Resurrecting the Fortnightly Challenge: Input and Ideas Please

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Designer Dale, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #1
    Hi, folks.

    First, thanks for the responses to my poll about reviving the Challenge from its winter nap. I sent JohnMC, originator of the Challenge a PM before I opened my earlier thread on this topic. He is swamped with school, so I will go on in his place. Thanks go out to John for opening the original thread.

    I want to start by discussing any changes you would like to see or keep in the format. The original goal of the Challenge was to provide a common theme for a two week shooting session with comments and constructive criticism emphasized. We all want to keep that, I'm sure. Below are links to samples of the topic and post threads to bring everyone up to speed as to how this used to work. They aren't on chronological order.

    Sample Topic Thread

    Sample Post Thread

    The format for the topic thread was to start it during the last few days of the existing Challenge. My thought is to separate the topic and shoot threads so that those participating can focus on the task at hand. I think this would prevent the post thread from slowing down when the topic opens. My current idea is four days of topic discussion, then shoot and post for fourteen days without regards to whether it bridges months or not. Let's start with that before working on any changes in rules. That will probably be a seperate thread.

    KISS, as they say...

    Dale
     
  2. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    #2
    Hi Dale,
    I don't really have anything to add, but what you have here seems fine to me.

    P.S Dale the Demi eh? :cool:
     
  3. Ish macrumors 68000

    Ish

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    #3
    Looks good to me too. Can you save yourself some work by using some of the popular suggestions that don't quite make it to the no. 1 spot?

    I prefer the Challenges where there's a single topic, it's more focused and to me more interesting to look at the thread and see all the variations on a theme. Don't know what everyone else thinks.
     
  4. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    #4
    I too prefer a more well defined topic. I guess it's about striking the right balance - too well defined and you limit your participating audience, not defined enough the submissions are left right and center, too far either way will limit it's success, topics should be considered with this in mind imo.
     
  5. AxisOfBeagles macrumors 6502

    AxisOfBeagles

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    #5
    The format sounds fine Dale - I like the idea of finishing one challenge topic before venturing into another.
     
  6. fcortese macrumors demi-god

    fcortese

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    #6
    I agree with AoB, separating the topic discussion form the challenge is a great idea. I think I speak for many in thanking you for taking the lead in this and carrying the load for the rest of our benefits. I am not particularity stuck on the time frames exactly matching up with the monthly calender, either. I like the whole concept of people posting pictures and constructive praise/criticism from others as part of the thread. I think that is the core of what attracts me more to this type of challenge and what makes it so much more beneficial and educational for many to grow as photographers.
     
  7. Designer Dale thread starter macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #7
    ^^^ and ^^^ I have to admit to pushing twin topics in situations where there was no defined censuses... and where I was not really keen on one..:eek:
    Maintaining a database of topics that received more than one or two votes will be done. The Topic thread will also be cut short if there is censuses after two days.

    ^^^ Thanks to all for the compliments.
    I really want to stress talking about photos as well as taking photos in the revision of the Challenge. I have a background in Art History, and found that talking about images helped me to define my photography. It's a learned skill with a vocabulary of it's own.

    Dale
     
  8. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #8
    I lost interest in the challenge threads when they devolved into unenthusiastic photo sharing threads. Almost nobody was actually shooting for the challenge, most preferring instead to post some old thing that nominally aligned with the topic, always excusing themselves because of being too busy. People were not putting their best work forward; they were mostly just digging up something that was relevant to the topic. The "challenge" part of the challenge was sorely lacking.

    You might consider adding a requirement that people actually shoot for the challenge. Otherwise, change the name to reflect what it will really be: a theme-based photo sharing thread with a few critiques thrown in.

    Also, between the topic threads and the actual posting threads, there was just too much thread clutter. You might consider doing fewer topic threads, maybe one per quarter, and then using the top six suggestions for the following quarter.
     
  9. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #9

    I agree, though I am guilty of sometimes recycling a shot. I think the heart of the challenge is really going out and taking shots in that particular time period based on your interpretation of the subject. That and the critique is where the real learning and usefulness of the challenge is.

