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Old 07-12-2016, 12:20 PM   #1
Rene de Vries
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Default RP - some thoughts on the screening process (and suggestions how to change it).

Hi all,

I'm relatively new here, only joined RP back in February.
The idea of reaching more people (a more international audience so to speak) appealed to me and because I already had over 300 pictures on the European equivalent of RP, I felt confident enough to upload my pictures.
So far so good, the first picture was posted on Feb. 23rd and I was off and rolling.
Shortly after that however a first picture was rejected, the reason being "- Composition (Balance): The subject is awkwardly positioned in the frame."

Now I had to read through this a few times because I really didn't understand why a perfectly good picture would be rejected.
But fair enough, I went back to the drawingboard and changed the composition a bit. The train was now visibly no longer in the center of the frame (it wasn't in the first try either but that's not the point).
I uploaded the picture again but to no avail, it was rejected again (same reason).

Hmm, what to do? I looked in the forum and found a thread with alle the rules and possible rejection reasons.
I also found out that a single person decides if a picture is accepted or not which I found quite odd to be honest.
Nevertheless, I continued uploading pictures and every now and then a picture was accepted.
Roughly the same amount of pictures were rejected as well, for reasons that I still cannot fathom (not even today).

Below I will show you a few examples of pictures that were rejected (by the way, some have won POTW on the aforementioned European site).
Now I would have written this in the forum way back in March or April but I had to wait till just now before finally getting acces to the forum.
I wrote to the administrators half a dozen times back in April as well.... never got a reply..

At this point I would like to explain how the European site works (and why this system would be great for RP).
There are currently 23 screeners who can rate a picture with a + (positive vote), a - (negative vote) or a 0 (indecisive).
If a picture is uploaded, the screeners have 72 hours to rate the picture. Only if a picture has more positive than negative votes, will it be accepted onto the site.
So, for example, if 9 screeners give a +, 7 screeners give a minus and 7 are undecided, the picture will be accepted.
If a picture has 12 + votes (and therefor mathematically it cannot be rejected anymore), it is automatically accepted - even if the 72 hours haven't passed.
And if not every screener rates a picture, that's not problem either. As long as a picture has a positive result, it will be accepted.

More importantly, the screeners write comments during screening. They don't use text blocks (that sometimes don't make no sense) but they will write a comment regarding that particular picture.
So instead of wondering what "awkward positioning" really means, you would now what exactly was the problem.

And, equally important, the rejected pictures land in a queue where they will remain for seven days and where the screeners comments can be read by everybody (not just by the person who uploaded the picture).

In my opinion this is a system that works a lot better because:

A - you get precise feedback regarding your picture
B - it is not just a single screener who decides if a picture is accepted or not
C - The screeners can't hide behind text blocks, otherwise they will obviously face scrutiny.


So, back to my rejections. After a while I just gave up because the rejection reasons were to silly.
It actually became a laughing matter, I occasionally uploaded a picture every now and then while almost expecting a rejecting.
And the problem is, there are so many rejection reasons to choose from that you can literally reject every single picture on RP. Some are conflicting as well, the train cannot be in the center of the picture or there is too much "dead space" (that one was hilarious as well). On the other hand, the train should not be too close to the edges.. For every picture that is rejected, you can find at least 100 similar pictures on RP that were accepted.

But it shouldn't be like this.... and it doesn't have to be like this.
I don't think it would be very hard to find 25 or even 50 screeners who are willing to participate in the screening process. And instead of 72 hours you can make it 24 hours.
You just need an open mind and a willingness to chance the process..

Now here are a few examples of rejected pictures (links to the European site).

The first time you'll have to click the red link /galerie/ds_galerie.... in the green part of the screen (you only have to do this once)..


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...&id=85447&ix=3


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...d=45794&ix=300


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...d=33376&ix=350


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...id=106567&ix=0


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...d=105872&ix=11


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...id=44445&ix=32


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...d=44614&ix=300


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...id=106409&ix=0


and the list goes on and on...


I hope to get a discussion going here. Maybe it is a European thing and I just don't get the way things are done on the other side of the pond.
If so, than that's fair enough and RP is clearly nothing for me.
But actually I do hope that a few people can see my point and agree with me..#

Either way, I'm looking forward to reactions...

