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Thread: A brief history of Ausphotography

  1. #1
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    A brief history of Ausphotography

    A member recently commented in a thread about the history of the site:

    A history of Ausphotography (AP).

    www.ausphotography.net.au first appeared on the 3rd June 2006 after being created by Craig and Melissa Miller(Gypsy), who had looked for a site that suited them, but not finding one decided to create their own. They wanted a site that welcomed absolute beginners alongside the more experienced photographers.

    So Ausphotography was born.

    On that start-up date, AP had 3 members, and by the end of June 2006 was up to 59 members. The site started to grow from there and by the end of the July 2006 the membership was 94 members. At the end of 2006, the membership had risen to 223. Early on, a competition was run for the existing members to refer other members to the site. The more referrals a member got, the more chance they had of winning as small prize.

    I joined AP in June 2007 as member number 659, after using google to find a forum that I liked the ‘feel’ of. Soon after, Craig invited me to take on a moderator role, which I was delighted to accept, cause AP was the photography forum I visited most.

    Then in November 2007 Craig posted in the moderators area that he wanted to sell the site and were any mods interested. As I was the newest mod at that time, I sat back. After a couple of weeks, there wasn’t any interest in taking the site over, so I thought, I cannot let this close down, and after a couple of phone calls, I purchased AP from Craig and Melissa. Then reality hit and I thought ‘crap, I have no idea how to run a website’, but with help from Craig, Melissa and the mods, the change-over happened smoothly.

    Today (July 2011), AP has over 14,000 members and is still growing at an average of 10-15 new members every day.

    Back in the beginning, there were no competitions on AP. Then it was decided that a photo should be deemed as ‘photo of the week’. Rather than be a competition, it was voted on by the moderators from all the photos put up on the site during the week and the moderators chose the winner. Then it changed, and a Photo of the Week thread was created, where members put a photo into a single thread, and a winner was chosen from those photos alone. Each entry was listed under the members name.

    To see an early competition entry thread, look HERE

    As time progressed, another change was introduced, that being the top five and final voting. Once all the entries were in, the thread was closed and members could list the five members who’s entry they wanted to vote for. A moderator then added up, manually, all the votes and worked out which members had the top five votes and created a new thread. The members then voted for one photo by placing the members username in that thread. The winner was announced based on who had the most votes. A completely manual process.

    During all of this, the idea of a themed photo of the month came about. Using the same voting method as above, a winner was decided.

    Next came an automated polling system, which we still use the basis of today. Each members name was listed in the poll and members voted for the entry by voting for the member name. The polls were completely visible to members throughout the voting, so everyone could see who had the most votes at any time during the competition. Automated polling also eliminated the need for one of the mod team adding up votes manually, which was time consuming and also prone to human error.

    To see an early poll thread, look HERE. The member names were visible, as were the running poll results, throughout the voting.

    We then gained the ability to ‘hide poll results’ which meant, that even though voting was still done on the members name, no-one knew how many votes any particular member was getting. This was the start of our progress towards completely anonymous competitions.

    In mid 2009, Seagate approached AP with an idea for a Quarterly competition, with Seagate hard-drives as prizes. Thus the Seagate quarterly competitions began.

    Then Kym arrived as a member, and then took on the role of technical administrator, his biggest contribution to AP has been developing the competition system that exists today, with anonymous entries, anonymous voting and a range of enhanced features that gives AP one of the best automated photography competition systems around.

    A view of the back-end of the competition system, showing the current competitions, and criteria.
    backend1.jpg

    Another view, showing how we create a competition. This time showing the fields we can set, including filesize and pixel dimensions, number of entries per member, and more. All aspects of a competition are editable.
    backend2.jpg

    The competition system continues to develop, and probably our most recent addition has been the introduction of photography levels, so that members can compete against others of similar experience and skill levels.

    Ausphotography has also gone through several software upgrades and will continue to do so, but we have always tried to remain true to the grey/green look of the site. Even the Site Banner was changed after we held a competition to design a new banner for the site, but we asked that entries retain the look and feel of AP. The site banner has elements of film, digital, RGB, pixels all included, and retains the leaf logo that AP started out with.

    An older AP site banner:
    banner_left.jpg

    A couple of older home page views



    AP1edit.jpg

    How the home page looks today (July 2011)



    The site has developed based mostly on member feedback, new forums have been added, as needed. The New To Photography forum was developed to ensure AP remained true to its original intent of being a place for absolute beginners, as well as those with years of experience. Other forums that have been added as the site has grown, include the Business of Photography, Photoshop Tutorials, F-stop (for general photography discussion)., Out Of Focus (which was originally called Off-Topic), Fiash-Strobist, and more. The member photos forums went under a complete overhaul, and were modified to be based on Genre, with sub-forums, to allow members to both post in, and find photos of the specific genre they were interested in, more readily.

    Most recently, the Library was added to the site, and thus we created a repository of ‘static’ information, freeing up the forums for current discussions. The Library became the home of the New To Photography book, amongst other information.

    The site software will continue to develop as will the forums.

    Ausphotography has developed in the way the members have asked for. We often poll members on ideas and either implement or reject them based on member feedback. After all, it is the members that use the site, and it needs to be what they want, for them to continue to want to use it.

