THE FUTURE OF THIS FORUM - PLEASE READ : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

As most of you know, this forum uses software and hosting outsourced by Philip Greenspun free of charge at the server. I received an advance notice from him that he will not be able to maintain this service. Some of you have already noticed a number of recent glitches with the service, which initially was flawless.

Ideally, someone would install the ACS software on another server (the Berkeley server would not work) and transfer the current forum data to it. However, this person cannot be me because I lack the skills to do that in a reasonable time. Therefore, to continue this forum, I see only two practical alternatives:

The problem with the first alternative is probably an inferior interface different from the one you are used to, plus possibly work for me and/or anybody who volunteer to help. The problem with the second alternative are the issues which we already discussed in length. So what do you think ?

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (, December 05, 2001


"...could be outsourced to something like yahoo!groups." No, no, no. Please, anything but Yahoo!groups. I don't have an good answer to where this forum should go, but I have been a member of the mailing list for some time. It works fine until you want to do something like access the archives and then it is an absolute nightmare. It refuses to recognize passwords and just trying to find the archive among the God knows how many Yahoo groups is near impossible. This isn't just me. There have been several posts on hobbicast by people trying to get direction through the Yahoo maze. I hope I live to see Yahoo follow Enron into bankrupcy. I make a real effort not to rant on newsgroups, but this is a topic where I can't restrain myself.

-- Leonard Robertson (, December 05, 2001.

As I type this reply, is down, a not uncommon occurance. I'd like to see this forum continue in its current commercial free, informative and mature style. Moving to a hosting service such as Yahoo or will necessarily threaten these qualities, but if the first alternative is not too much work it would be my preference.

-- Michael Mahoney (, December 05, 2001.

By all means, please preserve past threads. I vote, in some way, to keep this forum by finding another server as a host, installing the ACS on that platform.

What does ACS stand for? What is the software in which it's programmed. Is the ACS software available without royalties? You mentioned "advanced notice." When will Mr. Greenspun's service expire?

This is the best going forum I've been associated with, especially related to photography. I hope that there is something that can be done to continue its existance.


-- neil poulsen (, December 05, 2001.

I see no major problems with going the route. Shure, there might be some inconveniences, but as long as the content remains the same (and that's OUR job) the forum should continue to thrive. An added attraction of going with is that we may broaden our audience and introduce new people and ideas to the forum.

Certainly anything is better than letting this forum languish and die, and I feel has the best chance of success.

-- Dave Brown (, December 05, 2001.


I may be able to help in the first option. Please email me with particulars and bandwidth history. Particularly details of the software requirements.

-- Matt O. (, December 05, 2001.

The Medium Format Forum doesn't seem to have suffered from it's association with

-- Bill Mitchell (, December 05, 2001.

What about switching to an email list and using something like Mailman or Majordomo. That way everybody gets to choose their own interface from Hotmail to Pine. The archives could then be sorted by date, subject, etc. and people could easily search, browse, and download the raw data. Plus it probably won't be too hard to find a host since these programs run on pretty much any platform.

Other than that, I say merge with Forget about Yahoo! or anything else like that, I definitely don't want to be held hostage to those services and I'd really like to avoid banner ads if at all possible.

-- David Leblanc (, December 05, 2001.

I would vote for LF to be made a part of in the same manner the Medium Format and Nature sites are. Definitely should be kept apart from the general forum. While not having the separate LF site would be unfortunate, being a more integral part of would be a better alternative than not having a LF gathering point at all. Many of us do participate in discussions and if nothing else, there would be a convenience to it. does remain a central gathering point for much of the photographic community and it would be better for the LF group to formalize being a part of it -- in a sense we already are since we use Phil's server. My two cents.

-- Donald Brewster (, December 05, 2001.

I'd be willing to help with a transfer to a new system -- I'm an IT developer/architect by day and could probably help. I just have to believe there is a way to get ACS installed somewhere. If my options are Yahoo groups vs., I would choose BUT, my priority is to save the old threads because there is just so much good information in them.

-- Jennifer Waak (, December 05, 2001. does seem to be down a lot lately. It seems like we have a choice between an unreliable system ( and a hard-to-use system (Yahoo Groups). Can anyone suggest any other alternatives?

Tuan: does Phil have anything to say about the recent unrelability of If there are known problems that are going to be fixed soon, then seems to be the obvious place to go.

-- David Bradley (, December 05, 2001.

Assuming we can't get someone else to host us, is our best option. As chance would have it, they're down right now (sigh)!

We've been spoiled by good service in a non-commercial environment. Do you think Mr Greenspun would change his mind if we all cried and whimpered in unison? How about obsequious flattery? I'm prepared to try anything.

-- Kevin Bourque (, December 05, 2001. is my vote. I had posted previously why this wasn't part of that forum anyway. The format of the public groups like Yahoo or Google are very cumbersome to use.

-- Richard Stum (, December 05, 2001.

Here's my vote for The medium format digest is useful and it would be better to go that route versus yahoo.

-- Ronald L. Marvin (, December 05, 2001.

I think would be a fine solution. My suggestion is for Q.-Tuan Luong to get a written document giving him (or the entire community) copyright to the postings that would be made at so that if something goes wrong with he would be able to transfer the LF postings at to somewhere else. The worst case scenario would be for to suddenly disappear and transfer its assests, including the contents of the site, to some creditor, the creditor then just placing them on the shelf.

-- Michael Briggs (, December 06, 2001.

Between the options given, i would vote to merge with This site seems to attract quite a few people interested in moving up to large format and as someone else stated, the widest possible audience the forum can be exposed to the better for all of us in the long run. And by all means, keep the archives, it is a valuable storehouse of info that I look to first before posting questions.

-- James Chinn (, December 06, 2001.

Please NOT I've been on that site. In my opinion, the photonet interface is pretty ackward. I think part of the success of this site is due to the ease at which the ACS software enables one to leave posts and responses.

