your critique circle is dead.
    <p>
    Learn photography on photo.net ?! Forget it. Those who taught me something on this site are all well-mannered and well behaved people, and they
    have all more or less left the site recently. Why ? Because a subway is a subway, a school, a school, and a museum, a museum. Their words, and in some cases their works too, belonged respectively in a school and in a museum - NOT in a subway.
    <p>
    If the aim is to educate people, you can't afford to lose one by one those who already had an artistic education, and who meant well. You have to build areas on the site, where real criticism is displayed and valued - with no ratings involved. You have to put up these member favorite galleries you were talking about. You have to create a space to share opinions and informations where ego has no say, and you have to exhibit these areas as well as great photography. Create a "Critiques of the week" section. Make sure you have categories and POWs seleted more carefully IN EACH CATEGORY. Ban from participating in POW forums those who can't post reasons for their likes and dislikes. You don't need moderators, you need bouncers. With all this in place and perhaps a few other things, you will see photo.net attracting more and more interesting and knowledgeable people, and these people and the whole constructive criticism process will get you hundreds of new people willing to actually make something great of this place - just like all the people who posted in this thread dreamed it would be.
    <p>
    The alternative choice is continue blindfolded in a subway, and to have more and more people leaving - disgusted and ashamed for the time they spent here trying to help.
    <p>
    If you decide to imlement some of the ideas I developped above, I will remain a member of this site, and continue to be a tiring member, but if all the contents of this thread (above) make no sense to photo.net, then I really don't think I should waste anymore of my time to chase windmills. If I have only bad ideas, why impose them to the site any longer ?
    <p>
    Your call, Brian. Your announced changes to the rating system seem to be on the way, as well as a few other things - categories, curators, etc. Good. Great. Maybe the above can give you a few ideas of other potential improvements... I hope so. Anyway, my criticism was never meant in a negative way. The site just needs to find better ways to educate people - if that's the goal... So I do hope you see my point. I sincerely hope to see things getting better at some point. I wouldn't have spent so much time on this site, if I wasn't genuinely interested in making this a better place. Maybe something worth considering... Regards.
     
  59. Marc, I've given a lot of thought to posting a new thread asking what
    happened to critique circles. Yours is the first in depth evaluation
    of why it didn't work for you. It's possible many others had exactly
    the same experience, but I expect that the real story would be a very
    wide range of reactions, including reasons for posting only once or
    twice or never showing up at all.

    I have no idea why half the people never showed up in my group and why
    half of those that did posted once or twice and stopped. I think it
    had more to do with their overall activity level on photo.net rather
    than their dissatisfaction with the group. So my first comment would
    be that if groups are reformed in the future - and I hope they will be
    - members need to commit to the group and should be replaced if they
    are no longer active.

    Two members were active but dropped out after a month or so - one
    posted reasons as personal, the other simply stopped. That left us
    with one serious novice and four advanced. We continued for some time
    and I think learned a lot from each other, especially the novice whose
    improvement has been a delight to watch.

    Only one person, me, rated within the group. It was sporadic and was
    never discussed. It may be that some members were upset with a
    criticism now and then, but I doubt it, but it's clear to me that the
    lack of low ratings was a benefit to the group.

    So why is the group pretty much inactive? I think in part it's
    because our comments got predictable, but I also suspect that for
    some, inactivity in the group was part of a reduced activity level in
    the site. When group members delete or hide their portfolios from
    public view, when they post elsewhere how discouraged they are with
    the obvious ridiculous criteria being used to select many of the top
    photos, when they go to some trouble to set up another web site in the
    hopes that they can do right what this site is doing wrong, than
    changes really do need to take place soon, given that this is not a
    group of misfits, but a group of photographers formed by management
    whose interest in critiques surely qualifies them as desirable members
    of the community.

    I have volunteered to help maintain these circles because I think they
    can be a valuable cog in the wheel, but I suspect that there is
    little, if anything, practical that I can do unless I get some serious
    programming training and move to Boston.

