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flagman 03-22-2007 02:24 PM

Re: Adrian's original post: Improving critique quality?
Adrian, do you have any idea how many critiques are given out on this site every day? Tens of thousands I would guess.
Surely you don't expect moderators to read them all and check their usefulness?
No, any process which involves the moderator getting involved on a day-to-day basis, even for a short period of time, is just a non-starter.
Only an automatic system will work, e.g. disabling of accounts if someone always writes useless critiques.
I realise that this is open to abuse and unwarranted dismissals. Maybe something lighter, like a 'useless critiquer' star rating! :)
Such a change would only require a one-time change of the site.


Davids 03-22-2007 02:39 PM

Re: Adrian's original post: Improving critique quality?
A combination of a technical filter and more than one moderator would be sufficiant.
If you have a look at the critiques you or I received, you would see that it only takes a few minutes to moderate. No offence ment off coarse.

bazal 03-22-2007 02:41 PM

Re: To the TE elite
A few more thoughts...

First I would like to say I totally agree with Jack.

"The arguable part is that Adam could decide that critiques that only write about positive parts of the photo -even when this is motivated- are actualy comments, and if a member is persistant in only writing (largly) possitive comments that are marked as critiques, he could remove them."
- What is arguable in that? That Adam could decide to do that or that you would visibly like him to do that?

"The question Adam will have to answer is if it is still the intention of TE that the bulk of critiques only emphasise the good aspects, and if he will be more critical of these critiques? "
- Well, I tink he will answer that if he thinks it's useful to do so. From my own point of view (which might be not a good POV...). I'm not sure it is.

"I have a creative profession, and being not critical will mean...".
- I'm happy you have such an interesting job, but if this pressure can be a good thing in your professionnal life, I don't think TE is intended to become a place to put any pressure on the contributors. I think most of us spend enough time dealing with that in our real life.

And finally, "has TE become too common, where writing about the parts of a photo or note that needs improvement has become too rare to be accaptable? Do members understand it is part of TE to do so, and that it has no personal intentions, other than to help the person? Have TE members become too experienced, and are they posting only good photos these days?"
- I think this point is completely out out common sense: where did you see that negative comments were not acceptable and not accepted? I think that most of the TE members perfectly understand that and are more than happy to receive or send constructive advises as soon as they are written in a respectuous way. From my experience, I've never had any bad feedback from somebody I criticized in such a way.

Have a nice day.
Kind regards.

jrj 03-22-2007 02:49 PM

Re: To the TE elite
Lots of interesting arguments David. Also the reference to Jose Elias, for me an outstanding member of this site, - in fact so interesting that I made a special trip to Portugal in 2005 where I had the pleasure of meeting him and his friend Sofia - before he deleted his whole portfolio mostly of frustration to the endless discussion of points and the arrogant attitude by some few, who thinks very good of themself, at this site.

You are right David, there are several possibilities to improve how we work on TE. The good thing would be if this was done by discussing selected topics without hanging out the group of members that, by different reasons and agendas simply is more active than others. <a href=""target="_blank">This list</a> is the first page in a listing of those members - I can't belive that they all are here just to collect points.

Anyone is welcome to suggest improvements - especially if we can do it by using motivation and posetive values and not in the process being so empty for arguments that there is a need to do a regular insulting of some members. I am also on this list and it's not for the sake of the points.

AdrianW 03-22-2007 03:47 PM

Re: To the TE elite

All I'm trying to do improve my photography, and hopefully that of other people - and the way we're supposed to accomplish that here is through critiques and workshops.

The reason I'm suggesting changes is that I don't feel I'm learning much here any more - hence my low post rate, well that and illness.

I was trying to start a positive discussion on ways to correct the issues as I see them, so I (and hopefully others) could learn more here.

I was also trying to find ways to make this place more self moderating, so Adam didn't have to put so much time into moderating day-to-day - hopefully freeing him to take some more photographs (since he hasn't posted a picture here since 2003), or develop something new and exciting for us to enjoy, or simply spend time with his young family.

