Using judgement and value of commentating on media (pictures, videos, articles)


Bltizo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
Registered Member
Okay, @by78 and @xyqq -- use this place to air your issues civilly instead of crowding the other threads, and for other members to chime in as well, with the goal of establishing a conclusion so that both of the two aforementioned members can reach an agreement going forwards.

I've been monitoring this for a while now, and frankly I do not know who is in the wrong here.

The issue specifically being the pictures and specifically the captions that @xyqq posts, where he tends to post captions for all of the pictures in a post often of his own phrasing, and @by78 thinking that those captions are often of little use and/or distracting from the picture itself in a manner which makes a thread frustrating to read.

On the one hand, there are no rules against making captions, regardless of how "necessary" or "useful" one judges them to be.
However on the other hand, we are all here in this forum to try to make each other's lives easier to make PLA watching easier, and I think it is appropriate to exercise best judgement for when it is useful to write commentary for some pictures (or indeed when to post pictures in general). If not every picture needs a caption to describe it -- especially if a picture is not showing anything new, interesting or worthy of alerting the community to -- then does every picture in a post need captions?

This has been an "issue" for a few months now -- @by78 seems particularly annoyed by it and has posted to @xyqq multiple times asking him to use better judgement, however @xyqq as is his right, has continued to post in his own manner.
This has led @by78 to further escalate and make further remarks against @xyqq for which warnings have been issued, but also in which threads have been made off topic.

I don't think the actions of either individual is ban worthy at this stage, but I would like both parties to please settle their differences once and for all.

Either @xyqq, you agree to use more particular judgement to choose which pictures to post commentary to....
OR

@by78, you accept that @xyqq has a right to post captions to all pictures even if you believe that his captions are useless and clog up a post...

====

I will offer my own view as a member (not a moderator), that's been here a while and seen the forum evolve with many people posting pictures in different ways.

I think that the entire purpose of posting new pictures in this forum is that it requires our posting members to exercise best judgement for what pictures to post, and what pictures do not need to be posted.

We are all PLA watchers here who are mostly somewhat seasoned -- if there is a piece of news that showcases a picture of some old Flankers or J-10s or H-6s taking off, and the pictures themselves are of average quality, are not particularly visually interesting, and show nothing that we haven't seen before, then is it really necessary to post about it? Because there are a large number of such photos available on the internet and from official PLA photographers, and posting even a fraction of them clogs up threads very quickly.
On the other hand, if a new picture is of something we haven't seen before, or a particularly unique or new newsworthy event, or if it's a particularly high quality photo (like a high quality photo of a previously seen but poorer quality photo), or a particularly visually interesting photo, then I don't think anyone would challenge the posting of such photos.

The purpose of captions is the same, I believe.
If there's a particularly interesting photo with details that you want to discuss, or if you have a detail in a photo you want to ask about, then by all means I think captions are very appropriate.
But if a photo shows nothing new or interesting, then adding a caption describing what a picture that everyone already knows what it depicts, is just a waste of everyone's time and attention and clogs up a thread which is already limited to 10 posts per page.


Basically, my belief comes down to this -- people's time is finite.
We come onto this forum's military threads to view, monitor, and keep abreast of new PLA related developments, interesting events, or particularly unique or enticing visuals that are rarely seen.
When we click onto a thread with new posts, if there are pictures, we hope that they are showing something interesting, or ideally new, or at the very least have good quality or visually enticing.
If a post has pictures with captions, we hope that we can read the captions that tells us information we didn't know, or help with the understanding of a question that is being asked. Otherwise, reading a caption for a photo that is useless, just ends up taking away attention and time which is finite in all of our daily lives.

I think that such an expectation is very reasonable for this forum in terms of best posting practice of pictures, and choosing when to write captions.
There are no rules (yet) penalizing people for when they post pictures and write captions that others deem to be of unnecessary quality, and partly because it is difficult for different people to "judge" what is "useful/necessary" and "not useful/unnecessary" --- however I think we can all be mature enough to talk about this like adults and at least come to some kind of lasting agreement.
 

solarz

Brigadier
So let me get this straight...

Since it's pretty trivial to just ignore someone, for this to escalate means @by78 wants to look at the pictures @xyqq posts, but don't want to read his captions?

If you're annoyed by someone's post, then put them on your ignore list. If you want to read their content, then the least you could do is spend the few milliseconds necessary to skip their captions if you don't want to read those. Complaining about their captions while wanting to look at the pictures they post sounds extremely childish to me.

I have read neither of the above mentioned posters' content, and I'm just going by what @Bltizo said, and some common sense.
 

by78

Brigadier
So let me get this straight...

