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DPChallenge Forums >> The Critique Club >> Critique Club: Proposed Restructure
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11/12/2004 06:48:05 AM · #1
Warning - this is a very long post! Skip to the executive summary at the end if you just want the jist of the proposal :o)

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Since the Critique Club was first established a few years ago, there has never been a huge number of critiquers, and only a subset of them critique on a regular basis. Given that the number of images per challenge is continually increasing, and with it the number of requested critiques, it's become impossible to critique every request before the challenge rolls over and the next batch of requests get added to the queue. Therefore, myself and Konador (the current CC admins) proposed to the SC a complete overhaul of the entire CC system. Taking into account the comments of the other SC members, we are now proposing the following:

a) Critiques can be done by everyone, rather than just a handful of signed-up users. This should help users who are non-commital and/or unsure of their ability to critique.

b) Critique credits. The most major change would be the introduction of credits which are earnt by making critiques. Each critique made would earn five credits (5¢).

c) Credits can be either spent immediately, or accumulated to spend later.

d) Credits are spent on either a "normal" critique, which costs 5¢, or a "priority" critique, which costs 15¢.

e) Photos that are in the "priority" queue would be critiqued before "normal" critiques.

f) Each user will receive an inital allocation of critique credits (probably 15¢) when they register, and a further allocation (again 15¢) when they sign up for annual membership (thus those who become members at the same time as registering would get 30¢ to start with). Therefore, all current users with get 15¢ and all current (annual) members will get 30¢. In addition, we would allocate 15¢ again each time a member renews their an annual membership.

g) No differentiation will be made between users and members, which will hopefully encourage users to be more involved and prevent the CC becoming a members-only feature. And since members have at least twice as many challenges as users, they're more likely to want critiques, so are thus more likely to get critiquing themselves.

h) All critiques will need to be approved by the CC admins before ¢ is awarded. This will prevent users from doing numerous poor critiques merely to build their own credit levels, and give the admins an oversight into what the CC members are writing. One possible aspect of this would be not display the critiques until approved. Once the critique has been approved, the ¢ should be awarded with immediate effect.

i) Once the number of critiquers and critiques grows to the point where the CC admins (plus possibly the rest of the SC) alone can't deal with approving all the critiques, a group of "critique moderators" will be established, probably those critiquers who have critiqued the most (eg anyone with over 100 critiques made), and would have to be approved as moderators by the CC admins.

j) In order to encourage the moderators to moderate, they will be awarded 1¢ per 1 or 2 critiques processed, since this task is "easier" than writing the original critique (thus 5-10 moderations = 1 normal critique). In addition, if the moderator wants to add more information, eg expand upon the original critique, then this could earn 5¢ also (this would have to be moderated like a normal critique tho).

k) CC critiquing guides and help pages will be needed to explain how the CC systems work, and how to write a critique. These will need be written by myself and Konador, and will probably be based on this forum thread.

l) A further incentive could be to award "medals" once a user has completed a certain number of critiques. For example: 50 critiques (ie 250¢ earnt) = bronze, 100 critiques (500¢) = silver, 250 critiques (1250¢) = gold, and possibly 500 critiques (2500¢) = usericon sunglasses. This doesn't have to be medals, it could be carrots, or stars, or whatever is decided is appropriate. The important thing is that these awards shouldn't detract from the ribbons that are won in challenges, but should help motivate users to critique.

m) The profile page will need to include the total number of critiques, the current credit level, and the medal (if achieved, perhaps next to the user icon).

n) The submission page would need altering so that the user has the option of no critique, normal critique (5¢), or priority critique (15¢). This would also require the user's current credit level to be displayed, and options greyed out if there isn't enough credit. A link saying something like 'earn more credits here', leading to the CC guide, would be very useful here. However, since all critiques are performed after challenges complete, we might not even need this option.