    As I'm typing this though I feel limiting the submissions to only shots taken during the challenge period might reduce participation. But really, you are right...it's meant to be a challenge and not a photo sharing / critique forum. What if we expanded on your last suggestion a little. What if we did quarterly topic threads that generated the required number of topics then assigned each one a 14 day challenge period at the beginning of the quarter. That way there could be some preperation and forethought and if you had a target of oppurtunity pop up before a particular challenge you could snap it and save it. Perhaps this complicates things a bit?

    Dale, I appreciate you taking up the guantlet and don't want to create extra work for you. I believe as the ring bearer for this new challenge you should have final say and what's possible. Thanks again for taking this on and I look forward to the new challenges.
     
  10. Designer Dale thread starter macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #10
    Obviously, this thread is of no interest to you and that's OK with me. We really would like to pick up those marginal shooters who want to improve but are intimidated by either the Contest or Photo of the Day. To give them a venue where they can receive suggestions from a mix of n00bs and established photographers who are inclined to share their skill.

    Having a quarterly syllabus is not appealing to me for several reasons. It puts too much control in the hands of one person and is too much like school. Ideas come to me on a random basis and having to wait three months to bring them up would kill my thought process. The Challenge needs to be informal enough to promote participation. It has to be fun. If it doesn't fly on it's own, I'm not going to continue the effort required to keep it going.

    Dale
     
  11. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #11
    That's exactly what I had in mind: a schedule worked out on a quarterly basis. Perhaps the first post of each fortnightly thread could state that fortnight's theme and include the upcoming themes in the schedule. This would be far less work than dealing with a topic thread every two weeks. Of course, the theme/topic brainstorming threads should be timed to happen about midway through the cycle so that there will always be at least a few forthcoming topics on the schedule.

    As for there being reduced participation, that's where things ended up with the old approach. Nobody took much interest in what was really just another photo sharing thread, and the whole thing fizzled out. I think having a projected schedule will help people to plan in advance for the theme that most interests them and will ultimately result in more participation than there was with the previous structure. When people shoot for the theme, they will be far more invested in their photos and more likely to put their best work forward, especially if they have a month or more to work on it. That kind of investment and effort is likely to result in a far more exciting thread.

    I can see momentum building with this sort of arrangement, but not with what existed before.
     
  12. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #12
    You posted while I was writing my last reply. I'm not sure why you're saying the thread is of no interest to me; it was of no interest to most people, once it ceased to live up to its name.

    I don't see how a quarterly schedule would give one person any more control than a bi-monthly schedule of topic selection. People pitch topics, and the six with the most interest go into the next schedule. There's no difference except that it saves everybody time and reduces thread clutter. It also reduces the temptation to produce dual topics in an effort to settle ties. But most importantly, it gives people time to plan for upcoming themes that are particularly interesting or that will work well with a busy schedule.
     
  13. Designer Dale thread starter macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #13
    I need input from others interested in the thread.

    The current train of thought seems to be to choose topics for six threads and then begin shooting. Those participating would need to refrain from posting any photos for anything other than the current Challenge. i.e.: if you know the next topic is "frames" you can't post on that while "manual settings" is running.

    Dale
     
  14. emorydunn macrumors 6502

    emorydunn

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    #14
    It looks like everyone has pretty much figured all of this out already. But I think I'll reiterate some points already made:

    I like the idea of deciding several topics in advance. Would is be possible to have a discussion thread and then near the end put a poll at the top so people can vote for the most popular ones?
    Sort of a simple motion system where one person says I think "lose change" would be a good topic, then someone else seconds the topic. At the end all of the topics that have been seconded (or third-ed, or whatever) get put in a poll for everyone to vote on.

    And also, it seems like a given to have a requirement to shoot the photo during the actual challenge period.

    One last thing, since a lot of people here use Flickr there should be a pool for everyone to submit their work into. This would be nice as it would give great archiving and it would also allow people to post critiques and comments to the image its self in addition to the thread (to help the photographer keep comments a little more organised).
     
