The current rules in featured photo submission threads are:

  1. Limit one photo per person per week.
  2. Limit one submission per photo (so don't repost from other weeks).
  3. Keep all images appropriate, as we do not wish to offend any of our users.
  4. Images should be 375 x 210 px or they may be cropped and resized to fit.

And, at a meta-level, I'm unhappy with the process which created them; namely, it was untransparent. Who decided them? What was their reasoning? Were the rules designed to be permanent or a stop-gap? Thus, this thread.

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    I can tell you that I wrote the rules in about 5 minutes just before the new design went live, with assistance from those who were in chat at the time. They were meant as basic guidelines. I fully expected that they would change, but we needed something. – chills42 Nov 7 '10 at 23:56
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    @chills42: full marks for taking the initiative! – labnut Nov 8 '10 at 11:17
  • I updated the rules in the most recent thread to reflect some of the changes suggested here: meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/471/… – chills42 Nov 11 '10 at 4:01
  • I made that comment elsewhere but I would really like to see a standard aspect ratio, most likely 3:2 because most people in this forum are probably shooting using a DSLR. This will not force people to manipulate their images. At least we can add borders but it will probably look better if we have a common aspect ratio to start with. – Itai Nov 13 '10 at 16:22

Rule 1 (one photo per person per week): I agree.

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    Also agree - 1 per week – Zoe Bailey Nov 8 '10 at 6:54

Proposed submission guidelines: (new Rule 2)

Keep the weekly submission threads. This encourages "fresh" submissions by people who really do want their photo on the main page.

Photos shouldn't be posted too frequently. As a guideline, not more than two weeks in a row and not more than 4 times a year.

If a given photo wins and becomes the featured photo, it should not be reposted again. The winner should also not post anything at all the next week.

While there is no formal enforcement process, if people notice that you are submitting the same photo too often, they will vote your photos down even if they are good. Basically, it's on the honor system; submitters are responsible for tracking their own submission frequency.

People who are winning frequently should also stop posting for a while, to keep the featured image from being dominated by a clique.

  • These all sound reasonable to me. – BBischof Nov 7 '10 at 5:31
  • How about a general guideline of selecting the top-voted photo from someone that hasn't had a featured photo in the past 4 weeks? Surely we can find at least a dozen photographers (for some margin over the bare minimum of 4) who can submit good shots! :) – Roger Pate Nov 8 '10 at 12:15
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    Rule 3) and 5): depends on what you want. Is this photo header an award? I want to see "good" photos in it, no matter who. I'm not comfortable with rules that are based on user/personality, this will introduce drama. Why don't we focus on photography, and remove the author's name on the header, so that it doesn't become a competition like "hey, look at me, my photo is in the header". If a new member comes to the site, to me, that header says: "hey, this is a nice photo, they probably know what they are talking about here". – sebastien.b Nov 8 '10 at 13:24
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    I like the original rule 1. "A photo can only be submitted once". Personally, I'd like the rule to be 'The photo must have been taken in the last 2 weeks'. This encourages not only good photos but also the act of photography. – Shizam Nov 10 '10 at 20:36

Rule 4 (size): why give the option? The size should be a requirement, not a suggestion. The designers don't need the extra burden of cropping and resizing.

  • I agree, we're all capable of cropping/resizing, so any submission should be sized as required by the site design. – chills42 Nov 7 '10 at 23:59
  • And this means the submitter knows exactly how it will look in the design, so there won't be any surprises where they're unhappy with how their work is showcased. – Roger Pate Nov 8 '10 at 12:06
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    I definitely agree with the aspect ratio requirement, but the size requirement could be made a bit more flexible, i.e. be able to post the candidate at 600 pixels horizontally (max). 375px doesn't do a lot of justice to a photo on high-resolution monitors, I feel like looking at a thumbnail. Then again, I know this is how it will be seen in the header :) – sebastien.b Nov 8 '10 at 13:19

I think it would be good to allow a photo to be reposted, but no more than 2 weeks in a row and no more than 4 times per year - sometimes people could post thier best work just before the closing point and therefore miss the opportunity

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    Disagree on the ability to repost photos, we should encourage submissions to be fresh (and even taken recently) instead of every 2 weeks over half the submissions have been submitted before. – Shizam Nov 10 '10 at 20:42
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    Thats why I think there should be a limit on number of submissions - so previous submissions can not flood the pool. Maybe the photo's should have been taken recently -what do you define as recent? – Zoe Bailey Nov 11 '10 at 7:47

Only small numbers of people are posting images. This is surprising and is probably the result of few people visiting the meta pages.

I would suggest therefore that the main page gives more prominence to the invitation to submit entries for featured photos.

One way would be to replace the phrase 'submit yours' with the phrase
Featured photo competition
Submit your photo to the featured photo competition


Photos should have been taken in the last 2 weeks

I suggest that submitted photos be ones taken in the last 2 weeks, this has several positive side effects including encouraging the act of going out and taking photos instead of sifting through your collection. It also solves rule #2.