    Some other information:

    - AP should always be for everyone, from the beginner to the full time professional photographer
    - AP should always be free to join and participate in (No membership fees)
    - AP should never create exclusive member forums that only a select few have access to. Unless we are using members as judges for a competition
    - AP will not have google ads
    - AP advertising will be at the top and bottom of site pages, and not integrated into threads. People are sick of advertising everywhere, so AP will keep it simple.
    - AP will provide a safe environment, free from personal attacks.
    Last edited by ricktas; 16-07-2011 at 10:35am.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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  2. #2
    Ausphotography Addict geoffsta's Avatar
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    Good to see some of the names in the early comps still around today.
    A job well done, and I hope it continues.
    Geoff
    Honesty is best policy.
    CC is always welcome
    Nikon D3000 ... Nikon D90... Nikon D700 Various lenses, Home studio equipment and all the associated stuff
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  3. #3
    It's all about the Light!
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    Technical History

    Four weeks after I joined (a bit over three years ago) the site was down due to a technical issue with the database.
    I was a bit frustrated as AP seemed to be the best photography forum for me just getting back into photography seriously after some years.

    I called Rick and said could I help with the problem (given I was an IT geek)?
    Rick gave the the back end passwords (trusting fellow ) and after an hour or so we tracked it down to a quirky MySQL table setting and fixed it.

    A few months later I was invited to be a mod in the role of "tech guru" and the rest is history.

    We have made some huge progress and with the server move and a new version of the forum software in the pipeline things should get better.

    A brief technical history
    • When I started we had the Forum and the Gallery running on Craig's reseller box (2008)
    • We started growing and started hitting bandwidth and other limits so Rick and the team agreed to move to another hosting plan (2009)
    • We upgraded vBulletin from 3.6 to 3.8 and started more site customisations to improve navigation and general usability
    • Competitions...
      • We investigated various ways to improve competition management and I wrote an auto poll generator;
        but we still wanted anonymous competitions and a better way of doing the job
      • So Rick and I had a talk and I decided to write a competition system from scratch
      • Coding started in September 2009, beta testing in October and we went live November
      • The system had new features added during 2010 and now is quite comprehensive http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...nical_Overview
    • Various improvements were made to the site during 2010 including the upgrade to vBulletin V4.0.7 (now 4.1.3)
    • We added the Library (wiki) at the start of this year, this let us consolidate most of the reference information
      - members with 50 posts and 30 days membership can add/edit articles
      - please do so if you have something useful
    • We continue to try to improve the site with new features like the recent addition of a Google Custom Search


    Working with Rick and the rest of the mods has been very fulfilling and a great way to do something worthwhile.

    Not to mention all the excellent members we have on AP! You all help make AP what it is.
    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
    Digital & film, Bits of glass covering 10mm to 500mm, and other stuff



  4. #4
    Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch jim's Avatar
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    A very interesting post, though it somehow fails to mention that red letter day in the history of the site, 27-06-2007.
    All constructive criticism accepted with gratitude.


  5. #5
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    Ohh.and on the 27th June 2007..Member Jim joined up, one of 9 people to join that day, including moderator, Ving!

  6. #6
    Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch jim's Avatar
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    A great day for the site! Thanks Rick.

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    Very interesting, thanks. I feel like a newbie
    Darren
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    Constructive Critique of my images always appreciated

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    Loves The Wildlife. Mary Anne's Avatar
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    Thanks Rick and Kym and all the mods that keep this site running smoothly
    I agree that was very interesting and I enjoyed reading it, even though I have read parts of it before somewhere on here.
    I don't feel like a newbie I am a newbie when I see the date some of the other Members joined
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  9. #9
    Ausphotography Veteran Speedway's Avatar
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    Thanks Rick and Kim for this very interesting look into the history and background on AP.
    Keith.

  10. #10
    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kym View Post
    ........ as AP seemed to be the best photography forum for me just getting back into photography seriously after some years. ....
    I found the exact same thing.
    As others have said, thanks to Rick and Kym. Thanks must go to the Mods. But especially all active members, you create Kyms quote.
    From little things, big things grow. (good song title perhaps) So my biggest thanks go to Craig and Melissa.
    "Enjoy what you can do rather than being frustrated at what you can't." bobt
    60D, Canon 28-105, Sigma 150-600S, Sigma 120-400, a speedlite, a tripod, a monopod, a remote release and a padded bag to carry things in.

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    Wow, Havent been back in some time.

    Alot has changed, Rick I still wear my hat!!!!!
    Site: DzR Photography
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    Camera: Sony A350 DSLR
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  12. #12
    It's all about the Light!
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    This was a very early logo

    logo.gif

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    Thanks for the history. It's interesting to know the background of this site.

  14. #14
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    UPDATE

    In January 2012 we added the New To Photography Critique forum. New members who have chosen beginner as their experience level will be able t post photos for critique into this new forum for 90 days from their join date. This gives new beginner members a chance to get involved, and learn, without being concerned about posting their photos, once they see the quality of photos on the site, which can be initially intimidating to someone who has just taken up photography.

    The site has also continued to grow, with over 16,300 members and will shortly be moving again, to a new server that will allow the site to continue to grow and provide a speedy interface for members.

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    Thank you all who have made this site available. As a newie l am humbled by the amount of work so few have put in to please the masses.

    Cheers
    Cheers
    Banjo

    D5100, AF-S 18 105, AF-S 10 24.

  16. #16
    Member kicko's Avatar
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    I found the best photograph site going a few years ago.I've come and gone over that time but haqve pick up a lot of good infomantion and even though I've still havn'y put up any photos but I hope to do that this year.

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    Thanks!

    Thanks for that interesting coverage of the history of the site! As a new member I feel at home already! I am on my way to look for the right place to introduce myself to the group, but appreciated that introduction of the group to me!
    Newses Bach

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