The day before yesterday, I wrote this post about my decision to step down as moderator of the DPR MF Forum and to step away as a participant in that forum. I took the opportunity to reflect on what I’d like gear fora to be, and some ways in which I think they fall short. Since that time several things have happened.
By the way, can you see the deep relationship of the image below to the topic at hand? If not, don’t feel bad; I can’t either. I’m including it just because I don’t like to make posts without images. I made it yesterday with the GFX 50S and a bit of manipulation in post.
OK, back on topic. The first thing that happened was that I received many appreciative, supportive comments, emails, and PMs. You can read some of them in the comments to the last post. I am deeply grateful for those. I also got a few like this one, which is reproduced in its entirety with the original capitalization and punctuation:
you sound like a limp wristed pussy moaning about nothing
I thank the commentator for coming up with a punchy, succinct example of the dark side of the Internet.
I received some recommendations for Internet fora where reasoned discussion was prevalent and not driven by brand or format loyalty. I appreciate that, too.
On Tuesday, I had started a thread in the DPR MF Forum saying that I was stepping down as moderator and linking to the previous post for those who wanted to know my reasons. The person who was my main reason for leaving responded thanking me for my contributions, and demonstrate in his reply his ability to misrepresent my position beyond recognition, attribute to me things not said, find brand and format fault lines where none were obvious, and ratchet up emotions with hyperbole. It was a concise demonstration of the kind of behavior that was getting me down. Before I read that I was a bit worried that I was being hasty, but the thread convinced me that I’m doing the right thing. I am so glad I no longer feel like I have to wade in there, correct the record and defend what I said. The bad news: score one for the generalized version of Gresham’s Law.
In another post in that same thread, the person with whom I’ve had difficulty accused me of being tribal. Here’s his reasoning: I am continuing to participate in DPR’s Nikon Zx forum, and have therefore demonstrated a preference for Nikon over Fuji equipment. He neglected the fact that I still use Fuji gear most of the time, and my reasons for leaving the MF forum had nothing to do with my feelings about the GFX 50x camera and lenses (for which I have always had the greatest respect), and everything to do with the quality of the discussions on that forum. To put what is perhaps too fine a point on it, I’d have had issues with what was going on if it had been a sewing machine or beekeeping forum. As an aside, do you suppose that beekeepers harangue each other in Internet discussions about the merits of Italian versus Russian queens?
There are Internet photography fora that are more aggressively moderated than DPR’s. Fred Miranda and Luminous Landscape are two such. The discussions on those tend to be more considered and more considerate. However, they have far less traffic than DPR. Are the two related? Do most people want vitriol in their discussions? I have no idea, but it’s food for contemplation.
Max (moimoi from dpr) says
Don’t let a few bother you, life is too short to do so.
Keep up the good work.
Remember that you have done nothing which should lead you to berate or question yourself. The aggressive commentators are faceless and nameless bullies. You have done no wrong. On the contrary, you’ve provided us all with sound information and valuable technical input based on a scientific, methodical and even-handed approach.
If you let yourself get down by those bullies they will have won. Most of us don’t care about them but, as you will have noticed, many care about you even if they do not know you personally.
Keep making those beautiful images!
All best, Vincent
Erik Kaffehr says
I have noticed the responses and I feel a sadness. For some reason, it seems that MF forums attracts the worst kinds of posters.
On the other hand, it also seems to repel/force out the most knowledgeable posters , those who want to share knowledge and abstain from the ‘tribalism’. Just to say, I think that word is properly used in the context, BTW.
No question, physics are always physics, regardless of which tribe we happen to belong to. Experience, that may differ. When experience and physics don’t match we need to investigate to understand it. I think it has been a driving force behind human civilisation.
Personally, I don’t think we go into metaphysics to sort out things. Reproducible experiments combined with old style physics can go a long way to explain things.