o) Any image should be able to be submitted for critique, thus there will need to be a way (eg a 'submit for critique' button/form) on each image's page. This should also apply to any portfolio images, since the user should be able to request a critique on any image. However, the critique won't be able to judge aspects like 'meets the challenge' etc.

p) If possible, the CC critiques should have the CC medal displayed somewhere, if achieved, so that the reciever of the critique knows what level the critiquer is at. This is similar to the amazon 'top 100 reviewer' or ebay stars schemes.

q) The CC user admin pages would need to list all users that have written a (successful) critique, sorted by date of most recent critique.

r) The CC critique queue would need to display the photos in the priority queue, and those in the normal queue, with the options to de-assign them etc as currently.

s) In addition, a CC approval queue page will be needed, so that the CC admins (and later moderators) can quickly approve the critiques, thus awarding the credits. Ideally, something simple like a table of user, photo, critique text, a tickbox for approval, and a de-assign option if the critique doesn't meet the standard.

t) At the back end, if a critique doesn't get completed within a week, either the credit(s) are refunded to the user, or the critique gets put into a higher priority (ie normal becomes priority, priority gets put at the front of the priority queue)

u) Perhaps a new subsection of the 'my home' menu tree should be added, eg 'my critiques', which list all the user's critiques, their credit levels, links to the guides and CC allocation pages, etc? Alternatively, perhaps a new menu tree could be added, eg 'Critique Club', with 'my critiques' and 'do a critique' as submenu items? We need some way of making the CC system more visible on the front page, so that new users are made more aware of its existence, and the menu changes might help.

v) And finally, once a critique has been approved, the photog who requested the critique will get an automated email informing them that it has been completed.

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In summary:

1) Critique credits (¢) are earnt by critiquing and spent on critiques
2) Moderators will review all critiques before releasing them
3) Critiques can be requested on any image
4) Critiquers will get recognition (medals or carrots or something) for their work

Please post your opinions on this proposal, along with any suggestions!

ADDITIONAL:

We (the SC) discussed the option of using real money instead of credits, but the concensus was that it makes things a lot more complicated, and excludes those who aren't members (if you're using dpcprints accounts as payment mechanisms) along those who don't have the means to pay for things online. Therefore, this proposal keeps things simple, in that the only things earned from critiquing are critiques.
11/12/2004 07:08:02 AM · #2
I think I've read all of this! Will there be special formatting for the style of critiques, as it seems disparate at the moment?

Changes sound good - and I'm looking forward to the back-dated payments!! ; )
11/12/2004 07:08:04 AM · #3
i wholly support this initiative!
11/12/2004 07:08:21 AM · #4
In a word- woo!
11/12/2004 07:14:47 AM · #5
Originally posted by Imagineer:

Will there be special formatting for the style of critiques, as it seems disparate at the moment?

Currently, CC members are encouraged to mark their comments as from the critique club, so a special formatting would help matters. Perhaps the background of the critique should be in a different colour (eg light yellow), to make them stand out?
11/12/2004 07:15:35 AM · #6
This sounds like a great idea. I'm sure there will be some kinks to work out once it gets started. One point that I *think* hasn't been addressed (...tough to remember 'a' by the time I get to 'v') is whether there can be multiple critiques for a single image? Or, do the admins choose the best? I'd hate to take the time (I work long hours on my day job :-) to write a thoughtful critique, only to be discouraged by someone "beating me to it".

11/12/2004 07:19:32 AM · #7
Once you've been assigned a photo to critique, it is taken out of the queue so only you can leave a critique on it. If that user wants another critique on it, then they would have to spend another 5/15 credits.
11/12/2004 07:21:45 AM · #8
Originally posted by Konador:

Once you've been assigned a photo to critique, it is taken out of the queue so only you can leave a critique on it. If that user wants another critique on it, then they would have to spend another 5/15 credits.

And, if my critique is disapproved by the admins it goes back into the queue? ...Or, do you "edit" my critique to make it more presentable?

