5/12/12. Tolt River Restoration. It is a beautiful morning here in the Seattle area and we are experiencing some unusually nice late spring weather. Yesterday evening we drove back to the Tolt River in the Snoqualamie River valley to look at the results of a restoration project there. Where this photo is taken from used to be a flood control dike and road, which restricted the lower Tolt into the channel you see to the left (and you can see the flood control dike on the left hand side). The County purchased the land on the right hand side and punched holes in the dike and the river has migrated into this area and completely removed the dike and road and re-established the river bed. The benefit is that this slower moving side channel now supports thousands of salmon smolts, which would otherwise be swept further downstream by the faster moving main channel. There is also more wood in the stream from trees falling in which increases the number of pools where fish can escape to avoid being eaten by other predators. There is also a greater variety and amount of food in this more complex side channels (river insects or invertebrates in the river bed and wood) which increases the number and variety of birds and fish.
I am very sorry to see that this photo community is experiencing such angst and turmoil with the "red thumber". As a recent member it is disconcerting to witness this each day and see some very good photographers leave, which has been two so far this week. My feeling is that as mentioned by both of these photographers and other commentators that way too much attention is being focused on this issue and the daily photos forum has become more about ranking than viewing as wide a range of photographers and their work so that we all can grow and learn. Especially when words such as "retaliation" are beginning to be used the whole nature of the site changes to one of suspicion instead of support.
I believe that there is a way to address this issue. Issues always have solutions, but it takes thinking carefully about why this problem has arisen. It seems that there is frustration, in reading comments, that some photographers feel they are infrequently viewed on this site. In the month I have been here, there does seem to be a fairly uniform grouping of the same photographers in the first few pages. Rather than being a purposeful arrangement, this pattern is more the result of the very simple algorithm that Smugmug uses which counts the number of comments and ranks the photos by this number each day. This is perfectly natural, since if you begin to know and like other photographers as people you respond to them each day out of friendship and respect, but this may not always reflect the quality of the photograph relative to others on the site.
I work with developing models to simulate natural systems and we run into situations similar to this where you begin to adjust your model or an algorithm to correct problems or inaccuracies with how the model simulates an observed process. What I propose is that the algorithm be modified to essentially change the weighing on photos that do not have as many views. If a photographer is regularly getting 20 to 30 comments every day that leaves little opportunity for movement up of other photos for being viewed. If,however, a photographer has the number of comments received in the previous day subtracted from his next day post, it creates an opportunity for other photos with less comments to have more opportunity to be viewed in the first few pages. This would "level the playing field" and cause all of us to focus less on concentrating comments on a smaller set of photographers and lessen the "red thumb" effect. If you get fewer comments on your photo on the second day, then on the subsequent day you start out with no or limiting "weighting" on the number of comments you receive.
Here is the index: Index of Ranking = ( # of comments on present day/ # of total comments for day) - (# of comments on previous day /# of total comments for day)
So if you received the maximum number of comments the previous day your score would be reduced by that amount on the next day. A photographer that normally receives no or few comments would have a greater opportunity of being viewed. It should also encourage people who normally get a lot of comments to distribute their comments out to other photographers and focus less on ranking. This should reduce the "red thumb" behavior.