  15. AxisOfBeagles macrumors 6502

    AxisOfBeagles

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    #15
    Speaking as one of those who stand to gain a great deal from the 'Challenge' format, it seems to me that the greatest value is in forcing myself to shoot with the specific purpose in mind, and not simply toss in something from last year that kinda-sorta resembles the challenge topic - I don't learn anything from that.

    Having said that, there are two caveats to ensure my continuing participation (I am here hoping that my issues are similar to other newbies):
    One; that the challenge topics are 'accessible' and relevant to my photography skills. For instance, a topic on "low key exposure" might be of high value, whereas a topic of "bridges" may seem to me to be too narrow and of little value in improving my skills.

    Second, time is an important constraint here. Most of us are amateur and pay for our habit with 'real' jobs. So knowing what the challenge topics are a couple generations in advance is a great idea. I don;t know about 6 - seems unwieldy - but even if it were a "rolling 3 topics" would give me greater time to think and prepare. And, frankly, to get excited about the challenge.

    One last comment, stimulated by phrasikleia's comments; I noted in the prior challenge thread, posted by Dale as an exemplar, that the thread dialog tended to wander off in a couple places into sidebar conversation. Personally I think that needs to be kept out of the challenge threads. C&C are great, even respectful debate over tools and techniques. But conversation about one's dog or favorite hamburger joint or whatever might better be kept to PM's.

    Just my 2 cents - YMMV
     
  16. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

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    #16
    The one thing that put me off the challenge thread is that often my photos weren't brilliant and therefore would be ignored.

    That's why I enjoy the weekly contest as I know that at the end there will at least be a short sentence about my photo and the chance that I will get to chose the next weeks topic which has happened once.

    If there was some sort of post a photo and comment on the photo above I think I would be more likely to participate.
     
  17. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #17
    Super suggestion. Maybe a rule that you have to comment on the photo above you (and any others optionally) before posting your photo.
     
  18. Designer Dale, Feb 9, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2011

    Designer Dale thread starter macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #18
    That was discussed during the development of the Monthly Project that preceded the Challenge. Is sounds good, but only a mod could enforce it by deleting the post. Actions like those need be agreed on by the Mods - they have private discussion forums where they talk about us.

    A poll would actually work if we were planning 3 - 6 Challenges ahead. It would also save the thread space during the topic thread because people would be only entering topics, and not chatting. We would need a minimum of 3 - 6 votes in the poll to keep it going. I'm not sure about 6. That sounds like a long time.

    Keeping the posting within the Challenge time frame has always been suggested (and will again), but it can't be enforced.

    One last thing? Steve? Good to hear from you..:)

    There is a Flickr Pool for the Challenge. I'm the Mod. It wasn't well promoted or patronized, but we could work on that.

    Moving the thread dialogue from chat to true constructive comments is something that I feel is a requisite for this project to be of value to the MR DP forum. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this requires an expanded vocabulary that those of us with art and art history backgrounds take for granted. Look back through POTD for comments from Phrasikleia. She has an academic background in art history and never says "Nice pic".

    Lucky you. I have never won the Contest, and here I am acting like the Admin of one...:eek:

    One of the things I need to get out of a revised Challenge is more participation on my part. I can make sure that I comment more, if not shoot more. If a photo goes without a comment I can fill that roll.

    Thanks to all;

    Existing Fortnightly Challenge Flickr Pool

    Link to the rule discussion of the Photo Assignment

    Dale
     
  19. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #19
    Another great suggestion. Having a poll at the end would make it very clear which topics were most popular.

    Another point about having a schedule of forthcoming topics: it would mean that anyone could post the next challenge thread. The PotD thread continues on nicely because absolutely anyone can start the new thread at the beginning of a month. If we had a schedule for the challenge thread, there would be no need for a single person to be a ringleader (which never goes over well on internet forums anyway); when a topic came to its end, someone could look at the schedule and post the next one, along with the list of what was left on the schedule. And when it becomes obvious that the schedule is running out of topics, someone could post the next topic thread.
     