11/12/2004 07:22:11 AM · #9
Originally posted by Konador:

If that user wants another critique on it, then they would have to spend another 5/15 credits.

And the 2nd critique would only be possible once the 1st critique had been completed.
11/12/2004 07:24:05 AM · #10
Originally posted by lenkphotos:

And, if my critique is disapproved by the admins it goes back into the queue? ...Or, do you "edit" my critique to make it more presentable?

I think the admins/moderators would in the first instance send it back to the critiquer with their reason for rejection, and if a subsequent attempt was rejected, the critique would have to go back into the queue (probably with a higher priority).
11/12/2004 07:48:26 AM · #11
This sounds excellent and would really encourage me to return to doing CC critiques.

I did a LOT at the very beginning (before we even had automation) and then did some with automation but tailed off for a number of reasons.

This would certainly make me start again.

I assume everyone would start from a level playing field (of zero) in terms of number of critiques done to earn either credit or critiquer status rather than trying to include critiques done on the old systems?
11/12/2004 07:48:46 AM · #12
Problem lies in whom gives the critique - some people have no idea what they are talking about so that becomes pretty much worthless.

11/12/2004 07:51:45 AM · #13
Originally posted by jonpink:

Problem lies in whom gives the critique - some people have no idea what they are talking about so that becomes pretty much worthless.


I would imagine that this would be resolved by the approval process - CC admins wouldn't pass those critiques and if the critiquer couldn't redo it to their satisfaction the image would simply be reassigned to someone else.
11/12/2004 07:52:38 AM · #14
Originally posted by jonpink:

Problem lies in whom gives the critique - some people have no idea what they are talking about so that becomes pretty much worthless.

So they'll either get better, or just quit trying to do critiques (after being rejected several times by the admins), right?
11/12/2004 07:57:23 AM · #15
Originally posted by lenkphotos:

Originally posted by jonpink:

Problem lies in whom gives the critique - some people have no idea what they are talking about so that becomes pretty much worthless.

So they'll either get better, or just quit trying to do critiques (after being rejected several times by the admins), right?


Yup
11/12/2004 07:59:59 AM · #16
Originally posted by Manic:

A further incentive could be to award "medals" once a user has completed a certain number of critiques

If this aspect is implemented, then personally I'd prefer to see something like a "colored star" (like on eBay, as your feedback rating increases) rather than "medals". Medals are too close in concept to the "ribbons" won in challenges.

Originally posted by Manic:

h) All critiques will need to be approved by the CC admins before ¢ is awarded.

This is a very subjective area, and I'd like to see some sort of minimum criteria placed on "topics that need to be covered", that can be used as a guideline when determining whether a critique is "worthy" of receiving credit, as well as some sort of "minimum length". There needs to be sort of "baseline" by which newbies can judge if they've at least made an attempt at providing a "worthwhile" critique.

(Also of interest: there are places online, such as the28thfloor.com where, for a fee, you can have a professional critique your photo. Sample critique heres. These are worthwhile to read just to understand how an experienced photographer approaches a "critique".)

Originally posted by manic:

b) Critique credits. The most major change would be the introduction of credits which are earnt by making critiques. Each critique made would earn five credits (5¢).

IMHO, the cents symbol (¢) really has too much of a monetary connotation to it. I'd prefer just a simple acronym (such as CCC or C³ for "Critique Club Credits") as guests and newbies may see the "¢" symbol strewn about the site and think this site requires micro-payments.

Message edited by author 2004-11-12 08:01:18.
11/12/2004 08:21:07 AM · #17
Originally posted by EddyG:

If this aspect is implemented, then personally I'd prefer to see something like a "colored star" (like on eBay, as your feedback rating increases) rather than "medals". Medals are too close in concept to the "ribbons" won in challenges.


Hence later on I mention "medals or carrots or stars or whatever" :o) The actual symbol that gets awarded is arbitrary, so coloured stars would be fine.

