View Full Version : Should amateurs be allowed to join?
May 10/11, 08:40 AM
It's been a little over a month since the site was relaunched and I would like to get some feedback about ways to attract more members and increase participation. I think it's very important to maintain the professional nature of our discussions, but I have quietly decided to relax the membership requirements and allow amateurs to join. I say "quietly" because I didn't make any big announcements, post any messages, or do anything to actively encourage amateurs or hobbyists to join.
The only real change was on the registration page where I added a couple new options for "professional status". They include "Amateur", "Non-Photographer", "Stylist or other freelance service provider", and "Photo retailer, distributor, vendor, etc".
I also ask all new members to "briefly describe your professional experience or your background in photography. If you're an non-photographer or amateur please tell us why you want to join our professional discussions. Membership may be denied if this info is missing or incomplete."
So what does everyone else think? I'm somewhat hesitant to let hobbyists and amateurs in, but I also understand that today's amateurs might be tomorrow's pros, especially in our current marketplace. I've also seen work from so-called "amateurs" that can put the work of many "pros" to shame.
I also really don't like having to review every member's professional status. I have turned people down in the past, and as a result I was subjected to some severe personal insults and abuse. So restricting membership to "pros" can be a difficult and very subjective process. People can also lie if they want.
If anyone has any other feedback or ideas about how to get more people participating please let me know.
May 10/11, 12:11 PM
I'm of several minds here.
But I feel everyone had to start somewhere.
If these new folk really have some misguided visions of joining the fray with the state the industry is in, better they find someplace to get some real guidance.
Before they do even more damage by hanging out a shingle and start selling prints for 10cents, shoot&burn weddings for 50$ or trying to push crowdsource stock for a "buck. or two"
May 10/11, 08:44 PM
Thanks for the feedback Peter, and I tend to agree with you. I honestly don't expect a flood of amateurs to join, since we still don't allow anonymous posting and all new members are still qualified based on the brief bios they provide.
Peter Wm. Richardson
May 11/11, 04:36 PM
I think everyone already knows where I stand on non professional memberships, I am definitely on the"Nay" side. That said, it is not my call. I am willing to go along and see what happens, but if the forums degenerate into one continually reiterated mundane series of gear and how to discussions, I for one will not want to stay around. Many amateurs are highly,visually talented and many, because they do not have to earn a living as a professional shooter, can afford to buy all the latest gear and gadgets,however, it has been my experience that they have no ethics whatsoever when it come to the profession and fewer business skills. All of which tends to result in underselling the market place and giving away all their rights to the images for a song. It is bad enough when "pros" do not understand usage rights and proper negotiating techniques, but when you add in the "Uncles Fred of this world, one can almost see the profession waving goodbye as it sails into the sunset.
Like all groups, 80% of the members let 20% do all the work and I think what really needs to happen is for more silent members to find their voice and participate! We have an amazing resource here and it is a crime that so few tend to do all the posting.
Peter Wm. Richardson
Photojournalist & resident Grinch
May 14/11, 06:04 PM
What Peter said. I would vote "no" also. Love amateurs (I make a large part of my living teaching them), but there has to be a place where for clarity you do not have to talk about gear all the time, or add "you know, that lower f-number which gets you those blurrier backgrounds" every time you mention a larger aperture.
Question. Are these discussions searchable/readable by all?
May 14/11, 07:12 PM
Thanks for the feedback. The search function is disabled for guests and the business forums are only visible to registered members. The other forums are read-only for guests.
May 9/12, 08:52 AM
Well it's been a full year since I made the original post in this topic, and unfortunately little or nothing has changed in terms of participation on these forums. So I think it's time to revisit this issue.
Unfortunately, I only see two viable options:
1. Remove any restrictions for registration and let anyone join who wants to. If participation improves that would be great, but if things stay the same then proceed to option two.
2. Shut them down, because they have basically become a grave yard of dead posts.
If this site is going to survive for the long term it has to be appealing to it's audience, as well as advertisers and sponsors. Unfortunately, this part of the site makes it look unused and unattractive. It's kind of like a store that lets lights burn out on it's sign and weeds grow on the property. You may not want to go into a store like that, and you may even drive right by thinking they've gone out of business.
So I think it's high time to clean the place up, replace the light bulbs, pull out the weeds, dust off the counters, and replace the broken furniture. I've been working hard to get the home page looking good, and part of the clean-up and renovations may also include the upgrade of the software running these forums. It's pretty dated now, and some of the newer versions offer better access via mobile devices and interconnectivity to other platforms like Facebook and Twitter. However, if we're going to connect to those other sites, we can't have exclusionary membership requirements on one and not the other. For example, anyone can become a Facebook Fan, but only certain people can become forum members. I just don't think excluding people is the way to move forward.
I know option one may alienate some current members, but I just don't see any point in leaving things the way they are. I also think that forums like this may have simply lost their appeal for many people. I know I participate in very few these day, and there are just too many other ways for people to engage with each other, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, etc. Those platforms are going to dominate more and more in the future, so we can't ignore them if we want our membership or audience to grow as well.
Please feel free to share your thoughts.
Peter Wm. Richardson
May 9/12, 03:44 PM
Like you, I do not participate in as many forums as I used to, but those that I do use I use because they are for and about professionals. I realize that things have not picked up as rapidly as you, or any of us,had hoped, but I would not give up quite yet. Nor would I open the site to the unwashed masses. At least not if you want to keep any of the true pros aboard. Most forums are transitioning at the moment and when the dust settles, it is my belief that what will remain will be much more focused and tight knit than previous incarnations. I can not pretend to speak for anyone else, but I for one would resign my membership if we went public. Unlike many of my peers, I am not enamoured with the trend to educate our competition to our detriment. The mad rush to teach every Tom, Dick and Harry with a camera,how to take professional level photographs is sheer folly, in my eyes. It is bad enough, that far too many professionals, are rushing to give away their rights, to every client they have, without teaching the rest of the world how to take photographs without even a basic understanding of copyright and licensing.
Perhaps, what we need to do here is open up the discussions to more topics,with a broader range of interests,I do not really know. I do however know that volume does not equal quality. Participation has been a constant dilemma for us ,as well as most other forum groups and despite our not having found the answer, I am convinced that there is one.
For what it is worth,
Peter Wm. Richardson
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