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Saturday, 08 March 2008


Well said Mike !
You manage to keep the posts interesting by allowing diverse opinions to be posted but know where to draw the line to keep guttersnipes out. Thats why I'm a daily visitor.

...One of the reasons I find myself visiting photo forums less and less. What is it about photography that expressing an opinion or preference can get so many pairs of knickers in a twist?

"You are entitled to your opinion"... is often followed by an extremely rude rant demonstrating that the writer quite obviously does not believe that you are entitled to 'any' opinion which deviates from theirs.

"You are entitled to your opinion - but I think".....followed by a reasoned and polite counter-argument is frequently interesting as well as informative - but yearly getting harder to tease out midst all the shrapnel flying about.

Well said Mike lets keep it a "driveby free site" one of the main reasons I like to visit each day is the innate civility one finds here as well as some very interesting topics, I trust your judgement as to what is acceptable comment and hope you continue to strive for high standards in a world they are fast disappearing.

"... the thoughtfulness and friendliness, the cordiality, the collegiality, of 99% of the comments we get on ordinary days from readers who've been with us a while."

Amen to that. Not to mention the intelligent, articulate, and often, humorous comments by the community that is TOP. Said it before, and I'll say it again, TOP is like a breath of fresh air compared to many of the "forums" I visit, photography related or no....

Okay, I am heading out on the motorcycle to photograph some mustard in the Napa Valley; got the MkII in the tank bag and a couple of lenses....it's a beautiful day out.

No need to approve this comment, I just wanted to say thanks and give a thumbs up.

I'm glad you wrote this.

Remember Michael Kinsley's experiment several years ago - he let readers post an editorial, unmoderated, on a paper's website. Most of what they got was semi-literate ranting.

It's difficult to write a column, even more so every day. As the sage once said, nothing is as easy as it looks.

Wow, see what happens when I don't look at your site for a couple days? I'll have to go back and wade through those 118 over-saturated comments some time.

Meanwhile, I just wanted to say that those last two paragraphs you wrote above are wonderful guidelines for how to have a reasonable discussion anywhere. I'm glad you don't post the drive-bys.

I'm a relative newcomer to this blog and I've been quite pleased with both the content and the tone. I've been going to a well known photo website for several years, but finally tired of the rantings.

I also moderate three political list serves, so I'm quite familiar (as you might imagine) with "drive-bys" and other forms of attacks. After a particularly contentious period a couple of years ago, we developed the following guidelines which I've listed below, as others may find them helpful:

We have developed two principles that we ask list serve members to follow: “Ethical Speech” and “Civility.”

What do we mean by ethical speech and civility?

Ethical speech can be described in both negative and positive terms. In negative terms, ethical speech means avoiding four types of harmful speech or written communication: lies (words written or spoken with the intent of misrepresenting the truth); divisive speech (written or spoken with the intent of creating rifts between people); harsh or abusive speech (written or spoken with the intent of hurting another person's feelings); and idle chatter/gossip (written or spoken with no purposeful intent at all).

In a positive sense, ethical speech means writing or speaking in ways that are truthful, friendly, supportive, and worth taking to heart.

Civility in the sense of the list serve can be defined as “netiquette” which is the transfer of the common courtesies and good behavior we extend to each other in real life to our interactions in cyberlife. Some good references for netiquette are:


Spot on Mike!

I once had a nice chat with someone on AOL's old photojournalism forum, somewhere around 1996 I think.

*He sent me* a complimentary reply about a post I'd made titled "stills are not enough" I thanked him and asked his occupation.

"I work for the magazine with the yellow border" he replied.

"How cool is that" I thought, I'd never get past his secretary, if I cold called the magazine!


If you take the time to introduce yourself, it's surprising who you'll bump into out there (they use their real names too)!

Chris Gibbs

I'll take hurly-burly and frayed civility over obsessively moderated groupthink any day.

This isn't drive-by; I'm a longtime admiring reader. Just not a big fan of your comment policies.

In the spirit of nice and thoughtful comments:
I picked up a photography how-to book the other day at the local used bookstore. A lot of it was film-based and not that useful, the rest, though basic and brief, was. And I want to say here that the author communicated something invaluable on every page - genuine humility. Which when it's really genuine is pretty unnoticeable. Even though virtually every illustration is by the author, there's not a trace of ego-driven commandments, or that pseudo-modesty which is just ego strategically held in check.
A teacher who gives.
John Hedgecoe.
I wish I could have taken a class or two from him when I was starting out.

you have presided over a lot of topics and discussions with great aplomb and the niceties in the forum is refreshing.. that is why i am a daily visitor. thank you for keeping the site great.

It seems I managed to fool you (which I consider an achievment). I made a drive by post in the "Funny That Way" post and it got thru, ha! :)

I wonder if this terribly meaningless, missspelled, non-informative and just plain boring post makes it thru too.

In other words, what is your policy on drive-by-one-more-time posts?

Heh, your post said exactly what I was thinking lately - T.O.P is one of the rare sites in which I read the comments with the same attention I read the post. It's quite incredible that you've able to keep the comments clean/polite/interesting for so long. And we have just to ignore/fight those drive-by comments (nice definition btw).
On the side note:
I've been a reader for about a year and thanks to your site I've learned a lot about photography(I'm still a insecure amateur). And mostly about philosophical/emotional qualities than technical and that is worth more than all L's/Leica's/Trix's put together.

"In other words, what is your policy on drive-by-one-more-time posts?"

They're okay if they make me chuckle? [g]

Mike J.

Kudos! There seems to be no end to the mind numbing frustration when it comes to slogging through "drive by's" on most photo sites (and others as well, obviously) these days. TOP is always a breath of adult fresh air when it comes to constructive, thoughtful commentary. It's a dirty job, but I am glad that you are doing it. Cheers!

"It's a dirty job, but I am glad that you are doing it."

Thanks, but actually it's not hard at all. I can sometimes go days on end without zapping a single comment. I think people who hang out here very quickly get the "gestalt" we're aiming for and they don't mind complying. I can't take credit for the fact that we get great comments.

In fact, a time or two people have called *me* out for violating my own policies or norms! And usually they're right, too. Keeps me honest, as the saying goes.

Mike J.

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