Originally posted by eddyg:

This is a very subjective area, and I'd like to see some sort of minimum criteria placed on "topics that need to be covered", that can be used as a guideline when determining whether a critique is "worthy" of receiving credit, as well as some sort of "minimum length". There needs to be sort of "baseline" by which newbies can judge if they've at least made an attempt at providing a "worthwhile" critique.

Indeed, there would definitely need to be guidelines in place for critique approval. Do you have any suggestions as the the minimum criteria?

Originally posted by eddyg:

IMHO, the cents symbol (¢) really has too much of a monetary connotation to it. I'd prefer just a simple acronym (such as CCC or C³ for "Critique Club Credits") as guests and newbies may see the "¢" symbol strewn about the site and think this site requires micro-payments.

I discussed this with Konador before I posted, but decided to leave it in initially. Again, the actual symbol itself is arbitrary - I merely used ¢ since it's easy to recognise, but alternatives would be fine.
11/12/2004 08:26:05 AM · #18
Originally posted by lenkphotos:

So they'll either get better, or just quit trying to do critiques (after being rejected several times by the admins), right?

The admins/moderators should tell the critiquer what they consider the problems are with the critique (preferably with suggestions), so that the critiquer knows where to improve. There would also have to be full critiquing guides (aimed at new critiquers), as I mentioned in the proposal. Hopefully the combination of these two aspects will prevent critiquers from getting rejected and discouraged.

Don't forget that this system isn't designed to replace the current commenting system, nor will it prevent users from posting images in the forums for discussion. It's merely here to help suppliment what we already have, and help users improve their photography skills.
11/12/2004 08:28:29 AM · #19
Originally posted by Kavey:

I assume everyone would start from a level playing field (of zero) in terms of number of critiques done to earn either credit or critiquer status rather than trying to include critiques done on the old systems?

I think it'd only be fair that everyone starts on the same level of 0 critiques, but it might be possible that existing CC members would get a couple more ¢ to begin with (no promises!). Also, the current top critiquers would probably be the ones considered for the initial CC moderator roles, should they be needed at the start.
11/12/2004 08:45:25 AM · #20
Dredging this up from the early jurasic period (and lots of thanks to the site-specific google search. This might be useful as a foundation for what's expected in a critique. I wouldn't go so far as to say it
all should be required and certainly doesn't have to be in the same
structure for every critique, but I think it would be a good frame to
hang the expectations on.

---

Here is something I scribbled down as some guidelines - all edits/ changes very welcome: (Some of this taken from other guidelines)

Making A Critique

A critique is a written evaluation of a photograph. It shouldn't just say 'I like/don't like this picture'. Here are some suggested aspects to consider and comment on in your critique

(1) COMPOSITION -CONTENT - This is what the photograph is saying. What is the Center of Interest in the photograph? Where does your eye come to rest in viewing the photo? If there is more than one focus point does that add to the photographs interest or distract from it? Where was the Center of Interest placed within the frame of the photo? Did they use the rule of thirds? Did it improve anything ? What other eye control elements are in the photo (leading lines, contrast, diagonal lines, etc). Did the photographer get close enough to the subject to include only what is important? In other words, are there wasted parts of the frame that contain items not adding to the message of the photo? How is colour used ? Does it add or detract from the main point of the picture? Black and white or monochrome can be used to enhance texture or shape relationships in a picture that additional colours can hide.

(2) BACKGROUND - How did the photographer use the tools of selective focus or depth of field to deal with the background? Is the background simplified, cluttered, or is it nonexistent? How does the background add or distract from the photo?

(3) CAMERA WORK -TECHNICAL - Exposure and focus begin in the camera. Is the subject sharp and clearly in focus? Is the part of the photo that need to be clearly focused out of focus? If so, does it add or detract to the photo?
Exposure is observed in the details of the shadow area. An evenly exposed photo will have some texture in the shadows. Is the photo exposed properly and give some evidence of what you see? Is there detail visible in the brightest parts of the print? If there are areas of the picture that lack detail or are very contrasty, is that good or bad?

