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Photo-Video Codidact Site

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Update: Please visit https://photography.codidact.com and see this meta post.


I'd like to launch a photography site. From looking at the Codidact network examples that are up and running already, I think it's time to get started!

I do have a few questions!

First and foremost: Who else would be interested in helping get this off the ground?

Second: On Stack Exchange, I was a huge proponent for keeping video and computer vision questions away and focusing on the art, science, and business of still photography. I don't think that was the wrong call there, but maybe we should try a different tack here. What do you think about including these as categories?

Third: if we do include those things, I'm thinking this would make a category list like:

  • Photography
  • Videography
  • Computer Vision
  • Software
  • Gear Recommendations
  • Photo Critique
  • Contests
  • Meta

... which is kind of a long list. The idea is that each of these high-level topics has its own community of practice -- even though there are strong overlaps.

@scottbb suggests

  • Q&A
  • Contests & Critiques
  • FAQ/Basics/Learning/Guides (title tbd)
  • Gear Recommendation
  • Meta

... with mandatory categories for photo, video, computer-vision. See discussion on Scott's answer below.

I don't think we have a perfect answer yet, so I'd love your thoughts on Which categories should we start with?

I have the strong opinion that mixing a lot of these things together gives worse results than separation, and for the site to be successful in a way the SE one was not, I want to specifically call out some of the areas (like art and history) to encourage them.

Fourth: Which posts if any do we want to import from SE? Personally, I'm inclined to start with a mostly clean slate (or else we're going to import a lot of what made me frustrated in the first place). If we import anything, I'd like to hand-select a hundred or so posts rather than taking an automatic approach.

Fifth: We discussed needing a special license allowing people interested in photo-critique or contests to enable remixing and sharing in the context of the site, without donating their photographs to the public commons. (I'm all for free culture, but I'd rather people contribute because they want to, not because they're doing it basically by accident because they want to learn how to get exposure right or adjust a composition.) Do we need this to launch, or can we start without?

Finally: What am I missing? What else do we need to decide before launch?

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9 comments

Welcome! A question to help you think about categories (I have no domain expertise to apply). Think of categories as broad groupings; it sounds like still photography and video are different enough from each other for this, for instance. But you also have tags, and can even use the same tag set across categories -- so if there are common elements like composition, lighting, etc, you could have categories slicing one way and then tags within and across those. Does that help narrow the lists? Monica Cellio‭ 7 months ago

To me, the difference between a high-level ("category") grouping and the other axis of tag groupings is that vertical categories can focus the communities of practice around different interests, whereas tags are good for sorting, searching, and collecting related topics. mattdm‭ 7 months ago

I would participate, although I can't promise to contribute much beyond votes. Peter Taylor‭ 7 months ago

@Peter votes is a good start :) mattdm‭ 7 months ago

What do you want for the name and URL? (And do you happen to have a logo in mind? We can give you something basic and you can replace it later if you like, but if you already have art ready, let us know.) Monica Cellio‭ 7 months ago

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8 answers

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On the "Basics/Blog/FAQ/Guides" category

Let's discuss that in comments here. I think we're all agreed that we want something like this, but I'm not sure we all agree on what it should look like. Plus we need to come up with a name.

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10 comments

My opinion: I don't think we should have a blog per se. (The Photo-SE blog didn't work out well.) mattdm‭ 7 months ago

I really like having different answers by different people from different perspectives even for basic information. Otherwise we could just link to Wikipedia. Sometimes we disagree on how to best present information, and different approaches work for different people. So, my suggestion is to keep these in Q&A format, but require moderators to move questions into the category, and to require a higher rep threshold to answer. mattdm‭ 7 months ago

Instead of a blog you could have a resource library. Blog posts are usually individual people's work and can be opinionated and even somewhat tangential, while a resource library focuses more on objectivity and presumably has more community ownership (like a wiki). Or maybe you're looking for those different, contrasting answers, but you want to elevate certain questions and apply more scrutiny to answers -- canonical Q&A? (I think of this last as being a different format for articles.) Monica Cellio‭ 7 months ago

