Friday, May 04, 2007

Whither WeeklyShot?

When we here at the Photo Meme Hall of Shame hold our staff meetings, heads in hands, lounging on the Bare Mattress of Love, we like to check on the general health of the various Photo Memes.

We like to check the new memes like Unique Exposures and Shutterday and measure their little growth spurts by marking with a pencil where the top of their pointed little heads come up on the Woodwork Surrounding the Door to the Room Which Holds The Bare Mattress of Love.

Then we hold our hands to the foreheads of other Memes that appear to be ill and make little concerned pouty lip faces and say 'cluck cluck' as we did for many months at Pxite, Macroday, a few of the Passing Tuesday Meme and now, sadly, Weekly Shot.

We once held up Weekly Shot as what a photomeme should be, a vibrant conversation on the high art of photography by the best of its practitioners, additionally, we compared it to the Lord of the Flies and a sort of Darwinism at work.

It looks now as though the Superorganism is collapsing under the weight of the egos involved.

We ask this of Weekly Shot participants (LIKE YOU, KING DOUGLAS, WHO HAS MIRRORED US OR SOMETHING FOR REASONS WE DO NOT YET UNDERSTAND or perhaps Mr Gorin Images who has overtaken ...neene... as over 1/4 of all our visitors or maybe even Mr Iron/Western Flatline who we thought was several people and as it turns out, is just one very nice one. (Although a buttinski! (Look for his upcoming interview when we get around to doing it.))) Whew...that was so many paratheticals, that I give up and create a new paragraph.

So if you are a Weekly Shot participant, past or present, and you feel like anonymously sharing with the vast right wing conspiratorial readership of the Photo Meme Hall of Shame, nearly all of which has been mentioned in this post, feel free to either email us and we will use the Photo Meme Hall of Shame Voice Changer to protect your identities, or if you are braver than WE are, you may leave said news in the comment section. Either way, we look forward to hearing from you. And if not, that's ok, too, for our aim with all this was really just to create a post where we could make a title containing the word 'whither'.


Blogger memeshame said...

me: I wrote up a post about Weekly Shot for the Hall of Shame.

Agent X: about yourself?

me: God no. :)

Agent X: oh about weekly shot

me: Just asking Weekly Shotters to tell us what they think the problem is. :) Yeah.

Agent X: sorry, i didn't read apparently :) seriously i am considering taking myself off the mailing list, it's so ridiculous

yeah..I'm surprised.

Agent X: i just googled it so i wouldn't have to ask you again :)

me: :)

Agent X: so what exactly are you asking for from participants?

me: Just to tell us what they think the deal is?

Agent X: okay, that's what i thought, but i wasn't entirely sure

me: Should I clarify?
I don't participate but it's a shame to see it collapsing like that.

Agent X: um, probably not.
it is a shame. i mean, the craziness is pretty much making me not want to go back there

me: And it was such a high quality place, too.
Now it sounds like a preschool.
My guess is just too many egos.

Agent X: and no moderation

me: yeah.

Agent X: and it's not a real forum, so the email thing is just taken over by a few people

me: I'm taking all this down. ;)

Agent X: haha ;)

me: But what about Weekly Shot itself?

Agent X: that's fine, as long as you don't say who i am
what do you mean?

me: Is the Meme part if it still going ok or are people quitting that, too?

Agent X: i actually have no idea
i really haven't been looking or participating.
well, that's not entirely true
i subscribe to the rss feed of the featured shots and they are very good

me: But you are trying to protect your identity when I put this on the Hall....gotcha

Agent X: they were bad at first, but in the past several months the quality has been much much better

me: You can be Agent X and I'll be...ummm...memeshame.
what was bad at first?

Agent X: agent x is fine ;)
i think the quality of the images has improved greatly

me: It was BAD once?
Wow..i thought it was always good.

Agent X: well, hm, maybe it's because i used to look at everything in order to rate and comment. but now i don't, so i only see the featured ones, which by definition are good :)
so maybe that's all it is

me: Why don't you participate and rate and comment anymore?
Agent X!

Agent X: anyway, i sometimes wonder if people know about or, which also have multiple running themes, comments, ratings, etc.
they are often good
i am feeling interviewed :)

me: Quit plugging other sites.
You are.
Now quit plugging.

Agent X: i don't rate and comment now primarily because of time
i'm not. i was telling YOU that :)

me: Ok..but not any big turn off?
Oh. :)
Well you are on the record. don't even know who I am.