  20. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

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    #20
    I just noticed you said this. You keep posting while I'm busy typing. I think the idea of "enforcement" is taking things too far. Obviously, there will be some people who forget about the rules, just like there are often people who post more than one image at a time in PotD. A simple reprimand from a forum member is usually enough to get the person to delete the extra images; no need for mods to get invovled.

    If we have a few simple rules, I think we can expect people to follow them for the most part:

    1) You must comment on the photo above you before posting a photo of your own. You may comment on any other photos optionally.

    2) You do not need to post a photo in order to comment on one.

    3) If you do post a photo, it must be one you shot for the challenge, not one from your archives.

    Something like that ought to be enough as far as rules go.
     
  21. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    #21
    Could this be too restrictive? Could it influence somebody to not submit because they don't want to comment on a specific image?
    Maybe loosen it up a bit? something like you have to keep your comments and image postings in balance, eg if you make 2 comments, you can post 2 images at any later stage? I'm not sure... just putting forward the thought.
    It is good how with your idea all photos are commented on, it'll make people think more carefully about their submission.
     
  22. Eaon macrumors member

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    #22
    As a photography newbie, I find the combination of this thought plus the "you must post a comment" idea to be somewhat scary. It sounds like the challenge is supposed to be inviting to people like me who need all the help in the world because we suck and don't have the experience to feel comfortable in other contests, but that also means we don't have that vocabulary to C&C other's work. What you can expect from me is along the lines of "I like the colours" or at best "You channel Ansel Adams very well", but beyond that I'm more familiar with the prints at Ikea than I am any real photography. :cool:
     
  23. Phrasikleia, Feb 9, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2011

    Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #23
    Yeah, I agree. Simple comments should be enough, even if it's just "great colors" (which is more specific than "nice pic"). Some people will be more laconic than others--nothing wrong with that. Despite what Dale had to say, I don't always unleash an "expanded vocabulary" when offering comments on an image. People who are comfortable with talking about images might have more to say, but even a simple bit of feedback is better than nothing.

    That was actually acearchie's idea. But I don't know: what would make someone see a photo and be so unwilling to comment on it that they would hesitate to post? What might cause that kind of hesitation?

    There are a number of these kinds of threads running on other forums, and they move along nicely. For example, there is this one on POTN. I think the rating system there is a bit harsh, and it seems to encourage very short comments (exclusively), so I would not recommend that kind of rating system, but the idea of commenting on the photo above you does seem to work.

    What do other people think? Can you imagine a type of photo that would make you withhold your post simply to avoid having to comment on the previous photo? If so, then maybe it's not the best rule to have.
     
  24. acearchie, Feb 9, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2011

    acearchie macrumors 68040

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    #24
    Just highlighting this comment as an example.

    I think people have to realise, and this is just the way that I see it, that one man's rubbish is another man's treasure.

    My idea is such that ven if the comment is something along the lines of "wow lovely sky, is this possible with a P&S" or something similar it would be ok. Of course on the other scale comments such as "really not a fan of the composition, I would have shot wider" would be equally accepted as long as they remain civil.

    I just like knowing that someone has actually looked at my picture and had an opinion of it. How am I meant to improve as a photographer if no one is saying what they think of my photo's. People only upload photo's because they think they are good I suppose so they need other people to help them out if they can be improved!

    Sadly neither have I! I cam second but the winner never turned up. Felt like a real false victory although its made me hungry for the real win now!

    A rating system I reckon would be good. Comments aren't so easy to decipher but a rating system pretty solidly states whether someone thinks it's above average quality (>5) or below (<5)

    However, some newer members or people new to photography may not be comfortable either marking older members or would be worried about a low score. I for one don't mind at all what my rating would be as long as there is some justification.
     
  25. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    #25
    I don't like being too negative or harsh if it were the case, so I'd simply rather not post if I had to be such way. That's just me but I'm sure others feel the same.

    I am happy to receive negative/harsh comments on my photos.
     

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