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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Where Did So Many of the Photography Mentors Go?
Joey Terrill, Photographer
Tarzana | CA | USA | Posted: 8:19 PM on 03.20.13
->> After some encouraging from a few colleagues, I updated my member page this morning. It had been 1439 days.

Once that was completed, I was curious to read what was being discussed on the message board and who was sharing their wisdom. What I found was that several of the names I expected to see were no longer posting very often—if at all. Many of the most iconic and admired photographers who are published in some of the finest sports magazines and newspapers had mostly disappeared from the message board. And I wondered why.

After a reading a few posts, I quickly saw that the message board has become a place frequented by a small minority of photographers who seem to take great pleasure in shaming other members for their lack of experience, lack of knowledge, their differing opinions, or simply because they made a rookie mistake.

I always thought that the SportsShooter message board was the perfect forum for a beginner to ask a question, and have a seasoned veteran answer it. I was a place where someone with a love of photography could come to read about what others were discussing from their area of specialty or their corner of the world. It was a place where students just entering the business could actually learn from more experienced members. And, to a large degree, that still occurs with wonderful frequency.

But, what seems to also be the case now is that a handful of members take great pleasure in publicly embarrassing and shaming other members for their postings.

For example, yesterday a photographer shared a nice series of pictures that has gotten good play around the world:
http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=41336 Almost immediately, the posting was greeted with a comment meant to tear the photographer down. Why is this allowed? What kind of a chilling effect does that sort of thing have on the next photographer who dares to share something she's proud of? In this case, the vast majority of the comments were very kind and supportive, to be sure. But why isn't there a mechanism for the membership as a whole to keep these other people from poisoning the dialog?

Further down on the message board, I found this comment in reference to beginning photographers: "The groups of aspiring photographers were to a large extent, younger people. And to a person I found similarities in all of them. There was a complete and utter failure in their ability to communicate on a business level. Fostered by poor language skills and vocabulary it invoked a timidity in all of them then could only be perceived as a lack of confidence in their own ability to do a job which of course would be a total dead end with a potential client."

After reading something like that, what young or inexperienced photographer would be foolish enough to ask a question in a public forum that explicitly derides them for their youth and inexperience? And if they do ask a question, in what way does shaming them for their inexperience help them? For that matter, what experienced photographer would want to express an opinion only to be shouted down for expressing it? Perhaps that's why those iconic photographers that I mentioned above don't contribute here the way they once did. Maybe someone should ask them if the tone of the message board is one of the reasons that they don't.

There are countless members here who are generous with their time and humble in their opinions. The more than 7,000 photographers who are members of this site are better informed as a result of all of those who are willing to contribute—from the leadership at the top to the member who joined today. It's just those select few who, like a poison, seem to take great pleasure in tainting the environment for everyone.

Respectfully,
Joey Terrill

www.joeyterrill.com
penumbraproject.com
instagram.com/joeyterrill
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Scott A. Schneider, Photographer
Minneapolis | MN | USA | Posted: 9:12 PM on 03.20.13
->> Mr. Terrill, you went yard with that.
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Daniel Putz, Photographer
Owings Mills | MD | USA | Posted: 9:12 PM on 03.20.13
->> Well said.
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Orlando Ramirez, Photographer, Assistant
San Diego | CA | United States | Posted: 9:37 PM on 03.20.13
->> Nice post. I like strong criticism, something to build on, which will help one improve. However, a handful of members seem to enjoy putting people down. It is because of that reason why I tend to go other places or ask other photographers or message boards for the help I need. Looking over older posts, it seems as if the forum was much more positive and fostered group participation in the past. Once a post goes up, you can pretty much know who will provide a good criticism/help and who will start with the negativity.
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Alex Menendez, Photographer
Orlando | FL | USA | Posted: 9:44 PM on 03.20.13
->> Very well done..........
(1) Informative (1) Dead-on (1) Great images !
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Crystal LoGiudice, Photographer
Mandeville | LA | USA | Posted: 9:53 PM on 03.20.13
->> Nice post and one I hope more members read. I follow the message boards every now and then but very rarely do I post anything. If I have a question that I am thinking of asking about anything photography related I don't even consider posting it here anymore. I am only still a Sports Shooter member because I have gotten work through here before and I have bought and sold camera equipment through the classified listings.