I don't think of the past on TE as being "the good old days", and I don't think the site has changed much in reality - but I'm starting to wonder whether it needs to if we're to mature as photographers.

Maybe my aims are wrong, perhaps my method's wrong, heck maybe I'm just plain wrong, period - finding out which was the point of starting this thread ;)

jrj 03-22-2007 04:05 PM

Re: To the TE elite
I'm the first Adrian to credit you for being a perfectionist and a highly appreciated member of this community.

And I think you should be the best to start threads, even courses, discussing all aspects of photographing, postprocessing, writing of critics or whatever.

My reference to the 'good old days' go to some guys who was here some 6-12 months before you and me and who can't forget this golden age of TE. And then of course you have the more 'professional' participants in the forum who time after time just have to make the negative reference to the most active members and who participate in as good as all threads in this forum.

My engagement here was only: Keep focus on the topics - and if anyone is out of arguments then just don't make cheap points of other members and how they act - rather invite to a wider discussion, including those that have the time and maybe also some competence to be of value to this forum.

Finally to your original thread: My hope is that we can develop with a minimum use of moderators, live or mechanical, development based by knowledge and insight for me seems a better way to go.

Davids 03-22-2007 04:10 PM


thanks for your reaction, even if you do not agree.
"The arguable part . . .", the point is that Adam could at some point decide that more constructive critiques are in the interest of TE and that the TOS should be interpreted different.
My persoanl interest is that TE would become more like it was in the begining. For instance I had many critiques about my cropping, I learned from that. Since the beginning of 2006 I have only learned a few more things technically, and I'm critical enough to know I need more improvement.

"I have a creative . . . ", the point is if people joined TE to learn about the world and improve their techniques, or because they want points. If points are their only motivation, than this will indeed put pressure on people. But if Adam decides that TE should be stress free, a happy-happy place on the internet without any pressure, than TE-principles will erode.

"And finally, "has TE . . ." It's about the fact that the amount of constructive critiques (as well as using the full cale of smileys) are becomming more and more rare, that this essential part of TE is disappearing, this results in the fact that many members -unlike you- do take it personal. I have experienced that if I am critical, or use the full range of smilies, people do not critique my photos.
So even if YOU do understand there is nothing personal about me being critical, I must have had the rarest string of luck of all TE members to run in almost every single one of them.
please Loic, try it; give one smily to the photos from total strangers where you think that the photo deserve this, and see what happens.

Loic, and other who read this; I am not 'against' TE, not at all, but I am speaking out my mind. I just want TE to be more like it was; a place where I (and others!) can learn to improve techniques, where a more critical approach is apreciated.

Davids 03-22-2007 04:50 PM

Re: To the TE elite
I respect many of the members with high points. Every now and then I bump into one of them, (smoetimes because of critiques they write), and when I look at their portfolio, I cannot help to think "there is nothing to critique here for me", just because their photos are GOOD, including the notes. I can only look at their photos and study them.
What I like about this discussion is that we do dicuss the level of critiques, and I liked Kevins remark earlier; that if you receive crap critiques, you start to write crap critiques yourself. This may seem harsh, but take away the negative feelings, and you end up with a funny self-reflection.
I know, others will not be able to look at it this way, but please understand, just because I have less than 1000 points, I have been on TE long enough to appreciate the effort of every member with lots of points. I also understand that all the effort it took to get the points, even when the number of points to them is irrelevant, makes them vulnarable.

It was great to see Jose back, His photos, notes, critiques are realy interesting to read, to study.
In the line of this dicussion today; did you read the last line of his last critique? I would be so motivated to do better :)))!

ronners 03-23-2007 04:29 AM

Will critique for food
OK then, the carrot works better than the stick, so I'm willing to put myself up there as a 'critiquer' (I have a gold star for such things so I must know what I'm talking about - right?). Forget all this moaning about who knows how to write a critique and who doesn't/won't/can't. If some of us here think that we can provide so much value then let's at least offer some kind of example to others. All we need is some kind of formal mechanism for this (I can probably handle a few a day, and I'm sure others can too).

