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Dallas

What Do You Want From Fotozones?

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It's fairly obvious that participation here is at an all time low. Many factors obviously come into play as to why this is happening and I suspect that one of the biggest factors is online burnout. People are tired of seeing the same stuff posted all the time, having the same arguments with the same people and basically feeding the need for validation of their opinions. That sounds truly cynical, but the reality is that I don't think it is just here - it seems to be happening on all the other online photography forums and groups I belong to, so there's definitely something in the air. Even some of the sites that were pumping out hundreds of new posts every day are only seeing a couple of daily posts now, including some Facebook groups I'm on. This is kind of sad because online communities are very important. I know that I am not even participating much myself these days, but that is because I really am terribly busy as my photography business has suddenly picked up a lot of momentum and I am literally shooting every day. I simply don't have time to create and share content like I used to. 

 

This site runs on a very slick platform and there are a lot of features to the software that we aren't even using - stuff that makes social media look primitive in comparison. I have added clubs, profile embellishments so that others can easily find and follow content made by popular members, added new boards and databases, brought back POTW but none of this has generated any interest. I am really at a bit of a loss on what to do next. I don't want massive amounts of traffic which will necessitate a return to paid memberships or advertising, but I do want to know that the costs and work that has been put into making this community for such a long time is not going to come to nought.

 

So I need some answers from you guys on what you would like to see happening on FZ. You are the audience, what should the show be about? What do you want from Fotozones? 

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Hi -- to be honest, this is the first time I have been to Fotozones in a long time.  I agree with your observation about traffic on photo sites.  I can only speak for myself, but my interest photo sites has dropped off because I'm not searching information on how to build out my kit anymore.  I have a camera and lens collection that really doesn't limit me in anyway.  The technical limits that remain to be conquered by gear only come up ~0.1% of the time (e.g., maybe I'm concerned with noise in a single frame 15 minute expose of the Milky Way or something like that.)  So that means the only time I'm going to go to photo sites is for (1) inspiration, and (2) learning technique.  I suppose I would also seek out info on photo locations or trip planning or something like that.  Just so much of the traffic was driven by gear reviews, which just aren't that relevant anymore.  This is the same reason that people are buying cameras less frequently -- the one they have works well enough.

 

I really hope that you can find ways to drive more traffic to your site, because I still love photography and I come to site to get inspired.  Photographers like anyone else get in ruts and seeing others work is a great boost.  Best of luck to Fotozones!!!

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Perhaps some of the slow down is due to the increasing maturity of the camera market.  The developments in new cameras are increasingly smaller and smaller changes.  

 

I think many of us are now satisfied with the cameras we already have and aren’t chasing after some new features or more megapixels.

 

As such, images and techniques are probably of more interest, but I suspect they will never generate the excitement of new toys.

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I sense that the photographic retail sector has slowed down - many of what some call "high street" stores are offering massive discounts to keep thei new gear moving.  This signals that the buying population are less ready to open wallets.  Whether that translates to a falling interest in in photography and thus accessing photographic websites I am not sure, but I have a gut feeling that the two are connected.

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My interest has shifted back to B&W film and darkroom, which means there's not much interest for me anywhere on the Internet with regard to photography at present. I'm about as experienced and proficient in that field as it's possible to get having spent my entire 48 year career (bar the last few miserable digital years) full-time with B&W film & manual larger format cameras, as well as being in the B&W darkroom on a weekly to often daily basis, so I don't need help or information on how to do any of it, and there's little point showing B&W film work via the Internet for display on unknown monitors.

 

To look at a photographic B&W silver bromide print side by side with the same image on a monitor is your literal chalk and cheese; the two look nothing at all alike save for the image content  itself, so the usual comments I have received when having posted such online which judge such things as excessive grain, tone or even contrast are pointless as the photographic print itself will show none of these concerns at all.

