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ronners 03-21-2007 12:20 AM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?
I think that improving things is out of the question because this site is a reflection of human nature. We all want to be loved so we write nice critiques for others, etc. etc. It's hard to change that and I don't think we can try. Bob's idea of segregation is one option, but the problem is - where does it end? You go from having a separate site for thoughtful critiques (a 'Critique Club') to a sub-site dedicated to landscapes, to a sub-site dedicated to mountains. OK, I'm being facetious on purpose but I think you can see what I mean.

Another thing to keep in mind is why are people members at all? There are a fair number of members who quite happily treat this as another Flickr, and posting a few snapshots here and there and sharing glowing critiques with their mates is what its all about.

The biggest issue is that you learn through both criticism and the work of others that you aspire to. TrekEarth often provides neither learning experience, but that's just a facet of its popularity. Your suggestion still, in my view, won't completely accomplish your goals. Critiques by someone who is still 'learning the game' may be highly rated by someone else in the same boat, and you as the photographer still don't benefit.

As I noted before, quite often the best criticism is self-criticism. If you were asked to present one of your photographs as the finest accomplishment of your life would you be able to do so? If you were asked if you would have liked to have done better, would you say "yes"?

BobTrips 03-21-2007 01:38 AM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?
"As I noted before, quite often the best criticism is self-criticism. If you were asked to present one of your photographs as the finest accomplishment of your life would you be able to do so? If you were asked if you would have liked to have done better, would you say "yes"?"

I'm very self-critical of my photographs. But that doesn't mean that I know what might be wrong/better/fixed.

The value of this site in the early days (for me) was that I could post one of "my best" images and have a group of people give me critical feedback. Early on I learned a lot about framing, sharpening, etc. There were (and still are) things that I couldn't see even when I was looking right at them.

(It will be a long time, if ever, before I could present one of my photographs as the finest accomplishment in my life. I'm better at a few other things. ;o)

ronners 03-21-2007 02:37 AM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?

Once we all get a handle on the technical stuff (sharpness etc.) it becomes more of a question of "Does this photo say what I want it to?". I think that the photographer is the best one to make a judgement on that. What I look for here is a feel for what a photograh says to someone else. For example, I'll get a bunch of "Oh, that looks like something from LOTR". Well, that's fine, but why do you like that kind of image? That for me is the key - digging below the surface of "I like this photo because it reminds me of something else that I like". That would be really interesting feedback.


BobTrips 03-21-2007 03:15 AM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?
What you're asking for, seems to me, is thoughtful criticism.

Me too.

Good, helpful criticism comes in many forms. There's not just the technical feedback (which I still need), there's criticism of content, composition, and probably lots of other things.

The topic at hand, I believe, is how to get it.

I'll repeat my point. First you need an environment in which criticism is valued and encouraged.

Adrian started this discussion about a potential way to improve critiques and I think his idea has merit. But it doesn't apply to this site in its current configuration.


ronners 03-21-2007 03:27 AM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?

Davids 03-21-2007 11:40 AM

10 thoughts
We had the discussion many times before, one and a half year ago, Jose Elias <a href="" target="new window">started</a> a topic, and I also sugested to <a href="" target="new window">calibrate</a> people.

So suggestions;
1) a seperate section for people who actualy stick to the TOS (don't like that);
2) after each 100 critiques, you will be calibrated by other members (how to do?), your name will turn gold is all is OK, or stay blue if not;
3) report TOS violations more often (already possible on TE today!);
4) add the possibility to mark critiques as favourite;
4a) only allow comments, if three people mark it as usefull, it turns into a critique. Moderators should check if is it O.K., if not, they revers the process. The people who mark comments as usefull in contradiction with the TOS, get their ability to mark comments as usefull removed after 3 or 5 of such occasions, for a period of 2 weeks first, the second time it happens, two months, the (last) third time for ever. (this is closest to your proposal)
5) apoint more moderators (a few hundred should be enough)
6) allow new members to write critiques only three month after joining, the first three month thay can only write comments;
7) allow new members to post a new photo after writing 6 comments (the average on TE per photo);
8) take a test before people join TE, asking questions about the TOS. If they fail, they should try again, so in the end Adam can be sure they have actualy read the TOS before joining (hmmm, childish isn't it?);
9) set up an alternative for TE (worse proposal so far);
10) install a filter that allerts moderators about bad critiques (that's why the few hundred moderators);

In the end, it starts with yourself. I have changed through the years, and my last step was to use the full range of smilies, and not automaticly give the dark-green-two-points-smile. It doesn't make me popular, but it makes me feel good.

I have noticed more members putting up TE-profiles in their Intro, and I think it is a good idea.

flagman 03-21-2007 01:38 PM

Re: 10 thoughts
What about this idea? Should be quite effective and should only be a fairly minor change for the site?
Members have the ability to mark a critique as 'crap', 'useless', or whatever you want to call it. At the moment, we only have the option of neutral or useful.
Obviously, if this could be tied so some sort of automatic warning or banning of such critiquers, all the better!

I think the idea of splitting the site into 'serious critiques' and 'points harvesters' is a no-go. The TOS are there for all to see, if people don't want to conform, they should go elsewhere.


AdrianW 03-21-2007 02:23 PM

Re: 10 thoughts
Actually there was a "not useful" rating originally, still is on TL I think.

Adam removed it from here and TN though, I think in light of abuse/retribution issues, but I can't remember...

kevinos 03-21-2007 03:43 PM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?
Ron (Ronners) makes some really good points. Not everyone is capable of writing a real critique. By a real critique, I mean one that tries to say what you really think of a picture (and that means that you actually have to think about it) and tries to explain why you like what you like or don't like what you donít like. It could still be crap, of course, but at least itís honest crap. However it is not trite critiques that I find depressing; it is a whole syndrome.

You notice a rather average snapshot has got over 70 points. Astonished, you look further and discover, that the author of the picture
1) Always gets a heap of points, whether the picture is good or not.
2) Writes the full quota of critiques every day.
3) Tends to critique proven responders, that is, members who are known to repay points.
4) Always writes trite, brief and flattering critiques.
5) Tends to receive the same trite and flattering critiques, plus two points, of course, in return.
Itís not lack of critiquing skill that depresses me, it is this whole syndrome.
Many TE members that I have talked with are equally depressed and some have drifted away from TE because of it.

So when I post a picture, it will probably get a few points, and if Iím lucky, a real critique (for whaich i am always grateful). The points received will be, not so much a reflection of its quality as of my recent critiquing activity. So, I am not encouraged to improve. Worst of all, it pushes me to write crap critiques myself. On the basis that it seems rude not to say something nice about that kind person that was nice about mine.

I have found that, you can say 10 good thing about a picture but it you say one critical thing, you have lost a friend. Many members donít really want critiques, they want flattery and points and that game leads us all nowhere.

lcelvenes 03-21-2007 04:19 PM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?
Hi Adrian

Unfortunately I don't have the time to read all the posts at the moment, but I have a question. I'm not familiar with slashdot, so I was wondering if you could post an example here in the thread to show us what a critque could look like? That would be great. I believe the best way to change the critiquing culture on TE (and TL and probably TN) is to make sure our own critiques meet the standards we seek in others. Well done, thanks for taking the initiative :)


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