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Thank you for your interest in the exciting and rewarding process of rating photos! As you probably already know, most of the photos submitted to ShutterPoint can be rated by the site members. Photographers review the ratings they receive and use the feedback as an opportunity to improve their work. Raters share their opinions about photos by means of giving numeric ratings in the anonymous way - raters have limited ability to select random images to rate, and they do not see whose images they are rating (please read the rest of the page to learn more). All members of the site can and are encouraged to rate photos!

To reward active raters, we run the Rating Points Incentive Program, that allows active raters to get free extension of their storage space accounts, and provides opportunity for active raters to appear in the Spotlight section of the ShutterPoint home page.

In order to ensure fairness of ratings, the process of rating photos follows a set of several principles that are outlined below.

Anonymous numeric ratings

After almost two years of the rating system where raters were identified, ShutterPoint has moved to the system of anonymous numeric ratings where a rater cannot select which or whose photo to rate, and a receiver of the ratings does not know who provided it. You do have the ability to leave comment-only feedback on any photo, however, this feedback is tracked as identifiable by the system.

Anonymous ratings address fear of retribution, revenge ratings, hate-mail, offensive or meaningless comments, over-rating, biased ratings and any sort of manipulations, while making many more ratings more meaningful and helpful.

The rating process is restructured into two separate interfaces: one for anonymous numeric ratings with required comments (see Rating Different Aspects of Photos / Optional comments section for details on when comments are optional), and another for identifiable comment-only feedback.

Anonymous ratings
To enter the anonymous ratings area, a member can go to the Rate Photos page (you can also begin at the home page, see the "Rate a Photo" section or the "Rate a Photo" section). All images shown on this page will be completely random with the default ShutterPoint watermark overriding any custom watermarks. By giving ratings on this page, a rater will not know who gets rated, and the photographer will not know who is leaving the rating (hence the term "two-way anonymity" that defines this process).

Identifiable, comment-only feedback
To leave an identifiable comment-only feedback, a member will be able to select a photo by browsing through the site and pick any photo to view. Any comments left by employing this method will be displayed along with name of the person who left them.

Required comments

Each comment you submit should be of at least five distinct words. Some common "noise" words such as the, that, of, for, etc do not get counted. This rule is aimed to encourage genuine constructive and meaningful feedback. If you cannot think of much to say about a photo, try to think it through and you will be able to describe how you feel about it. Concentrate on aspects that you particularly like or dislike about the photo and describe what you think. Offer ways to improve the picture if you can suggest any. Remember you are not rating a subject, but the presentation of it. Keep in mind that if a photo can use at least a tiny improvement, it should not be rated 10.

You have an option not to provide a numeric rating, however a comment is required (see the section below for exceptions).

Rating different aspects of photos / Optional comments

As a rater being involved in providing anonymous ratings, you have the ability to choose which way you want to rate each photo presented to you for a rating. You can choose to rate using the single overall numeric rating method, or use the aspects method, allowing evaluating each aspect of the photo individually. When you choose the latter, comments may become optional (each photographer can require comments even for ratings by aspects). Below is a list of photo aspects that are available for evaluation:

  • Composition
  • Creativity / Originality
  • Depth of Field / Focus
  • Color or Tonal Range
  • Noise or Grain
  • Exposure / Lighting
  • Tells a Story
  • Dramatic Effect
If you choose to rate by aspects, the system will automatically convert your responses into a single overall score on a 1-10 rating scale. Additionally, the evaluation of individual photo aspects will be displayed as comments accompanying the score. Note that it is not necessary to rate all aspects if they do not apply.

How total ratings are calculated

ShutterPoint has adopted the individual numeric rating normalization method for calculation of the total rating for each photo. The method is based on the true Bayesian estimate formula, commonly used in statistics. The formula is:

Total rating (TR) = (V/(V+M)) * R + (M/(V+M)) * C

  R = mathematical average for the photo (mean);
  V = number of received ratings for the photo;
  M = minimum number of ratings required for calculation (1);
  C = median of the rating scale (5.50)

This method allows photos that receive higher number of individual numeric ratings to score a more representative total rating.

Simply put, your photos have an imaginary rating of 5.5 to start with, so if you get an 8, your rating will be (5.5+8)/2 = 6.75

Rewards for ratings

Rating rewards allow the most active raters to benefit from their contribution in the process of rating photos. Benefits include a chance to get automatic free storage space renewal for 3 months, and ability to get your name in the Spotlight section of the home page.

Each new rating or comment you submit may earn you points. Points are assigned as follows:

  • 1 point is awarded for the comment-only feedback;
  • 2 points are awarded for each numeric rating submitted without comments (using rating by aspects method);
  • 3 points are awarded for each numeric rating accompanied by comments (using overall rating method);
  • 5 points are awarded for each numeric rating accompanied by comments (using rating by aspects method);
If the system detects that a comment you submit is identical to the comments you had submitted in the last 30 days, you will not earn any points, even though your rating and comment will be accepted.