A category can support more than one post type, so if you had a resource library (or whatever you want to call it), you could have a mix of wiki-style articles and Q&A where each answer fully covers one approach. Monica Cellio‭ 7 months ago

I am thinking primarily of Canonical Q&A. There's a series of questions like "What is aperture and how does it affect my photographs?" and "What is shutter speed..." that I think can easily benefit from multiple answers. There might be some wiki-style resources too, like the guide to obscure letters and numbers in lens descriptions. (The letter "R" in a Fujifilm lens name means it has a separate ring to control the aperture. Obviously.) mattdm‭ 7 months ago

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Special Needs for "Gear / Equipment Recommendation"

  1. Because cameras are a consumer tech good, they change rapidly. New models come out every month. This means that older recommendations have low value. It would be nice for them to become archived automatically.

  2. There is no "best", but "What camera is best?" is the default question. We need a way to guide people into asking "What camera is best for me for this particular situation given these constraints?"

  3. There are people who obsess over new models regularly as a hobby in itself. We want to attract these people: they are the answerers. But, there's also a class of people who bought the very expensive Socanikon X4-Mark II, and need to convince themselves through selling it to others that this was a far superior choice to the Nicanony 4D SE. I don't know of anything but careful moderation to help this, but I'm open to ideas.

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4 comments

We can customize the guidance on the "ask question" page per-category, so you could write a blurb about what makes a good question in Gear Recommendations and it'd show up there. If you have more to say than fits in that chunk of UI, you can write a help topic and link to it. Monica Cellio‭ 7 months ago

When people ask gear-recommendation questions and get answers recommending A, B, and C, how much overlap is there in those answers with answers to other questions where people recommended A, B, and C? Do you want straight Q&A, or do you maybe want a library of "gear" pages (features, strengths, weaknesses, date first offered...) and a way to attach "best gear for X purpose?" questions to those pages? Monica Cellio‭ 7 months ago

@Monica That seems like a good start. A future feature might be a template or guided process. mattdm‭ 7 months ago

@mattdm somebody is actually working on templates for these blurbs now, though yours is probably going to be specialized enough that you'll need to override it. :-) But yes, the idea of a "post" page having a place to plug guidance (straight from the template, or modified for that category/site) is already planned. What I said in my second comment is totally new but seems doable -- a template for the wiki post itself, to be filled out by the poster. Actual guided process needs more thought. Monica Cellio‭ 7 months ago

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Here's where I think we are, based on my reading of all the answers and comments here. Please let me know if I've misunderstood anything.

Categories would be basically as in this answer (noting that "blog" might actually be "resources" or something like that). For gear questions you can use the category description for now to describe what's acceptable, and soon we expect you to be able to customize the guidance that appears right there on the "ask question" page. Other factors like age and astroturfing are more about community moderation, I think.

Most significantly, Q&A is one category, not Photo Q&A and Video Q&A and Computer Vision Q&A and maybe others. To mitigate the concerns about finding the "slice" of the site someone is most interested in, and also to highlight under-served types of questions, you would also like a way to filter or highlight certain areas. For example, this mockup shows filtering a question list for specific "main" tags like, in your case, "photo" and "video".

Another approach would be for the category description -- that text that says, for example on Writing Q&A, "General Q&A about the craft of professional writing, editing, and publishing. Questions about all types of writing are welcome -- fiction, technical documentation, scholarly articles, poetry, scriptwriting, blogs, and more.", to be able to include tag links so you could have a description like:

Q&A about still [photography], [video], and [computer-vision], whether about [technique], [composition], or other [art] considerations

(That description on Writing is that verbose because we want to convey that it's not just fiction, by the way. We'd probably add tags there too if we had this feature.)

Update: Markkdown apparently was possible already and I've now updated that description. Tag rendering would be even better, but at least you can add links today.

This latter approach is more flexible for the site, in that you can put things in context and, as in this example, highlight different "types" of tags. In my example, the first grouping is about type of photography and the second grouping is about type-independent considerations. That would be harder to convey through a row of filter buttons.

