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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2004-09-10

Joining SportsShooter.com: The New Process
New process encourages 'professionalism and respect'

By Grover Sanschagrin, SportsShooter.com

SportsShooter.com is accepting new members again, but the signup process has changed.

New applicants will now require a "sponsor" -- the endorsement of an existing member in good standing. This is our way of helping to improve the quality of the members we accept, while involving members in the most important part of the community-building process - its growth.

SportsShooter.com is a community of sports photographers and photojournalists. It is meant to be a trustworthy information-rich resource for professional-minded photographers and editors. Members of the community are expected to demonstrate professionalism and respect at all times.

The changes to the new member signup process were made with this in mind. The administrators of SportsShooter.com have made a decision that quality is more important that quantity. This applies especially to new members.

Being accepted as a member of SportsShooter.com is not supposed to be easy.

This is just one of the steps we are taking to improve (and maintain) the quality, professionalism, and usefulness of the site.


About The New System
--------------------
In order for an existing member to be able to "sponsor" an applicant, the existing member must be a "Senior Member". This is a special status that is awarded to a member based on a variety of factors. Some of them include: the length of time that person has been a member; the willingness and/or demonstrated desire for this member to contribute to the community by helping others; the amount of time remaining on a persons membership; conduct that exemplifies the kind of professionalism that the administrators feel is in keeping with the mission of the site.

Once an applicant has secured a "sponsor", they supply that sponsor's username or member number into a form, and that "sponsor" gets an email asking for their approval. Once approved, the new applicant is automatically sent instructions on how to complete the rest of the process.


How To Find A Sponsor
---------------------
If you already know a SportsShooter.com member, it should be fairly easy. If not, well, it will be a little more difficult, but still very possible.

Remember, the two most important elements on this site are professionalism and respect. With or without a sponsor, if you are unable to demonstrate that you are respectful of others, or if you act in an unprofessional manner - SportsShooter.com isn't the community for you.

Our advice to people who don't have a sponsor is to spend some time with the website (looking at member portfolios, reading the stories and message board posts, and viewing the contest winners - for example). After a little while, feel free to interact with a few members by contacting them through their member page.

If you are respectful enough, you may even get some of them to review your own images. In other words, get to know a few members and maybe one of them will agree to sponsor you. But please don't be a pest or use pressure tactics, bribes, or threats.

Only a "Senior Member" is able to sponsor new applicants.

If a member agrees to "sponsor" you, it means that they are putting their professional reputation on the line for you. This means a lot. Do not expect that they will do this easily. You should be willing to prove yourself over time. Be patient. Be polite. Exhibit professionalism and respect at all times.

Do NOT ever use a member's username or user number in the signup form unless you have a personal invitation from them to do so. Members are asked to permanently deny any/all unsolicited sponsorship requests, and doing so will most likely get you banned from joining SportsShooter.com in the future.

Is this going to be quick and easy? No. And that's intentional.

It all starts here:
http://www.sportsshooter.com/join.html


Joining Without A Sponsor
-------------------------
If you don't have the endorsement of an existing member in good standing, all is not lost. You can still join the site, but it's not going to be easy.

Please fill out the form on this page, and supply as much of the information as possible. Your information will be sent to a review committee who will read your answers, view your images, and then make a decision.

The reviewers are comprised of working sports photographers, photojournalists and administrators of this site. In order to receive an invitation to join SportsShooter.com without a sponsor, your work should indicate that you can perform within the acceptable quality standards of the sports photography/photojournalism industry. This includes the same level of accurate, error-free, caption information that is expected in the industry.

Please understand that SportsShooter.com is a community of photographers and photo editors, and professionalism is expected of all members. The way in which you fill out this form will tell the review committee more than you may realize, so please take this process seriously.

You will probably be denied if you go this route. (Just being completely honest.) Approximately 80% of the people who apply for SportsShooter.com membership without a sponsor are not accepted. Please keep this in mind - and if you are not accepted without a sponsor, please do not take it personally.

This process may take anywhere from 2 to 7 days to complete. Please be patient.


Existing Members: How To Sponsor An Applicant
---------------------------------------------
First, find out if you are a "Senior Member" by looking at your member page. If this appears to the right of the "Member Since" date, you have the ability to sponsor new applicants.

Remember, this is your reputation on the line. You should only agree to sponsor an applicant if you know the person, have seen his/her work, and feel he/she would be a good addition to SportsShooter.com. (Professionalism and Respect - keep these in mind!)

Give your username or member number to any applicant you wish to sponsor. When they initiate the signup process, they will supply your information along with their application. You will be sent an email which will direct you to a location inside of the SportsShooter.com member area where you will be able to approve (or reject) their request.

Sponsoring an applicant means that you are their "coach". You should be familiar with their work, and be willing to help them edit their images so that their member page is strong. You should explain how the site works, and talk about the reason(s) they wish to join our community. You should get a feel for how this person handles criticism, and use the information you've gathered to decide if you feel confident enough that this person will make a good addition to the community - with you as his/her sponsor.

Do not take this process lightly. Your "Senior Member" status could be stripped if you agree to sponsor applicants who are clearly not in keeping with the mission of the site. Please be careful.



After Sponsor Approval: The Next Step
-------------------------------------
Once you've managed to get the approval of a "Senior Member", you will need to log in and upload your images, supply complete and accurate caption information, supply a member icon, and include some information in the "Personal Message" area.

Once uploaded, your application will be reviewed one last time - this time by the SportsShooter.com Member Review Committee. This is a collection of tough editors who expect to see that you understand the acceptable standards of the sports photography/photojournalism industry.

They expect to see images that are well exposed, toned properly, composed well, are in focus, and contain error-free complete caption information. They expect to see something written in the "Personal Message" area. They expect that you will take your time and not rush through this final step in the process.

If the committee denies your application, you will be sent an email that outlines all of the common reasons for denial. Your information will be deleted from the database and if you wish to try again, you will need to start the process all over again. So please BE CAREFUL, take your time, and do it right.

If you are approved, you will be sent a note welcoming you to the community, which also includes information on how to pay your membership fee.


Some Final Words
----------------
As SportsShooter.com grows, so does the task of managing it. We pay attention to the site and constantly work to make it better. This new process (and the ones soon to be announced) are the direct result of the feedback we've received from members and non-members alike.

We would like to take a moment to thank each and every member (past and present), and our advertising partners, our family and friends, for their constant support and encouragement throughout our growth.

Keep your cards and letters coming, and good luck to all new applicants.

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