Forums…what’s the point?

Fora are funny things – they start out well meaning and sometimes even interesting and/or useful, but they degenerate into places where people with no particular talent try to convince other people that their ideas are best.

An example – there’s a fairly well known photographic forum dedicated to a camera manufacturer whose name begins with an ‘N’. There are various elements to this forum, and one of the first you see is the part where the members can post a-photo-per-day. I imagine this is to show how there skills are evolving, to be able to get some feedback from the other members? No, feedback is not allowed, and judging by the quality of some of the offerings, people have a very overdeveloped sense of their own abilities.

Roughly half the people posting images play the game – they post recent images, and the quality (composition etc.) is pretty good. Then there are the others…one, who we shall call ‘DJ’ states on his FLIKR profile « Advanced amateur photographer with over 55 years of experience » – I beg to differ – his offerings are generally dated from two or three years ago, the content is generally the same for a run of at least 5 or 6 images (just from different angles, but not always) and the composition is ZERO – pictures where there is a horizon are very rarely horizontal, the subject is all over the place, left right, rarely well centered, and the subject matter is….well we all have our preferences, but these are just bad.

The fact that the other users cannot give any feed back is frustrating – obviously this person (whose ‘signature’ is as long as your arm with all the different accessories he owns etc.) has no taste, and the mere fact that his ‘efforts’ do not evolve shows that he plainly doesn’t ‘learn’ from looking at what everyone else posts.

Back to the forum – as a general rule there are three kinds of people who ‘contribute’ – the first kind are the know-alls who will make long technical arguments regarding just about any subject, but rarely  actually show proof of their genius. This group sadly includes some of the moderators who are happy posting a simple smiley emoticon to show they agree or not to a previous post – this is simply to get the numbers of ‘comments’ up, and never any real use. The second group are genuinely knowledgeable people who don’t lord it over the others and TRY to give considered opinions and often show very good work as examples. Then there is the third group – the sleepers – who rarely post but read and inwardly digest the pros and cons of what’s posted by the first two groups.

To discuss actual images is deemed untasteful, and people have been banned from the forum for daring to transgresse this rule…I was, but I went back as a sleeper. I realized that I knew more than most of the so-called experts and didn’t need to be spoken down to because I didn’t have the ‘N’ word written on my underpants.

But I admit it does frustrate me that this man with 55 years experience creates such rubbish, and then posts it for all the world to see…it also saddens me that his is reluctant to learn by the example of the other posters. Still, we can’t like everything can we…perhaps in some strange parallel univers his kind of images are considered N°1 masterpieces. Frankly I’m glad I live in our universe…