Agent X: right, i shouldn't talk to strangers :)
anyway, to be fair, even if i thought it was a perfectly sane place, i wouldn't be doing it because i don't have the time. if i did have the time... it's hard to say. i'd probably give it another go. but only if i found that i was either 1) getting useful feedback, or 2) getting featured :)
in the past, i didn't really get either

me: This isn't about YOU. So do you think Weekly Shot can remain viable or do you think it'll collapse?

Agent X: i think it will collapse eventually, though i don't really think it will be because of the members. i just think that brandon's attention seems to have gone elsewhere (vazaar) and that's a big deal

me: and things like this need moderation and attention?
Is that leading the witness, your honor?

Agent X: a bit :)
but those are things i said too :)

me: Ok.

Agent X: well, i don't know. i mean, usefilm doesn't have moderation from anyone as far as i am aware and it works really well. so i am not sure. but yeah, i guess when it's a small place ( e.g., weekly shot has one theme at a time and one google group, while usefilm has multiple themes and multiple forums), then it's in danger of being taken over by a vocal few anyway, it's not like brandon has totally abandoned it, really

me: does usefilm require the use of film? I'd click the link but I'm eating and am typing one handed. A skill which I've picked up over the years.

Agent X: i don't know.
i am full of contradictions :)

me: Now you are backtracking.

Agent X: haha, no it doesn't

me: Yeah..waffler.
Ok...this is good. Anything else you wanna add to further muddy the waters?

Agent X: hm
no. i might have more opinions if i participated more... but i don't.

me: Ok..thanks for your time and candor, Agent X.

That's a wrap.

Agent X: phew, thanks. that was totally stressing me out

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Jarrett Gorin (gorin-images) said...

I'll tell you what the major problem is, and I will stick my name on it as well, because I have already said this a bunch of times over at WeeklyShot. The biggest problem is:

Ratings Quotas

Originally on WeeklyShot (WS), you were free to rate and/or comment on whatever images appealed to you, or that you thought needed much improvement. You could browse the field of thumbnail images and pick out those that seemed interesting for one reason or another, and then give them an intelligent rating, and even better, leave some intelligent comments.

Then people started to complain about the fact that, sometimes, they did not get the required number of ratings neccessary to see hwat their overall score was.

So the "solution" that they came up with was to force people to rate X number of images before they were allowed to upload their own images to a given theme.

Well, you can imagine what happened.....

Where before, you could choose which images you wanted to look at and rate, now the images were automatically chosen for you by some algorithm, and typically, these would be the most recently uploaded images of others. As a result, many participants, when faced with having to rate images that a) they did not choose to look at; b) they perhaps don't understand or like the general genre of; and, c) that are serving effectively as obstacles to their next upload, simply rate as quickly as possible to meet their quotas and get to their upload. The fact that ratings are anonymous unless you choose to comment as well, means that people who want to "speed rate" as it has been termed can easily do this without anyone else ever knowing they have done it.

Even legitimate ratings that you DO get are not particualry valuable in many cases, because they were done by people that would never have chosen to look at, much less rate, your image in the first place. In many cases, it is like asking a Christina Aguilera fan to provide a well-thought-out review of Radiohead's "Kid A' album. Even if they make an effort, how valuable are their ratings going to be?

As a result, instead of getting a number of well thought out ratings and comments from people that evaluated your image because they were interested in it, and who "get" that type of image, you now get a bunch of ratings, mainly anonymous, and that you have no idea what they mean. The best description I have heard of this yet comes from a fellow participant who said " This is like getting a 70% grade on an exam but without the benefit of any of your answers marked incorrect or feedack from your instructor about how you might have improved your answers". That is a great description of the current ratings boirne from the ratings quota system. I can describe the current ratings in a single word "pointless".

Then there are these other issues....

As the WS family has grown, and more and more participants have the ability to invite three people at any given time, it is inevitable that the overall quality of the images being submitted has gone down. You can;t realistically expect to triple or quadruple the number of participants and maintain the same standards of submissions.

Then, there is no doubt that WS has evloved into more of a competition than a forum for exchanging images and providing/receiving feedback. Along with this, you have people that will purposefully rate excellent shots poorly in order to improve their own submission's potential for being "featured". Some have even gone as far as to invite themselves, so that they can log in as fictional users and rate their own shots with perfect scores. Since all the rating is anonymous, it is easy for these folks to do this. Beleive me, I could not make this up if I wanted to, the sad truth is that this has happened and some of the people that acted in this manner have admitted it to other participants. Pretty freakin pathetic if you ask me.

