Leaving NPN

Leaving NPN
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I have been an NPN for many years. I used to be on the site all the the time posting images and offering critiques. I learned an awful lot from the site. I am a better photographer because of NPN. However, the recent changes have not been good, at least for me. I find the site enormously complicated and very difficult to navigate. Nothing is obvious. My joy at visiting the old site has now morphed into frustration on navigating the new site. I don’t even visit the site any more. So, it is with a heavy heart that I inform all of you that I will not be renewing my membership.

Sorry to hear that Jerry, but before you go I’ll make a navigation suggestion. I shared your frustration at first until David pointed out that little emblem in the upper left hand corner. Pressing it takes you from wherever you are back to the main index/navigation page. I tried it and have found it very handy, to the point that I wish other sites were so well arranged.

Give it a jiggle a few times before you go. If you’re a geezer like me, you might find it to be just what the doctor ordered.

Thanks for your reply Hank. I feel the problems with the site, at least for me, are more than a back button can fix. I am indeed an old geezer, if being 65 qualifies one for that distinction. However, I am very computer proficient and have designed several web sites for myself and others. This site just requires too much work. Navigating this site, or any site for that matter, should be effortless and intuitive. If it’s not, it just causes frustration. This site should be about easily accessing great images and great discussions. It shouldn’t be an exercise on how to navigate the site. The site has so much going on on any one page that it is overwhelming. I found myself spending most of my time trying to figure out how to go where I wanted to go and very little time enjoying the images. It saddens me to leave, but the joy I once had being a member died with the new format.

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Jerry,

Like Hank, I hope to give you some thought for reconsidering. To start though, I totally respect your opinion and your personal response to the new format. Honestly, it does not have the flow and ease of navigation as the old NPN. Hard to argue against your concerns.

My response is a bit different. What I most respond to with both the old and the new NPN has to do with the imagery, the critique and commentary and more importantly, the people, the community and camaraderie. Just me… but that trumps (note - lower case…) navigation, organization, etc.

To me, the image display is superior; little to no constraints and the modern technology of fitting any image to YOUR monitor, regardless of size - without a reduction of quality or color. It’s simply a pleasure viewing all the great work on the new site.

The critiques, comments… well, let’s be honest, I’d say status quo. But I have been noticing an up tick in participation, which is a good thing.

Ultimately it’s about people. The more folks are engaged, I think the better experience they have.

Hope you reconsider,

Lon

I’m really sorry to hear that you’re leaving, Jerry. I’ll have to admit to occasional frustration about getting where I want on the site, though by filtering for “New”, I eliminated a lot of that. Like, Lon, to me, it’s more about the people and the interaction. While we do have a local camera club, this is actually more real time than most of my relationships from that and I get more out of it.

Jerry, first of all, I too am really sorry to hear of the thought of you leaving NPN. I agree with both Lon and Dennis in that to me it is the people, more so than how functioning the site seems to work for me. I must admit that it took me awhile to get where I wanted to go on the site, but the more I use it, the more comfortable I have become, and David keeps improving the functionality of the site, I think, so I suspect it will only get better. I hope that you will reconsider. If not, I do hope that you can keep in touch with some of the photographers on here and maybe can get together with them and shoot. Wishing you the best in your decision.

To all who have responded to my post, I thank you. I appreciate your comments and perspectives. I did a little walk down memory lane. I posted my first image on January 6th, 2012. I have been a member for over seven years. I posted 648 images (…and literally thousands of comments) on the old site and only a handful on the new site. I say “handful” because I couldn’t easily determine how many image posts I made on the new site. I clicked on “My Posts" and got every image I posted, every discussion I posted and all the images I commented on in a list format. I just wanted to see my image posts, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. The old site made it easy to view all of your image posts in one spot.

I agree that NPN is about the people and community. That is what it has always been about. However, to experience that, the site must be easy to use without frustration. If I get frustrated every time I visit the site, which I do, it diminishes the experience.

