So what happened to comments?

I’m giving comments a rest for a while, and here’s why.

I set up Life after Photoshop to give fellow photographers ideas about where they could take their photography, and the tools out there to achieve their creative vision. It was meant to offer inspiration, ideas and practical information about software products and techniques that not everyone might know about.

But recently, I’ve felt that the comments section has just been dragging everything down. In the perfect world the comments would be full of polite, respectful people enjoying their discovery of what digital imaging software can do and wanting to share that with everyone else.

Instead, too many of the comments are complaints about software vendors, complaints about tech support, complaints about things not working properly or complaints about things I’ve said, or complaints about things I haven’t said… there is a bit of a pattern here.

So I don’t like criticism?

That’s not it. I’ve been a journalist and a reviewer for a very long time and I’m used to people telling me I’m wrong.

Sometimes they’re right, I see it straight away and correct what I said. That’s fine. I’ve learned a lot from times people have pointed out something I’ve got wrong.

Sometimes they’re wrong. I do my best to explain why they’re wrong in a polite and respectful way, but there are a lot of angry people out there who have discovered the Internet helps them stay angry for longer, so it’s not always easy.

Sometimes it’s just a difference of opinion. That’s fine too. I’ve learned a lot from other people’s opinions. Unfortunately, too many folk seem incapable of expressing them without insulting your intelligence, integrity or professionalism.

So how’s this. If you want to find fault, correct a mistake, or offer an opinion, just send me an email. It means you will be addressing me, a real person, directly, so let’s see how that goes.

Spam has become a big problem

I don’t know if this is a real term or not, but I call it ‘comment spam’. It’s basically automated bots offering generic praise for a post and including a link to another site that distributes who knows what. I use a plug-in to filter most of this out (it is genuinely, tens of thousands of spam attempts in a year), but some still makes it through to my comment notifications and I have to filter it out manually.

I do moderate all comments. I don’t believe in letting anyone say what they like, in public, on my site. Interestingly, the fact that I moderate comments does make me legally responsible for any defamatory or libellous views, so if you’ve just posted a major rant and it didn’t appear in the comments field – that may be why.

I’m not the only one

Like it or not, the long list of comments under an online post do start to feel like an extension of the content, so that no matter how positive or useful the content might, the comments underneath can quickly drag it down into a pit of recrimination, squabbles and insults.

I used to be the camera channel editor on techradar.com and still write for it. I also write for digitalcameraworld.com. These are two of the biggest global photography sites, and both have stopped posting comments.

DP Review has an interesting idea – comments are hidden by default and only visible when you click a button. But just take a look through the endless stream of comments and see how it makes you feel. My guess is either (a) you become so angry you start trading insults with someone you’ve never met in Minnesota, or (b) you lose some of your will to live. The third option, (c), that you come away better informed and with new information about how to proceed would be ideal, but personally I’ve never experienced that.

So I don’t care what people think?

I care a lot, but comments aren’t working! What I care about is helping people find the right software, discover new techniques and get real creative satisfaction from photography.

I’m not really interested in helping individuals to get their installation of xyz working properly on their xyz hardware, or resolving a complaint with a software vendor (or helping them complain generally about being ripped off just because they have to pay for things). I mean, I sympathise, but that’s the job of a customer service or tech support department, and I don’t want Life after Photoshop treated as a lever in resolving disputes or as a way of getting public payback.

Don’t forget Facebook

Yes, there is a Life after Photoshop Facebook page. Or, if you don’t like Facebook, don’t forget the Life after Photoshop email address.

So please, let’s stay in touch! But please, let’s talk about photography and art and that beautiful creative process. Let’s not just complain about stuff.

[Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash]