Old 12-22-2014, 12:18 AM   #1
Chase55671
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Post Expanding our Community

Hi Contributors & Members,

On the behalf of our entire team, I would like to reach out and thank our contributors and members for another year of excellent photo submissions by our loyal community of railroad photographers. Your continued support of Railpictures.Net has helped us expand our quality controlled photo database, while allowing us to further network with one another, and continue growing as the BEST railroad photography database on the 'net. Thank you for making 2014 a special year for all of us.

As we look ahead to 2015, I want to reach out to our members for commentary on what ideas you would like to introduce to the table for improving your investment at Railpictures.Net in the New Year. In recent conversation with editorial, I would like to seek input on what you would like to see implemented or added in the New Year. This isn't related exclusively to the screening process or database entries, but more geared toward out-of-the-box and innovative ideas that can enhance the existing content of the website, while enticing new talent to join our community.

I have discussed one possible idea with editorial that has now advanced to the stage of public opinion and feedback. Railpictures has always featured a blog or a column-like segment of the website that allows contributors to submit short stories to editorial for posting. This content, especially in recent years has not been routinely updated because of lack of sufficient interest and contributions.

One thing I would like to potentially see added to the website is a blog/column that highlights a selected photographer each month. Our editorial team would select the "Photographer of the Month" in which his/her portfolio would be linked to a short manuscript that serves as a biography to he/she. I think this would allow us to profile some of our exceptional talent, while also helping expose his/her photography through our followers and social media presence. This standalone blog would also allow us to push and expose unique developments within the site, such as additions/revisions to the screening process and any other important announcements regarding the site and its screening process.

I would like to hear feedback on the proposition, as well as any innovative ideas you all think can potentially improve Railpictures.Net and our community. We are always looking for ways to improve the website.

Best,
Chase Gunnoe
Railpictures.Net Staff
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Old 12-22-2014, 01:15 AM   #2
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I like trains.
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Old 12-22-2014, 01:43 AM   #3
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...would like to seek input on what you would like to see implemented or added in the New Year.

Best,
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Didn't we do that fairly recently?

Be that as it may, one or two "Free Passes" per year or per X number of accepted images might reduce frustration with the site dramatically. I don't think anyone would waste such limited opportunities on junk images.
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Old 12-22-2014, 02:22 AM   #4
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Didn't we do that fairly recently?

Be that as it may, one or two "Free Passes" per year or per X number of accepted images might reduce frustration with the site dramatically. I don't think anyone would waste such limited opportunities on junk images.
I like this idea as well.

I'd also like to add, I think we should encourage screeners to make comments on rejections. You know, those photos that are almost there, but need a few small tweaks. Suggestions from the screeners on how to fix it would make it easier for us to see exactly what they are looking at.

Also, those photos that have not a snowball's chance in hell of being excepted, a short explanation for those photos of why that is, might help reduce frustration.

Just an idea.....
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Old 12-22-2014, 02:31 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Chase55671 View Post
Hi Contributors & Members,

On the behalf of our entire team, I would like to reach out and thank our contributors and members for another year of excellent photo submissions by our loyal community of railroad photographers. Your continued support of Railpictures.Net has helped us expand our quality controlled photo database, while allowing us to further network with one another, and continue growing as the BEST railroad photography database on the 'net. Thank you for making 2014 a special year for all of us.

As we look ahead to 2015, I want to reach out to our members for commentary on what ideas you would like to introduce to the table for improving your investment at Railpictures.Net in the New Year. In recent conversation with editorial, I would like to seek input on what you would like to see implemented or added in the New Year. This isn't related exclusively to the screening process or database entries, but more geared toward out-of-the-box and innovative ideas that can enhance the existing content of the website, while enticing new talent to join our community.

I have discussed one possible idea with editorial that has now advanced to the stage of public opinion and feedback. Railpictures has always featured a blog or a column-like segment of the website that allows contributors to submit short stories to editorial for posting. This content, especially in recent years has not been routinely updated because of lack of sufficient interest and contributions.

One thing I would like to potentially see added to the website is a blog/column that highlights a selected photographer each month. Our editorial team would select the "Photographer of the Month" in which his/her portfolio would be linked to a short manuscript that serves as a biography to he/she. I think this would allow us to profile some of our exceptional talent, while also helping expose his/her photography through our followers and social media presence. This standalone blog would also allow us to push and expose unique developments within the site, such as additions/revisions to the screening process and any other important announcements regarding the site and its screening process.

I would like to hear feedback on the proposition, as well as any innovative ideas you all think can potentially improve Railpictures.Net and our community. We are always looking for ways to improve the website.