It really does seem as if some photographers must sit at their computer every day waiting for a new post so they can enjoy tearing someone down. It is really sad.
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Mark J. Terrill, Photographer
Simi Valley | CA | USA | Posted: 10:02 PM on 03.20.13
->> My brother hit the nail on the head and said it more eloquently than I ever could. Go back to when SportsShooter started and look at all the big names that used to be here. Now take a look at the message board stats of the few people that seemingly can't help but post in almost every thread. Look at their percentage of inappropriates verses informatives. It becomes pretty clear why the big names are no longer here.
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Jason Orth, Photographer
Lincoln | NE | USA | Posted: 10:08 PM on 03.20.13
->> I ask the same questions every time I re-up my membership.

Only because of wisdom in posts like yours do I continue.
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Wally Nell, Photographer
SAN DIEGO | CA | USA | Posted: 10:20 PM on 03.20.13
->> Well said...
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Butch Owens, Photographer, Photo Editor
Murrieta | CA | US | Posted: 11:35 PM on 03.20.13
->> Well said. But Even if the mentors are not posting as regularly the annual renewal is worth it just for the front page, robert's leading off column, the ability to search old posts, other articles, great images, workshop information, equipment reviews, etc... Will always be the best deal around.
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Richard Uhlhorn, Photographer
Chelan Falls | WA | USA | Posted: 12:24 AM on 03.21.13
->> Very well stated. I've been a member since 2002 and remember the days when te message board was a pleasant place to post and to learn. I stay a member because I still learn from the board and can find answers to questions quickly.
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Kent Nishimura, Student/Intern, Photographer
Honolulu | HI | USA | Posted: 1:23 AM on 03.21.13
->> Mr. Terrill,

Thank you for the post.

Aloha,
Kent
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David Seelig, Photographer
Hailey | ID | USA | Posted: 2:09 AM on 03.21.13
->> So I wonder is anyone going to admit they need to change there ways? thanks Joey
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Ron Hawkes, Photographer, Photo Editor
Rockland | ME | USA | Posted: 7:26 AM on 03.21.13
->> I was just thinking of this the other day Joey. Well said and much needed post here.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:45 AM on 03.21.13
->> Maybe the rules for membership need to be changed?
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Matt Gade, Photographer
Grand Rapids | MI | USA | Posted: 9:50 AM on 03.21.13
->> Very well said Mr. Terrill, and one of those things that's probably been needed to have been said a while ago.
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Warren Wimmer, Photographer, Photo Editor
Orland Park | Il | USA | Posted: 11:19 AM on 03.21.13
->> Joey says what others think but are too timid to post their thoughts.
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Scott A. Schneider, Photographer
Minneapolis | MN | USA | Posted: 11:50 AM on 03.21.13
->> The number of "informative" checks should send a strong message to a few people.
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Robert Longhitano, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philadelphia | PA | USA | Posted: 12:01 PM on 03.21.13
->> Joey, I'm sure you remember the early days of the SS message board. It was a great place for info and advise. Then it went TOXIC. I have a pretty good idea why, but I have no idea how to bring it back to peaceful days of yesteryear. Until that happens I'll stick with Facebook for Q&A's
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Dallas | TX | US | Posted: 12:24 PM on 03.21.13
->> Couple of thoughts ...

First off, as others have said, good post and solid points, Mr. Terrill ... both of you.

I think, sadly, it's kind of the nature of the beast with Internet message boards and such. As I've said numerous times here, and elsewhere, there's something about the pseudo anonymity of online interpersonal communication that brings out a side of people I don't think you'd see in person.

Better said, if we were to have any of these conversations in a room together -- face-to-face -- I pretty much guarantee the level of flippancy, negativity and downright acrimony would fall off precipitously. I mean, does anyone remember the old NPPA Listerv, and how toxic that place became ... and there, everyone was supposed to be a "professional" ... if that makes sense.

So having said that, I'm not sure mandating some kind of change to membership rules, etc., would do any real good at this point; that horse left the barn. I could be mistaken, but it doesn't really seem like the rating system changed too much of the behaviors on here, and instead encouraged a lot of other stuff that didn't seem to exist before (Informatives as "hell ya's," Huhs or Off Topics as disagreements, etc.).