 

I continue to read forum photography posts, but these days I'm as often as not looking at medium and large format film gear for sale or trade as the stuff is not, and probably never will be, made anymore. Collecting a backstop of viable, excellent condition cameras is not so easy as most of the stuff I'm interested in is by default 25 or more years old and as demand rises and supply diminishes, "finds" are getting very scarce indeed. As I have no interest in becoming an eBay dealer and will actually use what I buy, the escalating prices make things even more difficult as I'll never recoup any investments. I'm also constantly researching repair procedures as the knowledge base there is shrinking as well, and as for spare parts, they're only available as reclaimed from not-working old gear themselves and they, too, are getting increasingly expensive. A Pentacon Six TL in "for parts, not working" condition now costs what a fully functional one in very good condition cost only 18 months ago.

 

I can't ever see me shifting back to digital, though - my heart always was in B&W photography, and as I have noted on many occasions, I think the digital implementation of B&W totally sucks. Compared to a good photographic B&W silver bromide print, it sends my crapometer meter off the scale, as does any attempt to print a digitised B&W negative on any modern inkjet printer. As a consequence I consider the new Epson P800 I was forced to buy in December 2017 (after my Epson 7800 failed) in order to complete the six months of work I had to go before I could retire in July 2018 as having been a total waste of money. I might be able to use it as a teaching aid, but exactly how to implement that I have yet to work out. As I still have my Fuji-XF gear I guess it's a backstop for the unlikely event of me needing to do some colour prints, but that's going to be an erratic thing at best, and is certainly not a current interest of mine any longer.

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Monthly themed photo competitions with paid entry fees and prizes.

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20 minutes ago, vivionm said:

Monthly themed photo competitions with paid entry fees and prizes.

 

It would definitely be possible to set this up using the software, however, the money and judging side of things has the potential to derail the site, so I would tread very carefully around that sort of thing. 

 

I did consider creating corporate accounts where the owners of those could pay for a membership and use the site to promote their products via competitions and suchlike, but... social media has pretty much drawn away the eyes that sites like FZ used to get, which makes it very difficult to attract that sort of corporate interest. 

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Sadly I can’t pinpoint something to promote traffic through the site, personally it’s the winter that is curtailing photography, I don’t like the cold at all :

95B6E538-2831-4892-86B4-FDF35B953855.thumb.jpeg.c5622613422110d7556aa919bf043220.jpeg

Lumix G9 + PLeica 12mm 1.4 @ 1/60 f5.6 ISO1250

Nipping down the road to do a bit of shopping was treacherous, definitely not good!

I belong to four photo forums, and I’m not seeing a slowdown in the amount of posting or pictures I’m seeing on those other sites.

On the mu-43 site there’s a lot of chat about the Olympus E-M1X, pretty obvious considering its imminent release!

 

I’m as guilty as anyone for not posting more, and I’ve got a new system to use as well!

I wish I had a magic bullit but sadly I don’t.

Sorry Dallas.


Mike Gorman

 

Lumix G9 , GX8 - Leica 12, 15, 20, 25, 42.5 - 8-18, 12-60, 35-100, 45-175

 

 

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1 hour ago, Dallas said:

but... social media has pretty much drawn away the eyes that sites like FZ used to get, which makes it very difficult to attract that sort of corporate interest. 

I think this right here is the source of your competition .. social media like FB where people log in once and use their mobile app for everything. They connect with family, friends, co-workers, AND people with common interests via FB groups.

 

I own TravelPhotographers.net (TPN) which was once the #1 travel photography site on the internet. We had world renowned photographers among our members who contributed regularly. We held photo challenges with different themes and weekly selected winners were featured on the site cover page. Our world renowned photographers and amateurs contributed articles. We had photo galleries for critique where people really appreciated the honest, tough feedback that helped them grow. We had free and paid content. TPN membership was in the thousands and the site had millions of hits a month in web stats. Once FB came along and all the adults in the world started going there, they stopped going to TPN.

 

FB is a silo ecosystem where people enter and never leave. There are a few successful "community" websites that seem to continue to thrive – Nikon Café, Nikonians, Fred Miranda, Photo.net are ones I know, and perhaps fotozones has a sizeable enough active membership to be among them. The social media sites are hard to compete with. Even Google tried to compete against Facebook with Google+ and is now pulling the plug on the public free service and taking it entirely enterprise as part of the G-Suite paid service.