Finally, amateur and aspiring photographers can be a really moody and melodramatic bunch. You combine that with people's etiquette (or lack thereof) in online forums, and you are begging for "issues" and "drama".

So, start with a fantastic concept like WS, then add.....

1) ratings quotas
2) forced image selection
3) more, but not better, images
4) more "competition"
5) manipulation of the rating system
6) a combination of blunt comments and moody artists

.......and what do you get?

Something that just isn't as fun or valuable of an experience as it used to be. A number of really talented people have bailed as a result (many announcing it as publicly as possible on the WS discussion forum). I, on the other hand have simply lowered my expectations, and I continue to participate.

How's that for sharing?

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Jarrett said...

And also.....

If I truly account for such a large portion of your readership, you would think you could spell my name correctly in the links right? ;)

It is: J A R R E T T

That's two (2) T's in case you don't feel like counting today.

Have a great evening!

3:46 PM  
Anonymous laanba said...

Finally, amateur and aspiring photographers can be a really moody and melodramatic bunch.

Hahaha..... that's perfect. That explains so many things to me that I couldn't put my finger on, and not just at WeeklyShot.

I'm so curious who Memeshame and Agent X are. I'll go and huddle with the Hall of Shame fan club and see what we can ferret out.

PS. Don't get too excited about the fan club. It's just me and jkirlin.

9:54 PM  
Blogger jkirlin said...

Don't try to drag ME in this. I don't even DO WeeklyShots. Although I *AM* still trying to figure out how to game the system at I was in the top 500 once. I was a contendah. I wanna have a Star Upon Thar.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Iron Flatline said...

WS is just fine - the number of submissions goes up and down, as does the number of participants. Right now it's spiking up again, probably because the themes have been better than they were in a while.

There's a small hard-core group that participates on the Google boards. The group has a strong sense of "ownership" and takes the whole thing very seriously. A sense of humor and self-deprecation might help some of them get through life more easily, as well as admiting that I rock and they don't.

Flatline RoXXors!!1!1

The only real bummer is that the fringe anger keeps away the broad center (from the Google Group, not WS yet) so those voices are not heard.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Iron Flatline said...

Oh, and props to Shutterday for good themes the last few weeks!

2:14 AM  
Anonymous dawn said...

I was in the first batch of people involved with WS. I enjoyed it in the beginning.

The only thing I wish I could have gotten was an email reminding me about the upcoming themes because I would forget (life is busy, you know). :-)

Frankly, I delete the google groups emails without reading them anymore. The same issues get rehashed over and over again by the same people. It becomes pedantic after a while.

10:53 AM  
Blogger neene said...

this is so all way to meta

i am just a wee bit curious
(some like "whither", some like "wee")
how did i get pegged as visiting so much???
not that i don't love you (both)
not that i don't think this is all so smart & funny
but honestly,
ever since i moved last year, i have been soooo overloaded that i barely have time to post, let alone surf...
in fact i basically dropped out of both ws and then vazaar 'cause i can't keep (it all) up.

without the cover of the Photo Meme Hall of Shame Voice Changer
at the risk of sounding like "the lady doth protest too much"
(what is it about you that makes me quote shakespeare?)
i have to say,
i don't think that's me that's pushing up your hit counter
(though of course, i wish it were)

12:08 PM  
Blogger memeshame said...

Let me see, I am checking the Photo Meme Hall of Shame Site Meter O' Love.

I just need to clean this dial...

Checking, checking...'s is offical.

Neene, in the last 6 months, you have been here four times. Mr Gorin Images has been here three times. The 2 of you make up almost half the traffic to the Photo Meme Hall of Shame because in the past 6 months, subtracting you, Gorin Images, mememonitor, myself, and Mr Assad Mumgima of Lagos Nigeria who has a 15,000,000 dollar offer for us...we have had...

carry the 3....

9 other visitors in the past 6 months. :)

12:13 PM  
Blogger neene said...

make that 5 times

but surely you jest
(omg, what's happening to me?)

either everyone else is visiting using the infamous and evil AMDD (anti meme detection device)
i really must be one of the chosen few

fire your pr guy, something's wrong with this picture

1:28 PM  

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