My suggestion, unbidden as is it, is to just leave things as is and learn to take this site -- like the rest of the Internet -- as is, and for whatever it's worth. Or, as we like to say in the newspaper business, "It is what it is." You take the good with the bad, and I do feel like I see plenty of good on here, too.

Dunno ... there's no easy answer, and maybe there shouldn't be one. As I've learned in recovery, sometimes the best thing to do is keep your "side of the street" clean, and hope everyone around you follows suit. That is to say, I try not to act like a major asshole on here, and remember to repay all the helpfulness and kindness that's been shown to me here, and elsewhere, to the latest crops of young photographers. That's really all I can do. How other folks choose to act and present themselves is really up to them, and I can just hope for the best.

Good discussion. Thanks for the opportunity to share.

- gerry -
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Vincent Laforet, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 1:04 PM on 03.21.13
->> Thanks Joey for this post.

It resonates with me because I used to be one of the original guys on this site and I enjoyed the camaraderie so much and the information I gained from others as well as contributing as much as I could on my end.

Then came the negativity. I could point out one or two clear people in specific that ALWAYS are negative - and it just got old. I'm not sure why they are still here. Yet singling out individuals never goes well.

When you post here - you open yourself up to attacks. And then having to defend yourself. And it's simply not worth the grief for anyone that is busy. The advantages that come from sharing information and opinions are all to quickly eclipsed by the venom that can be dispelled by one or two nattering nabobs of negativity. And I would guess that that's why so many of the "mentors" have left. They stand to loose so much more by getting mixed up in a nasty fight and how that might affect them publicly - than they stand to gain.

So here's the solution I would offer:

If "x" person gets "x" number of "inappropriate" pings on one particular post, on in a monthly period they get forwarded to the SportShooter brass for review and get a warning.

If it happens a second time - their account is suspended for "x" period once their situation is reviewed.

If it happens a third time - adios.

If SportsShooter doesn't want to get involved in arbitration or appeals - they can make this policy an automated one... that can lead to abuse... but getting involved in the middle of these things ain't fun for anyone.

That's the best I can offer.

Hope to see a more "constructive" message board from now on.
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Bradley Leeb, Photographer
Champaign | IL | USA | Posted: 1:21 PM on 03.21.13
->> http://www.sportsshooter.com/news/1281
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Bradley Leeb, Photographer
Champaign | IL | USA | Posted: 1:23 PM on 03.21.13
->> Oops, forgot to mention with the link I posted that it is a 2004 article, so the system has been around for a while.
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Brett Groehler, Photographer
Duluth | MN | USA | Posted: 1:30 PM on 03.21.13
->> Joey:

Amen and kudos for you coming forward. Somewhere along the way
I became one of the old dogs of photography who still has fixer stained shirts in my closet. I don't want SportsShooter to become the FaceBook of photography where harsh words are regurgitated into cyberspace with no consequence. I would second what Vincent just said. Let's keep SS a place where old dogs and new can learn from each other... my .2
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Rod Mar, Photographer
Seattle | WA | USA | Posted: 1:38 PM on 03.21.13
->> Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Joey.

Many of us have discussed how this message board has evolved (de-evolved) since the site's origins, and many of the comments on this thread are very accurate.

As Vince points out, there are a couple of very negative people who constantly post criticism of someone else's post or just offer sarcasm to make themselves laugh and feel more important. The irony is that while they might feel they're making a name for themselves, they don't realize what the rest of the photographic community thinks of them. I can think of three names right away I've been asked about regarding potential jobs who I can't recommend because of their online persona. I refuse to attach my name to someone who isn't civil.

I'm guessing the biggest reason why those former posters aren't visible here anymore is that it feels like a waste to take valuable time to answer a query or offer advice, only to have it shot down or mocked by someone who is only interjecting to put their voice out there. Don't get me wrong -- I don't mind and actually embrace points-of-view that are opposed to mine -- that healthy debate is what helped each of us get better. But those who wade in with an ignorant or smartass comment are those who helped to change the tone of this board for the worse.

My final point is also one that others have made -- this kind of de-evolution pollutes most internet boards and is kind of the nature of the beast. Even those who don't mean to belittle can unwittingly contribute to this sort of poisoning. There's an early post on this thread where someone who is supporting Joey's original post takes a shot at those who are "too timid to post their thoughts".

