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<p>I've been a paying subscriber for over 4 years now and in the beginning it seemed good. There were lots of exchanges and interactions between people but it seems these "human" interactions have become less and less recently. The forums seem to do well, but can sometimes turn volatile and may deter people's willingness to participate. The photograph side of it is what concerns me lately. It's become more of a "post and collect praise" type of situation and perhaps it's always been that way and now I'm just seeing it more. The friends that I regularly interact with have been pretty much the same people that I met in the beginning but rarely now do any "new" relationships develop anymore. The site is tediously difficult to interact with others in the photo/comments/critique aspect of the site. <br>

As for the ratings.......seems they do more harm then good.<br>

Photo.net excels at the technical aspects of photography and provides a wealth of information not only from the site administrators but from other members. It's just seems to me to be trending more towards a knowledge database and more away from people to people photography (if that makes any sense).<br>

I'll apologize in advance if this offends anybody or creates a hostile reaction. This was not my intention, just wanted to know if anyone else shared these thoughts.</p>

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<p>Nah, but if you search back you will find that between 2 and 4 years of participation, the "new" wears off, and so your plaint is pretty much on-schedule.</p>

<p>You just need to find the parts of the thing that fit your interests.</p>

<p>Some of us are perfectly happy with Classic Manual Cameras, for example, and rarely leave its comforting embrace. Others hang out other places (Philosophy forum, which I found I had to remove from my custom list, since I could never resist poking my stick into that papery looking ball in the tree). You get my drift.</p>

<p>And the ratings are no better and no worse than they ever were. The only change has been that there are more people on the site now. That can lead to "zoo psychosis" from over-crowding. Those are the members that pace back and forth in exactly the same path all day long.</p>

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<p> I've squatted here six+ years as a freeloader and see what Tim describes as an extension of what is happening in the world at large, and particularly the US, where most members are located. The hardening of categories, tensions, political and economic, etc. are reflected here -- in both staff and users. Also the toxic way media deals with issues, in a confrontational and combative way, has been subconsciously adopted by many listeners/viewers and trickled into primarily non-political sites like this one.</p>

<p> Like any other site, there's the gadflies, blowhards, cranks, and egomaniacs that have an out-of-proportion presence. Once you know who they are, their posts are easy to skip. Fighting with them is like wrestling a pig. They enjoy it and you get dirty. Those looking on find it hard to tell who's who in the cloud of dust. Best to dodge them entirely.</p>

<p>JDM makes a good case for approaching PN via the parts that specifically interest you, or that you can stand to inhabit. With a few curious oversights, and a peculiar angle (the questioning thing) PN is one of these commercial sites that tries to be all things to all photographers, and not surprisingly, partially succeeds, while destined to partially fail. It comes with the (vast) territory.</p>

<p> Some of the best discussions on the web take place in specialized, little-publicized, non-commercial sites/blogs with tiny memberships/readers. Finding them is not so easy.</p>

<p> One more thing: <strong>Tim, </strong>when you find that ideal site, please email me privately and let me know the URL. Thank you.</p>

<p> </p>

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<p>I agree with JDM. The new wears off and you have to decide what you want out of PN. There is very good info here, but your need for info diminishes as your skill increases. Still, ask any question and you will likely get very useful information. Use the search function first to see if the answer is already here. As far as meeting new people, the best way to do that is with respectful critique of photos you like. That will generally bring that photographer as much into your orbit as you like. It is pretty clear that the less I interact, the less people interact with me.</p>
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<p>Even Plato complained that the youth in his day were going to Hades in a handbasket. Things

change, and change is uncomfortable. Especially when change brings the end of something we

enjoyed.</p>

 

<p>Don’t let your nostalgia for what was good in the past blind you to the good that comes with the

new. And don’t be afraid to continue to nurture that which you cherish. If you won’t, who

will?</p>

 

<p>Cheers,</p>

 