    Somebody please explain to me how this iste, when it was much smaller,
    could afford five paid staff, and now, despite more members writing
    more $25 checks, can't even afford to pay Brian's salary. The
    economies of scale here mystifies me. Until that issue is addressed,
    nothing will happen. .
     
  60. Somebody please explain to me how this site, when it was much smaller, could afford five paid staff, and now, despite more members writing more $25 checks, can't even afford to pay Brian's salary. The economies of scale here mystifies me. Until that issue is addressed, nothing will happen.
    The answer is pretty easy. When the site had 5 full-time people, none of them were being paid market salaries. They were working during the Internet boom in the hopes of realizing a return on their stock options. Despite this, photo.net was burning money, with the principals and their friends and relatives putting in a significant amount of cash to cover the negative cash flow.
    Two years down the road, the site now generates around $3000-$4000 per month from subscriptions, and a bit more than that from advertising (clickthroughs and revenue shares from sponsors like Adorama, Ritz Camera, etc.). After paying ISP charges and other non-discretionary expenses, we have around $2000-$3000 per month left in positive cash flow, which currently goes into a reserve for eventual upgrade and replacement of the hardware rather than into salaries. (Considering the skill-set required, it wouldn't be much of a salary, in any case.)
     
  61. OK, now I understand.

    I know better then to ask for a projected date for seeing the
    ratings imporvements, so instead I'll ask if there is anything that
    volunteers can do to help free up your time so you can work on
    these improvements.
     
  62. mg

    mg

    Carl mentionned a lot of things about critique circles, and I wrote another 50 lines about all sorts of things that I thought were reasonably important. Then Carl wrote 1 line about the $$ problem, which is of course an important problem.
    <p>
    Brian wrote a 7 lines reply about $$, and not a single word about all the rest.
    <p>
    My interpretation of this: $$ have become such a problem, that all the rest has become secondary.
    <p>
    I have no solution to the $$ problem - not even dumbing 25$ to help sustain a subway. But what I do believe is that an amazing number of people (and that includes me) would be ready to pay up for a site that wouldn't be too much of a subway, or say, where people were not allowed to spit on the floor and throw down the walls. What I have learned as well as a photographer, in the last 15 years, is that nothing matters but your portfolio. If it is great, or at least better than your competitor, you get the job. If not, you just don't.
    <p>
    Regards.
     
  63. Marc:

    "I have no solution to the $$ problem"

    There's always becoming a supporter ... which you don't seem to want to do.

    "If you decide to imlement some of the ideas I developped above, I will remain a member of this site"

    Or ... else? Is this another trademarked Marc G. threat to take your ball and go home? Looks like it.
     
  64. Marc, making the site work from a financial point of view is currently my main goal. This would be the case whether photo.net were a non-profit or a for-profit corporation; either way, it has to be able to pay its bills and payroll.

    At the moment it doesn't. The reasons that the site hasn't collapsed, as hundreds of other Internet sites have, are (a) the cash flow is positive so nobody has to be convinced to put in more cash; (b) there are still people willing to work without salaries in return for future prospects; (c) we don't need to upgrade or replace any hardware immediately, and (d) the people who invested in the site don't want to pull the plug, even though they aren't prepared to sink any more money into it.

    But if we had a big setback, like a major equipment failure, or the loss of a major sponsor or a substantial drop in the current subscription level, or (the most probable) one or two people working on the site giving up -- it would be all over.

    In order for the site to be viable over any length of time, we must at least double the revenue -- and we have maybe twelve or eighteen months to do this.

    Right now the Gallery generates most of the subscriptions. And the Forums and the static content (equipment reviews, the Learn section, ezShop, etc), especially the parts centered on shopping, generate most of the advertising-related revenue. The site needs to expand both.

    At present, the Gallery daily receives around 3 million hits, about 1000-1200 new photo uploads, around 3000 ratings per day, and several hundred photo comments. Probably more than half of the 80000 to 100000 visitors per day who visit the site as a whole are attributable to the Gallery. This level of activity produces an average of 4 new subscriptions per day, with about 90% of those being 1 year subscriptions rather than 3 year subscriptions. About 20% of subscriptions come within five days of registering on the site, and about 50% of subscriptions come within the first three months of registering. The longer people go without subscribing the less likely they are to to do so.

