I’m always thinking about the community here, and how we can foster its growth. A forum is something that I’ve been thinking of for quite a while, but I held off mentioning it until we approached 5000 RSS subscribers. It may turn out that we need more of an audience to get a forum rolling, but let’s find out with a little poll.

I want you guys to be totally honest here (not that I’m questioning your integrity). But a forum is a big deal with lots of extra work and responsibility on my part. I have no problem maintaining such a thing, but if I’m going to do it I need to have a good part of the community also supporting it. On that note, I would definitely lean on some key players to keep the peace.

I think it would be a great way to “share the knowledge” and interact on a deeper level than just the comments here on the blog. I’m not exactly sure how the topics would be broken out, but I could imagine things like weekly photo themes, photo critiques, Q&A, film photography, digital photography, cameras and equipment, post processing, news and items of interest, and more.

So what do you think? Would you participate in a forum with this community? And at what level? Leave some comments too, and let me know what sort of features or topics would make a forum really shine.

{democracy:54}

And don’t forget to check out the results from the last poll titled “Who Wins? Nikon D90 or Canon 50D“. Even though the two cameras are in slightly different customer segment, the votes are nearly split 50/50. Lots of comments on that poll too — one of my favorites is from Antoine:

who wins ? the answer is easy Brian, WE do.

There is nothing that pleases me more than competition it pushes manufacturers to put in more features and lower the prices and, in the end, we are the biggest winner.

Both seems like good cams but, let’s face it, most of us doesn’t even need 1/2 of the features here.

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There are already so many out there, it would be hard to ensure yours differentiates from the rest. Obviously the community makes that happen, so there is no way in knowing how it would play out till it does unless you have something unique already up your sleeve.

I voted ‘Maybe, I’d read it’ only because I’m really not sure. I’m already being careful with how I manage my time, but I really like photography specific related forums, though I haven’t been partaking in any for awhile now.

September 10, 2008 1:18 am

I voted “on a daily basis” – but that of course presupposes that there’s enough people participating in the first place. Bit of a chicken and egg problem, really.

September 10, 2008 1:28 am

I’m not so sure. The Flickr group already facilitates some sort of forum function (although not as well as a proper BBS system would) and we’ve seen how much use THAT gets….

September 10, 2008 3:32 am

I voted for the first option. I think this community is large enough, but not as large as the The Photo Forum. That’s a good thing I think, TPF is just too big. The Flickr ‘forum’ is not really a forum somehow so a forum on EpicEdits seems like a great idea for me!

September 10, 2008 4:43 am

I voted for the last choice, because I’m afraid that all great information and comments will go to the forum jungle. And there, in the blog, will be nothing to read. In the internet, there is already enough forums.

September 10, 2008 5:17 am

I voted for ‘No’ because of my experience with other communities and the learning that my time is to limited to contribute to a forum on a regular base.
Epic Edits for me is a very important source of information. It helps me to complete my view on the photographic scene. One important source amongst others (some of them important, others are ‘sometimes just interesting’.

September 10, 2008 5:34 am

I might dip in now and again, but I agree that there are plenty of other forums out there.

September 10, 2008 6:44 am

Brian,
I can barely keep up with the flickr groups that I’m a member of, and that usually ends up being my first priority because I log on to flickr more than once a day anyway. For example, I know there’s lots of great stuff on the forums at DigitalPhotographySchool, but I just don’t remember to go there much.
–sdc

September 10, 2008 8:13 am

I’m already spread too thin… Not exactly sure how I’d contribute to a forum… Plus, like others say, there are plenty of those out there… Don’t think I’d personally be able to contribute regularly enough…

On the other hand, 4300 subscribers cant be wrong… there must be something good going on here… So, I’d love to see where it goes with you at the helm… (though I’d be more than a tad jealous)

On the other hand (no, i’ve only got two, but do assume for the moment) Darren Rowse is doing an excellent job with the DPS forums… photo.net has another great resource… would we need another one?