Best,
Chase Gunnoe
Railpictures.Net Staff
Broken record time, but as I have said many times the screening process as it is now is very frustrating to contributors, and I know many once prolific contributors who have given up in frustration. Specifically fixable rejection, followed by fixable rejection followed by a killer rejection or some similar progression. It's happened to me probably hundreds of times and it's unbelievably frustrating, a waste of everyone's time and a big turn off to a lot of potential contributors. In my opinion, further screenings after the first rejection should only be to determine whether the previous rejection reason was addressed or not (within reason).
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Old 12-22-2014, 04:52 AM   #6
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I like trains.
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Old 12-22-2014, 05:05 AM   #7
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I am pretty new but I am adapting to the screening process. I can somewhat understand the factors involved. Improvements in that would probably come internally as you are probably aware of the issues.

However, I had also thought of the free pass, if I understand that to be once you get a certain number of accepted photos you get to submit something within reason that might not have been accepted. I have night photos usually in a town that do not seem to fit in. The are not daylight quality but yet not the headlight in the night type that could be accepted.
I am sure others might have other types of photos also. The reasoning behind this is once you set criterion, rules, inevitably certain creativity suffers and a certain sameness can set in.

It is like they talk about standardized tests. Students begin to study to pass the test. So we all pick photos that have A,B,C and D qualities because we learn right or wrong others will fail.

As far as the blog, I think now you are going back to the typical complaint with magazines only a little worse. Basically an editor now picks who to publish. I am not saying this is bad but opens another can of worms as only a few are chosen which gets away from what I thought is the basic concept is that everyone gets a chance. If anything, it could be that people at least get to submit a blog similar to a magazine article and the "best" are chosen rather than picking who can even try.

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Old 12-22-2014, 05:44 AM   #8
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Broken record time, but as I have said many times the screening process as it is now is very frustrating to contributors, and I know many once prolific contributors who have given up in frustration. Specifically fixable rejection, followed by fixable rejection followed by a killer rejection or some similar progression. It's happened to me probably hundreds of times and it's unbelievably frustrating, a waste of everyone's time and a big turn off to a lot of potential contributors.
So be a little more choosey, reduce the uploads, and lessen the frustration?

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In my opinion, further screenings after the first rejection should only be to determine whether the previous rejection reason was addressed or not (within reason).
I like this idea. That would force the hands of RP to empty the clip on the first go round, and allow a photographer to decide if it's worth it or not.

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Chase says stuff about things and whatever here.
Themed photo contests! Allow one screened (loosely) entry per registered member, and have them up somewhere on here for voting. Maybe do one every couple weeks or something. Winner can get a RP t-shirt or a month of Elite Membership or something.

Loyd L.
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Old 12-22-2014, 08:24 AM   #9
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Is there any possibility of RP , on behalf of photographers, getting involved in direct sell of prints?

Last edited by lalam; 12-22-2014 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 12-22-2014, 01:28 PM   #10
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Is there any possibility of RP , on behalf of photographers, getting involved in direct sell of prints?
You know what niche of the photo market sucks? Railfans that attempt to sell photos to other railfans.

I sell tons of railroad related prints, but not to other foamers.

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Old 12-22-2014, 01:52 PM   #11
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Themed photo contests! Allow one screened (loosely) entry per registered member, and have them up somewhere on here for voting. Maybe do one every couple weeks or something. Winner can get a RP t-shirt or a month of Elite Membership or something.

Loyd L.
I like that idea. Then maybe you could put the winners of each individual weekly/monthly/whatever contest together and have a photo of the quarter, and/or year award, decided from previous winners.
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Old 12-22-2014, 04:24 PM   #12
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"one or two "Free Passes" per year or per X number of accepted images"

+1

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Old 12-22-2014, 10:32 PM   #13
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...out-of-the-box and innovative ideas that can enhance the existing content of the website, while enticing new talent to join our community.
Chase Gunnoe
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I think access to the forums - specifically, the "Site Related" section should be made available to admin instead of just the patrons. There's a wealth of information there on how to improve the appeal of the site and most of all - how to retain and "entice new talent" to the community.

As it stands , I am encouraging a potential new patron to RP whose images I can say, without a doubt would most definitely boost the excitement factor of this site (and viewership) along with a lending of additional credibility in enticing others to join in. Sadly, my advice was that gleaned from the experience of the best of the best of the current crop of RP patrons. Post, appeal, move on. Do not try to rationalize why a particular image did not meet the personal taste of one or two site administrators. It IS their site and that seems to be the most accurate characterization of the logic. It is a shame admin does not give more leeway to established photographers - either prior to joining or after years of membership in good standing. It is that logic and indifference that understandably tends to limit the appeal to others that would otherwise contribute (and continue to contribute). You may find yourself, at times, being treated as member #57578 instead of "G.H." on this site. You'll enjoy the benefits and comradery of the site so long as you are willing to accept a certain amount of occasional priggishness, inconsistency and intolerance.