Kind regards

René - which is a male first name over here by the way
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Old 07-12-2016, 01:22 PM   #2
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My first posting to the RP Forum/s. Firstly I want to thank the forum contributors (well those that regularly give constructive and valid help and criticism) - I've learned a lot from all of you from the sidelines and appreciate this very much! I also want to make a single comment relative to the original post above (and I say this with respect). Why should the RP screening process be changed to please a contributor and / or a new one at that? I think the RP screeners do a sterling job, sure some rejections are hard to swallow at the time, but if you can't fix your rejections just move on and try again at a later stage when you are more familiar with the RP screening requirements and rejection reasons. Four years ago when I started out on RP I banged my head big time with rejected photos, but I stuck it out (I'm thankful too for the help and advice my friends and fellow RP contributors from South Africa have given me - Fanie Kleynhans, Eugene Armer and Greg Hart. I read and reread the forum topics and posts and really spent all my spare time browsing and re-browsing the tremendous photos that the RP database contains. I'm now proud to be part of the RP experience and I'm grateful to the screeners for their time in screening the photos I submit (even the rejected ones) and I think they do a great job!

Best regards - Charles

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Old 07-12-2016, 03:55 PM   #3
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Rene, you have quite a lengthy statement and I might respond to more later. (BTW, I am not a screener and have no connection to the site; I would expect that pretty much everyone that ultimately responds to you will have the same status. Screeners/admin participate here rarely.)

Yes, it would be nice to have 25-50 screeners. That seems completely impractical to me; it increases the work by a factor of 25-50 and I don't see that happening. But it is up to admin to say why they don't do it that way, and I would expect you won't hear from them. It seems like a huge amount of work, in fact, with written comments!, and I'd be very curious to hear from the admin of that website how they manage to make such a system work. How many screeners do they have, how many hours/month does each spend screening, is there some form of compensation, etc. You are making that website a "norm" in your argument, but to me it seems rather extraordinary, compared to the RP setup and compared to my vague sense of the time it takes to do an active website (such as my long-ago lapsed one).

The question of rejections is always interesting and that is what this forum is about, really. But there is not much we can say without knowing what the rejections were, which is why the norm here is to post the link to the rejection so we know what the screener's view was. Sometimes a rejection is due to a (perceived) need for a minor adjustment. Sometimes major, and sometimes a shot is just not what the admin of the site want to accept. We can't tell without seeing the rejection reason.

Back to the "minor" - sometimes a shot is rejected because of a (perceived) need for a minor adjustment - a slight shift in exposure, not quite sharp enough. Sometimes the crop is not what the screener thinks is the right crop. These sorts of rejections are easily correctable, but to some, especially to those new to the site, they have the emotional impact of a complete rejection as lousy. Often a "rejection" is merely a request for adjustment. And that adjustment may seem to be unnecessary; that is what catches a particular screener's eye and it really isn't more than that, it is the single screener only, as shaped by the desires of admin - and one of the two co-owners does the majority of screening.

You have some nice shots, but, again, hard to comment on them without the rejection reason.

One more thing, photography is subjective. Having a shot accepted at one site does not mean it should be accepted at another. And some people's tastes are narrower or broader than others - I think most people have a strong opinion as to which way RP tilts! Don't take it personally. Ultimately, RP is just one site, with one set of preferences. Don't make it into more than that, and certainly not into an "other side of the pond" discussion. RP represents what its two co-owners want it to be, it does not represent all of North America.
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Old 07-12-2016, 04:49 PM   #4
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Rene,

The system you describe has the potential to be an improvement, but it still depends on the talent of the screeners. Is the average opinion of a lot of mediocre critics better than the opinion of one brilliant individual (to use extreme examples). Clearly RP is somewhere in between, but the point is the process is only part of the issue. You can put a lot of effort into creating a complex system but it still depends very much on the people running it. And that is particularly true of art. Different people have very different ideas of what is a good image.

Janusz make a very good point, RP is just one of many venues where you can enjoy rail photography. Rather than try to create one perfect site, which is unlikely to happen because of the nature of the beast, I think it is better to enjoy (and select from) a diversity of sites, which can better reflect the huge variety of artistic styles and subjects.