Ultimately we'll want to support per-user named filters, so people can filter by exactly what they want (with ANDs and ORs and NOTs in the mix and everything), but that's some time in the future.

If being able to add tag links into a category description is sufficient, then I think we could have this site up and running pretty quickly. You're not looking for a bulk import of data from SE, where we're still working out some glitches. I think the main thing that's blocking the site is figuring out the guidance around the Q&A category, right? And you want to be able to define a small set of primary tags (one from that set is required on all questions in the Q&A category), which we don't have yet.

Update: Required tags and "main" tags are almost ready. So you'll be able to highlight tags you want to draw particular attention to, and also designate a set of "must include at least one of these" tags. I think at this point we need...a name and URL?

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3 comments

I think this is right. And I'm open to launching with the "tags in category description" idea — we'll be able to see if that's working and adjust if it's not. mattdm‭ 7 months ago

This looks pretty good. Question: if it turns out that we should have separated Q&A into a couple more categories, how difficult would it be to do a bulk move/recategorisation at a later date? scottbb‭ 7 months ago

@scottbb that seems doable to me, but I'll defer to @ArtOfCode. We already know we need to be able to change the category of a post (through the UI), so bulk-changing all questions in category X having tag Y sounds doable. (Dropping the tag in the process, presumably.) Monica Cellio‭ 7 months ago

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(fellow Photo-SE expat speaking here...)

Answering your questions,

1: I'm definitely interested in helping get a Photography Q&A off the ground here.

2: 100% in favor of including Photography, Video, and Computer Vision. The Photo/Video separation at Photo-SE was resolved long before I joined, but the issue of Computer Vision's topicality was a periodic sore spot amongst the community. While I was in favor of keeping CV off-topic at Stack Exchange, I can certainly sympathize with the opposing viewpoint that the separation was a form of gatekeeping. I question the viability of a new Photo Q&A site that maintains similar separation, in today's reality of cheap multi-use cameras and smartphones that can simultaneously capture high-quality photos and videos, and even do post-production. Basically, if a question is about recording light coming into a lens, it should have a home here. Separating the Q&A's by category here seems to neatly solves the problem.

However, I see two main problems with Q&A category separation: questions that could straddle multiple Q&A categories; and the mental overload of understanding the nuances of a site's category ontology.

Regarding the first issue, questions that could straddle multiple Q&A categories: would the Photo Q&A category be the default, catch-all landing place? For instance, an asker might be wondering about exposure fundamentals, or basic focal length issues, when using a DSLR in a computer vision application. Quite often, people asking these questions don't think of their issue as a "Computer Vision" problem — after all, they just want to know how to set the exposure on a DSLR, which is a general photography issue, right? It seems Q&A category separation would lead to siloing and duplication, with a proliferation of basic questions being asked across the Q&A categories, and worse, having good answers spread across them.

If there's the ability to introduce master/required tags as @ArtOfCode suggests, then that actually makes more sense to me, requiring one of Photography, Video, or Computer Vision tags.

3: This gets to the other main problem I see with Q&A category separation, the mental overload of understanding the site's category ontology. I am generally in favor of minimal category separation (see Outdoors's minimal categories of Q&A, Meta, and Photo Contest).

In my mind, Categories are just a workaround for "applying the Q&A engine to things that aren't topical Q&A". In order presented to users, I think the categories should be:

  • Q&A, where all actual Q&A goes (as in, objective / good-subjective questions that are on-topic for the site).
  • Contests & Critiques: Almost as important as Q&A, as it is the "showcase" of good things coming out of the Photography community. Would be embarrassing if Photography didn't have a photo contest, but Outdoors did (echoes from the past...). Again, these aren't "good Q&A questions" — they are "abusing the Q&A format" for the greater good, because that's what we have with the tools provided.
  • Blog, or something like it for canonical posts (maybe "Library", "Basics", "Learning", or "Guides"?). I really think we need to embrace long-form posts that aren't Q&A format. Perhaps some of them are inspired by recent questions. Especially good would be things like: Photoshop tutorials delving deeper into how to post-process an image according to a select few questions; Wikipedia-like reference material about focal length, depth of field, exposure; some of the non-review stuff also found at Cambridge in Color, Photography Life, etc., such as considerations when selecting a tripod or ballhead, ...
  • Gear Recommendation: necessary evil, because it's kinda the "junk drawer" group of not-good-Q&A-questions that we have to basically allow because we know that's going to be the bulk of new user questions (after the site is initially seeded in "beta").
  • Meta