Also, we should thank Phil Greenspun for his support enabling this site to have such a strong beginning. And, we need to keep it going.

-- neil poulsen (, December 06, 2001.

Actually, I would like to see the archived data moved into a newer system that has more seach capabilities. Here is a link to a very popular application:

And it's free!

We would definitely benefit from being in the community, however. Tough choice. Definitely NO to the Yahoo groups.

-- Andy Biggs (, December 06, 2001.

I have been with MF for some time now and from a software developers point of view I only have good things to say. It is much more reliable and user-friendly than the majority of forum/mail support systems out there, is tried and tested, has added security and likely guaranteed future support. All software are flawed, some less, some more. I would however like to add that I do not believe it is impossibly difficult to upgrade(or only keep alive) this system and that it would be my first choice. A NEW system is not a solution and neither the solution.

But whatever we decide, we must not/can not go the yahoo/whatever/.. route. We will fight in the cities. We will fight in the streets. We will fight in the fields... We will never give up :) Ryan

-- Riaan Lombard (, December 06, 2001.

No to Yahoo. Yes to

The more esoteric forums on (e.g. medium-format and Nature) have not been swamped with idiot questions nor are their threads controlled by people who have no idea what they're talking about.

It's been a great ride here, and I'm sorry to see it ending....


-- Terry (, December 06, 2001.

I would go for either option. Yahoo has proved quite reliable, photo net locates the LF format in the subject area for browsers. I am sorry to see the list close


-- Robin Coutts (, December 06, 2001.

I've only been reading this forum for less than a year, but for a few more. It gets my vote, although I'd agree with a previous poster who said that the copyright should be held elsewhere. They've been getting a bit commercial of late. As to the interface being bad, you can switch off the JavaScript menus if you like, and it seems pretty stable compared with most other forums I've read. the other advantage is the number of other folks who'll no doubt be attracted to LF because of the sheer number of people that the forum will be exposed (sic) to. Or a disadvantage; TBA...

-- Gavin Walker (, December 06, 2001.

I prefer the option to Yahoo!Groups, if an independent server cannot be found. The MF forum is fairly civilized, and I think this forum would be pretty much the same over there. We would also get the search engine, the ability to post images to the forum directly without having them on a separate site, and we could keep the structure of the list the same.

There is too much clutter and advertising at Yahoo, and it is difficult to include HTML in posts (long URL's are routinely truncated), and images have to be kept separate from the post itself, and it is difficult to follow long threads and return to old threads in that format.

-- David Goldfarb (, December 06, 2001.

Despite some problems, I vote for Many of us read other forums there already. Keep it as a separate topic, parallel to MF and Nature.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, December 06, 2001.

Please please please……don’t leave me!

Leave the forum run with the current software interface. The current forum interface works flawlessly in creating my own AvantGo “LF Forum Channel”. I download the forum two and three times a day to my Palm and read it offline, often in the field waiting for light. All other forum software is useless for this application and even clunky to read online.

Thank you for your consideration.

-- Mark Gilles (, December 06, 2001.

My vote is to I use the medium format forum a lot with no problems.

-- Rodrigo Tostes Malta (, December 06, 2001.

Another vote for provided that LF remains, as MF is now, a distinct category. I doubt that many of us want to have to wade through threads with no bearing on our LF pursuits, whatever their merit or interest. Also, as things stand with the present forum, even the most ambiguous thread title may be assumed to be connected somehow with LF; but if lists are combined, we'd have to start being a lot more specific in respect to both title and content. Somehow, too, I hope, the archives will remain easily accessible. Nick.

-- Nick Jones (, December 06, 2001.

Another vote for as a separate entity, such as the MF forum. NO NO NO to Yahoo!! I agree that it's a major priority to keep the present archived threads easily accessible.

Danny Burk

-- Danny Burk (, December 06, 2001.

I am likewise trying to negotiate with to move the Alternative Process, Film & Developing, and Printing & Finishing forums to their server. I don't see any other valid option.

-- Ed Buffaloe (, December 06, 2001.

Hi all,

I think I can offer some help to maintain the phorum as follows:

1.- I own a small web hosting company that could provide hosting space for the forum, the page or both.

2.- I could help installing ACS or whatever software you would like to maintain the phorum in.

This board is so fabulous that it would be a chame to let it die.

Please let me know what I can help with...

Enrique Vila.-

-- Enrique Vila (, December 06, 2001.


Top choice: an independent server running the current software (not just importing existing data). Ask us for money if necessary.

Second choice: separate forum under, as long as copyright issues are resolved. This option is less desirable because of the increasingly commercial nature of Also, MFD seems to attract a larger number of less professional/civil posters than this forum does. Don't know whether that was the case before its association with, so can't say if there's a causal relationship or even a correlation.

Please not Yahoo or any other similar system.

Thanks for everything you've done so far, and thanks to Phil for having made available until now.

-- Sal Santamaura (, December 06, 2001.

A LF forum already exists on, I'd guess any arrangement with them may involve uniting the two forums, check here to see content: topic_id=23&category=Large%20Format

-- Michael Mahoney (, December 06, 2001.

Although I haven't been a regular contributor to this forum, my vote (if valid) would be to go to

-- Tony Pulsone (, December 06, 2001.

My vote for porting it over to

-- Erik (, December 06, 2001.

Michael, the url you posted takes one to a message saying the forum cannot be found. It affers a link to a list of forums and suggests looking there. I did so, and there's no LF forum listed.

-- Sal Santamaura (, December 06, 2001.

To the user, the MF digest on appears very much like this forum. (More so like it than any of the other forum formats I've seen - almost identical in use, except you need to log in to post.) Therefore I'd vote for that route (as a separate forum - NOT as part of the general discussion!).

Cheers, and thanks to Tuan for the great job he does!