So Joey writes a thoughtful, well-intentioned post about why people don't post here and someone wades in and says that Joey is right and then promptly criticizes others for being too timid.

Kind of says it all.
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Mark Kauzlarich, Photographer
Washington | DC | | Posted: 1:39 PM on 03.21.13
->> I know it might count for much, but despite all the positive things I heard in the thread when someone asked if it was worth "re-upping" their membership, I struggled with it myself.

I haven't found the positive benefits of freelance jobs and other things some have. More than that I find myself typing well-thought-out and heartfelt responses and then deleting them because I'm sure that someone will tell me that since I haven't been around for 10, 20, or 30 years, I should go back to my corner.

I am one of those young people who doesn't want to post. I can talk to plenty of great shooters in person, people who seem to care more about being respectful and good people, even in their criticism. Why would I come here to have people treat me like crap on a message board? Regardless if I don't think hardly anything about the people who run their mouth, words can still weigh on you even for a short time.

That being said, the people who like to tear people down mostly haven't been posting in this thread, and I don't think we'll see them, not at least until the thread is almost closed and they can get their final jabs about how 55 (at this time) people who found this post informative are all wrong.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 2:00 PM on 03.21.13
->> While I agree with much of the assessments of Joey and was thrilled to see Vincent chime in I think this forum is symbolic of the erosion of authority by our society.

One speaks with authority based usually from years of experience and not from innocence of youth.

In the past to be heard you had to earn respect before the gatekeepers let you through to the access your audience. You had to meet some criteria to be heard.

Once the Worldwide Web gave anyone access to everyone there was no maturing of those communicating to the world.

This was not all bad, because some of those gatekeepers were showing favoritism for maybe personal reasons as well as for some practical reasons.

What was lost in this was the grooming of the young into adults. Social etiquette has suffered.

We went from a very formal society to anything goes. We went from suites and ties for everything, to casual Friday and quickly on to business casual dress for everything. It is seldom today that you even see any formalities at all.

We went from no profanity in our media to now it is so common that it has lost its effect.

In the past we had inappropriate behavior, but the community not only frowned upon it that spoke out against it.

The problem here on Sports Shooter is not just a few who acted inappropriately but for all of us who stood by silently tolerating the behavior. Some did speak out and complain, but when the rest of us did not join them asking for the behavior to stop they had no choice but to leave.

How do you get them to return? Reversing what made them leave. Just as they didn’t leave after a few comments—believe me they have thick skin. They will return when the atmosphere makes them feel welcomed and respected.

That my friends is going to take some time.
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Vincent Laforet, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 2:10 PM on 03.21.13
->> Bradley -

Methinks the Sportsshooter secret formula needs some tinkering... or that members need to flag more inappropriates...

I'm a believer that "if it ain't broke don't fix it."

I'm not sure it's working..

and to Rod's point - this is indeed a natural evolution of message boards unfortunately.

But if you up the penalties for what can only be seen as pure negativity we might end up all being a little more responsible as to what we say...

Bitting one's tongue is a discipline.

Or we can keep things just the way they are... which doesn't seem to be working all too well.

I visit this site nearly 3-4 times a week. I haven't posted in well over a year - for the aforementioned reasons. Just not worth the grief. For what it's worth of course.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 2:14 PM on 03.21.13
->> To Rod's point. I too allowed it to happen.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 2:15 PM on 03.21.13
->> I like Laforet's idea. I've been thinking the same thing for years. Some people wear their "Inappropriates" as a badge of honor or, at the very least, are un-phased by them.

I think it's totally reasonable that if someone reaches a certain percentage or number of "Inappropriates" that we get to vote them off the island.

In fact, in the thread that Joey Terrill linked to in his post, a certain serial offender has, to date 16.89% or 617 Inappropriates. That's almost a full time inappropriate job. There's no reason why that type of constant venom should be keeping people, particularly young shooters or experienced professionals, away form here.

