Ned Rants

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  • In a couple of months, I will reach my fourth anniversary as a member of Trekearth. I still remember how amazed I was as I viewed truly wonderful pictures from around the world. I immediately signed up and started posting some of the work I had shot with film, printed and then scanned. I was almost instantly welcomed and began to receive critiques from the members. To say the least, I was thrilled. In those days there were three distinct rating levels, and at the time they were all freely used. The critiques were honest, and sometimes cut to the bone, but that was ok, and more often than not, complete, accurate and fair.

    At that time, TE was a much smaller place, so nobody had an excessive number of critiques, and those that did have many were mostly serious works of art, deserving every bit of praise they received. Even a lot of very bad photos received a number of critiques, but they were often heavy on Yellow Frowny Face ratings, and that was ok too in my book. But soon, people began to feel that they were somehow hurtful and needed to be eliminated, and were eventually done away with.

    Then, direct and honest, cut to the bone critiques were deemed to be not good, discouraging or otherwise unwelcome, to the point that a couple of the highest rated and best critique writers resigned and left the site. I for one was sorry to see them go as I appreciated the direct, detailed and enlightening critiques. But culture is what it is, and that is the way it goes as time marches forward.

    So you’re probably thinking, “Where is Ned going with this.” I’m not concerned about how many critiques I receive or don’t receive, because as I see it you get what you put into it, and my ledger is pretty well balanced I think. I’m not even concerned about the points that I get or don’t get, because it’s not about the points for me either; it’s about learning to be better and about sharing.

    Like many others, as I browse through postings, I see some shots that are absolutely astounding and inspire me to do better, to try new methods and seek out new places. But as I’ve seen in many threads, I also see what I have to call over rated snapshots. In some cases I am stunned to see them so highly rated, so I look closer tying to find redeeming quality, to read critiques to find out what other people see in the picture that I must be missing. What I sometimes find is disheartening to me. I see way too many “nice shot” critiques, which has always been a problem, but oh well. I also see some raving praise, which seems to be totally undeserved, which leaves me scratching my head. I’m talking about photos where the image quality is so bad that you can’t make out details, colors off so badly I can’t help but wonder how it happened and in some cases, a total lack of artistic merit. But the thing I guess amazes me most, is that at times I do see quite accurate critiques, that describe the faults and shortcomings, without any praise, yet they still pass out big ol’ smile faces. Conversely, as has been discussed here many times, I see beautiful shots, posted by people who seem to make an effort to exchange honest, straight forward critiques, yet they barely even get critiqued.

    So why am I writing this? I guess I just need to get it off my chest. It seems to me, that TE has become a place where back slapping has become king. Where critiques must not in anyway degrade an image, and even if they do, it seems people are afraid to withhold reward of big smiley faces. I have to say that all of this has diminished the value of this place for anyone who is seeking honest and frank critiques.

    I apologize if someone finds this harsh, unflattering or too honest. But that is how I am seeing it more and more, and felt that I needed to voice it. It doesn't mean that I'm going to resign, or that I will critique less, but I do have to be honest and say, some of things that attracted me to the site seem to be gone, diminshing the value to us all.
  • Re: Ned Rants
    interesting..Ive never read this before.
  • Re: Ned Rants
    Got your armor on?
  • Re: Ned Rants
    i motion that we allow the man to get this off his chest... and then comment no more on this thread.

    Starting 57 anger filled rants below this post.
  • Re: Ned Rants
    Nice dream of 2003 Ned.. wish I could share it with you, but then I entered TE as late as 6 months later than you and already at that time it had all changed - what a world..
  • Re: Ned Rants

    I've been here a few months longer than you ;) I mostly agree with what you write, but it isn't really a TrekEarth problem per se. It's human nature to want to be 'loved' (if that's not too strong a term) so in any large group of individuals it's probably more likely that you will find people trying to enamor themselves to others. This, unfortunately, is where the whole original concept has begun to partially fall down. There is still value here, but these days its just harder to find.

    Of course you could form your own group and only interact with those selected few, but wouldn't that then be somewhat hypocritical in itself?

    The backslappers aren't 'bad' people, they just either don't yet have the experience or courage to give honest thoughtful critiques. We were all like this when we came here. It's all inevitable - the site becomes more popular, more inexperienced members join, they bring their friends, they repel bad criticism and welcome green smileys.

    Aside from that, there are a few clever little people who like to troll the forums, but we shouldn't worry about them ;)



    PS Good luck with the Alaska trip. I'm doing the 'Great Circle' in the South West later this year, so hopefully we'll both get some good work.
  • Re: Ned Rants
    Very nicely said, Ron. Nice to listen to somebody who puts more thought than passion in the recurring "points" problem.
  • Re: Ned Rants
    Dear Ned.
    Greatly written article. No complains about the points, the un-justice on TE - just simple wondering about 'What's going on' ?.
    Well…We all know the story…We've written the screenplay, we are the miserable actors playing our roles according to that screenplay.
    What can I say…We love to be loved. We love to be loved more than we deserve to be loved (I am talking about our pictures here).
    So, we go around and we commit idiocies…Small, not very harmful idiocies.
    We give the points for stinkers…It happens !
    We don't reward the points for good ones, because she/he didn't give the points to us - It happens!
    We pretend that we didn't notice certain people…it happens!
    We don't like certain people (usually, because they are better photographers than we are)…It happens.
    We go and we give the points to the people we SHOULD give the points…it happens.
    We go and we give the rewards, because there are already 150 points, so maybe the photo IS really good ((NOT !!! IT ISN'T !!!)) - it happens.
    We go and we praise the photo because 'What the heck …Why not (???) - it happens.
    We go and give (or not) the praise because we are naïve, inexperienced, silly, educated, simply stupid, smart alecks, lacking talent for anything (so, I'll buy a camera and I'll press that good looking button on it)….
    How many people, how many reasons….? And only one of those reasons is the solid one…It can't be deny…
    We love to be loved…
    Oh, Almighty…How we love to be loved…
    <B>I LOVE TO BE LOVED !!!!</B>
    That's it…
    Now I go and I have another beer !
    Oooops…Ehrrr…I mean…A glass of Domaine de la Chanteleuserie Bourgueil…
    Salut, my dear friends…
  • Re: Ned Rants
    ... all your money, all your time in exchange for a self-satisfactory illusion ...

    Look at me

    Selling air, illusions has always been worlds best business,
    Who is exploiting/using/abusing Who ?

    Just drift along and enjoy, life is too short to waste time ...
  • Re: Ned Rants
    Hey Ned,

    I've also been around for almost four years. As long as I have been doing photography. So, to me TE is pretty integral to my development as a photographer. I by and large share your negative assessment of the development of the critique culture. It is indeed bad that such a small percentage of the crits amount to constructive criticism. In fact, I find that I can no longer rely on the number of views/crits as an indicator as to how interesting the pic is. It seems that the number of view which a post gets depends mainly on how many big smileys i've been dishing out lately (and since I write longish crits, it is normally only a few). So, I share your verdict that the critique culture is in decline. Perhaps it just goes with a bigger community.

    I wonder whether it is possible to make a 'fraction' within TE who are into serious criticism. For example one could make a 'critics club' of members who commit to write crits of no less that 50 words?

    Just a thought looking forwards rather than backwards.