-- Mark Parsons (, December 06, 2001.

My vote would be for over yahoo any day of the week. That said, I think an independent server would be the best idea, even if it meant having to periodically ask users for a little monetary support- I'd much rather throw in $10.00 every now and then than see this forum lost. Another idea for funding if an independent server is chosen would be to accept sponsorship from a few LF-Related companies. Who knows, maybe someone like Sinar Bron would help fund things if they were allowed to put ads at the end of threads like Phil Greenspun's articles are appearing right now.

-- David Munson (, December 06, 2001.

First Choice: Move this forum in it's present configuration to a new server. It looks like we have a couple of offers already.

Second Choice: Go over to (can we move the archives too?).

Please don't: Go to Yahoo. The interface is awful.


-- Dominique Labrosse (, December 06, 2001. is ok as long as we don't have to get past the moderator hurdle.

-- John Sarsgard (, December 06, 2001.

This forum has been a tremendous help to me and I don't want to see it die either. Yahoo is in the dark ages when it comes to usability, and so are most other similar options as far as I can tell. This software is terrific! Seems to me the best option would be to go with unless one of the other offers appears to be solid for the long run. The Web is very unpredictable on its best day re: providers and servers staying in place, but we should find as reliable a home as possible.I would not hesitate to pay a fee for the service if need be. For something of this high quality we should be willing to pay to find a solid and reliable home we can depend on. Many of the posts above have talked about the quality as the reason they use the forum - anything good costs money and takes time and effort.

-- Steve Seitz (, December 06, 2001.

seems like nobody asks the question as to why this site cannot be maintained. Is it because of cost. then how about everyone who likes to use this site pitching in to pay for it. long ago I learned that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Where do I send the check?

-- Kevin Kolosky (, December 06, 2001.

I would just add to previous posts about contributions. The only problem is do you charge an access fee? If so I think you eliminate the most important audience and that is the newbie to large format. This site is invaluable for answering the many technical questions about the format, but I fear that charging a mandatory fee, unless a small one time registration fee would discourage those that get the most use out of the forum. Remember, the more people that use the format, the better it is for maintaining availability of film, papers etc.

-- James Chinn (, December 06, 2001.

Sal, there is a LF forum on, but the link I posted is not valid, it must be one of those addresses that changes with each post. Try going to the main page, then "community", "discussion forums", "general photography", then scroll down the page to the large format section. I'll try the link again, but if it's no good, just follow the above. topic_id=23&category=Large%20Format

-- Michael Mahoney (, December 06, 2001.

I just posted a suggestion to Steve Simmons on his current thread:

Why not have View Camera's Web site host this forum (software and data). Perfect synergy!

-- Sal Santamaura (, December 06, 2001.

First, I want to really thank Phil from the bottom of my heart. I would be a much poorer photographer if I had never found this forum. Thanks also to just about everyone on here for thier help, assistance and for their generosity and willingness to share with others what they know. A big round of applause for all of you. I sincerely hope its not time to turn out the lights yet.

-- billz (, December 06, 2001.

Michael, now I see what you're referring to. That's only a category (currently holds 280 posts total) within the general photography forum. I suspect that it relies on a poster selecting that category when asking a question. Not even close to the value, depth and breadth of what you find here.

-- Sal Santamaura (, December 06, 2001.

Philip and I talked about this briefly over Thanksgiving when he was here. I know there are a lot of people who hate to think that they might be 'contaminated" by contact with small format, or ven (go forbid) amateur photographers, even neophytes. well you can choose not to have the "unifed or any other forum come up on your screen. Frankly I think sticking with this tried and true interface and model is the best idea so I think he is right in his intent to pull this forum into the sphere. He tells me that he will be taking a more hands on approach to now that he has finished with the Ars Digita mess and is returning from his sabbatical, the previous discussion was what, a year and a half ago? As we all know circumstances have changed.

To make it clear: ifyou go to a Yahoo! format, I think a lot of us are going to lose interest in participating pretty quickly.

-- Ellis Vener (, December 06, 2001.

It seems like a proper poll may be in order if you don't get enough interest in someone hosting off of My personal concern (shared by one other so far) is that I would like to continue to download to Palm OS. If there are only two of us doing that, ignore us, but there might be many. This is the sort of question which only a systematic poll could evaluate properly. So, pursue other offers to keep this format first. If that doesn't pan out, then post another query asking what questions to ask on a poll and then create a poll of needs/preferences. I've been with this gang for a bit over a year now and I love it!

-- Eric Pederson (, December 06, 2001.

I vote for

-- Howard Slavitt (, December 06, 2001.

Luong, What is the average volume of daily traffic on this site for the combination of the homepage and the Q&A forum? Do you know what the peaks are as well?

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, December 06, 2001.

Like many so far, I too would have to vote for, albeit reluctantly. I remember the MFD back in its early days, when it was just a mailing list, and to be honest I don't think its character has changed much, apart from becoming bigger and more comprehensive as the years have gone by. Integrating the LF Forum into would be far better than the Yahoo option.

-- Huw Evans (, December 06, 2001.

We are in the process of re-doing our web page. What would it take for View Camera magazine to be the host??

steve simmons

-- steve simmons (, December 06, 2001.

Given the general feeling, I think we should stick with the current software or its extensions.

This software is OpenACS, which is an improved open-source version of the software at see:

In particular, correct me if I am mistaken, but I'm under the impression that: (a) one would need to dedicate a machine to the system, as it is not common to have servers running Aolserver. this increases commercial hosting fees significantly. I suppose I could run it from a home server, but this raises reliability issues. (b) the software is relatively complex and would take a couple of days to master for someone experienced in this area (and probably a couple of weeks for me).

I don't know what is the bandwidth use of the current site as I have no access to statistics. Here are the numbers I have: The data in the QA Forum is currently 28M for nearly 40000 messages. There are about 1000 active participants (probably ten times as many readers), and the number of new messages per day is about 40.

