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Old 02-02-2007, 03:18 AM
nmess nmess is offline
TE Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 421
Default Ned Rants

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.
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