 

I also wonder if the number of "media" sites – fstoppers, petapixel, dpreview, etc – has diluted the audience. Many of them encourage "guest" articles and make their money on advertising via Adwords and other similar services. These sites make money based on visitors without having to pay authors for their content. I believe this is also what kills traditional magazines. Anyone can start an online magazine. TPN was called Travel Photographers Online Magazine until all of the really good contributors got so successful they could not afford to spend time on articles for the site. When they left, it starting getting harder. Then Facebook came along and killed it altogether.

 

I don't know how one competes with FB or the well known guest-author sites. If you have a solid community of people who really like your site and continue to feed it, then it will be successful. Nikon Café is one example I can point to that has a really loyal membership. FredMiranda.com, Photo.net, NaturePhotographers.net, NatureScapes.net are others that seem to retain a very loyal community. Fostering that sense of community may likely be the way to keep it going.

 

I started a TPN FB group and many of the former active TPN members have joined it so TPN has made a sort of transition and adapted to the changing tides. I wish I could have made the TPN site itself retain the sense of community it once had. I hope fotozones can do that.

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There has been a lot of good commentary here and to me personally via email. Thank you all. 

 

I think that the brand oriented sites and those that were well established about a decade or so ago are staying alive, but on the purely community based (non-specific) photography sites that I am still looking at there is a significant drop off in participation. One of them is based here in SA and they seem to be experiencing an even more severe decline in participation than FZ. Previously they were really busy. This is even true of some Facebook groups I joined, particularly the RE and HDR groups. 

 

The problem with Facebook groups is that as the admin you own nothing and you can't communicate with the members of the site by email the same way that I am able to using the software here. I killed all my FB pages, including the FZ page because they were thoroughly useless for directing traffic here. But even on my personal FB feed I don't see anywhere near as many posts as I used to. As I said it's like the majority of people are tuning out and getting on with their normal lives. FB doesn't want to go away in spite of this though. :( 

 

Well, I'm open to all suggestions on how to make FZ better and livelier for all, so those of you who are interested in reviving this community please share your thoughts and ideas with me. Let's make it happen. 

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Many interest interventions here as for your introduction on the subject Dallas have pointed out what is happening to most Internet community of general and more specific interests. The instant curiosity factor has decreased steadily in the last few years and has been partly replaced by more focused community on subjects or even photo equipment. 
Another factor that didn't also help is the constant war between the different (manufacturer) photo equipment users that has been degenerated to hard conflict and recurring trolling into what used to be instructive forums. Many people simply disengage themselves  (like myself) and are avoiding these none constructive discussions. The photo equipment continuous arguements have completely surpass the basic photo creative motivation.
But at the end I think there is still a strong place for photo communities based on generosity, respect and share of ideas and...pictures. It is not the number of participants or "like" that are the most important, it is the quality of everybody exchanges.
Thank you Dallas for maintaining the spirit of this beautiful photo web community of FOTOZONES. 

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A trace of light that survive a little further than the actual moment of flash.

photodanielm.blogspot.com

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36 minutes ago, bonedaddy said:

My interest faded when Bjorn Rorslett left this site.  I always enjoyed his comments and insight.

 

You can continue to follow Bjørn on Nikongear.net. I have no hard feelings about what happened. Unfortunately we both let egos (and other people with less than altruistic motives) cloud our respect for one another. 

 

22 minutes ago, danielm said:

Many interest interventions here as for your introduction on the subject Dallas have pointed out what is happening to most Internet community of general and more specific interests. The instant curiosity factor has decreased steadily in the last few years and has been partly replaced by more focused community on subjects or even photo equipment. 
Another factor that didn't also help is the constant war between the different (manufacturer) photo equipment users that has been degenerated to hard conflict and recurring trolling into what used to be instructive forums. Many people simply disengage themselves  (like myself) and are avoiding these none constructive discussions. The photo equipment continuous arguements have completely surpass the basic photo creative motivation.
But at the end I think there is still a strong place for photo communities based on generosity, respect and share of ideas and...pictures. It is not the number of participants or "like" that are the most important, it is the quality of everybody exchanges.
Thank you Dallas for maintaining the spirit of this beautiful photo web community of FOTOZONES. 