Hosting from View Camera would require a significant step up of their web site. Their hosting fees would jump maybe twenty times (from the current website easily ran from a $10/month web host) and they would have to subcontract the instalation of ACS to a software engineer. If we go with a (semi) commercial route has readily the resources in engineering, software, and servers.

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (, December 06, 2001.

Wow. I like that solution even better if it can be done. Move the forum to the _View Camera_ magazine site, if Steve Simmons will have it.

-- David Goldfarb (, December 06, 2001.

I am offering to run a seperate server from my apartment here in LA, day and night - free of charge. (I live in an apartment with utilities pre-paid by owner, whom I can't stand). Reliability will be excellent, except when me and the guy donstairs cook dinner on our electric hot plates at the same time. andre

-- Andre Noble (, December 06, 2001.

Q. - Tuan,

I was about to reply to your email, but after reading some of the recent messages, I thought I would respond here, to offer some advice to those offering assistance. Everyone needs to understand that to provide a server for the site in order to maintain it in its current form would not be a casual (or inexpensive) undertaking. You must be well-versed in "C" programming and Unix/Linux, have a thorough understanding of Oracle (and a licensed copy) or other 1st-line DBS, have a good/fast machine that you are willing to turn over completely to the effort, a "pipe" to the internet, etc. etc.

Aolserver, that runs the show operates on Unix/Linux and functions as the network operating system. OpenACS, the BB module, operates within Aolserver. While modular, it is not for the inexperienced.

I have a Unix box with a T1 pipe, and thought I might be able to host the site in conjunction with (or as a part of) a site I am developing. This site is intended to offer a forum for users to display their work, offer mutual critique, and provide user written articles of LF interest - so I thought it would be a perfect fit. But I now realize that hosting this board in its current form is more than I can do. I do not own a copy of Oracle, nor am I willing to (or have time)learn a new, complicated piece of software. I am confused as to why Greenspun cannot continue to host, but is willing to fold it into - when the site resides on his server already.

Anyway, I have a few questions for the group: (email me if you prefer)

What is it about this site in its current form that makes you NOT want it in another interface? Isn't the content why you are here? Given the same content, what does the page formatting mean to you?

I would still offer to host, just with a different engine.

-- Matt O. (, December 06, 2001.

In Answer to Steve Simmons... a much better web site than you presently have? Re-doing is an understatement.. View Camera's web site is basically non existant. Its there purely to tell us how much it will cost us to renew subscriptions, or how much to advertise and what has been featured in past issues. Steve, please feel free to email me and let me know just how good View Camera intends to be 'online?'

-- Nigel Turner (, December 07, 2001.

I believe that we are seeing here the same pressures that are being felt by many other non-commercial web sites. Once they reach a critical mass, they either must either be run by someone who is financially independent and so can pay someone else to do the work, or who is willing and has the time to do the work, or the site must be commercialized to some extent. We cannot expect Tuan to devote his life to this site. Nor do I belive that casual offers for hosting can be accepted unless the person has a demonstated history of running such sites.

That being said, I believe that it would be appropriate for this site to be associated with the View Camera site. I also believe that it would be reasonable for Steve Simmons to ask for a small annual subscription fee. It could start at $10-20/year. Quite frankly, if you can afford a computer, ISP charges, and a LF camera setup, you can afford $20/year for access to this site.

The biggest problem with alignment with an existing commercial site would be maintaining editorial independence. Contributors must continue to be free to respectfully criticize films, cameras, lenses, workshops, etc. without worrying about the budgetary impact of such criticism. If Steve and his financial backers are comfortable with that, I personally would be willing to put up with ads from Kodak, Fuji, Schneider, Rodestock, etc. in addition to paying a small annual fee.

I must admit that my reasons for opposing incorporation of this site into are more intuitive than concrete. I don't have a good feeling about the site, nor about the motivation of Greenspun. I am particularly bothered by his absence in this discussion.

Finally, I would like to thank you, Tuan, for taking this site further than I would have believed possible for someone with a day job and a real life.


-- Bruce M. Herman (, December 07, 2001.

Whoa, Nigel, let's cut Steve S. some slack (and please, don't turn that mild criticism into a separate thread and flame war). As far as I know, no magazine anywhere on the web has found a long-term model for running a web site that doesn't lose money or just barely break even--indeed, excepting brilliant concepts like ebay, most of the successful web sites I know of are run either as charities or as sidelines of already-successful bricks-and-mortar operations. (Heck, the jury's still out on whether Amazon can make a go of it, and if they can't...). Until successful web models are identified and created, in other words, I don't blame printed magazines for having limited content on their web sites: there's no reason they should give away their best stuff for free, thereby hurting their very bread and butter.

I think of the owner of "The F Stops Here" camera store, who started an online forum and it quickly turned into a place where people bought and sold equipment directly to each other at no benefit to the site's host--in other words, his forum was undercutting his business (I always thought he should ask for 5 or 10 percent of any sales made through his forum). As noted above, seamlessly hosting a large interactive web site is a tremendously complex and expensive undertaking, a reality oft overlooked by visitors blithely clicking on these sites. Its glossy appearance notwithstanding, View Camera magazine is not a highly lucrative operation that can afford to run a complex but free-admission web site if it would cut into the income of the printed magazine.

I'm heartened by Steve Simmons's query about hosting this site (and it WAS merely a query, not a firm offer). It would be a great match but I wonder whether it would be a good idea (for him OR the forum) over the long term as this site continues to get more complex. If he decides it's impractical, and none of the individuals offering to host it can make a credible multi-year commitment, I think is the best (albeit not ideal) option.


-- Terry (, December 07, 2001.

