Monday, January 21, 2013

Comment Culture

On flickr, my go-to photo sharing community website, there is a subset of the userbase that thinks that if you 'favorite' any of their images without posting a comment, you are being impolite, and that this is grounds for 'blocking' you from any further interaction from their stream of photos. The following is my response to those who would say, "faves without comment will be blocked."

I like comments. I don't think anyone doesn't like comments, in general - just specific ones that are insulting or negative or creepy or whatever. But the concept of blocking a person for faving one or more (or even many) of your photos without leaving a comment is kooky.

Aren't we all photographers here? Doesn't that make us visual types? Some of us may be good verbal communicators, but others of us are not, and how can you punish us for that, in a venue dedicated to visual art? Forcing a person to comment just encourages brainless comments (which, granted, some people find value in) like "good", "wow", "amazing", "beautiful", "incredible", etc.

And yes, those comments are nice, and they may very well be legitimate. I often find myself saying those very words, under my breath, while browsing through photos on flickr. But to me, it just seems empty to post a comment to that effect, when a dozen other people have already done the same - sometimes word for word.

To me, faving an image is my way of saying, "wow, this is amazing, I really like it, kudos" - without wasting breath on those words. If I have something specific and unique to say about an image, I'll say it. But if all I have to say is, "nice", then what's the point, right? And if I choose not to speak, but still like your image enough to favorite it, how could you punish me for that? That's insane.

It's fine to encourage comments - sometimes a little encouragement is just what is needed to break the ice and get people to speak up about their feelings. But to require a certain kind of reaction to your work is nonsense.

And if you're getting enough favorites that you can afford to be picky, then congratulations. Lucky you. But popularity isn't the only indicator of quality, and neither is it an indication of good character.

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