Chase - there was a long discussion on this topic (more towards retention and encouraging future photographers to RP) within the threads which I can't seem to dig up. You agreed with me then that RP needs to run like a good business with a great customer service department to move forward. As it stands, RP runs like most state's Department of Motor Vehicles.

One of admin's better decisions was in getting you involved though your absence /involvement has been missed. Wishing you the best of luck here, in 2015. And be nice to "G.H." should he elect to opt in!

/Mitch

Last edited by Mgoldman; 12-23-2014 at 06:32 AM.
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Old 12-22-2014, 11:48 PM   #14
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I'd also like to add, I think we should encourage screeners to make comments on rejections. You know, those photos that are almost there, but need a few small tweaks. Suggestions from the screeners on how to fix it would make it easier for us to see exactly what they are looking at.

I agree that if this is feasible then it would be a great idea. The current rejections are an improvement from the past in terms of specificity, but I think specific screener comments would go a long way in easing frustration. An example would be, "Image rejected for loose composition" followed by "X item is throwing off the composition" or "We would like to see X located here in the frame."
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Old 12-23-2014, 07:31 AM   #15
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Didn't we do that fairly recently?

Be that as it may, one or two "Free Passes" per year or per X number of accepted images might reduce frustration with the site dramatically. I don't think anyone would waste such limited opportunities on junk images.
The concept of free passes opens up a wide range of potential drawbacks, including subjectivity, credibility, consistency, and simply, who deserves it and who doesn't. In discussion, it's a nice idea and concept, but when trying to execute it, we are opening ourselves up for more criticism and inconsistency than the existing screening procedures. If the "free pass" idea was implemented, it would leave the contributor with his/her own perception of what is worthy of the free pass and what isn't. The system would undoubtedly be used wrongfully at some point or another.

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I'd also like to add, I think we should encourage screeners to make comments on rejections. You know, those photos that are almost there, but need a few small tweaks. Suggestions from the screeners on how to fix it would make it easier for us to see exactly what they are looking at.

Also, those photos that have not a snowball's chance in hell of being excepted, a short explanation for those photos of why that is, might help reduce frustration.

Just an idea.....
Currently, I think there's more screener and photographer commentary than ever before. I think those requests have been heard and I believe the team as a whole is effectively moving forward in providing commentary to contributors through expanded rejection explanations. On average, I provide typed commentary on between 25% and 35% of images I screen daily.

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Themed photo contests! Allow one screened (loosely) entry per registered member, and have them up somewhere on here for voting. Maybe do one every couple weeks or something. Winner can get a RP t-shirt or a month of Elite Membership or something.

Loyd L.
Noted. Thank you, sir.

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Is there any possibility of RP , on behalf of photographers, getting involved in direct sell of prints?
Noted. Will look into this with admin and follow up with forum post.

Keep the ideas rolling... I'm on college break through the middle of January and hope to brainstorm with editorial over the holidays.

Thanks,
Chase
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Old 12-23-2014, 09:11 AM   #16
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OK Chase, let me rephrase that in the form of an idea...

1) Better friendlier customer service.

2) Less fickleness, additional tolerance and more respect /compassion.

3) Greater consistency - and appeals accepted on precedence.

4) "The Free Pass"
I'm not a fan of a free pass, though I do have a dog in this fight, lol.
Instead, why not set criteria upon which a patron earns greater leeway,
not with regards to technical issues, but instead, with composition and
subject. This would be for appeals only.

This can be number of years on RP, or any of the following - reaching a
set number of PC's, or reaching /maintaining a specific average views
per image statistic. And, BECAUSE it's "your site" and you can do what
you want, you can simply extend such an offer to established
photographers both new and current members. Simply make it a well
known that exceptions are in place for select members. This could be
done by using a different color font, a badge of some sort in the
photographer field or any method of your choice.

I'd LOVE to see the return of many of those who left and the great
photographers out there who hesitate to have their images nitpicked or
judged unacceptable.

So long as there is an established path for others to get the same
treatment.


/Mitch


PS - I sincerely think that many would find RP would be a much more enjoyable experience if some of the "todo" and "suggestions" were contemplated as noted in the "Site Related" Forum.