In order to calculate your total points, your point balance is multiplied by the arithmetical average of all numeric ratings you received for your own photos (if you have not received any ratings, the system will multiply the points by 7). Therefore, your point balance will be higher if your photos get better ratings. You can always view your point balance in the Rate Photos section on the Home page (when you are logged in) or right after you provide each new rating.

1. Free storage space renewal

At the beginning of each calendar month, the system will review the point balances of all members, and the top five will receive automatic free extension of their storage space subscription by 3 months, regardless of the size of their storage space (members will be notified via e-mail if they have received the free extension). The point balance for those members will be divided in half. Point balances of all other members will remain in place, until they get to the top five.

2. Placement in the Spotlight section

Raters who rate photos on the regular basis, and try to offer constructive feedback along with ratings, can get into the Spotlight section of the home page, which is the great way to increase exposure of your portfolio. In addition, if you happen to be a rater who scored the highest number of rating points within the period of the last 24 hours, you can also get your name in the Spotlight section.

Power ratings

Power ratings are given by members who have met qualifications presented below:

  1. The total number of comments should exceed 100 in a 30 day period, and at least 90% of them should be unique (only comments given along with ratings are counted).
  2. The rating pattern should be either a mid-range or a full-scale rater, based on the ratings given within the last 30 days.
  3. There should be at least either 2 full license sales, or 20 standard license sales, or 1 full license and 10 standard license sales on the account.
Power raters are rewarded with double points and placement in the Spotlight section of the home page.

Once the requirements for the power rater status are met, power raters will be able to use a dedicated Power Ratings page that shows 20 randomly picked thumbnails presented exclusively for ratings. Clicking one of the thumbnails takes a power rater to the same screen many of you are familiar with - the screen that allows you to submit ratings.

Power ratings are identified with a rating score shown in bold. Power ratings cannot be automatically removed however they can be reported to ShutterPoint if they are offensive.

Limited ability to remove ratings

The limited ability to remove feedback is available to address a possible issue with meaningless or offensive comments and ratings that may come as the result of anonymity. Each photographer can use a "Remove" link for each comment or rating so that offensive or rude feedback can be deleted. In order to prevent an unreasonable use of this feature, this functionality is limited. The number of removals that any photographer can employ is set as 10% of the number of all anonymous numeric ratings that a member has received (5% if your average rating is under 6.00). For example, if someone received the total of 67 anonymous numeric ratings, a 10% limit will allow to have 7 (6.7 rounded) ratings or comments removed from any number of photos. Once the limit is used up, there will be no way to remove ratings other than getting more ratings first. This restriction is put in place to limit photographers from being able to "clean up" criticism excessively and therefore to unfairly boost their ratings.

When any rating/comment is removed as offensive or meaningless, the rater who originally left this rating/comment will instantly lose 10 rating reward points. This measure is designed to encourage raters to provide meaningful constructive criticism as opposed to simply rubber-stamping images they do not like as bad. Any person with an alarming number of ratings/comments being removed by photographers may temporarily lose the ability to rate.

Note that power ratings cannot be automatically removed.

How to be a perfect rater

Make your rating and comment a thoughtful and objective response to a photograph. Your feedback can be positive or negative. If you are pointing out defects, please try to remain polite, diplomatic and friendly. A well articulated negative comment can sometimes be an illuminating moment for another photographer. Honest and fair feedback is a useful aid for the photographer to learn and progress. If nobody ever points out possible problems, it may be very difficult to work out ways to improve. Some varying ideas will allow the photographer to pick and choose those that will help develop his/her own style, and since it is very hard to be objective about one's own work, the reactions of fresh eyes can be truly invaluable.

  • Try to help other members improve their skills - not to boost up their egos or destroy their self-confidence. It is important to balance out any perceived shortcomings of a photo with an appreciation of the good aspects of the photo. Many members are grateful to any raters who can objectively evaluate both good and bad aspects of their photos.
  • If you point out a problem, always try to offer constructive help on how to fix it for next time, for instance by choosing a different shooting angle, aperture or shutter speed, using a tripod, the white balance control, etc. If you believe problems with the image can be corrected with image editing software, describe what could be done to salvage the image and how. Do not assume everyone knows as much as you do, so explain in simple terms how to fix what you may see as obvious.
  • Try to give ratings or comments to a photograph, not to its subject. For example, many people enjoy viewing images of beautiful scenery or adorable house pets, but it is a common mistake to rate these image highly only on the merit of emotion motivation. Always review technical and artistic aspects of the image and make a comment and a rating with these aspects in mind.
You will find that getting involved in constructive ratings helps you improve your own photography: by reviewing and determining what works and what doesn't, you will learn new approaches and techniques you can use for your next shoot.