    Now, abstract discussions about what would make the Gallery better (for the participants in the discussion) are fine. But they probably won't be implemented if the proposals don't conform with the current scale of the Gallery and if they won't contribute to a doubling of the rate of subscriptions attributable to the Gallery.

    During the last few months, I've increased the subscription rate already by a factor of four, simply by (a) asking more; (b) giving subscribers a higher photo quota than non-subscribers and threatening to delete over-quota photos; and (c) taking image hosting priveleges away from non-subscribers.

    Why do people participate in the Gallery and then subscribe? I think probably there are three main groups, with many people fitting into more than one of them to some degree:

    (1) People who don't want critiques and who don't really care whether their photos are good. They see photo.net as a free photo sharing site. If they want to be able to link the photos into e-bay ads or web log sites, etc, they have subscribed since we made this a requirement. These people are more or less satisfied with the site, except when it is slow. This group doesn't care about ratings or comments all that much. This group generated a fair number of the recent subscribers, for the image-hosting, and it also generates a lot of the traffic.

    (2) People who want to give and receive critique and feedback and to engage in a community for artistic discussion. These are the people who are the least satisfied with the site because they don't get enough critique and feedback, and the feedback they do get is often sarcastic or stupid, or if they are interested in giving others the benefit of their experience, they get too many ungrateful, retaliatory responses. The Critique Circles appeal especially to this group, at least in theory. This group is more likely to dislike the ratings system because ratings interfere with the "learning" that they feel should be at the core of the site and because, anyway, the rating system tends to throw up as "Top Photos" pictures that cater too much to popular taste, and to overlook good but challenging photos. This is the group that participates the most in the POW discussions and in any forum discussion of the rating system. This group is the least likely to subscribe, or if they do, it is only after a long time because they feel guilty. Ironically, most of the loyal members of the Gallery are in this group, but on the whole people in this group become disenchanted after a few months and leave, without ever subscribing.

    (3) People who want visibility, recognition, and competition. These people view photo.net as a kind of photo contest, where the prize is the visibility of being a "Top Photographer". These people don't mind the rating system; in fact, they find it absorbing and addictive, even though they may have sufficient self-awareness to realize that this is silly. But they want the rating system to be improved so that other people can't cheat and so that their chances at visibility are not spoiled by stupid or abusive ratings. These people are the most likely to subscribe, especially if they think that subscribing will increase their chances in the the contest. A lot of these people leave after they tire of the contest, or realize that other sites run contests that have more addictive features like "points" and "green thumbs". But some of the contest-oriented people prefer our "contest" because it isn't so blatant, the visibility offered here as a prize is greater, and the competition is stronger.

    So tell me how the Gallery, as you want it to be, will generate 250 new subscribers per month, instead of the 120 we get now.
     
  65. Brian, I think you've done an excellent job of articulating the problems, goals and current status of the site and its funding needs, and I believe you deserve a lot of credit for the smooth continuation of this site in the face of such an increase in usage. It's interesting that some of those most vociferous about fixing the site don't want to ante up anything more than words.

    One thing I disagree with is when you write, "A lot of these people leave after they tire of the contest, or realize that other sites run contests that have more addictive features like "points" and "green thumbs"."

    I think that many people simply prefer the rating system elsewhere. I still don't understand why there is a second rating besides 'aesthetics' and I'm faer from alone in believing that the use of 1,2 or 3 thumbs up/down is much clearer to people than a 1-7 (or 3-6 for those in a hurry) rating scale, even with recently improved descriptions of what those numbers represent. This is one area in which photosig really shines, I think -- even though I am not a user or supporter of that site.
     
  66. Everyone who visits the site initially is a potential client, but they
    should not be allowed to jump right in as full participants. That
    is not to say that all long time members are assets. I think some
    paying members are keeping a much larger number of potential
    paying members away. Two people come to mind immediately.
     