Since it's pretty trivial to just ignore someone, for this to escalate means @by78 wants to look at the pictures @xyqq posts, but don't want to read his captions?

If you're annoyed by someone's post, then put them on your ignore list. If you want to read their content, then the least you could do is spend the few milliseconds necessary to skip their captions if you don't want to read those. Complaining about their captions while wanting to look at the pictures they post sounds extremely childish to me.

I have read neither of the above mentioned posters' content, and I'm just going by what @Bltizo said, and some common sense.

I haven't put anyone on ignore list and will not, because I don't want to miss anything. It is my personal preference for the flagship military threads.
 

Bltizo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
Registered Member
So let me get this straight...

Since it's pretty trivial to just ignore someone, for this to escalate means @by78 wants to look at the pictures @xyqq posts, but don't want to read his captions?

If you're annoyed by someone's post, then put them on your ignore list. If you want to read their content, then the least you could do is spend the few milliseconds necessary to skip their captions if you don't want to read those. Complaining about their captions while wanting to look at the pictures they post sounds extremely childish to me.

I have read neither of the above mentioned posters' content, and I'm just going by what @Bltizo said, and some common sense.

My take on it is that there are some pictures that people post (not just @xyqq exclusively) which are of dubious reasoning as well.

Each thread only has space for ten posts. People's time is limited in a day.


This is a question as I see it, about "do we want content to be posted here even if it is not newsworthy/interesting/visually appealing/particularly high quality" -- which in turn is a reflection of what do we wish this forum to be more like.

Frankly I do not get overly annoyed by things like "unnecessary captions" because I just glance over them, but at the same time I very much understand the desire to want to improve the forum and not make this a place where "anything goes" as far as content is concerned, particularly in the flagship military threads, where they are not "general military picture" threads.

In either case, I think if this can be discussed civilly to a conclusion that would be beneficial, so at least one side can come to a compromise with the other.
 

by78

Brigadier
I agree with @Bltizo's views on this matter, so I will not repeat them. Instead, I will flesh them out with some specifics of what I regard as poor quality content and when and where captions are appropriate and when they are detrimental to the quality of the flagship military threads.

Here's my personal guideline I try to follow when posting images:
- Images should be high-quality, meaning they should be of sufficient resolution, taken under good lighting, and has good composition. They should not be blurry, except when they portray something novel or new, such as a fresh leak of a new weapon system or illustrations from research papers on advanced projects.​
- Explanations and captions should be kept to an absolute minimum IF there is little new information to be gleaned from the images. Since forum rules require images be accompanied by an explanatory note, I usually opt for a concise summary (placed at the top of the post) that can be understood at a mere glance so that members can get on with it painlessly.​
- I will put in a longer explanatory note if an image shows foreign texts that require translation or shows something new that warrants pointing out. Even then, I try to keep it short and sweet. Brevity and clarity are paramount, because as Bltizo mentioned, each page can contain only ten posts, so I try to make it as pleasant as possible for readers' eyes.​
- I avoid adding a caption for each image because they are rarely necessary. An image already speaks a thousand words, so why detract from it when there is nothing new or useful to say? Adding a caption for each mundane image is simply poor form and inconsiderate, as it merely breaks up the flow and clogs up the page while adding nothing useful. If it needn't be said, it shouldn't.​
With the above in mind, let me give a few representative examples (out of many) of what I regard as poor quality content:
- This post here, the images are small, blurry, and the subject is utterly uninteresting. We've all seen countless similar images of J-10s over the course of more than a decade. What's the point of sharing them here? Why add a caption for each image just to describe to us that a pilot is getting into a cockpit, or a J-10 is taxiing, or it's landing, or it's returning to the hangar? Frankly, we are not blind, and we can tell from the images when a plane is taking off, or landing, or taxiing, or when a human is getting into a cockpit.​
- These posts here, here, and here. Just why? Why should the same mundane event warrant three separate posts, each successively more verbose and pedantic than the next? I get it, some J-10s flew over some tall mountains. OK, alright! It really ain't that special, and seeing it once should be more than enough. Please don't be the rainbow man, it's just a double-rainbow, it's not the return of Christ:​
- This post here. The images clearly show the pedant numbers of each ship, so there is no need to spell them out. We can see them just fine, and most of us have easy access to resources where we can find out the names of the ships base on the pedant numbers. Also, there is absolutely no need to describe for us when a ship is firing its main gun, or its CIWS, or its ASW rockets. Again, completely unnecessary texts that do little more than clogging up the page. In the same vein, there is no need to add captions just to spell out a plane's serial number when the said serial number can be clearly seen. Most of us here have access to Huitong's excellent compilation of airframe serial numbers, so there is no need to duplicate Huitong's role. However, an exception should be made when a ship or airframe is relatively new, in which case noting its pendant or serial number and pointing out that it's new can be helpful.​
In summary, many of us here are seasoned observers who have spent years watching the Chinese military and who have seen the same-old images countless times. The flagship military threads are not for image aggregation. They are not repositories of blurry, uninformative, mundane, and ho-hum photos that most of us have access to and can view on our own.

