Making the Forums a Better Place to Spend Your Time

Discussion in 'Help and Feedback' started by Amin Sabet, Dec 31, 2011.

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  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    Since yesterday's somewhat contentious thread, I received a couple well-written and well-intentioned PMs from members expressing concern about SeriousCompacts. The concerns basically boil down to two points:

    1. The forums discussions lack substance. Whereas previously the discussions were useful, they have become largely frivolous.
    2. The forums have become too cliquish. A small group of people reply to each other's posts while others are largely ignored.

    While many expressed privately and in public that they disagree with these expressed concerns, it's worth noting that more than one person shares them.

    Here are my thoughts on each of the above points:

    The forums discussions lack substance. Whereas previously the discussions were useful, they have become largely frivolous.

    For those who feel this way, there are basically three paths to take: 1) Leave the site; 2) Try to convince people to stop posting frivolous things; 3) Contribute discussions of substance to the forums. I hope and suggest that you try option #3.

    If you like and care enough about this site to voice your concerns that it is headed in the wrong direction, then use the same energy to make the site better. Start interesting topics and respond to interesting topics started by others. We're not going to ban any topics or genres for lacking substance. One person's fluff is another person's art. You can change the balance by contributing in ways that you consider to be valuable.

    The forums have become too cliquish. A small group of people reply to each other's posts while others are largely ignored.

    Having participated on forums for many years, I know what it's like to feel this way. I've felt that way on GetDPI, for example, but I think it was more my own perception there than a reality. Part of it was that many of the "regulars" were excited about their Leica M digital and digital medium format, and I was feeling left out, but again, that was a self-generated "issue". I still participate there and think it's a great site, btw.

    One thing all photography forums have in common are that there are more people who want to receive comments than there are people who want to leave comments. If you feel like your posts are being ignored or that you are somehow excluded from a "clique" here at SeriousCompacts, please ask yourself, "Am I regularly commenting on other members' posts/photos?" Most likely the honest answer will be "No". If the answer is "Yes", then consider that it make take a bit of time for others to realize that you are contributing.

    Naturally there are those who have been here longer that have gotten to know each other and form friendships. That can take time. However, each month I see new members who come, get involved, give of themselves, and get back in return. I believe that our members are on the whole a very open bunch and that no one who takes the time to comment on others' posts/photos will be ignored or excluded in any way.

    Bottom line: These forums are what we all make of them. There are things to improve, and each of us can bring about those improvements.
    • Like Like x 11
  2. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Well said Amin. You have my commitment to make Serious Compacts even better as we progress through 2012 :th_salute:.
  3. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Thanks for the post Amin. 100% in agreement.
  4. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    Thanks, Mark and Armando.

    I also want to explicitly welcome comments from anyone who disagrees or feels like I'm not accurately representing their concerns and would like to ask in advance that everyone try to be extra tolerant of opinions or criticisms that are different your own.
  5. I personally enjoy this forum and adding my own two cents.

    Point 1- I agree that if you want to up the level of conversation on the forms, don't complain about it, do it.

    As to the argument that some subjects are too exposed or discussed, (kitty threads), so what. Who are we to say what people take pictures of and choose to post. The great thing about forums formatted the way this one is is that we can avoid the subjects we don't want to look at. Are we going to start limiting the number of threads in a certain group?

    On the flip side, don't get upset if you pictures get sometimes overlooked. People have limited time to spend on forums and yours may just may not catch their attention.

    Point 2- I see that some members here have known each other for years. Who am I to say they need to stop being friendly because I feel a bit of an outsider.

    Another form I am a founding member of has been described that way. Some of the members there I have known and communicated with for years. I can not simply stop being friends with these people and I hope to build lasting relationship with members here.

    I agree with your final statement: " Bottom line: These forums are what we all make of them. There are things to improve, and each of us can bring about those improvements."
    • Like Like x 3
  6. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    I would hope it would go without saying, but since one can never be sure, I'll just add my thanks here, Amin for the thread. And thanks to all who are involved in our community.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Alf

    Alf Top Veteran

    Oct 11, 2010
    Northeastern Tuscany
    I didn't notice, but in the last two months I am quite slow on things and light in my reading...
    Thank you all for your involvement. And happy new year!
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Amin, Thanks for the updates and well reasoned post. I've been very busy and I have been "offline" most of the past couple of weeks; I missed any contentious posts. I agree that active participation, to the extent that people are interested and able, is the best way to get out of this forums what you like. And IMO it is one of the better photography forums out there.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Lili

    Lili Hall of Famer

    Oct 17, 2010
    Dallas, TX
    agreed on all points, Amin, Bravo!
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Landshark

    Landshark PhotoDog

    Jul 15, 2010
    Amin, well said, Thanks, have a great New Year
  11. snake

    snake Regular

    Oct 4, 2011
    Well, thank you for that.
  12. Penny

    Penny Veteran

    Aug 26, 2010
    Outside Liverpool Uk
    I agree with Amin; but rather than leave the 'site' if upset by 'anyone for any reason' just have a few days or weeks rest...get over whats bothered 'you' and come back afresh.
    Then; leave if this site still does not suit, simple
  13. Hauki

    Hauki Regular

    Dec 2, 2011
    Somerset, England
    Totally agree with Amin, I have found Serious Compacts to be a very friendly and positive site,
  14. pdh

    pdh Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I agree with Penny that time away from the forum can be a very good thing; it is, after all, only a very small corner of the world, and it's good, I think, to retain a sense of perspective.
    At the same time, I'd be unhappy if it became a place where "anything goes": if someone is upset by something or someone, it may be a perfectly legitimate response which needs to be taken note of ... rudeness or incivility for instance do need to be challenged rather than dealt with by going away for a while to calm down.
    The mods at SC all seem to try keep on top of such situations, and handle them proactively with tact and diplomacy in my experience, and I hope that will continue.