I also have to agree with Charles, even though I would not be quite so effusive about my praise of RP. But the give and take here, the comments, even my rejections over the years have helped improve my photography. Even if you don't always agree with the rejections or the comments, they still help you become more critical of your own work (and in some cases say screw the screeners, I like it my way). In a sense, the rejections, as controversial as they might be, are what make this place interesting and different.

Getting back to the RP screeners (a favorite topic here), we focus way too much on the rejections. What really fascinates me is some of the stuff they accept. You really have to sift through a lot of mud to find a few gems.
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Old 07-12-2016, 04:53 PM   #5
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If anything RP should reject far more than they currently do.

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Old 07-12-2016, 04:54 PM   #6
Rene de Vries
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Hi Janusz / Hi Charles,

thank a lot for your replies.

Charles, you Worte the following " when you are more familiar with the RP screening requirements and rejection reasons".
But how when rejections are random?? As I said, my "favorite" is the awkward positioning".
Let's have some fun here shall we.. Since you obviously familiar with the rejection reasons, why don't you look at my pictures and tell me why they were deleted. I mean, that shouldn't be so hard, right?

Janusz, why do you need to the rejection reasons? Just tell me what is wrong with the pictures..
And if you cannot finden a reason... well, that's my point.

Regarding the European Seite, the screeners do all the screening in their spare time and there is no compensation (why would there be - it's only a hobby).
Obviously there aren't that many pictures uploaded onto that site (roughly 10 - 20 a day). And with 25 screeners it isn't that time-consuming.
On RP, you have four screeners for 100 - 150 pictures a day. So it is safe to say, that a screeners takes just a few seconds for every picture. And if for whatever reason, the screener can't be bothered, he'll just reject the picture.

As I wrote, you can litteraly reject every single picture on RP (even the Screeners choice and PCA awards) with one of the rejection reasons...

And noch worries, I do realise that screening is just the opinion of two (or four) people (which is what this whole thing is about) and this is of course not about Europe versus America (we'll save that for the Ryder cup)

Kind regards

René
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Old 07-12-2016, 05:37 PM   #7
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René, I'm obviously not an RP screener and without knowing what the rejection reasons are (which Janusz correctly suggested you include) that were given by the RP screening team, it is not really appropriate to comment any further. You on the other hand can do one of two things, try and make changes to the images that were originally submitted based on the original rejection reason/s given and hopefully on resubmitting they find favour, or you can just accept that by your standards they are perfect as they are and post them elsewhere. Of course there is that third option of "Appeal", but that one you should really think carefully about.

Regards

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Old 07-12-2016, 05:48 PM   #8
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Hi Rene,

The key thing that we must remember is that RP.net is a private site....essentially a small business. As such, the owners pretty much have the right to determine the content. I think they try to conform to their stated rules and that they try to be fair, but they don't have to be. They can pick and choose if they want.....just as you could pick and choose if you set up a website and were paying the bills to support it.

The issues associated with RP Screening have been debated to death over the years. A lot of grandiose schemes have been proposed, but in the end, it's all probably wasted keystrokes. None of us owns or has a stake in the site. All of our collective ideas and proposals are nothing more than mental masturbation.

As others have said over and over, we have to accept RP for what it is and what it is not. RP should never be the only outlet for people to post photos. People should always have an alternate site (or two) where they get to control their own content, and post whatever they like. Most of us have our own Flickr Pages (which are free), and some, like John West, have sites that they pay for, which in some cases, actually allow them to sell prints etc. with out the hassle of having to be personally involved.

Keep on submitting here, but please do find other outlets for your work as well. I took a look at your links and you obviously have some nice pictures to show.
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Old 07-12-2016, 06:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rene de Vries View Post
Janusz, why do you need to the rejection reasons? Just tell me what is wrong with the pictures..
And if you cannot finden a reason... well, that's my point.
and ... we get to a fundamental point. Because you are asking the wrong question. "What is wrong with the pictures" is the wrong question. The right question is "what is wrong with the pictures with respect to the (stated/unstated) criteria used by RP?" There is no one standard for what makes a picture right/wrong or better/poorer. There are certain things that most or even pretty much all agree on, but lots of things they don't agree on. In turn, different websites will screen according to different criteria.