4: Which posts do we want to import? I completely agree with mostly clean slate, with hand-selected posts. I'm thinking of two basic types of posts to import:

I think it's generally important to write our own basics ("what is focal length?", etc.), rather than rely too heavily on copypasta.

5: Special license: I don't think this is necessary for launch, but I think it should get high priority to get sorted out.

I think you covered the highest priority issues for launch.

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12 comments

Licensing will be available by launch in any case - the PR adding the feature in is in final review and will be merged and deployed shortly, after which we can add whatever license you think is right. ArtOfCode‭ 7 months ago

What you said about categories matches our design intent. I don't know what the struggles were with video and CV alongside still photography on SE; was tagging not enough to handle that? We can give you mandatory tags (must choose at least one from this set); are there questions that wouldn't fit that scheme but that are on-topic, or does defining a small set cover all the bases? I'm excited to see the interest in this community and want to help you succeed here! Monica Cellio‭ 7 months ago

@Monica Early on, video was determined to be OT at Photo-SE. Video-SE was the sister site that spent a long time in beta. While video questions unrelated to photography were easy to close or send over to VSE, there were still plenty of partial overlap questions. And still, the separation caused some suffering at VSE because many of the fundamentals-type questions were mostly at PSE. Tags were never very useful at PSE — a handful of us went through and swept up where we could, but I don't ... scottbb‭ 7 months ago

... think most users used or cared about tags very much. Regarding computer vision, many questions came from more engineering focused Stacks such as Image Processing, EE, and SuperUser. These were people looking for engineering design guidance, etc. The focus of PSE was primarily about creative photography (i.e., intended for the human eye) and the community of practice around it, such as photography business related issues (how to handle wedding photo jobs; working with models/subject, etc). scottbb‭ 7 months ago

We had periodic debates in Meta-PSE about CV questions being on-topic, usually boiling down to experienced other-Stackers who also knew quite a bit about photography asking, "Fine, then what Stack should I ask my question at?" The frustrating answer was sometimes that there probably wasn't a stack for their question, when in reality, PSE was the most logical choice. I was among the gatekeepers at PSE to keep CV off topic there, but it did cause (mostly minor) damage. scottbb‭ 7 months ago

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I have edited the proposal title based on what I think is strong even if early consensus: we do want to combine photography and videography/cinematography. Use comments to this answer to discuss this.

Note that I personally still have no interest in videography, so it'd be nice to have a couple of people involved for whom that is their true passion.

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4 comments

You know me. I'm not remotely interested in video. But that seems to be the way most online communities that center themselves around the use of photographic equipment are going in terms of emphasis. Michael C‭ 7 months ago

@Michael C -- yeah, for full transparency, I have a high personal stake in setting up this site so that video questions can get answered and not cause ongoing conflict yet I can still completely avoid them. :) mattdm‭ 7 months ago

Also full transparency: I’m not remotely interested in video either. I am interested in removing the conflicts that arise when people ask about DSLR videography that are barely applicable to photography, when the answer basically already exists in the photo site. If the solution is just simple categorization, I’m all for it. scottbb‭ 7 months ago

@MichaelC good to see you here! scottbb‭ 7 months ago

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What should we choose for the URL? Candidates are:

  1. photo.codidact.com
  2. photography.codidact.com
  3. photovideo.codicact.com
  4. other?
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6 comments

From an ease of typing standpoint, I like photo.codidact.com. But I think photography.codidact.com more clearly indicates the site is about photography, not photos. I think photovideo would be the fairest, so that the video aspect isn’t given short shrift. scottbb‭ 7 months ago