    I think Amin is correct that "cliquey-ness" can be a product of feeling an outsider rather than being rejected or not accepted; I feel outside the "club" of Fuji and Ricoh enthusiasts at the moment and sometimes it feels as if nothing else is being discussed or matters ... but 18 months ago at mu43, the E-P2 and GF1 were the cameras, and I have an E-P2 and felt very much the insider ... and in a few months it'll be different again.

    As for frivolity ... good, we need a bit of frivolity otherwise we all take ourselves too seriously and lose our sense of the absurd ...
  15. snake

    snake Regular

    Oct 4, 2011
    I think the representation of the "clique" situation here is being misrepresented. Plain and simple, when people are ignored, but people "ration" their interactions for a small group of regulars, then it's a clique. I'm personally not talking about feeling outside because I'm not part of the group of friends. I came here (in fact, referred through flickr) to talk pics and techniques. Friendships follow later. I just want to talk photography, techniques, get feedback, and so on.
  16. Mal

    Mal Veteran

    Sep 23, 2010
    Liverpool / UK

    As a lecturer in an adult education college here in the UK. I find this issue prevalent in all aspects of the teaching & learning process.

    As this site is rightly open to all who wish to join, this allows members with differing levels of knowledge, along with different levels of confidence to participate or not according to their own personal choice.

    In saying this we seem to be putting too much of an emphasis on members replying to threads rather than those actually viewing the threads. If you look at the stats, you may have 10 replies to a post but 200+ viewers.

    For an example...

    If a thread was posted, say on... 'Comparing Exposure Algorithms in respect to varying ISO Settings'

    How many members would have the confidence to reply to this sort of question? Surely those who reply would have the knowledge base to answer and discuss this topic... and in this... we find our 'clique' so it could be argued that 'knowledge is the 'clique' However, many members can learn more by simply viewing the discussion... This is surely what makes this site the informative resource it really is.

    Many members viewing this sort of discussion would be loathe to join in, in case it showed a perceived 'lack' of personal knowledge, and no one wants to look like a fool (I see this in many of my own advanced classes).

    Surely this is why the site needs a whole range of topics from the most basic to the more advanced in order to generate discussion of all levels, from the user who has just got a new camera for xmas to those who are progressing to a higher outcome, and we should not decry anyone's involvement at whatever level or their lack of it.

    For knowledge is a key force in Confidence, and hopefully this is the outcome which should be generated in a progressive site like S.C.'s.

    Suggestion... Perhaps a weekly challenge for Beginner / Intermediate & Advanced... to encourage more participation, as it can be quite daunting for a beginner to compete against those of a higher level...
    • Like Like x 1
  17. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    I would agree with much of what Mal has to say. As a linux user I am a member of a couple of forums devoted to my particular operating system of choice, but I would only consider myself a beginner. However I have benefited considerably from being able to put into practice suggestions that others have posted. After nearly three years with one forum I have recently made some posts, although they are based on my experience and knowledge gained the hard way, rather than any theoretical expertise.

    • Like Like x 2
  18. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    Hi Barrie, wonderful to see you on the new site. Sorry for your problems with the server change!
    • Like Like x 2
  19. snake

    snake Regular

    Oct 4, 2011
    Interesting post. Would you think, for the number of active participants here, that there might be too many subforums to be populated, thus contributing to some of the difficulties?

  20. Mal

    Mal Veteran

    Sep 23, 2010
    Liverpool / UK
    Snake makes an interesting point, which on first glance many members could agree with wholeheartedly. However this could have a detrimental effect on the site as a whole. For the answer to this I think we should look a little deeper.

    Grebemans post puts this into a wider prospective (as if he thinks this... so will a LOT of other prospective members).

    Let us say a person buys an Lumix LX5... They may want more information on their new camera via the web... and so the enter the world of the search-engines... Does Google send them to DSLR or 4/3 forums? Of course the answer would be no, it will search for the sites which mention LX5, and upon finding S.C.'s they view the site and hopefully join, to be in the company (club) of other like-minded LX5 users... and here they learn by the other members who actively post their own experiences. This in turn will hopefully encourage them to join in and contribute themselves.

    It is then up to S.C.'s to stimulate their experience of that specific forum, and hopefully encourage participation throughout the main site... all stemming from this initial search-engine result.

    So to get back to the original issue... In my opinion, the sub-forums should be left in place as the initial search-engine attraction to the site, as if they are deleted, we as members are simply deleting the search engine paths to the S.C. site.
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