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This year the internet has begun changing and all around the world people’s attention has been fixed on the harmful influence of social media (which, if you think about it, is really just one enormous forum). For example the Bell-Pottinger social media campaign commissioned by the nefarious Gupta family to disrupt South African society came to light last year. Bell-Pottinger admitted to what they had done, lost all their clients and closed up shop. We also learned of the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal involving the misuse of personal information for electioneering purposes. Dreadful stuff. 

 

In May the EU GDPR laws came into effect and today I read of another EU law being voted on by the European Parliament this month which, if it comes to pass, will dramatically alter the face of the internet, especially for sites like Fotozones where we share images and other information. This law is known as Article 13. If you don’t know about it, please go Google it. Very important stuff to know if you use the internet to share intellectual property with others. 

 

All of these developments highlighted something to me; there is now a very strong need for more secure, better managed and privately owned, smaller forums to exist. Like Fotozones, for instance. 

 

To this end I resolved to remove all members who have not logged into Fotozones since 1 July 2015 and also updated our software to the latest standard. I am pleased to announce that this project is now completed. We dropped over 12,000 members from our database and as things currently stand our membership comprises 1425 people. It is my plan to repeat this exercise every year and possibly also limit the amount of registered members we have at any given time, so as to avoid becoming just another giant forum where everybody is fighting for your attention. I have also set in place an “Application” process for people to become new members and every applicant will be assessed before they are allowed membership to Fotozones. 

 

The new software we have is very cleverly thought out and it also allows our community to become self-moderating. For example, if a post gets 5 reports from 5 different members it automatically gets hidden from view. 

 

We also now have 2 factor authentication as a login option. If you didn’t notice, your login is also encrypted by our security certificate.

 

Another new feature we have is called Our Picks where good content found on the site gets promoted to a portal page. Members of the contributors and local moderator groups also have the ability to promote content to this area. What’s really cool about this is that all email sent out from the server, such as notifications of subscribed threads, will have links to this promoted content in the footer, giving you, the members who make these posts, more viewers for the material you post on Fotozones. It’s even on this email! 

 

One of the more interesting new features that has come out in the new software is the introduction of Clubs. Basically these are very similar to Facebook Groups where members with the permission to create them can in essence start their own micro-communities within Fotozones. At this stage I am limiting the creation of Clubs to those in the Contributor group until we have had more time to test the usefulness of this feature. I have created an open group for Lightroom users and (hopefully) soon I will be adding some tutorials and other information about Lightroom in there. 

 

When I look at some of the other big photography communities out there and the amount of click-bait drivel they serve up daily, I am more convinced than ever before that the quality over quantity approach I am taking will ensure that the Fotozones community will become the antithesis of those advertising dependent websites. What we will have instead is a carefully curated, helpful, friendly platform for people who love photography. 

 

Thank you for sticking around. I hope to delight you with a superb website going forward. 

 

NOTE: this message was emailed to all existing members on 5 July 2018. If you didn't receive it, you should check your spam filters and if it isn't there ask your internet service provider to please whitelist emails coming from our domain name otherwise you will never receive notifications from Fotozones. 

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