J. Terrill's observations are accurate and Vincent's idea is a reasonable one. I say let's do it.
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Bradley Leeb, Photographer
Champaign | IL | USA | Posted: 2:19 PM on 03.21.13
->> Vincent,

I agree that the formula needs some updating perhaps. The algorithms may need some revising based on the changes in social norms and mores over the last 8 years.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 2:26 PM on 03.21.13
->> Oh, and I also think we may want to consider getting rid of the "Funny" clicky. I think sometimes it motivates people to be snarky where they otherwise wouldn't be. It certainly doesn't mean we can't crack a joke or be humorous but I don't see a need to quantify it.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 2:41 PM on 03.21.13
->> Oh, and on last thought. I think your name should be listed when you click "Inaproppriate" so that there's some accountability and less retaliatory clicks. I got two "Inaproppriates" yesterday simply for asking a certain member to treat others with respect. That type of thing wouldn't happen if their names were next to their rating.
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Mark Kauzlarich, Photographer
Washington | DC | | Posted: 2:42 PM on 03.21.13
->> Brian, I think you've hit the nail on the head with the funny thing.

Also, I've said it before, and I'll say it one more time, at the risk of everything I fear from this board...

In any profession, there are a lot of people who are great at their jobs and are jerks, but I don't think that being good and having "been around the block" gives you a right to treat people like crap. I don't care if "you would get along with them in person," an excuse I've heard too many times. I don't get along with them online when I get sent harassing replies or even emails because of my opinion in a discussion, so I don't really care if they're a saint in person, because I'd be happy to never meet them. All that means is they're fake in one way or the other, and they still treat people like crap in a part of their life.

So maybe just as much as the younger shooters or the spec shooters who think they're big shots need to learn some humility, often times the people who are dishing out the humble pie need it doubly.

As for the rest, keep being awesome, please. I've reached out to a few of you guys in the past via email, and in that, almost everyone has been positive, so thank you for that.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 3:02 PM on 03.21.13
->> You gotta have a thick skin hanging out here.

The difference between this and most other boards is members are displayed as real names and links to real personal web sites and profiles. It gets a little dicey when criticism is thrown around. BUT... having said that, I find the thorny responses sometimes refreshing. I agree that sometimes people are treated a bit rough, but when people post things like "How do I get NCAA creds?" it's like fingernails down a chalkboard to most of us. If someone asks a stupid question like that here, a board of supposed pros, it instantly shows the lack of experience. Some of the frustration from the old heads comes from a history of having to fight off idiots on the sidelines of football games who ask completely idiotic questions about the operation of their OWN cameras when I'm are trying to prepare for a 3rd down-and-goal situation. (This happened to me once, and I had to scream at the guy to get the **** away from me.)

Things have improved greatly in the last several years here, and that's good. But when I post a question it does no good to receive a pablum response. I want the truth, bark and all. I may get my feelings hurt temporarily, but in the long run I benefit from hearing the unvarnished truth or strong opinion based on long experience.

There is one particular board that features photogs who post their shots for critique. Every post is greeted with "Stunning!" or "Great shot!" when it's really a piece of crap. How do you learn from that?

No, this board is one of the few where you can get honest opinions or responses that may or may not be particularly fuzzy-warm. I've had my share of beat-downs here early on from which I learned and benefited.

If you want to avoid public abuse, do a simple search on the topic of your question first. You may find the answer has already been asked. If not, just say you did a search and found no answers, and proceed. This, in and of itself, will temper the responses even if it is a dumb question. If you get a beat-down response, stop pouting and whining, wipe your tears and learn a lesson.

One thing is for sure; the real world is a lot rougher than this board.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 3:09 PM on 03.21.13
->> I totally agree with the "name and inappropriate" comment by Brian. There are a number of cowards out there (I just received four or five from anonymous sources alerting me to this thread) who like to flag things inappropriate no matter what certain people say. and of course send nasty email. people may not agree with the way I approach things but I have NEVER sent ANYONE on this forum an anonymous email saying nasty things to them. the fact of them matter is many PROFESSIONALS have left this site for a variety of reasons. many having nothing to do with the tone or negativity. And I truly believe that just because you don't blow sunshine up someone's butt doesn't make you a jerk or bad person. Part of the problem the past few years is when you tell someone the truth and it's not what they want to hear you're automatically a "jerk" "asshole" or "bad person". I shudder to think what would have happened to some of these people 20 years ago when a photo editor took a look at their work and didn't like it....but I guess they'd just give the guy an inappropriate and continue on until they found someone who "liked" them. the fact of the matter is there are a lot of sub-par photographers out there, they don't like being called out for being below average. fact of life.
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Rod Mar, Photographer
Seattle | WA | USA | Posted: 3:18 PM on 03.21.13
->> Chuck, an old-time photo editor might screamed at a young kid in front of the darkroom crew or staff but not in front of the entire sports photography (and photographic community in general). I think for many, including me, the calling people out in front of the entire world is troublesome.