I’ll give an analogy. I have friends who live a good distance away. I love my friends and we always have a great time when we are together. They “get” me, so spending time with them is wonderful. My friends are talented , informative and friendly. Again, attributes that compel me to make an effort to be with them. However, that drive to my friends house is now different. It is longer and the roads are bumpier. The drive has begun to take more and more time. Also, I found my car keeps breaking down and it is frustrating. At some point, I will decide that the trip to visit my friends, whom I dearly love, has become too cumbersome.

Obviously, the NPN community are my “friends" and navigating the new site is my “drive”. I have decided that I can no longer make the “drive”. Not because I don’t value my friends, but because the process of getting to them has become too frustrating.

I’m sorry to hear this Jerry, like everyone else, I hope you will reconsider. If there is anything I can do to help you understand the functionality of the site I am more than happy to help guide you, I think if you learned a few critical tools/features you would be happy with the site. The ‘New’ and ‘Unread’ features are some of my favorites. The site is designed to help you cut through the clutter, but it does require some knowledge of the tools first.

I’ll be the first to admit that the site is not perfect, but as Shirley said I am continuing to evolve it. If you have any specific feedback about what you don’t like or are having trouble with I would love to hear this and either find ways to fix it or help you and others learn the best practices to make your experience better.

David,

I appreciate your response and offer of help. Let’s take my example. How do I easily obtain a list of all my image posts?

You can see all of your posts by going to your profile which will bring you to ‘Activity’, then click ‘Topics’ which will bring you here: https://community.naturephotographers.network/u/jerry_austin/activity/topics

Yes, this does show you all of your topics which would include discussions you’ve started as well, but it’s better than ‘My Posts’ which is just a quick way to see recent topics that you either started or have participated in, which would include other’s topics. While adding a tab for ‘My Photos’ would be a nice little addition, it does require custom programming ($$$) and would not improve the overall experience of the site greatly, so a feature like this is lower on the priority list but we do plan to implement it someday.

But this isn’t the real core of the problem, what is it that makes the site so complicated that you deem it unusable? I’m probing because I truly want to understand where you’re coming from and help make the site better.

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You even hit on the problem in an earlier response. You said something about cutting through all the clutter. There is so much information on a page that it is overwhelming. Clutter! I did what you said about trying to access my images. After four to five clicks I go to a list that seemed similar to what I got when I clicked “My Posts”. Still no thumbnails with images. One of the great aspects of the old site was pages of images. If I wanted to see my images, with one click I could get to them. Editor’s Picks? One click and I was taken to a page of images. If you want to make the site better, I offer one word. SIMPLIFY. Take out the clutter. To me it seems like you tried to put too much I information on a single page. My philosophy is start out at a high level with a few choices and let the people navigate deeper if they want. A great home page would be a page of recently posted images. Navigation options at the top of the page would allow members to go elsewhere if they wanted to. Just my two cents worth.

I assume you’re talking about the homepage, so let’s break it down to get a better understanding.

This:

Looks an awful lot like this:

I would argue that the new version looks cleaner.

So is it the Latest section that you’re referring too?

image

I have questioned the need/usefulness of this since it doesn’t show image previews. In the case studies I’ve read it’s best to show the most recent activity so people see that there is activity on the site, but I could see how it could be seen as clutter. Is there anything else you see as clutter?

You mentioned earlier that it’s hard to just get to a view of images, this I really don’t understand and would like clarification. If you just click on Image Critiques it takes you to a view of image thumbnails just like on the old site

image

Takes you to:

vs. this on the old site:

Again, I’m just trying to understand, I’m not trying to argue.

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What you show is not the new NPN homepage. What you show is the Community Page. Once you get to the new NPN community page, click on “Avian Showcase” for instance. This shows the latest posts I suppose. Now, how do I see just my posts? In the old site, when I select “Avian”, I am directed to a page full of thumbnails. With another single click, I can see the gallery of any member, or mine for that matter. You can’t do that in the new site. Even if I drill down and select a member, I get another list of all posts, not just their images. It’s layer after layer of information to try to get to here you want to go.