  67. All of the sudden we talk about money. While I completely understand that the site is not running by the will of gods, I may assume that any cause is lost. I mean, voices who want changes are a minority, I'm I wright? What should we bother with this discussion anyway? There will be at any time a lot of people willing to pay for their ego. I think now it is almost a perfect system for this purpose, you can even worsen it to attract new subscribers. An automated system to praise new subscribers with 'wow' comments would be a proposal. Sorry if I offend anyone, I say what I feel. <BR>And maybe a point that it will look ridiculous. Not all the members feel at ease to pay even the small amount that you request. World is large, and talents grow everywhere. I guess.
     
  68. I'm confused.

    Brian informs me that my last post has been deleted, although I
    thought it was in direct response to another post. Taking
    someone to task for what they do, rather than attacking them
    personally, should be acceptable discourse.

    Then Jeremy asks me in a private email who the two people are
    that I have in mind that are creating problems.

    Both these actions point directly to the problem that Marc keeps
    harping on and that you both don't want to hear - that the
    behavior of some members is considered by a large number of
    people on the site to be detrimental, yet you do not recognize this
    to be the critical problem. Mary said somewhere recently that
    she knows she can go to you, Jeremy, confident that you will take
    care of any abuses, but I honestly don't know what sort of abuse
    she or you have in mind. Marc's post recently helped to clarify a
    diffence between his interpretation of abuse (and mine) that was
    different from Brian's and that is that you, Brian, needed some
    kind of proof that a low rating was motivated by some sort of ill
    will rather than simply being counterproductive to the best
    interests of the site for any reason at all. The people who are
    becoming discouraged in ever increasing number will pony up if
    they think you are willing to take control of the site on this issue,
    and many others instead of taking a laissez faire approach for all
    but the most blatant abuses. The motives of the abusers really
    isn't important. The fact that they wreak havoc is what needs to
    be addressed.


    Some of the policing needs to be done personally. Others
    problems can be dealt with using database restrictions. There
    are solutions; it's just a matter of which subway you want to
    emulate. In 1959, I was a 12-year-old in Copenhagen riding the
    subways without fear. Try that in NYC or near the combat zone in
    Boston.
     
  69. Carl, I can guess the identity of at least one of the people you are talking about, and I am afraid that I am not eager enough for subscriptions to toss him to the lions, no matter how much of a crowd-pleaser you claim it would be.

    You and a few others have complained to the abuse mailbox about this person, and his rating behaviour has been investigated thoroughly. There is not a shred of evidence that his ratings are anything but honest, without any favoritism or other bias that can be detected. In fact, I would put this person forward as an example of the ideal rater: he rates many photos, so that his preferences are built into the rankings of hundreds of photos on this site with the ratings normally distributed around an average a little over 4, which is where the average is supposed to be.

    One person complained that he only rated her photos 3 and 4, but when I looked at his some 70 ratings of that person's photos, I found that this was totally untrue, that the average rating was well over 5, and only a little less than the average of others' ratings, with more 5's and 6's than 3's and 4's.

    The problem is that this person rates a lot of photos, and he tends to be among the first people to rate a photo; so people tend to remember the 3's and 4's and forget all the 5's and 6's. In fact, I am glad that there is somebody consistent and objective involved in rating photos early; otherwise the crucial early ratings would often all be high fan club ratings, and the Top Photos pages would be dueling fan clubs. It is the unpopular people like the person under discussion who actually make the rating system work.

    Other alleged problems are that this person has no photos posted and leaves many more ratings than comments. Neither photos nor comments are currently required to participate in the photo.net Gallery. There is no evidence whatsoever that there is a correlation between skill as a photographer and skill as a critic. One of the first qualifications as a critic is objectivity, and this is precisely what people lack relative to their own photos. The ratings of any objective, consistent, person should be prized, even if he has no photos posted here. If the ratings are low, one should not be looking for a reason to disqualify those ratings, but taking them into account, together with the ovarall trend of the ratings.