I dont know… Just wondering…

September 10, 2008 8:28 am

I’d echo some of the earlier comments, forums tend to be a pain to remember to visit unless I’m really engaged in something. I barely can keep up with the Flickr forums (which doesn’t have the best UI for doing so).

There are a TON of photo forums out there already, finding a way to have value with the fourms here might be difficult. On the other hand, maybe finding a way to do threaded comments (combined with the existing “notify me of followups”) might do the trick. The challenge I know is that WordPress doesn’t do threaded comments out of the box.

September 10, 2008 9:37 am

There are way too many forums out there already. Who needs another one?

September 10, 2008 9:51 am

@Justin Good point — it would definitely have to be unique and fill a gap not covered by the many photography forums already in existence.

@Janne This is true. It’s hard to participate in a forum with only a few people. Then again, it can be disappointing to participate in a forum with too many people.

@Mustanir I agree that the Flickr discussion board for our group is usually pretty quiet. I think that part of the problem is the lack of structure — Flickr groups aren’t set up to host a true forum.

@libeco Good to hear!

@Dima I hadn’t thought of that. There is a possibility that the comments and discussion on the blog will partially migrate into the forum. Then again, it could go the other way too — content created in the forum could end up migrating to the blog.

@Uwe Yup, forums can be a huge time-sink. I’m guessing that most people don’t have the spare time to invest in such a thing.

@Dean There certainly are!

@Scott I know what you mean. The dPS forum is pretty great, but I rarely find the time to jump in there and post anything.

@Susheel I hear ya! Then again, I wouldn’t expect that everybody contributes on a daily basis. If we were to do a forum, I’d probably highlight some of the interesting discussions and happenings here on the blog (kinda like the weekly roundup). And yeah, there are a lot of great forums already out there. We’d have to come up with some very unique and engaging topics, and the forum would probably be heavily based around the blog community.

@Derek I’ll have to look into some threaded comment plugins. Not sure if I’d want to go that route though — it may encourage the focused discussions to veer way off track.

@Sean This is true. But is there anything that most of those forums are missing? There’s no rule stating that it would have to be a standard cookie-cutter photography forum.

September 10, 2008 10:42 am

Having run a few forums in the past, I would advise you to think long and hard before considering a forum. There may be some advantages, but there are a lot of disadvantages. For starters, it’s too much for one person to do on their own. You would need to acquire some sort of minor staff just to police the thing. And I’m not talking about spam posts and what-not…I’m talking about people posting duplicate questions, posting in the wrong category, etc.

But it’s also a great way to cheap-ify your blog. You have a great quality blog with quality articles. Any of the posts in the forum are going to reflect on you as a site maintainer. You can police it to make sure all the questions are quality, but then you’re going to scare away potential contributors.

I would much rather see more time and effort spent on the articles. Maybe more in-depth articles, or details equipment reviews or so on. Maybe even add a regular contributor.

September 10, 2008 11:46 am

You know I’d live there :D

I love the DPS forums, but being digital only I don’t feel like I can contribute and they feel so big that often my response gets lost….

I think a forum is a good idea, but it would need structure. Critique my photo threads, weekly themes and a general help section are things I enjoy but start to lose their appeal when the membership and contribution gets too big.

September 10, 2008 5:38 pm

Maybe. I don’t really participate in any photography forums now. But, if you started one I would at least give it a look.

September 12, 2008 12:09 am

Why not, I’m using about 10 photographyforums at the moment, but all are different and one more would just be nice. I’ve learned a lot of what I know from a swedish forum about wildlife photography, where you get very useful comments when you post stuff.

There are not so many photographyforums where you get good critisism or discussiions, it’s mostly useless comments where people only write when they lika pictures. I think that’s also a problem with Flickr also, I want critisism so I can improve myself but people only give silly prizes and say “wow”, or they don’t write at all.

September 12, 2008 8:24 am

Mattias, I think you have a great point there… Sometimes, a great critique forum is all one needs to dramatically improve your photography.

How about it, Brian?

September 12, 2008 8:56 am

That’s certainly an idea that we could throw around.

September 12, 2008 10:36 am

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