You guys know more about this stuff than me. I'll follow the discusion to its new home, and I'll pop a cheque in the mail to where ever it needs to go. Though I think if there is a charge, there should be a 6 month window for new people -- this is a great resourse and I think memebership fees might seal it up. So, if possible, please try to keep it open. Dean

-- Dean Lastoria (, December 07, 2001.

Ditto Dean's response

-- Ben Calwell (, December 07, 2001.

It is not my intention to do an online magazine. As to placing articles on the site this is a problem. If I post them free than why will people subscribe??? I could post them and make entry into the site dependant on either being a subscriber or having a password paid for by a subscription fee. There could be two areas for the site - or more accuratley two divisions. One free for discussion only and one subscriber/fee based.

I am going to send my web person the address for this page and ask him what would be involved in being a host.

steve simmons

-- steve simmons (, December 07, 2001.

I too wonder about Mr Greenspun's motivation for closing the server on this forum while still maintaining the forum (I don't blame him - he can't go on absorbing a cost such as this indefinitely and has my thanks for doing so until now). If the reasons are purely financial, perhaps he will accept an offer of subscription fees (or ads in place of the articles at the bottom of the page) to keep the forum afloat.

My vote is to: 1) bribe Phil to keep the forum running on the current server. 2) find a new server to host the forum in the current format. 3) move to if 1) and 2) are not possible. 4) commit hari-kari en masse if the forum goes to yahoo ;-)

Regards, Graeme

-- Graeme Hird (, December 07, 2001.

Tuan, I'm not up to speed on many of the software issues you describe, but can offer a simplistic explanation of what's good about this site in its current form. Someone brought up the "F Stops Here" bulletin board. The user interface there is rather hostile. It has no categories, no "recent answers" function, etc. A few (non-photographic) forums I visit don't even place all posts from a single thread together, forcing one to "go back" for each one. Despite occasional complaining about your LF forum's lack of a dedicated search function, OpenACS is extremely user friendly. I know that all the convenient tools we currently enjoy - - and hopefully the archives too - - would still be available under, and will not complain if you migrate us there. It just seemed worthy of a post to suggest the View Camera lashup. If that's not practical, so be it. I hope Phil has invited you to continue as moderator in a "separate LF forum" arrangement. Thanks one more time!

-- Sal Santamaura (, December 07, 2001.


-- Kevin Gibson (, December 07, 2001.

First YAHOOGROUPS - I'm not quite sure what the big deal is here? I am on several pro photo groups on Yahoo and never seem to have a problem - e mails come fine, no ads, archives search works well (in fact one or two groups that run on their own servers actually archive to Yahoo so they are searchable). I can access them via the web when I'm away. I've experienced none of the apparent woes...

Secondly, I've never especially like way the group is run, so I wouldn't be a fan of linking up more closely with that - I think this group would lose much of it's independence.

Thirdly, neither am I fan of being set up on the Viewfinder site. I seem to remember cases of people pulling stuff from their sites after heated discussion on the internet about some topic or other. Who's to say that wouldn't happen here in similar circumstances, with the plug being pulled on the list? (oh Steve, and as for articles on websites - no, I know of few that make money, but I note the likes of Photovision does... it's what led to me to subscribe to them!).

So I'm in favour of either an independent server, or Yahoogroups.

Tim A


-- Tim Atherton (, December 07, 2001. over yahoo...

-- David Bonamo (, December 07, 2001.


I have been watching this forum, and occasionally contributing for about 4 years. It's been a unique & rich source of information about large format photography. I have been involved with the medium format forum at for about the same time. It generally works ok, and far better than Yahoo. Aside from your ideal situation, my vote is to move to the sit as a separate category.


-- Ted Brownlee (, December 07, 2001.


I agree with most of the previous posts; this is a valuable resource and should continue, unfortunately I don't see many options. Someone suggested a fee if that would help fund another option. Personally, I would rather see a site similar to Philip's for a fee rather than I would also rather see it go to than go away completely.


-- Pete Caluori (, December 07, 2001.

Q or other who takes on resposibilty, seriously: Make promise to archive all people's email who contributed on this site. Take time to develop BETTER system. Send email when it's up and running.

Why does anyone think we should settle for moving backwards? We have something really good here, and technology is moving forward too. Responses to go to photonet/yahoo route seem pessimistic, and are baffling.

-- Andre Noble (, December 07, 2001.

Q I just wish to thank you for providing such an informative and stimulating forum. I've been reading this for a year or so and never miss reading every thread every day. I don't know much about computers, hosting and the like but I do know I thoroughly enjoy this forum. I am always searching for more information and ideas about my choosen field and this forum provides the ideal begining for this quest. All I can add to this is that where ever you go we will follow.

-- joe kras (, December 07, 2001.

I personally would be more than willing to contribute to keep this forum on it's own server. I'm surprised more people haven't suggested this. This forum is better than any photo mag I've ever read. I would not object to contributing in any way, or to paying a user fee for that matter. People have gotten used to getting stuff for free on the ‘net and it's gotten out of hand. If you're worried about excluding newbies, offer a 30 day ‘guest' membership. I've learned more from this forum than from any magazine - but's let's keep it free from advertisement, pop up windows, and all the other nonsense. I'm also surprised that Mr. Simmons suggestions have been so roundly rebuffed. Seems like a natural to me as long as the technical issues can be worked out, AND the forum doesn't become a vehicle for View Camera Magazine. Seems like a good fit to me.

If there is no other alternative to becoming part of the, please don't adopt the ridiculous hero icons that has become a part of All they do is to diminish the value of the rest of the contributors. Talk about elitistism....

-- Andy (, December 08, 2001.

I learned MF through Medium Format Forun and LF through your kind selves, I bought a "new" attractive Spanish LF learning book last week but ended up giving it away, I was way ahead of it's entire contents thanks to this forum.