    I don't believe that people are so obsessed with the ratings game that it is true that they are calling en masse for the head of anyone who rates them low, even somewhat regularly, and are withholding subscriptions because I don't deliver the head. Even if it were true that subscriptions would increase, I wouldn't do it. Sorry.
     
  70. mg

    mg

    Imo, theoretically, you are right, Brian. The only really problematic raters I know of are BIAISED raters (retaliators and mate-raters). Now, a little comment about this sentence you posted in response to Carl...
    <p>
    "In fact, I am glad that there is somebody consistent and objective involved in rating photos early; otherwise the crucial early ratings would often all be high fan club ratings, and the Top Photos pages would be dueling fan clubs."
    <p>
    I agree if you say "consistent and objective".
    <p>
    But look carefully at the top-rated pages and do you actually see fan-club raters on top pages, or not ? I personally see a growing number of them, which seems to invalidate your point. How do I explain that ? Simple. If you are a mate-rater and you have been rated honestly by someone 4 / 4 a few times, and if your "mates" have had the same fate, what you do is e-mail your friend and somehow set-up a deal to "resist the invader"...:) Somebody recently thought I was being targetted by somebody else, and told me via e-mail "Since this person will down-rate your stuff I have rated your shot a 6 instead of a 5... sorry for that..." Can you believe this ? Well, I can. I wasn't mad at the person who over-rated me to "balance" a potential "under-rater", but I truly thought that it made no sense at all, and told him so. If there is only one person who rates many shots honestly, it is likely that the mate-rating gangs will have resources to resist the hit, whereas honest people won't.
    <p>
    Now about the 2 people Carl mentionned, I suppose I know one of them, but the one I know really doesn't fit your description, Brian. Anyway, Carl mentionned about 2, but I see about 10 really problematic people, and they don't behave, at all, the way you described. Finally, when you described a person who rates A LOT of pictures on the site as being beneficial to the site, I have to disagree and say that it all depends on a few thing...
    <p>
    a) on how logical his ratings are in the first place
    <p>
    b) on which pictures he rates and does NOT rate
    <p>
    c) on whether he is biaised or not
    <p>
    Depending on these 3 parameters, the action of such rater may either be benefecial or detrimental to the site, or, most likely, quite neutral. Besides that, don't you think that the site would better have its high-rated pages determined by 100 curators than by a few (potentially biaised) people...? :)
    <p>
    But anyway, I'm really a lot more worried by 10 people than by anyone who would behave the way you described. Therefore, enough on this topic.
     