Fred Nelson of the Seattle Times (and one of the best newspaper photo editors of the past 30 years) made many an intern cry but he would have never done it in front of say, the entire NPPA National Convention, which in all reality, a much smaller group than the membership of Sportsshooter.

There's a difference between being called out for being below-average and being put, as the kids say, "on blast".

Respectfully,

Rod
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Garrett Cortese, Photographer, Photo Editor
Orlando | FL | USA | Posted: 3:22 PM on 03.21.13
->> This thread made my day. Positivity is a good thing and I wholeheartedly agree with Vince that "biting one's tongue is a discipline." In that vein, I also agree that some measures could be taken in an attempt to make the forum more friendly and useful again. Some of Brian and Vince's ideas are solid, so count me in as a vote for # of inappropriate marks in a topic leads to a warning, next warning leads to forum suspension, etc. I also like the idea of removing the anonymous factor from marking posts. Make it public (for all things, not just inappropriate), and I think that will cut down a lot of the riff-raff.

Having joined this group over ten years ago (insert time flies comment here...?) as a junior in college, it is unbelievable how much it has grown/changed/evolved (and in some instances devolved). It is because of this website I was able to attend some of the original Luaus (free as a student!), learn from, and be inspired by the likes of the Terrill brothers, Vincent Laforet, Rod Mar, Robert Hanashiro, Brad Mangin, Dave Black, Michael Zagaris, Corey Rich, Peter Read Miller, Rick Rickman and many, many others. All used to contribute to the site regularly. I'm not saying they all need to be back here posting, but man was it cool as a student to more or less be able to interact with those kinds of professionals back then. I really do owe a lot to this website, even if for months at a time it was just a portal to look at some great images. I know a lot of my peers feel the same way and I think it's time some of us who have been working pros for a while now start trying to contribute more in a positive way.

I don't know how much advice I have to offer ten years later, because the block I've been around since then is pretty small relatively speaking. I work in a small, niche market for a small, niche magazine. But I think I can use a post like this as a kick in the butt to be more proactive and offer advice as I see fit and appropriate.

Thank you for posting this, Joey.
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Mark Kauzlarich, Photographer
Washington | DC | | Posted: 4:26 PM on 03.21.13
->> I think its funny that there was a comment that since you don't "blow sunshine up someone's butt" that must be why people think your comments are inappropriate.

Devil's advocate, but maybe its because theres a difference between getting your kicks by kicking someone in the face and plain criticism.

Telling someone the truth doesn't mean you have to treat them like crap, just the same as it doesn't mean you have to sugar coat it. Surprisingly enough, there's a middle ground. Maybe it just takes too much time to take a minute and find it. Maybe that's another problem with message boards. Instead of going back and rethinking, people just hit "post". But in the same way it allows people to quickly post stupid things, it allows people to easily post stupid and hateful things.

Also, the idea that as long as you're not being anonymous and you're putting your name behind your enjoyment of putting people down... that doesn't earn any points with me. If you're being a jerk you're being a jerk. And when others feel you're being a jerk, it doesn't matter much if you don't agree. How you treat people isn't a matter of self-perception. Its a matter of actualization. Its a matter of, in a sample size of 100 people you're "decent" too, how many people felt like you were a "decent" person.

Thick skin is necessary in this business, thats true. Its worth learning that lesson. As a young person on this board who has gotten supportive emails today from multiple different people that are like-minded in their fear of speaking up (quoting one, for the "venom" spewed on the board) maybe I can go out on a limb for a number of them once more. I "think" (as I often see advocated) that no one needs to take it upon themselves to be the thick skin committee. The people that don't have thick skin won't be able to take the most basic criticism. I've seen it multiple times before when I was in charge of a student newspaper's photo department before. A little criticism, however constructive, and people drop off like flies; the nuclear option isn't required.
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John H. Reid III, Photographer
Gates Mills | OH | USA | Posted: 4:41 PM on 03.21.13
->> I apologize if I have in some way been one of those who has contributed to the coarsening of the message board. I don' think I have, I hope I have not, but you never know.
I recently saw an acronym to use when posting something online.

