I’m quite behind the times for many things, and actively critiquing photographs (as well as having others rate mine) is something I’ve been meaning to get around to for the last couple of years. There are lots of places to do this on-line and it’s very tempting to dive into the first new site that offers such features in order to have your images up when there are few to comapre it to, and few harsh reviews are written in order to ensure the site stays healthy.

This isn’t helpful to me, though as without genuine well reasoned critiscism my images will never improve. The biggest problem with such sites is how to keep the reviews flowing and the junk down without having to have three times as many moderators as members: something I experienced first hand when running a home-brew music sharing site. The fact that photoSIG appear to have cracked at least part of this problem made me sign up: unless you pay money it’s not possible to comment or upload any images immediately, but you can have an account for free that allows you to review the pictures of other members.

Once you have critiqued enough images, you get the chance to upload your own, so what stops inane reviews being used to bump up the level ? A rather nifty feature where the critique is only the first step on the ladder: each entry is by itself useless, and has to be rated by another member as a valid comment on the image in order to gain you credibility. Once you have written enough reviews and also had those comments rated by others you have 72 hours to use your points to upload images: this helps to keep the system fresh and uncluttered as well as ensuring that the reviews keep flowing.

Does it work ? Well, I’m not sure: there’s only one of my images up there yet as I’m still gaining points. What I am impressed about is the level of the comments I’ve seen so far: some are rather terse, but they tend to loose out on the ratings of others, and the highly prized ones do indeed add to the learning process.

I also wish I’d put up a better picture.