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Thursday, 22 September 2016


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...up until a few years ago, I was convinced that TOP had to keep growing. But then I thought, wait a minute, we get about the right number of comments already. Not too few—but not too many, either. If I got three times as many comments as we do now, I would be swamped. Therefore it stands to reason that we must have about the right number of readers right now.

I do want TOP to stay healthy and keep going strong, but I'm happy enough where we sit...

Mike, in addition to being an excellent writer, you're a wise man.

The "growth is necessary" and "if you're not growing you're going backward" crowd, led by Wall Street, is responsible for most, if not all, of this planet's problems. Pursuit of "more" has resulted in an excess of everything, including humans. I applaud your ability to sense and maintain the optimum balance between need and work. If only you could convince those who drag us down to be as smart.

"The part about the screaming woman tumbling across the roof made me laugh out loud...."

Me too!

That's it, then. I'll never pet peacocks.

i am one of those infrequent commenters; i never knew that i had made it into a valued fraternity. What did Groucho say about clubs?

Allow me to riff a bit on Peter's comments regarding creating video "art" vs stills. My primary photographic product is what Life magazine used to call "photo essays." I find with stills that i do not really need to have the "storyline" in mind when capturing images; indeed, it often (perhaps most often) is true that the story themes come to me after the event. The process of taking the photos uncovers things i had not anticipated. Afterwards I shuffle the images and present them in chapters usually in an album, A3 or A4 sizes as appropriate.

Video OTOH requires far more discipline up front. Capturing a bunch of video clips and trying to string together a story in an editor i find intractable. Planning is the essence of successful video story-telling i think . . . and i don't plan if i'm not getting paid for it. Ahem. I had my fill of that when i shot weddings . . . sorry, off topic.

Another advantage of stills is that many of our absolute *best* shots are effective presented solo and without context. Video clips cannot usually claim that.

I'm one of those readers who almost never comment (first because I subscribe using RSS and read via Feedly and also because of the time difference - there're usually not much to read yet), but I've always read the featured comments and whenever you've linked to a post and said that the comments are especially interesting. You're welcome to do more of that.

I always point to your blog as a model for comment moderation. I'm not sure why I don't see more of it around the web except that it is too much work. The New York Times also does a pretty good job at comment moderation (and they have to sort through a ton). When I go over to the Washington Post the comments (allowed on every article, I think) read like the troll Olympics.

Crowd sourcing is good with the right not-too-big crowd. Sort of like a dinner party.

I used to believe that I would prefer the spontaneity of unmoderated comments on TOP. History has proven you correct in my opinion. There are just too many blogs, etc. where making even the most mundane comment is likely to result in an immediate attack of one kind or another. I like the relative peace and tranquility-as well as the civil discourse that occurs here. Whatever it takes to keep it that way is great by me.

Aren't you glad that you're not moderating the comment section of political articles in the Washington Post. My doctor has stated she will have to put me on Xanax if I don't stop reading those comments. I like the ones on TOP much better. :)

I've made my share of comments since I discovered TOP, though sometimes I refrain from commenting if I think I'm repeating myself. That means for example, that I try hard not to make disparaging comments about cameras without proper viewfinders.

Er, whoops.... : ]

I've always seen TOP as kind of family where one knows a number of the members quite well, and one is sometimes surprised by some new acquaintance (be they contributor or commentor). I think that's why I drop by most days: I get what I want about photography from people I like, trust or admire. ( I think you are in all three of those categories, Mike.)

Several years ago some friends and I were in the High Plains photographing landscapes and dramatic skies. We stopped on the side of the road to shoot some images and heard this horrific noise nearby. Eventually, we figured out that it was a peacock ranch.

And, yes, they do sound like they are screaming.

"people whose thoughts I always looking forward to reading".

The same thing happens to us. After a while you start to recognize the names, so when you write a post about, say, the three lens kit, I can't help but think "I wonder what that guy is gonna comment about this".

I moderating the comments do you find that many readers are just passed as soon as you see the name? You know, the folks who just don't flame or post provocative comments designed to cause argument instead of productive conversation.

[Honestly, most names I recognize would probably be like that, but I read almost all of the comments anyway just because I want to hear what people have to say. Also, I have to pick the Featured Comments...which are intended not to be the "best" comments but rather a representative sampling, for those who don't have time, or don't want, to read all the comments on the post. About the only comments I skim instead of read are excessively long ones. But I do skim those just to be sure they don't go off track. --Mike]

You do the best job I've seen anywhere of moderating comments and encouraging thoughtful writing.

One day, I'd like to see someone painstakingly contact and bring together the people who comment on just one article from a major news site, and make a short film of the result. I'm sure those people are pleasant enough in real life but the effect of reading such extreme, unmoderated reactions online is very disheartening. Perhaps Errol Morris is working on just such a project.

I've said it before but would like to repeat: TOP is the photography degree I never took, complete with all the mandatory contextual studies, but it's so much more enjoyable. Thanks to you for your writing and editing, and to all the other writers of articles and comments, from whom so many of us have learned so much.