  71. mg

    mg

    First of all, Brian, thanks a lot for explaining the situation so clearly. It helps indeed to understand, pardon me, the mess you are in charge to deal with. I honestly have to say that I am glad not to be in your shoes after what I just read. So, hats off to you. This being said, you also asked a very clear question:
    <p>
    "So tell me how the Gallery, as you want it to be, will generate 250 new subscribers per month, instead of the 120 we get now."
    <p>
    Let me try to suggest a different strategy, based on a slightly different assessment of the reality of the 3 groups you have presented here.
    <p>
    The 3 groups: Group (1): I agree with what you said, and anyway I know very little about this group. Group (2): I believe most of the people I sympatize with and who posted in this thead, as well as myself, belong in this category. As you rightly said, most of the people who took part in the critique circles belong in it as well. What kind of people are we talking about - psychologically...? People who actually want to improve their photography, no matter what level they have already reached. People who LOVE images, truly and sincerely, and people like me who LIVE for photography. What is more important to any human being than what he loves ? Nothing. So, I would tend to believe that this category of people may be more demanding, but also willing to give - that's exactly what love is all about. My view is therefore that if you give these people what they want, they will most certainly pay you back for what they get. I would even go 1 step further and say: show them that they can get what they want, and charge them directly for that service a month or 2 after they have tested it ? That's money for the site. Besides that, you can create additional services for these people. Services that will both bring extra money to the site and satisfy people, and bring more people who would want these benefits as well. For example, an idea I proposed back in january, I think, would be to offer a paid evaluation of a member's portfolio - SELL critiques by experienced people basically. I have received hundreds of sincere "thank you" e-mails for critiques I wrote on the site. That means that SOME members value them. Then I personally would be ready to pay for critiques of certain pictures of mine by Tony or Ian. Why ? Because I had to stop street photography back in 93 for quite unfortunate reasons, and I would love to return to shooting the kind of pictures I see in their folders... I am sure 90% of the people in this category (2) would like to have their work critiqued by people they admire or such. Maybe half of these people would be willing to pay a reasonable amount on top of their suscription to get that kind of valued advice ? 10 top critiques for 10 USD, or 25 top critiques for 20 USD - don't you think it's worth it ? This costs strictly nothing except a bit of time to implement, I believe. Why not check the potential by simply launching a thread asking who would be interested in critiques by "pros" or (real) top photographers ? And another thread asking to pros and top photographers whether they would like to help the site by giving critiques that will be charged...? have a "Critiques of the week" page as well to show people what serious critiques are all about. It will give people the idea and envy to get such critiques, and may also (by the way) bring back a little real criticism on the site... Bare also in mind what your market opportunity looks like... Meaning that you would be, I think, the 2nd site on the net to propose such service, and the other site who does that at this point is by far smaller than photo.net. So, almost no competition. And I see THOUSANDS of potential clients. Maybe, you could create interactives forums weekly where only selected (more educated) members from photo.net would be there to answer questions that would come from any (registered) public... Or you could sell "ready-made" internet portfolio pages. Or you could open better critique circles TO PAYING SUSCRIBERS ONLY... Etc. Basically, Group (2) is imo a far larger potential or income than you suspect. You need to understand, evaluate their needs and desires, then assess the viability and then the modalities of setting up a paying system geared to give them what they ask for. If you have no time to get into this, and if you are interested in such ideas, I volonteer to help studying these opportunities - that's if you trust me to do so of course... Taking Group (2) more seriously and serving their cause - which simply happens to be serving the cause of improving people's photography skills - will at the same time raise the bar on photo.net, bring new people, and satisfy more existing members, which will all generate income. Group (3): they will still play their ego-games, but within limits defined by the site. Organize separate competitions for them, picture of the day icons, etc, what ever keeps them busy without affecting the site too much. Nothing stops you from really setting up 2 parallel top-rated pages within photo.net: a) pictures which are top-rated by MEMBERS, and b) pictures which are top-rated by CURATORS. Or by the Elves, or what ever you like along that line... Photo.net has more than enough competent people to set-up something like that at no cost except programming just a few pages... Curator's top-rated pages will also serve as photo.net's official portfolio and will allow to get maybe more sponsorship or at least more people registering based on the shock they will have looking at all the very best pictures on PN all together. The way to go about Curator top-rated pages could be that each Curator would select his own favorite gallery, as you planned, but then all curators would rate all the other curator-gallery-selected pictures (no comment needed for that purpose). If one wants to stand a chance to have his picture rated by 100 curators and see how well it will do - once it has appeared in one of the curators' gallery -, he will need to pay a fee (to basically take part in the curators top-rated challenge)... That way, you basically make extra money from having a new competition, but one that makes sense ! ...and all you will (maybe) lose, are those who will feel humiliated to be top-rated by members but not by curators (the most ego-maniac members in group 3)... Not a major loss in terms of number of people, and therefore not a great loss in terms of $$. AND a big breeze of fresh air for everyone if the jokers are gone or kept quiet within their playground... End of the day, what you need is 1) Credibility, 2) Quality critiques, 3) Be smart enough to accomodate all categories of people in one way or another, 4) Charge for extra services... and with that done, you will see $$ instead of people (and quality) leaving the subway...
    <p>
    (Last but not least, you really need to have raws of thumbnails for the uploads of the day, so that every one gets a few ratings and critiques... That will limit the number of people discouragd by the lack of feed-back, and there will be potential suscribers among them too. Right now, why would they help a site, when the site offers them only 1 comment per week or such ? This matter is imo an absolute priority).
     