This forum has its unique "air" about, it not found in the MF of any other forum, obviously due to the fact that we have to be a bit eccentric to be into LF and we are bonded by this "madness". I think it is normal that people are trying to protect this unique environment from "outside contamination" but I really don't think that the forum will suffer from being on (as other posters have pointed out MF forum has not suffered), people usually leave "nutters" alone.

go for it Q.-Tuan Luong

-- adrian tyler (, December 08, 2001.

Hi guys. This is Lumberjack. Some of you know me and those that don't, I was a regular correspondant on this site for a long time. I was enticed by a siren song of civility to emmigrate to and have been very happy over there. It is a photography site unlike anything around here. It is a site by, for, and about photography. I think that you will find it a good site as a replacement for this site. I'm asking Q to have a look, talk with the usefilm creators, and see if this can't be moved over there. I think everyone will like it and it offers another option I found attractive. It has an option allowing you to post images. I for one like this option because it allows me to show my work "and" get input about it from other accomplished photographers. I have always liked the idea about sharing work and talking about it. We have no canikonolta wars over there, but we do have a really friendly chat room. Take a look and let me know here or on the large format page over there what you think. I know you will like it. And it is a user friendly place. Lumberjack

-- bigmac (, December 08, 2001.

The character of this forum is distinctly different from that of They serve two different purposes. When used correctly, this is an archived resource, not a chat room. I'd encourage anyone looking for what Altaf provides to visit his site, but please *do not* approach it as a "replacement" for this site. Let's support Tuan in getting this forum rehosted (in its current form) on the most practical server. If that turns out to be, the tradeoffs are - - at least for now - - tolerable.

-- Sal Santamaura (, December 08, 2001.

Sal, I've spent a lot of time at and it isn't a better place which would be tolerable. Not even close. And usefilm is so much more than a chatroom. Usefilm has offered to host this Large Format site and "we" will moderate it like we always have. And it offers additional options not found here or at And we don't engage in tech wars or anything else. We are about photography. It is easy to navigate and it will be what we want it to be. It has it's own large format page. And Al is looking into the archives issue to see if they can be moved. We on Q's LF page have always been available to the newcomer and old timer alike as a resource for all things LF and this is what I want to continue with. Or I wouldn't be here hyping the virtues of usefilm. So take a look and get involved. The site will be what "we" make it. Lumberjack(aka James)

-- bigmac (, December 08, 2001.

Hi all, I just went and checked the site and I like it a lot better than Easier interface, very similar "look and feel" as this board. The only draw back I saw was that you need to "register" before you can post a question, but heck that is not too much to ask if our info is not being sold out. Why don't some of you check it out and try it?

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, December 08, 2001.

One of the big reasons why we want you to register is to keep spammers and malcontents out. We want no wars. Intense discussions are fine as long as they are instructive but we don't want it degenerating into a yahoo or war and we want serious photographers. Amateurs are fine but if you don't have anything constructive to say or you want to hassle people then we don't want you there. Same as here. This has been a very unique site and would interface and meld with usefilm very well. Come have a look. We also welcome all the discussion about the posted images as long as it is constructive. We don't ask that you like the images but that you critique them constructively James

-- bigmac (, December 08, 2001.

Hi, just poped over to the usefilm area. Somehow it seems like we have a critical mass here that might just get diluted if something happend ... no disrespect... Can't we just pay Mr. G's people something, or send a cheque to Steve Simons which seems like the best idea as his magazine is the linchpin -- his offer is generous and then maybe we'd all stop bugging him about silver because we'd still be able talk about it on our own -- solve two problems that one. I don't know if he's still with that idea, and it might be easier to just migrate, but with all thoes Coolpix out there, combining the critical mass of this forum with the linchpin mag makes sense. That not being doable, I'm for a fee. Dean

-- Dean Lastoria (, December 08, 2001.

I do not understand the talk about being intolerable becuase you simply do not have to visit those General or Archived or Nature or Medium Format sites if you do not want to. The Large Format site remains exactly as it is if it is hosted by Are you all accessing the discussion forums at differently from the way I do? I type in in the URL and I get directly to the list of forums. I click on the forum I wish to click on and I do not have to look at the rest. Somehow there is the misconception that being hosted by means losing our good moderator Tuan. Nothing can be further from the truth. Each forum has its own moderators and they do not cross over to control the other forums. So you have nothing to fear from the likes of Darron, Bob, Russ, Don etc. in the LF Forum.

-- Erik X (, December 08, 2001.

If it matters we took a peek and it will not be much trouble to port over the archive. is a heck of a lot more than just a chatroom. Take a peek and decide for yourself. The tone of is distictly about becoming a better photographer by actually TAKING pictures. The photo projects are there for those who wish to participate. Discussing techniques and equipment will always be some part of photography which is fine. They both can happily coexist together.

I've read this forum for a long time and been a large format photographer for much longer than that. Large format should not be an elitist secret. It should be a wonderful avenue to try and practice Photography in the traditional sense. There is no greater joy than seeing that first big polaroid come out of a large format camera and have it not come out blank.

I want to expose as many people as possible to the joys of large format and alternative processes so I made the offer to host the forum. I will still be a member at this LF forum no matter what.

-- Altaf Shaikh (, December 08, 2001.

Reply from Philg (presumably) copied from Pentax 67 Forum:

Hey, I'm not dead yet... But seriously the easiest thing to do with photo forums is move them into The site has a full-time staff. For the rest of the stuff, I'm not pulling the plug immediately. But I want to make sure that the services are rebuilt in a way that is sustainable. I've already told Steve that we can move his forum onto and redirect seamlessly from old bookmarks.

-- Philip Greenspun (, December 07, 2001.

-- Erik X (, December 08, 2001.