All I know is that in the old site, starting at the home page, I can find any member’s image posts by clicking on “Gallery” under a recent post or immediately search for any member by name and find it. I don’t think the new site allows for searches. If it does, it is not clear how to do it.

I get it. This is your baby and you have a personal connection to it. I understand. However, you need to be realistic about this site. I assume you want new members. If I stumbled on this site for the first time, I would not expend the effort to learn how to navigate it. I would move on. I do that for many different sites that I visit on the web. Too difficult to navigate, I move on. There is no doubt in my mind that, with enough study, practice and asking questions, I could end up navigating to whatever I want to see. I can’t fly an airplane right now. I would love to know how to fly an airplane. I am confident I could learn given an expenditure of a considerable amount of time and effort. However, I don’ want to expend the time for a pilot’s license or to learn to navigate an unfriendly site.

Just in case you think I might be an old codger who is computer challenged, let me provide you some background. I have a Mechanical Engineering degree. I worked for Lockheed Martin for thirty seven years working on advanced designs for the F-16, F-22 and F-35. I have taught CADAM and CATIA at Lockheed. I have used computers all my life. I have designed multiple web sites for myself, my wedding photography business and miscellaneous web sites for family and friends.

Almost everyone that responded to me admitted, in one form or fashion, that the web site has issues. Some were from your own moderators.

…does not have the flow and ease of navigation as the old NPN
…I’ll have to admit to occasional frustration
…I agree with both Lon and Dennis

Again, my thoughts for whatever they are worth.

I’m sorry to see all of this back and forth. Clearly the new site isn’t to your liking. Well, it is to mine. I LOVE the new site. I know one thing for certain… Had we stayed on the old platform NPN would be dead. The old software was completely unmanageable, looked like a site that was 20 years old that had never been updated with any modern web tools and was going to die a certain death. Not only was the software bad, but the community was dying. Now we have a modern platform. I get it, you don’t like it. I want to make sure that there is a voice that is heard that says the new platform is so superior to to old one that it isn’t even worth comparing. Imagine on the old platform… To post an image (arguably one of the most important aspects) you had to prepare two different sizes and link them both. If you only prepared the larger version the software would not honor the color space to generate the smaller version and the two looked different. Oh, and don’t make them too big or they will be rejected. What a pain. I reported this issue at least a dozen times and it was never addressed. I know why… Because it was custom, home grown software that was no longer maintainable. I could go on and on about the issues, but I don’t see a need to beat this dead horse. We have moved to the new platform. NPN has grown and we have a platform that is manageable and has gone through many updates / changes / improvements in the last year. More than the old site saw in 10 years.

Nope, not perfect. Never will be. But I’d much rather focus on what’s right than argue about site design.

You might think I’m arguing the other side because I’m a moderator. Nope. My background like yours is in the computer science world. 34 years to be exact. 28 years working on software at a national lab that I can’t talk about. This site works well.

As DeWitt Jones so poignantly points out in his famous video:

Celebrate Whats Right With the World

It’s worth every minute of the 18 minutes to listen to a different way of looking a life.

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Your opinions are worth just as much as mine or anyone else’s. No reason to qualify your opinions. I’m responding again because I appreciate the discussion and the civility. We all don’t have to agree (and that’s healthy) as long as we can express things civilly; and that’s appreciated.

We also shouldn’t have to qualify our age or experiences either. But since we are, you all should know I built and hand-coded my first website in 1995! I’d be willing to bet very few, if any here on NPN did web design before 1995! After all, wasn’t it 1992 when Al Gore invented the internet? (LOL - sorry, no politics, just trying to bring some levity here…)

True, I did write that. Perhaps I should elaborate. Just like you elaborated Jerry and let us know that your ultimate complaint is the lack of the image galleries for members. If you recall any of the conversations, you’ll remember this topic as probably the single most debated feature of NPN 2.0 And kudos for David and the NPN team for bringing it’s members this feature. And honestly, I’m very, very surprised that with all the discussion and wishes for a personal gallery, we currently only have 14 people that have taken advantage of it. And for me, this was the one feature that I think was great in the original NPN. Having said that, you can see a members portfolio in 4 clicks from the top navigation bar/Community home page.