<p>b&</p>

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<p>I agree with Robert Coney. As my skills have advanced I do have a tendency to not participate for long periods of time.I think that all web forums have a tendency to evolve over time. I have been here for over ten years and still think this is the best photography site on the internet.</p>
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<p>If I were a newbie on this site with "less than optimal" photography skills, I would generally be frustrated. It seems that the very best photographs get lots of comments, usually simply praise for such a great photo, while the photographs that lack much are often ignored entirely. Part of this may be that some people are reluctant to say a photo is not very good, even if they are saying so by offering suggestions for improvement. Also, it's easy to leave a few words of praise on a good photo; it takes more time and effort to leave constructive suggestions on a photo that has deficiencies. What I find to be very helpful is for the person making the post to state he/she is just a beginner, wants to improve, and specifically asks for feedback to help him/her make that improvement.</p>
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<p>All interesting points and I understand the "get what you put into it" argument, but it seems more often then not that that's not the case. Many comments given go unacknowledged. I don't understand asking for feedback and then not responding to the ensuing discussion. I find this especially in the TRP. I think part of the reason might be that the system we use for following up on previous comments or checking on new work of "interesting" artists seems a bit, primitive? I heard changes might be in the works for this type of thing and I think it would really help. </p>

<p>Perhaps, drawing off of Stephen's point, a more specific submission form for posting to the critique forum would help. <br>

I guess, to put it in a nutshell, it just feels like "slow motion" navigating this site and trying to interact with others.</p>

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<p><strong>Tim</strong>, I understand and agree. There *seems to be* less emphasis put on the people-to-people/critique stuff than on stuff that generates money, like tie-ins between gear talk and advertising, etc. *Seems to be* because the administration has said they are working hard on making substantial changes to the critique/ratings section. I'm sure it's a tough undertaking, demanding more resources than are available and not necessarily of highest priority for the business end of the site, which does keep the site up and running, of course.</p>

<p>I go through periods of frustration over the lack of reciprocal participation on the part of pretty seemingly selfish people who post lots of pictures asking for critiques and give few to others. I think some of the changes will try to address that selfishness. In the mean time, I hang on, my own participation fluctuating but steady, trying to do my little bit to contribute and make the site good in the way I want.</p>

<p>Practical suggestion: One of the ways I've started relationships with new people is to check out the photos of people who comment on other photographers I'm drawn to. If I like their portfolios, I will comment on several photos over the course of a couple of weeks. Since I've seen them commenting on others, I know they're at least willing to give something of themselves. I actually continue to establish new PN relationships that way, though it's HARD. I've maintained a lot of my early PN friends but a lot of them have also moved on. I've refreshed my acquaintances several times in more recent months.</p>

<p>I also check the "favorites" of photographers I like. If I find an interesting photographer, I get a lot out of just looking through their stuff. Then I will check to see if they make a reasonable amount (to me) of comments on others' work. If they do, I will usually comment on one or two (or more) of their photos and have often established a dialogue or relationship that way as well.</p>

We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!
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<p>Thanks Fred! All are excellent suggestions and I will give them a try. More recently, several of my friends that I met on Photo.net have moved into facebook and I've been able to keep up with them there much better than I have here, photographically and on a more personal level. That's the kind of personal interaction that PN seems to lack. It's nice as well to get more of a broader spectrum of people to view your work. Here, your work is almost invisible unless it's in the TRP. I've gotten almost two hundred fans for my Photography page in under a month. Here, I have about 35........in four years! Photo.net is an invaluable resource for photographic knowledge, but ultimately, it's about showing your work, being seen and networking. Unless I've missed something, I just don't see that here.</p>
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<p>I don't get the feeling that those in charge of PN want this to be or become a facebook-like experience, though they might love to generate that sort of income for themselves! Personally, I don't either. I want the social aspect here to be mostly centered around photography and for critique and in-depth photographic discussion to take place rather than a broader kind of social networking. I think numbers-visibility for each of us is not necessarily the goal of the site. I am pretty content with the 20 or so regulars and the couple of dozen less regular folk who take time to comment pretty sincerely and in more than just a sentence about my work. A couple of hundred virtual casual friends I'm definitely not looking for on this site. I think facebook serves that latter function well which many people find valuable. I haven't joined and I seem to be one of the few. But PN seems to serve a different function, and I think that's by design. I agree with you that there are probably much better ways than PN to get a broader spectrum of people to view your work. It sounds like a combination of facebook and PN is a good way for many to go.</p>
We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!
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I've been staying out of this, because there isn't any real "win" for me as far as trying to make a case that Tim doesn't feel

the way that he feels. We all change as people and thus our needs change as well. It is completely understandable for

someone to say "this resource no longer meets my needs". It doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with the site or

the person. It's just part of life and very specifically part of learning something.