This is why we can't tell you what is wrong with the pictures. We can see the screener reason, and then point out, or speculate, as to what the screener meant, for RP acceptance. Don't take it as a final judgement on the photo. Absent that, yes, we could speculate. I won't speak for others, but my response is that such an exercise is less than productive. It can be hard to figure out what the screener is thinking, especially if the image is generally good overall. Photo quality is subjective and you seem instead to be approaching the issue as being a knowable truth.

I haven't even brought up screener (human) inconsistency yet ...
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Old 07-12-2016, 06:12 PM   #10
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Simple math: 10-20 shots per day, call it 15/day; 25 screeners. The equivalent for RP's 100-150 shots, call it 120/day, is 200 screeners.

Not happening.

BTW, not being defensive about RP. These forums have seen many, many criticisms of RP over the years. Many things that haven't got better over time. But one has to be practical.

Yes, for sure RP could use more screeners. To my knowledge they haven't reached out to anyone for a while, since Chase was added. I don't know why they haven't.

Cool that the German website has been able to get 25 screeners.
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Old 07-12-2016, 06:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC View Post
Simple math: 10-20 shots per day, call it 15/day; 25 screeners. The equivalent for RP's 100-150 shots, call it 120/day, is 200 screeners.
I have a feeling as much as 200 or more photos are uploaded in a 24 hour period. I see that according to the home page, 122 photos were added yesterday. If we assume a 50% rejection rate (plausible IMO, it may even be much higher), that's 244 photos uploaded yesterday alone.
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Old 07-12-2016, 08:30 PM   #12
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I have a feeling as much as 200 or more photos are uploaded in a 24 hour period. I see that according to the home page, 122 photos were added yesterday. If we assume a 50% rejection rate (plausible IMO, it may even be much higher), that's 244 photos uploaded yesterday alone.
You are so right. I used Rene's numbers without thinking. But I think the rejection rate is more like 1/3 or stricter. Let's say 240 uploads per day, that's about a 40% acceptance rate, conservative. That makes for 400 screeners.
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Old 07-12-2016, 10:54 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by JRMDC View Post
You are so right. I used Rene's numbers without thinking. But I think the rejection rate is more like 1/3 or stricter. Let's say 240 uploads per day, that's about a 40% acceptance rate, conservative. That makes for 400 screeners.
Imagine if we were getting the uploads like 9 years ago. 300 images accepted a day.
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Old 07-12-2016, 10:57 PM   #14
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Looking more broadly at the general subject Rene is raising, it certainly would be nice to have some kind of more thoughtful "jury" process for reviewing train pix. But as Kevin points out, that is unlikely to be this place. But perhaps some group of serious photogs, perhaps under the auspices of the Center for Railroad Art and Photography, or perhaps just some kind of ad hoc group might come up with something like that. But one prerequisite would have to be a membership screening process to cut down on the sheer volume of submissions, and increase the quality to make it interesting for serious screeners. The good news is photo clubs seem to do this sort of thing successfully, or at least I think so. The bad news is I doubt that it will happen, too much work, not enough benefit, too many other things to do. Occasionally I hear of things along this line, but then they fade away. Or maybe its just that they don't invite me.
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Old 07-13-2016, 12:04 AM   #15
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None of us owns or has a stake in the site.
Excepting of course, 99% of the content which is the property of the members.

I stay for one reason only: views. I'm sitting on thousands of unscanned slides, but I can reach my goal of a million views by doing nothing more. Maybe they will appear here, maybe not. Flickr is exponentially less aggravating.
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Old 07-13-2016, 12:43 AM   #16
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I'll add some thoughts to those already mentioned. I see myself as more of a "generic" outdoor photographer who happens to like trains. Before I was photo'ing trains I mostly did wildlife and landscapes. The landscape photography got me acquainted with English and particularly Scottish photographers, and we'd email back & forth. I'm also very into the history of photography and how different styles developed. I do think there is a distinct difference in how most European photographers approach things vs Americans. This seems ESPECIALLY true with trains. Here, that kind of photography is much more specialized, and I'll say more "formulaic*". European photos tend to be more about the landscape (yours especially,) where American photos seem to concentrate mostly on the engines. Yes, there are deviations from this, but generally speaking I think I have a point.