(4) DIGITAL PROCESSING - TECHNICAL - Has the image been processed correctly ? Is the white balance correctly compensated for, or does the picture suffer from a colour cast ? (E.g., yellow indoor pictures from domestic lighting) Has the picture been correctly sharpened ? Incorrect sharpening can produce halos around edges. Does the image have JPEG artefacts or other evidence of poor technical processing ? If neat image or blurring has been used, do the textures, such as skin, still look real ? Have effects such as selective desaturation or black and white conversion been applied sympathetically to the subject ?

(5) YOUR OPINION ON THE PHOTO - What do you like about the subject? Is it an emotional shot, a story, a statement, a humorous photo, or something else? Is there anything about the photograph that you would do differently if you were the photographer and had the chance to do the same shot? Does it connect with you and make you happy, sad, concerned, involved ? Would you hang it on your wall ?

Message edited by author 2004-11-12 08:55:49.
11/12/2004 08:46:52 AM · #21
Excellent summary Gordon,
This can be very helpful.
Paul.
11/12/2004 09:08:59 AM · #22
Interesting idea: obviously you guys have put a lot of effort into the details. I have two comments:-

1) Given everyone has a finite time to devote to DPC (crazy, I know), why vote or comment for free when you can earn mega-virtualbucks instead. I can see challenges suffering.
2) The poorer/less-experienced photographers are those who may require/benefit from more critiques. They also may be less able to write the kind of critiques which will pass the moderators. The exact opposite will be the case for the better/more experienced photographers. So....I can see a very uneven distribution of the virtual wealth developing...and that could lead to a virtual revolution with the wealthy lined up against a firewall and shot (with assorted digital cameras of course). Seriously though, have you considered a cap on credits or some means to redistribute wealth (taxation/welfare)?
Ben P.
11/12/2004 09:21:41 AM · #23
Originally posted by bpickard:

1) Given everyone has a finite time to devote to DPC (crazy, I know), why vote or comment for free when you can earn mega-virtualbucks instead. I can see challenges suffering.

This is why the only thing you earn are credits which can only be spent on critiques, and you have to still take photos in order to have something to be critiqued.

Originally posted by bpickard:

2) The poorer/less-experienced photographers are those who may require/benefit from more critiques. They also may be less able to write the kind of critiques which will pass the moderators.

This is why every user gets free credits when they sign up, so that they can get themselves started without having to critique themselves. Learning how to critique is in itself a valuable skill, and thinking about the make-up of other photos helps you to analyse your own (and thus hopefully improve your entries). The numbers picked for the free credits aren't fixed in stone, so we could increase it to eg 25c or whatever is deemed suitable. Perhaps there should also be a "beginner" mode for critiquers, so that someone submitting their first critique gets assistance from a moderator before they submit for approval?
11/12/2004 09:28:09 AM · #24
Originally posted by Manic:

Originally posted by bpickard:

1) Given everyone has a finite time to devote to DPC (crazy, I know), why vote or comment for free when you can earn mega-virtualbucks instead. I can see challenges suffering.

This is why the only thing you earn are credits which can only be spent on critiques, and you have to still take photos in order to have something to be critiqued.

Rereading this, I think I misinterpreted your query. The whole point of DPC is the challenges, and an integral part of that is voting and commenting. If you think about it, if you submit to three challenges a week, you only need to do three critiques a week in order to cover all your entries. This still leaves plenty of time and scope for the main challenges themselves. The competitive aspect of DPC could never be replaced by mere critiquing, and critiques only occur after challenges have completed, so comments are still a valuable part of the challenge aspect.
11/12/2004 09:29:19 AM · #25
It might be an idea to consider that people could earn the status to make critigues without further SC approval. Say, if they had done a certain number of successful critiques, then they could be trusted to do them on their own, giving the SC or CC honchoes a break.
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