Interesting. But I question the feeling that somehow this forum will become diluted by joing We large format shooters over there have our own page complete with archives and a large base of other serious photographers to draw from. And Q is my choice for moderator if he so chooses. I'm sorry but I feel PN sucks as far as navigating and options and it isn't always up and running. I frequently have to back out and try over again. I went there because of the options that existed over there. Like other lf photographers who put there images up for critique and comment on mine. And the chat room has rooms you can go to where you can talk serious photography while looking at the image in question. I hope you will come visit us and have a chat with us about what we offer. As for PN, I choose the better option. I've already been there and it wasn't usable. James

-- bigmac (, December 08, 2001.

No, James, I disagree with you. PN does not suck. It is not perfect but it does not suck. PN remains the most informative archive of photography knowledge on the Web. It has been helpful to many since its inception. PN does not suck.

-- Erik X (, December 08, 2001.

Sorry Eric X but "in my opinion" it sucks. There is more current information on usefilm then on the archives on PN. I spent a lot of time on and all it was was a bunch of bickering and techwars. So I don't buy it. This site is a class act and is just as good. That is why I have invited those that want a great photography site with it's own LF page to come over and experience it for themselves. And PN is hard to navigate. Go where you want but having been here for a very long time and having used usefilm I will never go back to PN. Period.

-- bigmac (, December 08, 2001.

PhotoNet is not all that bad, but it is down from time to time, and it’s not the easiest site to move around in. It would be a consideration if were are unable to maintain the site as is, or with some changes as to fees or funding if required.

Deans' point about critical mass is a good one. is a good site among many good sites - and all photography sites are constantly looking to increase their traffic/memberships. Altafs’ offer is kind, but I’m sure we would be welcomed at other sites as well - the important thing here is to maintain our critical mass, and to try to continue with the forum in it’s current form, or as close as possible

-- Michael Mahoney (, December 08, 2001.

that's what we are trying to do keep all the information together and keep all the participants together we don't want to dilute the page with other formats and agendas and usefilm offers other options as well that PN and here don't james

-- bigmac (, December 08, 2001.

Some thoughts on the options:

I've been to usefilm and found that I can't access it because of an incompatibility between the site and my browser, so I'm not interested in that option. (And please, don't tell me to change my browser. The whole genius of the worldwide web was that the markup language was designed to make all sites compatible with all hardware and software combinations (including palm pilot, webTV, etc); I have little patience with the argument that because an incompetent web designer has created a site that's inaccessible to my browser, I should change my browser. I don't THINK so. Of course that's one of the many great things about being with Greenspun, is that he understands that whole idea of accessibility and practices it as well as preaching it.)

As for yahoo-- I'm in a yahoo group, and I think someone here said there's no ads on yahoogroups, but that's not my experience. We get an ad at the bottom of almost every message. Many have graphics that take a while to download. I put up with it because it's my brothers and sisters and it's an easy way for us to keep in touch, but for a professional group, I hope we could do better. And we didn't join yahoo voluntarily, by the way; we were on egroups, which was better, but we were sold to yahoo like so much furniture.

Given the manpower requirements Tuan has outlined, it seems unlikely that Steve Simmons would be able to follow up his polite request for information about our requirements with a definite offer to host the forum. He can speak for himself, of course, but it seems unlikely to me that it would be cost-effective for him to take this on.

As for paying a fee to maintain the forum as a standalone on its own server, has anyone worked out how many subscribers at what fee it would take to maintain a server and a person to manage it? People are used to free discussion groups on the net; I'm not sure how many would be willing to pay for the service. I'm not sure I would, myself. I expect what you'd end up with would be a core group of a few people, but not enough to pay the bills.

I think probably Phillip is right, that makes the most sense because it has a staff already, and the interface is familiar. If the forum can maintain a separate existence there and keep its present tone and usefulness, that would be tolerable. One potential problem I can see is it may be more visible to people who enjoy joining groups purely to create dissension, who wouldn't have known about our group in its present location, but that might be a risk we'll have to take, if we can't find a way to continue as we are.

This may be a dumb question, but I guess I don't understand the difference between the two sites, and, as far as the software. The forum format looks quite similar; is the software totally different?

I don't think we need a feature for uploading images for critique. Once in a while it would be useful to be able to show a problem with a camera or something like that, but critiqueing work isn't what this forum is about. I lurked on one critique group for a while and was rather taken aback by the arbitrary and even bizarre advice people were being given on how to "improve" their photographs. When I found it harder and harder to restrain myself from jumping in to yell "Run for your lives!" to the hapless participants, I unsubscribed. That's a longwinded way of saying, "No critiques, please!"

-- Katharine Thayer (, December 08, 2001.

No need for apologies, James. I knew full well that it was your opinion without your having to state it every time. And in a world where opinions are about as common as a@@holes, that makes your opinion as about valid as mine. Since you are insistent on repeating your opinion that sucks, there you go, following your tack, I am repeating my opinion that does not suck. Somewhere in there lies a sliver of truth.

-- Erik X (, December 09, 2001.

Just to make sure I understand - this affects the forum only, correct? Not the "static" page with all the data, reviews, etc.?

-- Sean (, December 09, 2001.

Yes, Sean. Only this forum MAY be affected. The static page is hosted by Dr Quang Tuan Luong's own cs.berkley server.

-- Erik (, December 09, 2001.

No, David, you shouldn't give a vote to that site. That site is a repository of information on photographic equipment written by a few, not about photography per se. You must be careful to make that distinction. It is unlike or this forum, with input from a world-wide audience.

-- Erik X (, December 09, 2001.

I would really like to see the current character of the site maintained, and if that is done best at, so be it. This site has a tremendous wealth of knowledge shared by long time practitioners that filters down to those of us who are not professionals but pursue image making with large format as a passion. There is no other site on the net where I can ask a question about some arcane lens I have located and have a dozen responses on manufacturer, image properties, design, coverage etc. At the same time a person can propose a discussion regarding non techie subjects and ther is always a spirited discussion.