If you are interested please be prepared to put a LOT of effort into this - not in the volume of critiques you write, but their value. Any 'volunteer' who doesn't put the effort in gets booted off the island. If no formal mechanism is made available, I can construct some kind of theme and do it that way.

Who is up for it then?

AROBN54 03-23-2007 05:55 AM

Re: walk this way...
Hi, Henk,
So much you said is true. I remember especially being really new and feeling intimdated to say what I might think was wrong with a photo. What did I know?? And you have to write critiques to get a feel of how to explain yourself. I don't like to ramble on and on, but I have been known to uh, 'gush' over shots I reallly liked. Sometimes it's still hard not to. And if I see a good picture that can be made a reeeally good picture?? I do a workshop. It's easier than explaining. If I can't make it better in a workshop? I don't say anything. I try not to make a BIG difference in the shots. Only like a woman wearing makeup. Enhance, not cover. Anyway. I still haven't made a shot in two weeks I have not deleted.

Davids 03-23-2007 09:59 AM

Re: Will critique for food

lcelvenes 03-23-2007 01:04 PM

Re: To the TE elite
Why is this discussion suddenly all about points? I thought we were talking about ways to critique better. Lets focus on that. What I've started doing (though it's not been a whole lot of critiquing or posting lately because of other engagements), is to give an explanation for why I like a photograph and commenting on a) why it caught my attention b) the composition c) what in the composition I like (lines, symmetry etc) c) colors, shapness, light d) the note to the photo e) my suggestions for improvement, unless I've mentioned them already, and not necessarily in that order. It depends on what I see in the photo. I may be flying high mentally, but then I don't know what TE used to be like, so I don't mind (and I'm sure STASI and KGB won't track me down as long as I keep flying ;)

How about we start with some basics. It's been mentioned before (maybe on this thread, I don't remember right now), but how about generally looking for 1) composition 2) exposure/color/light/sharpness 3) suggestions for improvements (if any) 4) note on the photo.
I'm not saying my way is the best, but after I changed my critiquing style, I've gotten some positive feedback from people appreciating it. I'm no master photographer by any means, but I like to think that my thoughts might help. In any case, my goal is to make it constructive, and if people appreciate it, GREAT, if not, that's fine as well. They're only my thoughts.


rushfan2112 03-23-2007 03:07 PM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?
I used to be a haphazard critiquer but have learned that the more I critique and post, the more responses I got to my photos.

Then an interesting phenomenon began to happen. I started to notice that I was in contact with what is now what I feel is a good, steady cross-section of TE members from a wide geographical background as well as different styles. It's nice to think that some of them could become long-term friends.

This is fantastic; a great website, the chance to learn about the world and improve my photography simultaneously and also to "meet" and make new friends. I'm more than happy with this site as it stands but, if it can be imporved, happier still.

What we seem to be trying to do on this thread, however, is to build an objective framework around a very subjective issue.

Commenting on "technical merit" and "artistic impression" simultaneously is very difficult to do without making it "personal".

Moreover, some members may adore a particular photo but not be able to express "why" (tis is not a comment on laguage issues). This doesn't mean that their opinion is worth less than an "expert", does it? Aren't we all equal in this respect?

For what it's worth, the way I try to critique is by saying what I like about the shot and what I think might (repeat, might...) be done to improve it.

If I don't think it can be improved, I'm not going to try to make something up. Does that mean that my "critique" is only a "comment" and that I can't allocate points? Hope not. If it were the case, the better photographers had better watch out as they won't get many points in future! (joke).

The key, I believe, is to criticise the photo and not the photographer. If you do the latter, you make it very personal and lose the chance to make a friend. Worse till, you could make an enemy.

Comments like "You should have done this..." or "You got this wrong....." should, in my opinion, be replaced with "If you had tried this.......the composition (etc) might have been a little better. Do you agree?".