  • 2 weeks might be a bit short to get awesome photos every time, it's also difficult to enforce. – Rowland Shaw Nov 13 '10 at 14:39
  • If enough people are entering then 2 weeks seems great, if only 10 people are entering then that may be a problem :) As far as enforcing, requiring a link to a jpg that shows the EXIF seems reasonable (flickr, smugmug, etc) and the winning entry has to be dated w/in 2 weeks. – Shizam Nov 15 '10 at 17:28

Rule 2 (one submission per photo):

I don't like this. It discourages people from submitting their best work - for example, if one submits a great photo, and it doesn't happen to win in a particular week for whatever reason, then you're just out of luck.

Also, who enforces this rule? There's no infrastructure in SO, and doing it manually is too much work. Rules which can't be enforced should not be rules.

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    The counter of this would be that people wouldn't be encouraged to submit different photos. – Rowland Shaw Nov 6 '10 at 23:44
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    @Rowland, I don't think that's a worry - I doubt people will submit the same photo over and over if it keeps not getting selected. – Reid Nov 7 '10 at 16:48
  • This 'answer' seems like a comment. If I vote it up or down what does it mean in relation to the other posts re:existing rule 2. – Shizam Nov 10 '10 at 20:43

Rule 3 (keep it "appropriate"): as written, this is too vague and unenforceable because not offending any of our users is an unrealistic bar.

Let's find some existing specific guidelines for public art and refer to them.

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    I hope everyone here has a good approximation of what "appropriate" means, and I believe that voting can take care of those who haven't. – che Nov 6 '10 at 19:48
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    Well, that's my point. I don't think that hope is correct. There is a large area where we can all (generally) agree it is "appropriate". There is another large area where we can agree is not "appropriate". But what about the area in the middle? I think it is naive to assume we all have the same "good approximation" without discussing it. I would like to open the submissions to as much subject matter as possible and not leave people guessing. For example, a tasteful nude: fine or not? I would guess the Europeans on here would be perfectly fine with that; what about the Americans? – Reid Nov 6 '10 at 21:21
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    We may want to steer clear of human subjects entirely (nude or otherwise) to avoid issues of getting the subjects to sign releases to allow their images to be published online. I am not entirely sure how this stuff works, but I know that some jurisdictions have rules about this. – pkaeding Nov 7 '10 at 8:24
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    @Reid: Trying to come up with definite description of "appropriate" would mean writing a lot of text and I think the result will still give "wrong" results for some cases. In my opinion having that is a waste of time. As to you question: I'd downvote tasteful nude because I'd think Americans wouldn't be OK with that. @pkaeding: That would remove a huge heap of amazing pictures. – che Nov 7 '10 at 11:31
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    @che, hence the suggestion to find one someone has already written and adopt it. :) – Reid Nov 7 '10 at 16:48
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    Anything entry deemed inappropriate by any user should be flagged for moderator attention as such. – Rowland Shaw Nov 7 '10 at 19:55
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    @Reid: Basically that would mean linking to something huge, like microsoft.com/About/Legal/EN/US/IntellectualProperty/Copyright/… -- which solves the thing "de iure", but practically we'll still have the problem because nobody would read it. – che Nov 7 '10 at 22:19
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    @che, IMO that's a straw man. I'm arguing that we need something more specific than "appropriate" but I don't believe we need thousands of words of legalese. A few sentences clarifying would be fine. – Reid Nov 8 '10 at 1:51
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    @Rowland, so then "appropriate" becomes "secret judgment of the moderators"? – Reid Nov 8 '10 at 1:51
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    @Reid: True, I was overstating the necessary size. I guess we won't get any further until someone proposes something specific. What about "Keep all images work-safe."? – che Nov 8 '10 at 2:32
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    I think we could keep this rule simple enough. I personally don't want to see nudity up there, as I don't really care for it, and it really doesn't "feel" appropriate (i.e. what if someone under the age visits the site?) We should also make a rule stating that copyrighted work is forbidden...we don't want any legal issues because of copyrighted work being displayed illegitimately. I don't mind people if it is tasteful and well done...we can let voting take care of which images with people (or any other subject) make it. – jrista Nov 8 '10 at 3:45
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    Keep all images worksafe works for me – Zoe Bailey Nov 8 '10 at 6:55
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    @Reid Not at all. If something is flagged appropriately then it will be dealt with appropriately. If a post is flagged by enough people, quickly enough, it will be handled automatically without any moderator "secret judgement", and it becomes anything deemed inappropriate by the community – Rowland Shaw Nov 8 '10 at 8:48
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    I vote for the work-safe rule. It is well understood what this means. Down votes, comments and flagging will take care of those who flout the rule. – labnut Nov 8 '10 at 10:30
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    @Zoe: So no emailing "certain pictures" to you when I see you're in the background of a live TV interview in Australia? :) – Roger Pate Nov 8 '10 at 12:14

I would suggest there is a two week period for featured images.
Week 1 is the submission week
Week 2 is the voting week

This avoids the problem that early entries have an undue advantage by having an opportunity to collect more votes.

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    This isn't very feasible when using meta for voting. You could come up with various technical solutions (I can think of two that the community could self-impose without changes to SE), but it would be surprising for people that expect it to work as the rest of the site does. – Roger Pate Nov 8 '10 at 12:08
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    Instead, if you really want your photo to be posted early in the week, why not post it at the start yourself? That is, if voting starts on Monday and you find a shot you want to submit on Thursday, wait until the next Monday, if you think this is a worthwhile advantage. – Roger Pate Nov 8 '10 at 12:08

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