As far as a site for the critique of images: please stop now before I lose my sanity. You only need to read so many "to dark at the top" , should have cropped this or that side, NICEST IMAGE YET!, what filter did you use for this or that effect in photoshop etc. If people want their images seen and critiqued, ask them to provide a URL for their own site or at least a completely seperate forum for critiques.

-- James Chinn (, December 09, 2001.

I think Katharine Thayer's post (above) is right on target. Excellent!


-- Terry (, December 09, 2001.

There might be two other sites which we might attempt to emulate or at least have discussions with to learn how they provide service and forums.

Perhaps there is a way that this LF Forum integrate or move to a link at Photo District News' page. I am often there and find their discussions similar and thoughtful like this one.

The other site which I use and find easy to navigate is I am not suggesting a merger or use of this page since they are focused on digital cameras and issues. They probably would not want opposite end of the spectrum forums under the same banner. However, someone might want to look at the architecture, design and the appearance of their forums. Perhaps, we can open telephone conversations and ask them who they used to create the site, what software they use and their thoughts about servers and long term operational needs. I happen to enjoy that they have a couple forum links to different topics. Maybe we could have sections for film, lenses and different bodies among other areas.

There may additional options than these and they should be given due as we are discussing and Yahoo and the rest.


John Bailey

-- John Bailey (, December 09, 2001.


Would be nice if the design and workability of these forum would not be changed. But Q.-Tuan has to take the decision and he will do it right as he already did! Good luck!

-- Armin Seeholzer (, December 09, 2001.

I've nothing much to add, but wanted to register a vote.

My first preference would be to find another independent server. The traffic here isn't that big, and generic discussion server software comes free with most internet-aware databases these days. I would offer my servers and programming time (my University, and Swedish Law, is very tolerant of non-profit servers within the domain) but I can't promise continuity for any reasonable time, so the forum would probably have to move again in a year or so.

I would be willing to pay a small subscription fee were that necessary to keep the forum going on a commercial server, but I feel strongly that access should be free (and that cute little icons for those who've paid up are childish and divisive).

I like, but I prefer this forum, which in many ways is what was like before it went professional. is now slow and klunky in comparison because it is too busy selling my eyeballs to advertisers to engage fully in the dull task of sending ascii down the pipe.

More seriously, I believe that claims copyright over the posts made there, which might make things difficult if the forum got sick of the adverts for 28-200 zoom lenses and tried to move again.

-- Struan Gray (, December 10, 2001.

I am very nearly computer illiterate and can't make a qualified opinion on most of the tech issues.

I will say that this site is the only one that has a shortcut on my "personal toolbar" in Netscape. I've been to all the other ones to investigate from time to time, but don't find myself going back. Why is that? What is it about this site that makes it so classy? Whatever it is I would certainly vote to maintain that character and flavour. If it takes reaching into my pocket book, then that's what it takes. Thank you Q Tuan Luong for keeping this place an island in an ever increasing sea of "No Value."

There was a thread a while back about equipment insurance. Maybe there could be a subscriber fee that included equipment insurance in the price. I'll shut up before I say anything even dumber.

Very Best Regards to the people that make this site "special". Jim

-- Jim Galli (, December 10, 2001.

I'm hoping that the forum can be continued with the ACS software, which is a definate example of the beauty of simplicity. A while back, after I acquired a Palm Vx with Minstrel V wireless modem and installed a little Palm OS browser called AvantGo, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this forum displayed perfectly and was incredibly useable even at the blinding (not!) connection speed of 19.2k. Consequently I have spent many hours reading this forum in bed next to my warm, sleeping wife rather than out in the cold family room at the desktop machine. I'm hopeful that this will continue!

-- J.L. Kennedy (, December 11, 2001.

I visit the B&W forum & it has just lost all the Q&A sections with their server service going off the air. Will that be happening here, or has a new service been found?

-- Dan Smith (, February 12, 2002.

I've been a lurker here, and a semi-active participant in the People Photography forum. I was a bit distressed about the prospect of the greenspun servers going away, so I started writing a facsimile of the q-and-a system in a more portable form than ACS is (PHP/mySQL vs. AOLServer/ACS/Postgres/Oracle).

The result is Mind you, it's not finished yet (most notably missing are email notifications, but that will be added within the next week or so), but the core functionality is there and solid.

My next task after polishing up the service to current levels is to figure out how to move existing content-- I can write a spider, I suppose, but I might ask philg if he can give me raw database dumps of both the forums (and any others that might wish to move) so I can import them directly into my new system.

I also plan on releasing the source code so that others can maintain similar services on most popular UNIX webhosts.

How does this idea sit with the forum?

-- Josh Wand (, April 09, 2002.

Hey - looks great. If you can get the email notification up and running, it should be pretty cool.

Yep, the existing material ont here would be a huge advantage

Tim A

-- tim atherton (, April 09, 2002.

Outtages of this list all the time now... kinda annoying. Maybe it's tame to take Josh up on his excellent offer and migrate the lsit to somehwere that works?

tim a

-- tim atherton (, May 01, 2002.

I'm down with that. All the outages, on top of being irritating, kind of make me nervous. This forum and its archives along with Luong's site are easily the two greatest LF resources on the web and I'd hate to see the former lost. It's just too good to lose.

-- David Munson (, May 01, 2002.

yes, go Josh go, if this server is going to keep being trouble like it has been

-- Wayne (, May 02, 2002.

I hope that this forum continues in it's present form - clearly a useful resource to large format photographers.

I hadn't visited for a while - I was pointed to a discussion here by Tim Atherton who posted some URLs to the LargeFormat Mailing List.

Some of you may not be aware of Large Format Photography. We run a Forum and a mailing list amongst other things. It is essentially a Community of Practice for large format photography.

If this board does (heaven forbid) go to the wall then there are alternatives that have been running for a couple of years.

Best Regards,

Clive Warren

-- Clive Warren (, May 22, 2002.

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