Is this a good idea? : LUSENET : On Photography : One Thread

This is just to start the thread on whether a forum like this (and the associated web page) is a good (and/or viable) idea.

-- Anonymous, February 01, 1999


Bob, I think it's a good idea and I would like to participate. Is it possible to set it up so that the great unwashed could log in and read our wisdom without being able to post questions or responses? It would be nice to be on a forum with reasonably consistent high-level discussions, yet at the same time be able to give less experienced photographers the benefit of the things we've learned over the years.

-- Anonymous, February 02, 1999

Dave - No, you can't have a forum that's readable by anyone, but "postable" by only those with the password, at least not under the current software.

It's possible to "grab" a thread and post it on the "On Photography" public web page though, so if there was a particularly interesting discussion, it could be made public, at least in a "frozen" form.

I think that a forum which anyone could read but only a few could post to might create more problems that it was worth, especially for the moderator's email account.

-- Anonymous, February 02, 1999

The burden is on the participants to provide quality content; it's a bit like an upper-division directed group study. If anything solid emerges from this private forum, I would hope that it would be in the form of a static article for

The static articles and their associated Loquacious comments are far superior in overall quality than anything in the regular Q&A forum. Only once in a blue moon does someone post a question like, "How to stop hummingbird wings?" or "How to photograph pewter sculptures?" The recent spate of digital vs. anti-digital photography posts resolved nothing.

I'd rather like to see more specific articles on, whether it's a particular sport, species, location, etc. Heck, if I want to shoot polar bears in Alaska, I'd really like to be able to read a couple of articles on how people did this. I'm currently looking at a thread about alligator mating seasons in Florida; I think it would be really cool if someone wrote a short article on photographing 'gators.

I think this Q&A forum could be beneficial as some sort of odd think tank for, but only if the members decide to move away from that quick, typical Q&A retort (of which I am infinitely guilty): "Read the old threads", "Check the Nikon USA web site", "call B&H", etc.

-- Anonymous, February 03, 1999

Though I am pretty sure that this post will result in my invitation to participate being revoked, I do not like the idea of excluding others. I firmly believe that the free exchange of ideas benefits all who participate. I do feel that being invited to participate is a compliment...but I am obliged to quote one of my favorite American philosophers here, "I would be unwilling to join any club that was willing to accept me as a member" Groucho Marx. Anyway, guys...thanks for the invitation...but what you are proposing sounds rather elitist to me...and I do not like elitism...

-- Anonymous, February 03, 1999

Howard, although I agree with the basic anti-elitism principle, there are problems with open forums, especially in such a wide-open environment as the internet. The problem is the constant churn of participants, which results in the same questions being asked over and over and over. The result is that for the people who wanted to have a discourse or get new information, the forum becomes hopelessly cluttered.

I have been a "complainer" to Bob about the usenet-ing of in recent months and would like to see a solution, but I do share your concerns. One of my suggestions is the narrowing of topic, which generally cuts down on the amount of drivel and repitition one has to read. On the other hand, even in forums that have narrower topics, people show up and ask the wrong (wrong here meaning off- topic) questions. A good example is that "What camera/lens/etc." questions show up in Black & White World forums.

The problem for this forum may be finding a "center of gravity" that keeps discussion going. If there is a core of common interest, it is much easier to maintain discourse. I'm not sure what that core is here other than an interest in getting beyond the beginner questions, the flames, and the ongoing and unresolvable dialogues about which of anything is best.

I guess I haven't provided any answer to the question Bob asked, but I think it's worth a try.

-- Anonymous, February 03, 1999

Let me say that I agree with Sean. Well thought out static content articles are the best part of the site. Clearly if you have an article on alligator mating (and the photography thereof!), it belongs on the nature site - and I'd be more than happy to put it there. Similarly, if you have a really good article on some apsect of photo technique (e.g. multiple flash systems) or a good review of the latest technological wonder (e.g. the F100), I'm sure Philip would consider finding a home for it on the main pages.

However, if you have something to say about photography that doesn't fit into the nature/travel/technique/equipment catagory, there's no real "home" for it. Take some of Dan Smith's excellent articles at for example. I'm sure Dan would comment on this, but I understand his PC is cookie challenged and both and this site now demand cookies or they just won't play :-(

Elitist? Maybe I guess, depending on your definition. Any club with membership criteria would fall under the same catagory though. For example "Canon Professional Services" restricts membership, though I don't think it's an elitist group! The idea isn't to keep things secret. Anything really interesting that gets discussed can be trnsferred onto a static content page. Whether or not there will be any really good content remains to be seen. Since I only sent the message out to a few people, there's probably not a large enough nucleus to develop much content. The group needs to be larger. Currently I'm just looking at whether there is support for the idea in principle.

The character of the original forum has changed, just as the Usenet groups changed. A mature forum means lots of new participants, many of them new to photography, and so an increasing number of "what's a fast lens" questions. The moderators have only so much time to remove these questions and supply off-line answers. The forum clogs up with stuff that many people have seen (and answered) so many times before that they stop reading the forum. It's evolution in action I guess.

Philip's new software is a start. It may help a little, but doesn't address the real problems. Down the line, when he has time, more may be done. However, whatever changes are made to, I still think a closed forum and an associated static page devoted to things other than hardware and technique might have a place.

-- Anonymous, February 03, 1999

is this forum a good idea? well i guess I have to say yes, but it worries me for the future of as there seems to have been a "brain drain" from there in the past couple of weeks. The further the community splinters into specialty groups the less interesting the mix at q&a becomes. One of the things I have really liked about p.n since I discovered it ( through Quang-Tuan's large format forum last spring) has been the eclectic mix of rank amateurs to grizzled pros, artists, etc. I think that that mix, as infuriating as the recent influx of people who probably first heard about p.n through the mention in Shutterbug, is what makes up a lively community and a place to grow. But maybe this factioning is inevitable. I also worry about what i call the "two philosophers on a bench syndrome. According to, and this is an ill remembered guess, George Santayana, "two philosophers can tell each other everything they know in thirty minutes." By which I mean, in a closed community, how much are we really going to have to say to each other after a couple of months?

-- Anonymous, February 05, 1999

Or a couple of weeks, or a couple of days? Ellis makes a very valid point. There have to be enough people and a good enough mix of people to make it interesting and worthwile. Clearly we aren't at that point yet and we may never get there. I just don't know.

I do know that is slipping the way of Usenet. The concept of a growing FAQ which started out with becomes more and more of a problem as more users jump on and off the forum. There really isn't any "solution". What happens is that after you have given out the same advice 20 or 30 times, you start to realize you have taken on a lifetime job. The same questions will never stop coming. You just get a new set of people who haven't yet burned out on answers to answer them. The "old hands" drift away to form new ventures, just as many drifted from Usenet to

-- Anonymous, February 07, 1999

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