And to elaborate on my comment, I did like the feature of being able to scroll from one image to the next without having to go back to the main gallery.

NOTE to David and all members. After going through this exercise and re-evaluating what I think about the new format, I’ve realized something. From the “Community Home page” (which I’ll assume everyone uses - I’ll call it the Hub of NPN 2.0. From here I can get to 98% of NPN’s content in TWO clicks of the mouse. Editor’s picks (page of images…) in ONE click. Image galleries, critique galleries to a page of images in 2 clicks. Any discussion topic in 2 clicks. Your account, settings, profile, all that stuff, 2 clicks.

I’ve been in the IT world for 37 years myself. There is always a desire to simplify. And in IT, software, programming, Help desk, whatever - if you can manage your business (or job) from a “single pane of glass…” a “portal” or a dashboard, that’s making things as simple as possible for users.

I would say that the Community home page here is that Single Pane of glass and EVERY bit of content on NPN is accessible on one page. Cluttered? I dunno, maybe like some of our images we critique… Order from Chaos.

I’m with Keith. I’ve really come to like the new format.

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@Jerry_Austin I for one wuld hope you would stick around. It is our members who make NPN work.

When NPN switched over to the Discourse software, I was already familiar with it from a large computing site that uses it, so the transition from NPN v1 was not too difficult for me. Having said that, It did take some time to get used to the new platform, but it does work, and is much more responsive than the old site.

I give @David_Kingham big kudos for being responsive to the input from members and staff to make NPN even better than it was last year.

I have been a member of NPN since July 2002, and have seen the site improve technically over the years. I do agree with @Keith_Bauer about the shortcomings of NPN v1, and I am happy those constraints have been mitigated.

David mentioned that it takes revenue to add custom code, and to keep the lights on. That revenue comes from paid membership, so I always encourage folks to become a paid member, and for us existing members to carry the flag and keep the home fires burning.

I hope you’ll stay around, sir.
–P

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Keith, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Just to be clear, my criticisms of the new site were relegated solely to ease of use and navigation. I realize that the old site had issues also. As you know, newer software does not guarantee a better web design. I can take a better image with one of my very old cameras than with a new camera that has too many features. What is most important is the web design, not that it was designed using the latest software. It’s hard to discern “tone” from written words, but I suspect that you and possibly your colleagues are a bit miffed at me. Never intended that to be the case. So, this will be my last comment on this post. Best of luck to you and NPN.

You are correct Jerry that “tone” is hard to discern from words. My response was from me, not as a member of the NPN staff. I’m not miffed in the slightest. You clearly don’t like the new site and have a right to make that known. I just wanted to express that I do like the design and see it as a vast improvement. I also know that we’re not going back to the old site, thank goodness, and I don’t see any point in arguing about it.

This old geezer finds the new format easy to use and navigate. All of the new features are fantastic in my opinion. The information and interaction taking place here is top quality and I have no plans at all to leave.

I too have been a web developer and have designed a lot of websites from HTML days to the database driven modern marvels of today. I operate a message forum for old Navy veterans and all I have to do is change the color of the layout and everyone gets all up in arms because of the change. Under these conditions it’s difficult to innovate, improve or add features without someone threatening to quit.

And now that I’m in my sixth decade of my life it’s hard for me to understand why anyone would use their age as an excuse not to adapt and learn new things.

This is just my opinion and I’m submitting it respectfully.

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All comments to Mr Austin, except Hank, have been made by moderators, contributors, or owner. Nothing from the members themselves. And they all disagree with Mr Austin’s criticisms. One so strongly that Mr Austin just stopped commenting entirely.

Most of the public ‘farewells’ have been from former members. Some of it may be because it’s hard to adapt and some are valid points. With NPN 2.0 something was gained and something was lost. When members point to what was lost those in charge point to what has been gained. Both are right. The old site was richer in content - the new site is better in presentation.

There are many new members now, probably the majority. Not knowing what came before, some are probably just scratching their heads, while others would rather not see these public farewells at all.

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