(I might be regretting my earlier push to include video. I’ve been going through recent questions at Video-SE, and I can’t understate how uninterested I am in most of them. I’ve been under the impression that there were more questions that overlapped photo and video, but I was wrong. I suppose that is a lot like SO, with no overlap between many of the language questions.) scottbb‭ 7 months ago

Hey site admins: could we have "photography" as the main URL and site name, and have "photo" redirect, for shorter typing? mattdm‭ 7 months ago

Since most of us who have shown up here share the interest in still photography over video, and since we decided to allow video but not make it a top-level category, I'm inclined to stick with "photography" as the name. mattdm‭ 7 months ago

@mattdm Sure, we can set up a redirect, that's easy enough. ArtOfCode‭ 7 months ago

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Bear in mind how categories work:

Image alt text

That works great for a few categories, but not so great when you've got lots. That's by-design: categories are intended to be very broad groups of questions, as Monica's already said in a comment. Think of how distinct Q&A and Meta are from one another, and apply that to the question "should X be a category or a tag in Q&A?"

It seems to me that Photography and Videography are good candidates for categories: perhaps you'd have Photography Q&A as your home category, and Videography Q&A as your secondary. A category for critique & contests would also probably be good to help separate that content out for people who are just here for the Q&A, but I'd consider doing that as one category since they're ultimately fairly similar purposes. That'd mean something like this:

Image alt text

That's a manageable number of categories, and it leaves room for adding one or two more if you discover certain types of content that don't work in Q&A (like if folks don't want gear recommendation questions in Q&A), or for if you want to do something like a site blog.

Beyond that, I'd use tags for different types of Q&A. If you find after a while that doesn't work so well, there's potential for introducing the concept of master/required tags (like discussion, feature-request, etc on SE meta sites) - you could have a set of those for Business, Skills, History, Gear, and Software, for example. That's not currently supported, but wouldn't be too difficult to add in if it turns out to be useful - and could even be done anyway while you try it out with tags.

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18 comments

My wish for all of these categories comes from a concrete problem at Photo-SE: people who are interested in some of these things really don't like questions about some of the others. Questions about photography as an art routinely got responses like "that's not an answerable question" from people more comfortable with technology questions. And because of the programming connection with the SE network, if we'd allowed computer vision questions, they easily would have overwhelmed everything… mattdm‭ 7 months ago

… So to me categories serve both the function of vertical separation (overlapping but distinct communities of practice) and invitation (validation that those communities of practice are welcome). mattdm‭ 7 months ago

I'd love to be convinced that mandatory tags help with this in some way, but I don't see how. In fact, I think they might make it worse, as if I click on "Photography Q&A" and see a wall of questions tagged computer-vision, I might think "Oh, this isn't a good place to ask about choice of colors for a portrait session." mattdm‭ 7 months ago

I hope I don't seem argumentative here. I'm legitimately trying to figure this out. :) mattdm‭ 7 months ago

@Mattdm, these are exactly the kinds of things we want to figure out before launching. You are not coming across as argumentative at all, and I hope you don't interpret the feedback you're getting that way either. Monica Cellio‭ 7 months ago

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Need for Mathjax

This wasn’t part of the question, but I’d like to throw in the request to have Mathjax supported in the Photo/Video site.

Equations aren’t super common in photography questions and answers, but there are plenty of topics that benefit from having easily created and edited math notation.

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3 comments

Mathjax is on our "need soon" list for some other sites (right after we fix some issues with data import). If you don't need it on day 1 we can launch this site soon and add Mathjax support when it's ready. Monica Cellio‭ 7 months ago

@MonicaCellio No, it’s definitely not a “day 1 needed” thing. Much more important to launch the site sooner rather than wait for Mathjax. I just wanted a request placeholder here, perhaps a discussion point if somebody else thought it was unnecessary. Thanks! scottbb‭ 7 months ago

I've added it to our "who needs what" list, thanks. Monica Cellio‭ 7 months ago

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