 

However, what we (and I really mean "I", since it's my job) need to do is make sure that we aren't missing the evolution of

what the larger group, as a whole, has come to expect from a site like photo.net. Keep in mind that photo.net was started

at a time when there was no such thing as Facebook or myspace or "status updates" or Farmville or even instant

messaging programs. In fact, the idea that people would find and create friendships and communities on the web that

would be as important as their "real life" friendships was only barely starting to take hold. But of course, all that has

changed now and photo.net needs to adjust to that reality.

 

Fred is right, as I have said in the past, photo.net does not want to be Facebook. Facebook does very well at being

Facebook, we don't need to copy that. But what I would like to bring to the site are some of the types of features that we

have gotten used to on "social" websites and in other forum software. An internal messaging system, some sort of "this is

what your friends have done on the site recently" wall or newsfeed, a bit more recognition for the people who make the

effort to help others, and so on. We've made some small steps in that direction (the film can icons, the off topic forum, etc)

but there is plenty more to do.

 

I'm doing my best with the resources I have and I'm always open to hearing ideas. I may not agree with you, but I do

promise to listen and consider any ideas that users express to me.

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<p>Fred, Josh......please don't get me wrong. I DO NOT want photo.net to become facebook. I wouldn't renew my subscription to photo.net every year if it wasn't meeting my needs. They each have their place. I love coming here and being able to focus entirely on photography. What I like about facebook is the fluidity. Interacting with others comes easily whereas here it's a bit more step by step. (does that make any sense?). Homepage notifications of new work posted, responses, etc would be a great start. I think we've discussed that before in another thread Josh. I think if the interactions between photographers was a bit easier, than everything else in regards to exposure would fall into place. With the things you mention Josh, it sounds like we are thinking alike and I'll leave that to you. </p>
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<p>Tim, I havent been here as long, but my skill and knowledge level has grown considerably over the last couple of years, in part because of the folks here. I dont expect to find those "why didnt I think of that" moments every time I log on but that is because of the substantial amount of information funneled into my brain from this site. The site is a valuable replacement for the brick and mortar shops that are disappearing where information could be gathered. But I am reading a book recommended last week I dont know I would have discovered without this site. I thumbed through it and there was one of those nuggets. Its also a great source for "shopping" advice. I try to take the time to give back to the site to pass on the courtesy of help that was shown me here. Its sure better than watching someones eyes glaze over when you start discussing photography. </p>
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<p>I appreciate that Bob and I appreciate everything I've gotten out of this site. There's an abundance of technical information on this site, but I'm not a tekkie. I'm more interested in the emotional, spiritual, human aspects of photography and thats what I think is needed more. That's what I want out of this site and it seems to have diminished since I joined.<br>

This site has survived for a long time because the people who run it and the people who contribute to it have a passion for photography. I have no doubt that they will continue to improve the site. I just thought it might be good to discuss.</p>

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<p>Tim, sounds like some interesting future topics. Could you give some examples? Where would they go in the current forums? I think I agree, since I dont think I have seen much of it here. I confess to not being a visitor to the philosophy forum. Could be because of 2 years of philosophy required in college, but just took a look at it and I like what I see.</p>
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<p>I've been a member going on four years or so- I joined to educate myself on the finer functions of DSLR's, and at first my learning curve was exponential. I've refrained from requesting photo critiques because I'm brutally honest with myself about quality, composition and originality (or the client reminds me...) I've never offered a critique because one man's ceiling is another man's floor. I stick to the forums and ask questions where I need answers, and respond to questions when I'm certain I know the correct answer. I avoid topics like, "What lens?" (These go all over the chart, and people suggest all kinds of outlandish alternatives even when the OP asks about a specific lens...) or, "Photoshop vs. Photography" (Nuff sed).<br>

Nowadays I pick up a gem here or a gem there, and enjoy reading posts from some very knowledeable people I've come to know while being a member. Basically, I'm getting what I need here. I may stop visiting so much in the future, but for now I'm a happy clam.</p>

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<p>Bob, I just think making the people to people interaction a little more fluid. Right now commenting on other peoples work, getting replies, etc seems a bit primitive. <br>

Robbie - the knowledge is overwhelming here and I've never tried to claim otherwise. Personally When I take a photograph, I know what I like and what I don't and how to achieve it. Frankly all the technical data is cool for engineers to discuss, but I know if I turn this or push that......I get the results that I want. I really don't care "how" it does what it does. I suppose I relate myself to a musician that doesn't read music. <br>

Where I'm at now in my photography, I'm just more interested in the human element, not so much the camera side of it anymore. You know what I mean?</p>

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