First off, we want to thank the existing paying members, without you we could not keep NPN going and we would greatly appreciate if you continue to do so. Overall, we feel this change will have very little impact on existing members as will be explained below.
Free members cannot access critiques
Most importantly for existing members, the critique section will not be changing in any way. It will still be for paying members only; critiques will not even be viewable to free members. We still feel this is the most valuable part of NPN and have no intention of giving it away.
Why the change?
To ensure NPN stays around and remains vibrant for a long time, we need to increase traffic and activity on the site. We want to do this in a way that maintains the value for the paying members while increasing activity overall. We evaluated what areas of NPN provided unique value to paying members that you can’t get anywhere else. We also looked around and realized that certain areas of the site were not very active, and these happened to be the same areas that did not provide this unique value to members.
NPN Unique Benefits
- Honest and thoughtful Image Critiques
- Partner Discounts
- Member Meetups
- Sense of Community
- Techniques & Methods (we will be working on making this unique)
Other Benefits that are not as unique (but are still important)
- Discussion forums
- Image Galleries
- Portfolio with unlimited images
- Field Reports
- Editors Picks
After making this evaluation, we decided a change needed to be made to increase activity in the discussions and image galleries which are currently underutilized. Since these areas were not providing unique value (there are a plethora of places on the internet to discuss photography or post images), we decided to open these areas to the public to attract new members. The idea is to get these people in the door to start participating in a limited manner and hopefully convert them to full members over time. This change will benefit paying members as well since there will be more activity on the site overall.
Nobody likes change, but we want to keep evolving and growing rather than becoming stagnant as has happened in the past. We fully acknowledge that we are learning as we go, some of these ideas only become clear after you try them for a while. Having a site that is almost completely locked down to paying members was working to some degree, but we feel it can be improved greatly. The paying members have been voting with their feet for the past 6 months by posting primarily in critiques (almost ten times more than galleries and discussion). Because of this we don’t feel many existing paying members will be impacted by this change since critiques are still only for paying members.
What free members will be able to access
Below is a detailed list of what free members can and cannot do. To sum up the main points; they can post in discussions and galleries.
- Can post in ‘Discussions’
- Can post in ‘Image Galleries’ (limited to one image a day)
- Can read and reply to ‘Articles’
- Can view but not post in ‘Classifieds’
- Cannot see or post in ‘Image Critiques’
- Cannot see/participate in member meetups
- Cannot create a portfolio
- Cannot view ‘Techniques & Methods’
- Cannot view ‘Partner Discounts’
- Cannot view ‘Wiki’
- Cannot see ‘Business Discussions’
- Cannot post or see ‘Field Reports’
- Cannot create workshop listings
- Not eligible for editors picks
- Will see advertisements
- They start at ‘Trust Level 0’ on the forum, which means they have limited abilities until they prove themselves as a trustworthy member, this helps keep spammers and trolls at bay.
When will this occur?
We will start the transition immediately; you should not notice any changes in the forum. The only visible change on the site will be on the home page and sign up pages with the option to sign up for the new free plan. Feel free to share this information with your friends who may have left NPN, they may want to come back now that there is a free option for discussions and image sharing. For anyone that was on the 30 day trial or let their full membership lapse, you’re automatically in this free membership tier, just sign in with your prior login information.
Small changes to the monthly membership
While evaluating the benefits of NPN, we realized that some of the benefits should be reserved for members who are committed to sticking around for a while. Therefore, the following changes will be made for monthly members:
- Cannot view ‘Partner Discounts’
- Cannot create a portfolio (this requires some setup for each member on our end, so we want to make sure these folks are sticking around)
- Cannot create workshop listings
This way someone cannot sign up for one month, get all the discounts, create a portfolio, and post their workshops all for only $4.99 and then run out the door. If you’re a monthly member and still want to access the partner discounts, please visit this link to upgrade your plan. https://naturephotographers.network/change-plan/
Editors Pick Change
Because free members can post in the gallery section now, we have decided to only allow editors picks to be made in the critiques section. The EP is intended to encourage growth from our members who participate in critiques. The existing EP’s in the galleries will remain in place, and they will still be eligible for the yearly picks, but no further picks will be made in the galleries moving forward.
Questions and Comments
I know this is going to raise a lot of questions and concerns. Please know that I do not take this change lightly. I have been discussing this with a group of respected members and the moderators to figure out the best path forward. I have been losing sleep mulling over every little aspect of this to ensure it is the right move for NPN. There are things I may have missed or overlooked so please be patient with the transition. I don’t anticipate any major problems though. I’m sure there will be some vocal opposition to this, I ask that you please respect my decision on what I feel is the best way forward to keep the site active. The critique forum has been flourishing in many ways, but the rest of the site has been somewhat stagnant. Giving free access to these areas will give the site the boost it needs to move the entire site forward without losing the value the critiques provide.
Keeping NPN Civil
The platform that we use is very good at detecting and deleting spam posts, so that is not a major concern. There is always some concern with people who are being rude and not following the guidelines. You can help by reporting any posts you see that are not within the guidelines by clicking on the flag below their post; this will notify the moderators and myself so we can take immediate action. With your help, we will keep NPN as a fantastic place with high-quality content and civil discourse. Along with this we will keep our message clear on the type of members we want on NPN. We still aim to attract members who are committed to creative nature photography, learning, and growth. We will continue to avoid those looking for likes, attaboy’s, and popularity.
If you are only interested in critiques and do not want to see all the other activity on the site, it’s as simple as clicking on ‘Image Critiques’ on the main page of the forums. Going to the category heading will show you all the critique categories, and you can still sort by Latest/Unread/New, which will only show you posts from the critiques section. You could even bookmark this page and never see what’s happening on the rest of the site if you’re so inclined.
How to tell who is a paying member
You have surely noticed a little tree icon next to your avatar in the past couple weeks, This is to show that you are a supporter of NPN by being a paying (or lifetime) member. Yearly, 3-year, and lifetime members have the NPN yellow tree and monthly members have slightly toned-down tree. Free members will have nothing next to their avatar.