THINK

Is it TRUE
Is it HELPFUL
Is it INFORMATIVE
Is it NECESSARY
Is it KIND (you can be critical without being mean)
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John H. Reid III, Photographer
Gates Mills | OH | USA | Posted: 4:42 PM on 03.21.13
->> Of course I made a typo. I'll call myself out...
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Joe Morahan, Photographer
Denver | CO | | Posted: 6:03 PM on 03.21.13
->> Thank you for posting this Joey!!!!
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 6:05 PM on 03.21.13
->> One thing I would like to point out ... "Mentoring" isn't a one-way street ... those new to the field need to be respectful when they are offered advice ... even if they disagree with that advice. When some folks actually respond that they plan to totally ignore that advice, or even worse, condemn that advice then proceed to openly ridicule the person offering the advice ... which has been done on this board as well ... this too can create a less than friendly atmosphere ...

Don't get me wrong ... I don't expect everyone to to march in lock-step or for all of us to agree unanimously on each and every issue discussed here ... however, "discussions" are not one-sided activities ... It's quite fine to discuss the merits of a situation, but it isn't very productive to do so in a negative fashion from either side of that discussion.

I agree that there have been times when the discussions on this board have been heated and at times unkind ... but the less than polite activity has been evident from both sides of the equation.

When younger folks are repeatedly flippant and actually tell some of the more experienced folks that time has passed them by ... doesn't help to open the flow of free, though valuable, sharing of experience. Keep in mind, if the Old Dogs in question are still around earning a living in this drastically changing marketplace ... they must be doing something right. So when their advice is dismissed out of hand because it doesn't happen to fit the latest craze on the blogosphere today ... don't be surprised when that well of information goes dry or they become equally dismissive. Of course you can argue which came first ... the chicken or the egg ... but aren't we beyond that at this point?

There is plenty for us all to share and learn from each other ... and we should always strive to not only be honest and polite as well when we share here. We should also recognize that the lack of tact and manners has not been apparent on only one side of the scale ... at least to some extent ... it has been across the board.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 7:34 PM on 03.21.13
->> When I read Joey's post yesterday, my heart smiled. I met Joey over 10 plus years ago in Colorado Springs at a workshop. I followed him and Robert Seale around like a puppy dog for 5 days. Joey and Robert became lighting inspirations to me and when I wanted to have someone look at some of my work later that year, Joey did so. He was totally professional and a great mentor. His post reflects that professionalism and his ability to mentor over a decade later.

A website - this website - can have a powerful impact, too. It can be unbelievably powerful - for good, or bad.

Vincent, I'm glad you posted because you've touched on one of the problems as well as one of the solutions that I've been thinking about for the last 24 hours. At the end of the day, the membership (aka the customer) is asking for something and that something is for the owners to police this website closer. When I went through the process that I believe SportsShooter operates under last night, my initial response to my own thought was this: Why should they have to? Wouldn't it be easier to pull the plug? Is that what they end up doing?

I hope not - and I think the suggestion to automate is a good one.If it costs too much to do - raise the annual dues amount. It's at least worth a try. Bert and Brad and the rest of the staff have real lives with real jobs and plenty of other things to do - they shouldn't have to wipe our noses or any other parts. I also think the suggestion to attach a name to a evaluation - good or bad - is a great one. That's about being accountable and that is something that is missing not just here but on the rest of the web as well.It's what makes the web a less than wonderful place sometimes.

You can disagree with someone and be direct, but there's a huge difference between that and being destructive just to get some attention. As a example, is there anyone on here that's more direct than Chuck Liddy? The thing is, I never worry about where Chuck is coming from because I know he's voicing his opinion because what he believes is what he says - even if it isn't warm and fuzzy. (For the record, Chuck recently posted on here that he thought I was wrong on something related to selling. I posted back what I believed. I didn't take it personally and it certainly didn't alter my view of Chuck.)