PSS - I like the idea of themed contests, too. Could be local - event pics with a prize (not necessarily monetary) such as a charter run, or new heritage unit /logo, or Circus Train, ect, and /or could be a theme... a challenging theme - "rain", or "blue", "fast", "backlit" ect. Judging would be tricky, however - 5 screeners or the audience at large? Each has it's own issues - specifically, those that campaign via links "vote for my shot", but you'll get those views, anyway. Personally, I'd let members only vote.
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Old 12-23-2014, 09:18 AM   #17
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Back to themes - there was a time on RP after any big steam event, or even local events like Circus Trains or OCS specials, that I would look forward to logging onto RP to see what I may have missed, or even how others captured an event in comparison to my own take on the event.

Now, I browse through FB or even FLICKR.

I think a on going contest... or running perk for posting images from these events would go far in getting back to that time where the best pics of an event could be found in bulk on RP.

The perk? Your choice - monitary, or not but something to entice patrons to post to RP first, or at least in addition to other sites.

/Mitch
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Old 12-23-2014, 09:43 AM   #18
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Simply make it a well
known that exceptions are in place for select members.
"Select members"???
Sorry, Mitch. Some of us don't like the favoritism that already exists on the site (i.e. "High Value Contributors"). I never judge a photo by who took it.
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Old 12-23-2014, 10:08 AM   #19
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"Select members"???
Sorry, Mitch. Some of us don't like the favoritism that already exists on the site (i.e. "High Value Contributors"). I never judge a photo by who took it.
This confuses me....

If there already is a perceived bias, wouldn't you rather have a bias given to Jim Wrinn, John Craft, Steve Crise, Alan Crotty or Steve Schmollinger?

I've always thought "More is better then less" for a database like RP. I'd rather scroll past stuff I do not like vs never having a chance to see the images I might like. That's the advantage of thumbs. Of the speed of RP vs FLICKR. Of the search functions.

And unlike Railfan & Railroad or Trains Magazine, "favored" photographers do not preclude folks like you and I getting a photo into the database.

Quite simply - who cares if there is favortism in getting images accepted so long as your images are not unfairly omitted from the database. Is your (our) goal sharing and the visibility through RP or stopping noted and revered photographers from uploading a few marginal shots?

In other words, favortism really has no effect on us unless those "crappy" shots beat our image to the front page. Like the magazines, there is only limited space available (4 slots on the top right of the front page). However, those images have either earned their spot on the highly visible front page or you are stuck with the issue not even addressed - a few odd SC choices, link campaigns and of course, the Darwin /pretty girl shots.

More is better so long as they are screened or at least from proven photographers. I can not image a photo from O Winston Link that I would
not be interested in seeing. Or even the likes of Dennis Livesey, Eric Williams or Travis.

/Mitch

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Old 12-23-2014, 10:27 AM   #20
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If there already is a perceived bias, wouldn't you rather have a bias given to Jim Wrinn, John Craft, Steve Crise, Alan Crotty or Steve Schmollinger?
Hey, if their stuff is good, it shouldn't need favoritism to get on RP.
What ticked me off was two slide shooters (one of whom recently took his bat and ball and left in a huff) who regularly got away with baseball-grain, bad color, and even obvious dust spots.
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Old 12-23-2014, 10:32 AM   #21
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Hey, if their stuff is good, it shouldn't need favoritism to get on RP.
What ticked me off was two slide shooters (one of whom recently took his bat and ball and left in a huff) who regularly got away with baseball-grain, bad color, and even obvious dust spots.
And now you see none of their shots...

I'll take the second option, where a few images with dust spots get in along with the rest of their incredible collection of hard to find images all on an easy to browse site like RP.

In a secondary note - if advice offered to admin was taken, it's quite possible that those issues could've been addressed in such a way as to not infuriate those posters to the point at which they felt compelled to leave.

/Mitch
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Old 12-23-2014, 10:50 AM   #22
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The system would undoubtedly be used wrongfully at some point or another.
Oh, come on, Chase. You know that you guys have ways to deal with frivolous uploads. Like back in April 2013, when the facebook crowd had that "Upload your worst photo to Railp___s" prank campaign.

I'm referring mainly to shots like the one over to the left ( 1003 views and 12 faves on flickr, but PAQ'd here ) where your taste differed from mine. I didn't suggest that the free pass shot would go unscreened- correctable defects would need to be fixed. What regular contributor would waste their 1 or 2 annual freebies on junk?
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Old 12-23-2014, 11:23 AM   #23
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...a few images with dust spots get in...
Not fixing dust spots is pure slothfulness. Criminal slothfulness!
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Old 12-23-2014, 02:34 PM   #24
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I would like to hear (...) any innovative ideas you all think can potentially improve Railpictures.Net and our community. We are always looking for ways to improve the website.