Lars-Christian's suggestion seems, in my view, to be very good indeed. A combination of a reasoned commentary about what one likes about the shot and one believes might be done to improve it would definitely get the best out of me.

jrj 03-23-2007 05:45 PM

Re: To the TE elite
My engagement here was not about points, but the repeated negative reference to members with more than xx points and xx critics – as if you are so poor in arguing that the only way to participate in a thread is to ‘en bloc’ call all their critics for crap – why not just focus on the actual topic.

The wish for an extensive use of moderators: I am very much against it as the moderators already have exposed casual attitude where some very good members have been either removed or have deleted their accounts, where maybe a little more flexibility could have solved issues of the conflicts. And I strongly believe more in working with motivation and improved insight than having controllers all around us.

With regard to your own ideas of how to improve critics. For me it looks quite OK – but the most important is that if this way to work is good for you, then keep it up, maybe even others will like to do it your way.
The thing with TE today is that there are a variety of reasons for members to be here and there must be room for a variety of ways to participate without being insulted for how you interact, or be forced into a world where moderators is looking over your shoulder all the time.

I have received some 12.000 critics, everyone welcomed. But I admit without blushing that having one or two lines from an obvious inexperienced member who writes of enthusiasm and by hart pleases me more than a clinical and technical report of my merits.

And I also note that when I have met some 60-70 TE members on TE gatherings or private, even at my mountain cottage, we talk about many things – points is never an issue.

lcelvenes 03-23-2007 08:33 PM

Re: To the TE elite
Hi Jack.

I realize that you may feel like a target when it comes to the whole point discussion (given that you've got a few of them), but the reason for my last post was basically because I didn't want to read another 50 posts regarding points, when improving critiquing styles was the issue at hand. Having said that, I had another reason for posting, that I didn't mention. Your use of "Sir Adrian", and with "3 posts in 2006" and so on, as well as the STASI and KGB comments (which I did joke a bit with), I think were simply uncalled for. Now, maybe you two have some inside thing going on between the two of you, that I've misunderstood (if so, my apologies). However, to me it looks like you're trying to get Adrian to back off, and anyone else with a different opinion than yours for that matter, by being rude. Looking at the photo on your account here, I can only assume that you're old enough to know that that kind of behavior is childish, and does nothing else than make you yourself look bad. I realize that this isn't the most constructive comment, but I'm just giving you the impression that I got when I read your post. The way I see it, that kind of behavior gets you nowhere, and I hope you'll refrain from that kind of feedback to people in the future. If you can't comment on other people's posts in a grown up, constructive and professional manner, please don't comment at all.
I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I think it's a shame that a long time TE member, with very well improved photography skills as well, feels a need to try to (the way it looks to me, anyway) belittle other members for whatever reason.

My thoughts. Take 'em or leave 'em. I hope I can focus on being a 100 % constructive from now on. Sorry everyone, as this post really doesn't touch in on critiquing.


jrj 03-23-2007 08:40 PM

Re: To the TE elite
Smile Lars Christian... and read the whole thread..

BobTrips 03-23-2007 08:45 PM

Re: To the TE elite
And I'd suggest you take some time and carefully consider what you've posted in this thread.

From one old dog to another....

jrj 03-23-2007 08:58 PM

Re: To the TE elite
My smile is even wider Bob..

I was betting with myself how long time it would take before this turned into some personal harassing - and now we are there.

Well, good thing then that we have the moderators around..

BobTrips 03-23-2007 09:04 PM

Re: To the TE elite
We were "there" with your first post.

I think you owe Adrian an apology. You were way, way off base. IMHO.

jrj 03-23-2007 09:33 PM

Re: To the TE elite
I suggest Bob to read this part of the thread:

I do know that English is not my native language but pls. enlighten me in which points that do not honour our Adrian here..

jrj 03-23-2007 10:34 PM

Re: To the TE elite
Sorry, what I meant was:
I suggest Bob that you read this part of the thread:

I do know that English is not my native language but pls. enlighten me in which part that I do not honour our Adrian here..
(..who said that language is easy, not to mention points ;-)

And then from me:
TGIF -- Thank God it's Friday. Have a nice weekend.