I read this blog daily and always look forward to what may be here. It really is the only blog that I consistently read. I read the feed from google news, apple news and Flipboard daily, with a preference towards the photography material, but TOP is the only blog that I proactively visit each day.

I do think you have the right balance of quality and volume. The comments are a huge asset and their number is such that you can actually make that part of the reading.

My favorite all-time post is "Redact and Reify" by the way.


I too, seldom comment. Most of the time I think that a earlier comment has "hit the nail on the head", so to speak, and better then I could have.
But as long as I've said this much, and I have the "mike", no pun intended, I have to say I enjoyed Hugh's comment, and the posts from Carl Weese, and the airline pilot, whose name I don't recall, and of course yours; I always enjoy your writing.
But I have one question. A while ago, maybe a few months? It may have been a of topic post; where you mentioned removing weeds from your driveway (I think) using steam. What ever happened with that? Just curious. I've seen the 'flame thrower' contraptions, but steam is new to me. Did it work?
And lastly, I'm so glad you do moderate. It makes your blog A comfortable place to visit, and thank you for that.

I am a regular reader and this is my first comment.
Normally I don't think I have anything interesting enough to say to bother you.

I did try once but my comment required a photograph to explain and I couldn't get the html to work and gave up.

Thanks for moderating another post Mike.

The 180,000th comment came home to roost.

Well enjoy your moderating while you can as you might be replaced by a bot... http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/20/insider/approve-or-reject-moderation-quiz.html?_r=0

I try to read everyday and I love the comments almost as much as the posts.Very rare for me to comment.

I seldom comment because I am still re-learning photography, as my hobby, after a 36 year dalliance with computers. My kids have grown up and in 2014 I got a Nikon D5300 to replace the Canon EF that I was given in 1976. The digital era of photography is wonderful and I am content to read the postings on this site and learn from the comments about them.

How do you get used to that!? Tree limbs scratching the house? OK. The neighbor's wind chime? OK. The sprinklers kicking on at 5am? Why is my front walk wet? Slept right through it. A screaming woman tumbling off my roof? I think I would notice every time. God forbid if an actual woman were to tumble off your roof. Try explaining to the local constable in the morning as they are putting up the yellow tape around your yard, "I didn't hear anything unusual last night officer."

I enjoy reading and participating in the comments which I refuse to do on almost any other site I frequent (not many). But living in Australia, by the time I see the article first thing in the morning it already has lots of comments, so I'm slightly less likely to add my two cents worth unless I consider it doesn't entirely repeat what someone more eloquent has already stated.

Where I grew up in Perth, Western Australia, there is an island just off the coast called Rottnest Island that at the time had one of the few wild peafowl colonies outside of their native Indian subcontinent due to few predators. They were apparently culled down to only three peacocks in 2009.

In my new home town of Cairns we have a few native birds that have interesting calls such as the semi-nocturnal stone curlew that literally haunts sports grounds and other open spaces and sounds quite "ghostly" with its cry. Or the obnoxious screech/scream/shriek of the native plover (or masked lapwing) that, having spurs on its wings, aggressively dive bombs anything in its domain, especially (but not exclusively) when breeding. They sometimes make a few cacophonous passes overhead during the night and there's not much you can do as they're wild locals!

Don't you just love it. Comments about the comments!

About peafowl poop: we have plenty of peafowl where I work (it's a public garden). The birds tend to "blitz" a place, then move on.

Their poop is no joke; it's like having a anti-toiling training reflex happening for a dozen small dogs simultaneously. I don't know exactly what our peafowl are eating, but it's unlike any bird poop that I ever known. Maybe it's all the wet food and kibble put out for the cats. The birds always clean up after them...

Yes, I like to read what you write and also read the comments. Yours is one of two photography blogs I daily have a look at, the other being Kirk Tuck. I even also like to read about subjects I am not interested in.

180,000. That's a lot of comments Mike. Your efforts in keeping them polite, reasonable and interesting are much appreciated.

Dear Mike,
I rarely comment but always read your site as it's one of the very few that bring a unique personal point of view to the field of photography. I'm often reminded of Edward Weston's "Day Books" though there's less sex but plenty of humanity.
Thank you for doing what you do.
Keith Trumbo

I'm sitting out by my mom's goats and chickens right now and some of the meta comments made me laugh hard enough to cause concern among the goats.

I guess this is a meta-meta-comment?

As for strange sounds & things falling from the sky, we have parachutists, hot air balloons, and aerobatic pilots every weekends. Crop dusters flying radial engine Steerman biplanes and ridiculously loud turboprop (supersonic prop tips) AirTractors and helicopters at 12 feet altitude wake us up on weekdays.

As for things hitting the ground, we have found airplane parts, mostly access panels that have blown off of light planes although the time we found a light plane landing wheel in a field made us wonder how that worked out. Of course the biggest noisiest hitting the ground thing was the B 52 bomber that exploded over our house when I was less that a year old.

We were still were finding bits of that for the next 30 years.
Throw in the occasional train wreck, http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2013/10/union-pacific.html and Livermore National Laboratory blowing things up at their "secret" test site every day at noon during the cold war and a few screaming women on the roof is sort of normal.

Mike, I think I'm up to about 2000 comments now...

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