Best,
Chase Gunnoe
Railpictures.Net Staff
Dear all,

This is my first message in the RPN Forums.
Indeed, I had submitted a request to become a forum contributor on a couple occasions, but for some reasons they were not reviewed and got lost. My most recent attempt was in the summer of 2014, when I wished to make additional suggestions about the new rejection motives. My request to join the forum was only accepted about a month ago, on the occasion of ... RPN team banning me from appealing on rejections!!!

So this leads me to my first suggestions for improvement:

i) Review the forum membership request log once per month.

ii) Think about how RPN can give more room to innovation and creativity in train photography.

Indeed, I believe that quite some of my rejections - and my further appeals on them - was about borderline classic vs. innovative ways of portraying trains. So it is quite natural that what is borderline raises rejections, appeals, and more importantly a need to establish a dialogue about pushing the boundaries of the "acceptability criteria enveloppe".
As Robjor rightfully said: "once you set criterion, rules, inevitably certain creativity suffers and a certain sameness can set in".

iii) Be more customer-friendly.
This suggestion has already been made in this thread and I adhere to it.

As an example: it is weird that I be banned from submitting appeals to rejections when:
- The reason why I have made so many appeals is because I submit so many pictures, and more importantly I try to push the boundaries, some appeals were about innovation / discussing the rightfullness and universality of some criteria;
- I think I am quite a good customer an I don't know of many businesses that can survive without damage by treating their customers this way. By "good customer", I mean two things: 1) I contribute many pictures and without contributors RPN is noting 2) I pay the RPN Elite membership.
- I do not know when I will get out of jail. I have been sentenced without knowing the duration of my sentence.

But please, do not misunderstand me:
- I do like RPN, it is a fabulous site, and if it did not exist, one should invent it
- I thank the screeners: this is a difficult job and they get more criticism than rewarding thanks. So I would like to add my sincere gratitude here.

I have other suggestions, and will write them in another message
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Old 12-23-2014, 03:08 PM   #25
J-M Frybourg
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Location: Paris, France
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chase55671 View Post

I would like to seek input on what you would like to see implemented or added in the New Year. This isn't related exclusively to the screening process or database entries, but more geared toward out-of-the-box and innovative ideas that can enhance the existing content of the website, while enticing new talent to join our community.
International contributions

If I am right, RPN has now established itself as an international reference. It is probably the one and only worldwide web site for railroad photography.

However:

1) An overwhelming majority of pictures are American, probably followed by Canada, Australia and the UK, i.e. coming from the English-speaking community. ==> There is much room to increase the flow of contributors and contributions from non-US and non-English-speaking photographers

2) Competitors are growing in the form of Flickr, FB, etc. and photographers have other ways of sharing their pictures with the rest of the world on the Internet. ==> Any initiative to reinforce RPN as "the" reference site and most important RR photography repository will be beneficial for RPN and for the railroad photography as a whole.

So here are some suggestions:

iv) Introduce foreign languages in RPN.
I know of many good photographers that would contribute if they would feel confident enough with the English language.

This can be done in several ways:

- Like many international web sites do (e.g. big corporations), add small clickable flags (icons) on the home page, member page, "Add your photos" page and some other key pages to change from English to Spanish, German, French and/or selected other major languages.
I understand how burdensome it may be for RPN staff to achieve that. Obviously RPN needs help to do that. I do volunteer to prepare the French translations of the most important pages or texts (e.g. rejection motives). And RPN can probably find (reach out to?) Spanish speaking and German speaking contributors (Georg T. ?) to do the same.

- Allow for contributors to speak their native language in the remarks section under their pictures. After all, we have Internet translators available if needed.

- Extend / change the automated list of locomotives in the upload section (and parallel it in the database search criteria) so as to uniformize the non-US locomotive types and make the search criteria more efficient. Again, I volunteer to submit a standardized list of engines for France, Georg could do that for Switzerland, etc. As is the case now with the existing list, not all and every existing engine type should be represented given the "Other Locomotive (if not listed)" option.

v) Extend the screeners team: include one or several (?) reliable volunteer non-US screeners that would be allowed to screen only non-US (and Canada) pictures, and that would of course NOT screen for their own submitted pictures.

Ideally, RPN would end up with 1 screener for Asia-Pacific, 1 for Europe, 1 for Rest of the world, i.e. South America and Africa.

Of course, such new screeners should commit to follow RPN rules and participate in screeners’ team internal meetings / discussions, etc.

Perhaps if possible, the new screener would become active after a test period.
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