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Old 07-13-2016, 12:54 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rene de Vries View Post

Now here are a few examples of rejected pictures (links to the European site).

The first time you'll have to click the red link /galerie/ds_galerie.... in the green part of the screen (you only have to do this once)..


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...&id=85447&ix=3


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...d=45794&ix=300


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...d=33376&ix=350


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...id=106567&ix=0


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...d=105872&ix=11


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...id=44445&ix=32


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...d=44614&ix=300


http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/gal...id=106409&ix=0


and the list goes on and on...


I hope to get a discussion going here. Maybe it is a European thing and I just don't get the way things are done on the other side of the pond.
If so, than that's fair enough and RP is clearly nothing for me.
But actually I do hope that a few people can see my point and agree with me..#

Either way, I'm looking forward to reactions...
These are really good. RP's loss.

Some rocks will probably come my way for saying this, but I think that the average Drehscheibe photo is better than the average RP photo.

Change here? The owners' personal preferences seem to be set in stone. The biggest supposed improvement was "expanded rejection reasons", but rejections are nearly as much of a guessing game now as before the change.
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Old 07-13-2016, 01:25 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noct Foamer View Post
I do think there is a distinct difference in how most European photographers approach things vs Americans. This seems ESPECIALLY true with trains. Here, that kind of photography is much more specialized, and I'll say more "formulaic*". European photos tend to be more about the landscape (yours especially,) where American photos seem to concentrate mostly on the engines.
I couldn't agree more. I have enjoyed traveling with groups of German and British rail photographers, and it is an interesting learning experience because their approach does tend to be different. Not right or wrong, just different. However, there has been so much interaction that the styles are getting blended. If you go on any of the major rail photo shoots, you will usually find quite a multi-national mix, both of the photographers and the photo ops offered. Glints and back lit for the Brits, lots of scenery (big country small train) for the Germans, and loco centric 3/4 front views for the Americans....at the risk of a LOT of oversimplification.
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Old 07-13-2016, 09:54 PM   #19
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Quote:
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and loco centric 3/4 front views for the Americans.....
Aka - Wedgies
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Old 07-14-2016, 12:30 AM   #20
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Aka - Wedgies
I was trying to be nice. I think the typical American railfan, the intended audience for this place, tends to like the wedgie approach. And I think that bias is reflected in the screening here, since it is done by Americans. Backlit and small train big scenery kind of shots tend to be held to a higher standard. Which I don't really mind, I just wish they would hold the wedgies to the same standard.
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Old 07-14-2016, 02:20 AM   #21
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I just wish they would hold the wedgies to the same standard.
Especially BNSF-UP-CSX-NS Common Power, Generic Location shots.
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Old 07-14-2016, 05:42 AM   #22
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#WedgieLivesMatter
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Old 07-14-2016, 06:26 PM   #23
bigbassloyd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John West View Post
I just wish they would hold the wedgies to the same standard.
I wish they would simply follow their detailed guidelines.

"..We encourage creativity in our submissions. Please avoid uploading the standard 3/4 wedge shot; we would much rather see a nicely composed angle instead."

Rid the online world of mediocrity!

Loyd L.
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Old 07-15-2016, 05:52 AM   #24
charlesstookey
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Default Kiss of death

I just wish I would get the "kiss of death" before one or even more rejections for somewhat simple fixes.

Last edited by charlesstookey; 07-19-2016 at 06:01 AM. Reason: typos
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Old 07-15-2016, 12:40 PM   #25
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Suggestion on the screening process:

All the screeners have to have monthly certified eye exams if stuff like this start getting in on a regular basis...

Image © Roger Lalonde
PhotoID: 582714
Photograph © Roger Lalonde


YES, it's a PA
YES, it's a 50 year old shot
YES, it's a MoPAC passenger train, and I imagine its fairly rare on here

BUT HOLY CRAP how out of focus or blurry is the nose of the unit. The MoPAC hearald is unreadable, the numberboard is pretty bad

Wow...
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