With special thank's to Bulent and his in depth critic including this (for me) new abbreviation)

Davids 03-24-2007 08:07 AM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?
you are right, "The key, I believe, is to criticise the photo and not the photographer."
If you look at the last, lets say 100 critiques, you will see that they are almost all flatering, have a dark green smiley and the bulk describes what people like.
When I joined TE I would get critiques like this;
"Very nice David. You have very good eyes. But I still think you should learn some post-processing software. It would be really great with more saturation and contrats. But nice shot." or "Hi David. Monks pics are always beautiful. But I think that you could put more color, contrast and sharpness." or "There is a nice feeling coming out of this shot, I like the pastel greens from the river and grass, and just a little work on the cropping or framing and trying to eliminate the bluishness on their skin could bring it out even better."
Was I shocked? Yes, but I learned that it is part of TE, and believe me, I noticed people would give me more feedback, if I tried. Now the guy who wrote the first two critiques, stopped in the beginning of 2006.
The last one is from Herve, better known as Kinginexile. He used to be very active, and now almost quit.

The fact that you have to spell it out that the key is to critisice the photo is a clear sign that something is wrong. OF COARSE we never should critisice the person, BUT we should -of coarse- write constructive critiques.
All the time I have used 'cunstructive' and not 'negative'.
So Yes, I agree, but it's seems SO logical to me, that now I'm afraid that in the last year something terrible must have happened to the people on earth, if they cannot make the difference anymore between a critique on a thing and that it is not personal :)

Aaaaaah, I'm getting old!!!

Davids 03-24-2007 08:40 AM

Re: Sorry...
Bob. As a hypothesis, I agree completely
I just noticed you do not give smilies, fantastic!

CliffW 03-24-2007 10:00 AM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?
I thought I was firmly in the camp of one analytical and considered critique, when offered respectfully, has as much value as 20 "good job" postings. Well, at least it would for me. I'd be, and have been, flattered, to have a shot dissected with points where I could improve. I know I can - a lot.

But more than once recently, I've tried to make up for what I lack in volume with what I considered quality. A fairly lengthy critique explaining why I thought a change in POV might have helped, or why cropping a spare arm in the crowd out would improve the shot. Not harsh or anything, explaining that over all I thought the shot was good, or that their usual shots were great but that this one might not meet their usual good standards. I would hope that no one would take this critique at face value - it's just an opinion. And coming from the likes of me, for heavens sake! No pro, but maybe i think I see something to talk about on a shot. Maybe I'm wrong too. Surely though critism can be balanced between the positive and the negative. Both of these forces exist in equal measure nature for a reason, so....

Anyway, all that logic doesn't really end up mattering. The photo gets deleted along with the critique. *shrugs* Has happened a number of times lately. I can't tell who to offer a real critique to and who to just pat on the back. Could we get a setting in our accounts, scale of 1-5 or something, to show people whether we want the whole truth or a shot of sugar? I'd check first... beats tip toeing around or wasting your time.

oochappan 03-24-2007 10:54 AM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?
Let's not forget the main idea of TE, learning about the world ... !

I have seen really technical bad shots but learning me a hell of a lot about the world and as such perfectly fitting TE,

I have seen also excelent materpieces of technical ingunuity of photography that didn't learn me less then nothing about the world,

evaluations on that level are too easily forgotten due to the quest for the technical perfection wich in fact should enhance the photo without becoming a target on itself.

A personal thought on the side, content versus techniques, of course, incongruency helps to make a shot stand out and when it has an at the same an enlightening info of the world, what could you wish more ... ?

rushfan2112 03-24-2007 12:01 PM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?

I think you may have hit on something fundamental here and something I've wondered about (but not actively questioned) for a little while.

TE purports to be about "learning about the world through photography" and that was a big part in the reason why I signed up. I'm fascinated with the diverse nature of people and places.