However, as most us of know, there are some personalities that love the responses they get when they write something that IS destructive. For them, the reactions to what they write is ALL that matters to them. I certainly have some thoughts as to why this happens and I believe it's about manipulation and control, but I'll defer to Stanley since he has the background in Social Work iirc and I don't.

We all bring certain skills with us to the table. At the end of the day, if we share our strengths with others and do so with a professional approach, this will be the best website of it's kind - bar none - on the internet. With so many quality people already here, I see little downside to making improvements. I also see a lot of downside if the situation remains where it is at. I hope that those who can make these decisions, do so sooner than later.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 7:54 PM on 03.21.13
->> I wasn't going to respond to this thread again but after Michael's post I would like to say something. Anyone who thinks I post anything just to be
mean spirited or to get a response or an informative, inappropriate, funny
stupid, or whatever is wrong and doesn't know me. I love this craft, always have and always will. I have been trying not to be so blunt ..... But there will always be those out there that don't like my approach or opinions. I can live with that. Thinking you know me from responses on the Internet is just wrong and quite frankly shows some lack of sense. And of course, this will certainly piss someone off.
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Mark J. Terrill, Photographer
Simi Valley | CA | USA | Posted: 8:15 PM on 03.21.13
->> Excellent point Butch. The door swings both ways.

It's absolutely true that you need to have thick skin in this business. The thing about thick skin is that it's something that most people aren't born with. It's acquired. I agree that it's important to be direct and not sugar coat criticism, but that can be done without belittling someone for seemingly no other reason but to get some kicks. That sort of derision can have a chilling effect, not only on this message board, but someone's career.

I almost quit this business 31 years ago at the age of 16 because a photographer/editor at UPI decided to make herself feel better about her lot in life by berating and belittling me over the "awful" brush fire pictures that I had tried to sell to her. I picked up my film and left, almost in tears and considering quitting the business, but decided to take the same pictures over to AP to see what they had to say. They liked them and purchased them. Needless to say, I never went back to UPI and never spoke to that person again. Not everyone has the determination to keep on going after something like that but that doesn't mean that they don't belong in the business or that they don't have something valuable to contribute to a message board.

I'm sure that there are many very talented photographers that lurk here, but are terrified to post anything because they have been belittled or seen others belittled for no useful reason. I'm also sure that there are many who have quit this site or even quit the business due to the lack of tolerance that goes on here. I simply ask, who benefits from that?
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 12:07 PM on 03.22.13
->> I've been in this business long enough to see quite a few "clueless newbies" grow into seasoned professionals. There is no reason at all to be cruel or insensitive in correcting somebody's mistakes.

But fleeing a forum because of the insensitivity/cruelty of a few simply cedes the playing field to those few bad actors.

The only way to improve a thing is to stick around.

--Mark
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Doug Strickland, Photographer
Chattanooga | TN | USA | Posted: 4:48 PM on 03.22.13
->> I tried to respond to this post many times since it originated to thank Joey and ask him and others like him to be active and propagate a culture of civility, but couldn't find the words. Mark just did that more succinctly and accurately than any of my previous efforts:

"But fleeing a forum because of the insensitivity/cruelty of a few simply cedes the playing field to those few bad actors.

The only way to improve a thing is to stick around."

I think this is one of the most important points to take away from this thread. If you care about this board, please don't abandon it to the trolls and inciters. Stay, be the voice of reason, and it will improve the experiences of everyone.
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Shelly Castellano, Photographer, Photo Editor
Huntington Beach | CA | USA | Posted: 2:12 PM on 03.23.13
->> Finally a thread worth reading.... Thank you for the open conversation, I hope that SS will bounce back and be a more useful tool for those who still visit here!
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 4:21 PM on 03.23.13
->> Bert, Brad.. the ball is in your court. You deserve the great feedback you've gotten within this thread.

As I said in my post, I recognize that both of you do have lives to live; my hope is you'll take the feedback from one of the best threads in a long time and create even more magic.

I'm also sure that if you need some additional assistance and support, even if it's nothing more than forum administrators that could police things a little bit more, you do have people who would be more than happy to help. We have your back. Tell us what you need us to do - we're here for you.

Michael
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