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RANT – Why I Find Forums Useless

Sometimes I get a burr under my bonnet and the best way for me to let off steam is to write. Such is the case with this Musing. Like many others, when I want to find information about a product or service, I search the Web. For photography I generally go to known sites, FStoppers, Zack Arias (unfortunately discontinued), The Digital Picture (Bryan is GREAT), etc. Sometimes the item or service is so new those ‘trusted’ sites don’t yet have what I’m looking to find. With much trepidation, then and ONLY then I venture into the dreaded world of user Forums. For those of you who are lucky and don’t know about forums, they exist for just about any topic known to man, from photographic gear to cars, to motorcycles to makeup.

The format is pretty much the same. A forum member posts a topic looking for help or advice, “Hi, I just read about ‘xxxxx’ and was wondering if anyone has experience with that product or service.” Then the real carnage begins. The poor soul who was simply looking for an answer is subjected to self serving drivel along with those who want to pontificate about their expertise in stats, pixel peeping, chest pounding and other such nonsense. In almost the same manner as so many corporate meetings I’ve attended, the topic gets side tracked by those who want to show off their expertise more than answer the question. Or worse, the discussion gets so technical one would think the answers are a lesson in engineering.

Like most people, we all just want a straight forward answer. We just want a simple question answered in a succinct manner and with courtesy. Yes sometimes users are very knowledgeable about the technical aspects of  a subject, but if their answer’s real purpose is to show off their ‘vast knowledge’ of the subject, then it really doesn’t serve the correct purpose.

I recently posted my image I developed with the Fuji X100S for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to answer a question about camera megapixel size and print limitations. Our mentality that “bigger is always better” is not always the case. The 16MP sensor printing an 18×80 foot banner shows what’s possible. And in our world of viewing most images on our iPhones with a screen about the size of a playing card, how many people ‘print’ images for viewing anymore?

forum 1
Screen shot of “AceP’s” inane comment on a forum

In the example I’ve shown the forum responder “AceP” from Canada (who does NOT list their own website or real name) misses the point. “…you’ve only demonstrated that SIZE doesn’t matter as long as the observer backs away far enough to see the entire image at once.” Huh? I can’t recall a time when I’ve seen anyone, including myself climbing to the top of a building or billboard sign and standing so that the image can be viewed from 2 feet to see ‘its true resolution.’ Or better yet, I can’t recall a time when I’ve used an electron microscope to view a 4×6 inch print. In general I believe people want to view an ENTIRE IMAGE when looking at a photograph or painting.

The anonymity of the Internet also tends to make individuals more ‘bold’ than if we were speaking face to face. Anonymity breeds a certain false bravery for some individuals. And in 95% of the cases, those who snipe seldom if EVER post a body of work of their own. And if they post any of their work AT ALL it’s often ‘test shots’ of books, a can of soup or some other inane object to show sharpness, color saturation, blah blah blah. It reminds me of folks who buy and add go fast items to their expensive cars who can’t drive to save their lives. Ah, but they THINK they can….

In my world a camera is a tool to create, develop and make art, not covet or analyze and wait ‘until the perfect camera’ come out. If you want the ‘perfect camera’ then develop and build it yourself. And for god’s sake, get off your computer and go out and shoot. 100% of what anyone creates with a camera depends on what’s behind the viewfinder.

Rant over, until I get pissed off about something else!

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