Thanks for elaborating a bit on the DPR tests. In my humble opinion, much testing tries to summarise everything in a single figure of merit. That is not that easy.
Just to mention an example, you have demonstrated that the GFX lenses are very sharp. But, to make best use of that we need to shoot at near optimal apertures and focus accurately. When viewing we need sharpen appropriately. Failing that, we may have misleading findings.
The major importance of great optics may not be that we get sharper detail, but that we get sharp detail with less artifacts due to sharpening.
The other side is that a few MTF plots tell us much of the story. They don’t tell the full story, but they tell a lot of it.
But, in the end, it may be more important to have decent equipment and make best use of it than having the best gear.
In the end, what matters is that we get images that we can display with pride…
Erwin Bodo says
I very much enjoy your contributions in the Nikon Z forum and read your web pages regularly. I sympathize with your feelings about some of the forum posts, post infrequently and ignore most of the personal attacks that could not be tolerated face to face, but seems like a fair game in a forum. I will also keep on reading the posts on the forums I follows as there are many excellent comments and suggestions.
Please keep up your excellent website and technical contributions to the art of photography.
come on Jim – one your own forum !
open I mean !
Not gonna happen. Way too much work, and I don’t know what I could do better than Fred Miranda except get nicer forum-creation software. I have thought about trying to create a site more aimed at mentorship than gear, but I value getting up in the morning and doing what I want to do that day, instead of what I have to do.
Why not partner with Fred? Create a small, heavily moderated forum solely focused on that?
Matt Parvin says
Jim, excellent pair of articles on why you’re stepping away. To your final point… I suspect those bad characters who wish to generally sow discord want the largest audience possible. It increases the chances they can get into an enjoyable, digital altercation. To that end it seems a forums growth and size (likely because of its quality) becomes its own u doing by attractive the attention of unwanteds.
Rico Pfirstinger says
You made the right decision!
Time is limited, so better spend it doing what you love and what’s appreciated.
Your blog is one of the most valuable contributions for those who want to really understand their gear and make best use of it. And it’s even free!
If you spend less time getting harassed in forums and more time creating useful blog articles, that’s a win-win.
Thank you for your doing what you do.
Don’t go away! Your images are both unique and beautiful . There is not “useful info out there, especially about medium format equipment. Just set up your own spam filter for those mentally ill bullies and keep at it.
Dont let 1 bully idiot push you away. Use ignore option on the idiot.
First off, there was more than one person involved. Second, I have never characterized the main one as an “idiot” or as a “bully”. Third, if you’re a mod you can’t ignore anyone.
But let’s back up here. I’m not saying that anybody is a bad person. I’m just saying that there is behavior that is damaging to civil, productive discourse. I ascribe no motives to the people who engage in such behavior. I don’t think it matters much if you focus on the behavior, and I have no way of determining people’s motives (I’ll go even further than that: I think that many, if not most people’s motives are unclear even to themselves). I’ve found in life that most people have good intentions, and I tend to assume that if I have no a priori knowledge otherwise.
I have always enjoyed your technical discussions. They are well appreciated.
What is really interesting is that the most civil photographic forum I have been involved with is PentaxForums . It is remarkably busy with hundreds of new posts a day and a mix of amateurs asking questions and sample photos.
There is not too much technical discussion other than early on when the Accelerator chip was panned by DPR, but it is interesting since it seems that Pentaxians are just trying to keep the brand alive, enjoy the gear they currently have and know that their cameras are not the latest and greatest due to Pentax’s slow product cycle.
I recently picked up a K-1 for some pixel shift macros and except for the silly weight of the camera, have been pleasantly surprised at its overall quality.
Jeremy Roussak says
I moderate the Luminous Landscape forum. I do it aggressively and the results are as you say: mostly well-behaved, informed, polite discussion, but rather less of it. I think that’s a Good Thing.
I wish you luck in your future endeavours, and am sure you will feel relief at a weight’s being lifted.