However, I'm a very keen amateur photographer - as are most other TE members from what I've seen.

I can't remember a critique that asks (or suggests) whether there was a better way of showing more about the place that was photographed.

We are, in theory at least, taking photographs to enlighten the viewer about certain, potentially, unique features about the subject matter of the photograph.

As previously said, I think that the site is excellent as it stands. However, perhaps there is an argument for splitting the critique into a point (or a couple of points) for whether we feel that the photograph tells us something about the place photographed and a point (couple of points) for the technical / artistic merit of the photo. Red smileys and blue smileys?

Our points total could then indicate whether we were better at showing people about the places we've photographed or better at taking photographs. Just a thought.

Davids 03-24-2007 10:14 PM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?
I can only speak for myself, but you won't scare me off. In my intro I have this standing now for more than over a year;
"If you critique, feel free to say what you feel that should be said. Right now, I need inspiration, because I have a feeling I am not developping anymore. How can I make a photo more interesting? Do you like the theme? Is it something that is typical for me, or are other theme's better for me? What to do with overexposures in the sky? What about colourbalance? How to create a better contrast in sunny photo's? Is there something in the note you like, or the other way around?
and also since about three month;
"Last year I tried to make meaningfull critiques, and get meaningful back in return, it was a change in the way I looked at TE.
I also asked for HELP with developing my photography, but I received little reaction.
I'm not offended if you do not give me smilies, or if you write a critique that doesn't flatter me, as long as the critique is helpfull, I will be very gratefull."
(not the best english, but the message is clear I hope)
if -1- is the whole truth, and -5- is sugar, I'd say I am 1 or 2.
I've read some of your critiques, and I would be thankful if you could have a look at some of my work.

Davids 03-24-2007 10:36 PM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?
I know you have every right to bring up this point, and therefor I took some extra time to consider your remark.
I'm not sure if you ment in in the context of the discussion of the critiques here or if it is an addition to improve the quality of TE; but if understand you well is that the aspect for technical perfection becomes sometimes more important than the subject.
I can only add that the importance of notes is also not always understood. I have seen bad shots with exelent notes, making the photo valuable enough to me to write a comment, also explaining this.
Henk, maybe you have a thought about this, but do you know why people don't use the full range of smiles anymore?
Enjoy your travel and thanks for sharing your photos and stories!

ViktorVaughn 04-13-2007 07:39 AM

Re: Improving critique quality? An idea, thoughts?
I found this to be quite an interesting forum to read through. As a fairly new member, who only really got into the site 3 or 4 months ago, I also see some problems with the site and the way people critique. I have ran past some members that seem to have heaps of points for every photo (that in my opinion lacked imagination or quality) and I have ran past some members that have incredible photos that are largely unnoticed.

What I want to comment on here, is that many of you are veterans, while I am most-definitely an amateur. But, in the short time that I have been on here I have learned alot of things. From PP, to different perspectives for shots, and even noticing surroundings more. What alot of you forget I think, is that you have improved from this site (I am assuming) but the learning curve is quite steep. Hence, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep improving at the initial rate when you started this site. I have learned from people critiquing my photos, but probably more, from browsing galleries and other members. This is an invaluable tool. Perhaps this isn't possible for the semi-professionals, but I find it useful.

A "bad" critique is difficult to define though, as I admit that I am not fully capable of writing an in-depth "good" critique. I am not confident nor knowledgable enough to comment on alot of technical things. Therefore, I will try and note things I do know about, colours, horizon, unnecessary objects. I hope my critiques are useful, sometimes they may not be. But I don't consider myself a "bad" critiquer, though, I may fall into this category from a few members in this thread.

I apologize for the length of this post, but I want to keep everybody in mind, that a large number of members are new, and inexperienced. Should I not post critiques because I don't know as much? I don't think this is correct, like photography, one can learn how to critique as well.

This sounded very formal and, of which I am not that type of person, just some thoughts I wanted to add...cheers


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