Moreover, most of us are experienced enough to easily see if a plane is taking off, or when sailors are playing tug-of-war, or what a sunrise looks like, or what kittens are, or when a piece of gum is stuck on the bottom of an old shoe, and so on and on and on. We don't need to be saturated with descriptions, captions, hints, blurbs, and narrations telling us the blindingly obvious. We weren't born yesterday.

In other words, it's unacceptable to compose posts in the same format as children's picture books.

Also remember, many of us are native English speakers here, and it's been experimentally verified beyond doubt that humans cannot help but focus their attention on texts written in their native language. So when native English speakers such as myself see a caption, I can't just skip over it; I have to read it. So imagine how infuriating it is for me to have to constantly divert my attention away from the boring images only to encounter a caption that states the blindingly obvious. As Bltizo pointed out, our personal time is finite. Please don't waste our time, and please don't waste screen real estate.

There have been over the years several members who were fond of posting low-resolution, uninteresting, and low-quality images from easily accessible sources. They all stopped after having received feedback from fellow members, and the forum improved as a result. Now imagine there is a member who is not only fond of posting mundane and low-quality images, but who also insists on adding captions to each individual image to further clutter the page. What feedback should we give to the said member?
 
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by78

Brigadier
- This post here. The images clearly show the pedant numbers of each ship, so there is no need to spell them out. We can see them just fine, and most of us have easy access to resources where we can find out the names of the ships base on the pedant numbers.​

Correcting a spelling mistake. By "pedant numbers", I meant pendant numbers, which is another term for hull numbers.
 
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Gatekeeper

Colonel
Registered Member
Here's my two cents.

I can't see what such a big fuss of this is all about. If you don't someone's posting, and you don't want to put them on the ignore list, than activitate your own mind to ignore those associated comments that come with the picture post.

It's not really rocket science. I can't see all the fuss is about.
 

by78

Brigadier
If you don't someone's posting, and you don't want to put them on the ignore list, than activitate your own mind to ignore those associated comments that come with the picture post.

For native English speakers, this is easier said than done. The mind focuses on texts and takes in the information automatically, very much like the instinct to hold your breath underwater. But that's a minor point. The important thing is the quality of the flagship military forums. The issue of excessive posting of poor quality images and information has been touched on several times before. While no formal polling was conducted, the consensus was that Sinodefence is a more formal and mature venue than say Defence.pk, Bharat Rakshak, or any number of fanboy forums out there. As such, higher standards for information sharing and dissemination prevail here. This is not a pretentiously elitist aspiration, because SDF has always been a higher quality place. I know this because after observing quite a few defense-related forums out there, I settled on SDF as my permanent home because its members are demonstrably more knowledgable and more discerning.

It is only with the influx of political fanboys in the past two years that SDF's high standards came under assault. A wave of new, far less knowledgable users have brought heated political discussions and war talk to our non-political flagship military forums, along with a disturbing penchant for sharing poor quality content and images. It's apparent that many of them lack even a rudimentary grasp of the subjects they wish to discuss. As a result, very often what they share simply isn't good or deserves to be shared. If these members continue unimpeded, then SDF will simply become yet another fanboy echo chamber.

So the issue at heart is this: do we want SDF to become another fanboy forum, where any dubious rumor, heresy, or nonsense is liberally shared and imbibed without critique, or do we want SDF to stay a sanctuary from amateurish claptrap?

Keep in mind that I'm not saying that Defence.pk is objectively bad compared to Sinodefence. They each serves a different purpose and a distinct audience. My objective is to keep Sinodefence different and distinct from Defence.pk, "because if they become identical, then one of them will be redundant, and distinct features of their former selves like emphasis on analysis vs rumour aggregation will be lost. It's more enriching for us PLA-watchers to have a multitude of options when it comes to PLA-watching forums, each with their own idiosyncrasies catering to different tastes or moods".

@xyqq's posting style makes SDF less distinct from Defence.pk, and that's a problem that needs to be addressed and remedied.

 
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