  72. Brian, I would have to say that being in the category you described that usually doesn’t pay for the service but did when I joined up, the reason I’m not renewing is because photo.net hasn’t shown me a reason to. Since I get so little out of it because of what I think is a good intention but flawed system and I don’t have to pay to begin with, why should I renew? When I put my photo up and get maybe one rating instantly from someone who gives me a 3 3 and then put this photo up on critque and get another two ratings and one statement, why put any effort in here? This is going to be your eventual problem here. Business 101 is to keep the customers you have. In a service like this where it is about information you also have to keep the customers that give back. While the plan on how to get new business and the model set up of what person is more likely to pay is sound, you're isolating the group that can most help you AND if enough of these types leave, could possible send photo.net spiraling. I don’t have such an ego as to say that without this group you will fail BUT it will be much harder for you.

    I understand the need for profit. I understand the need for balance. But you need to understand from someone who signed up for paid service two weeks after first discovering this site and paid you out of respect for what I thought you are trying to achieve, I will not renew my service because what I thought you were trying to do here and the reality of it are NOT the same.

    And before a comment like "taking my ball and running home" is made, don't you think for the one or two vocal people here there are not hundreds feeling the same? We are at least still holding on. Most will just give up and leave.
     
  73. photo.net is so much more than an "upload, rate and critique" site. The
    forums are fantastic; the input, skills and spirit in the general (not archived)
    section is a whole new world a few people would do well to explore.

    A lot of members who participate there would be very surprised to learn PN
    had any problems whatsoever.

    Concerning this thread : they deprive themselves who restrict their visits to
    the Gallery and POW. I did for the first 9 months or so of my membership -
    then seemed to grow out of it into the more genuine areas. I doubt any good
    or professional photographer goes to the trouble of clicking on those little
    rate boxes or hanging out on so-called high-rated pages. They might give and
    respond to critiques, but are otherwise a touch busy putting beer and bread
    on the table to worry about ratings.
     
  74. mg

    mg

    I guess life on the internet is all about assuming all kinds of things about all kinds of people you know nothing about - isn't it, Seven ? :)
     
  75. As I said, I´m new to PN. I guess I belong to category (2) because I´m really interested in feedback for my pictures, and specially of my critique skills, because I want to improve them and be able to critique my own work. Although i´ve been shooting for over 6 years now, I still consider myself a novice when it comes to the artistic apsect of photography, and this is what I´m most interested. I´ve never joined the circles because I have no means of sistematicaly uploading new pictures (no scanner, have to organize my negatives, lost due to several movings in the last five years), but I was an outside observer, and learned a lot just y looking and eventually critiquing. I think this is one of the best features on this site, and hope Carl and the other volunteers will figure out how to make them work properly.

    I´m glad to see some real good ideas that have been posted in this thread, mainly the ones on and after Christopher´s first post. I also don´t care about ratings, just the comments, and wouldn´t be sad to see them go, at least not in the critique cirles, as suggested. I also like one of Marc´s idea: critique of the week. This is one of the only features I found usefull in Photsosig, although the only "thumbs down" I rated was considered a bad comment, and not even by the author of the picture, who´s a friend of mine and found it very usefull. Go figure...

    Fact is, I think lots of the ideias can be extremelly usefull, others not so much, as they may drive away some of the people who just want their egos boosted. But these are probably not the ones who are subscribers anyway...

    Maybe you could charge for the privilege to join a critique circle. Guess it would solve both problems, circle members would have reasons to participate, after all, they´re paying for it, and they´re also paying, so more $$$. You could also reduce the quota of non-subscribers, to say, 50 pictures. If they really want to have more pictures commented upon or rated, pay for it. I would, if I found the critiques were usefull. The way they are now, I haven´t got a single usefull critique on my pictures, so I see no point paying for something I don´t get. Maybe when I join the circles...
    I´ll probably become a subscriber as soon as I can find some way to upload my images and join one of the circles, because that´s the part of the site I´m really interested in. I agree with Seven, the foruns are great, and I do use them a lot, but I can only grow from shooting and getting feedback, not from just reading how to use 43 different flash setups or what´s the best camera and lens...
     

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