This is probably a sensitive subject to bring up and my intention really isn't to ruffle any feathers or come off as snobby, but honestly - the critique forum here is really disappointing. There's just hardly any actual critique, and even worse than that, I am seeing so many threads with photos getting one line fanboy responses like "great set!" when the photos are, well, not great. Yeah yeah, I know there's an element of subjectivity in judging any kind of creative output, but there are also many principles which do make for good photography, and when they're ignored, the results are more likely to be mediocre to poor. Let's not pretend that every photo is a masterpiece - we all started off somewhere and for the majority of us, our initial steps into this medium yielded pretty poor results, which is why we look for feedback to improve.
What I find frustrating is that these one line fluffy posts really do more harm than good, because they distort peoples' perceptions of their own skills, and that's detrimental to their development in their craft. Ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? In order to overcome that problem, development of a realistic sense of self-awareness with regards to your abilities is absolutely essential for the sake of learning, because we have to have a realistic gauge of our abilities if we're to remain open to how much we need to learn.
I realise that not everyone aspires to be a masterful photographer, but it's particularly irksome when people post batches of photos specifically asking for honest feedback because they want to learn, and instead of people actually posting proper insight, they're responding with these useless one liners. Are people afraid to be honest? Or do people not really know how to critique? Or, perhaps, are people wary of posting critique because they don't want to be seen as the nasty ogre amongst all the puffy back-patting posts?
This forum has a "Critique corner" as well as a larger "Photo sharing" section. I can understand fanboy fluff in the sharing section, and I had previously assumed the critique section was there for more serious feedback, but to my disappointment it isn't - I keep opening threads, seeing problematic photos, and then scrolling down the page hoping to see some interesting feedback, but it really seems that 95% of the responses are these pointless one liners. I'm not suggesting that every thread poster should be greeted with a soul-crushing rant about how crap their work is, but honestly it's disheartening to someone like myself who wants to learn to keep encountering a total lack of insight in the overwhelming majority of threads.
I see this as a part of the increasing social trend of celebrating mediocrity, and it's something I'm finding really frustrating to keep encountering. How is anyone to rise up and really shine if they're encouraged to settle for their mediocre work by all this back-patting and ego-boosting? You simply can't build a constructive culture of learning in the middle of a culture of back-patters.
I think it's also important to note that it's not just critique that's missing, but also positive insight - explaining why you like an image is also very constructive for those reading the thread; understanding why people respond positively to images helps other members to better grasp why certain things work.
Am I expecting too much from the critique forum?