 

Thank you, Daniel. You're quite right, without a specific focus it is difficult to maintain audience interest. I have adopted the "recreational photographer" as the ideal target and hopefully this is the kind of person who sticks around here and continues to share inspiration and honest advice with peers, regardless of the type of camera used.

 

You know, I was just thinking to myself that the site's mission statement should be something along the lines of "so you bought a camera, learned how to use it, now let's enjoy it together". :) 

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I follow education and discussion wherever that may be. The community here is terse at best, except for a few past glowing exceptions. Burn out or the overall toxicity encountered online may be the cause, or it may be that I do not take time to find those members to interact with any longer. Thus, is it the site and discussion board or am I the problem? I'm willing to ponder either, but I will also add this is the only photography discussion board I post on at all. And I believed enough in what the group and Dallas were doing years ago to join as a lifer. My hope is that as social media fades away, valuing discussions outside of echo chambers will become a pillar of online communication.

In other words, I certainly would like to see things grow, change, progress for another 7 or 8 years.

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It is always sad to learn that a nice web site has been transformed in a controversial plate-form simply to deserve very personal and narrow minded views especially over manufactured products. 
This has polluted the entire Web communuty with the high expense of many very dedicated people who use to work hard for creating interesting photo contents.
Now we are entering into a kind of slow recoveryof all these volontary effort to (re)conciliate people that share the passion on photography in particular. 
As I have said earlier it is not the the frequency of posting of each member of this community that really care but the sincerity of all to offer an open view on photography.

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A trace of light that survive a little further than the actual moment of flash.

photodanielm.blogspot.com

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At this time my kit is a Fuji X-t2 and a set of lenses that is more than adequate for my needs. I am an "enthusiast" photographer which in my case means that after I sold my, printed (by me), matted and framed (by me) photos to prove to myself that I could, I stopped selling my work and put all my efforts into  perfecting my concept of fine art photography rather than the business of photography. I use a variety of camera methods, macro, focus stacking, HDR,  panning, zooming, panorama, etc to provide the raw material for the assembly of the photo in post. I then use the abundant software available today to create the end result.

Accordingly, I am interested in:

Learning methods of photographing beyond the basics of taking a well exposed, sharp image.

Dealing with the idiosyncrasies of my current Fuji kit and following the developments in that system.

Advanced editing techniques (Currently, Lightroom classic,  Photoshop CC, On1 and various plug-ins).

Achieving the best prints for the particular image. (paper, setting up the camera and taking the original image with the  print in mind, profiles, color management, specific printer issues, [currently Epson SureColor P800] ).

 

There is an overwhelming amount of the above information already on the web, much of it garbage. As such I find myself drilling down to very specific sites or part of sites with folks who are on my wavelength. 

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I'd like to thank all those of you who have provided some very good insights into the current predicament with photographic communities here on FZ and to me privately. You've given me a lot to think about and I am glad to hear some resonance with what I have been contemplating about what a community of non-specific photographers should look for in an online community that doesn't focus on anything in particular. 

 

I have always wanted this site to be about rich content creation made and followed by as many contributors as possible. Making content can be difficult, but I think that as long as you are not making content for the sheer sake of it (a la all the other high profile photography sites out there), things will fall into place and that content will be appreciated by those who bother to come visit. The tricky part is keeping people coming. 

 

What I have found is that regular email newsletters work well and the stats I get from SparkPost seem to bear this out. There is a very high engagement level on emails I send out, much higher than industry standards, which indicates to me that the audience definitely wants to remain engaged with FZ. So I need to be sending out more of these. My problem of course is that right now finding the time to make good content myself is a bit of a challenge, so no point in sending out newsletters when there is no new content! I suppose I could make more content about the work I do, but sooner or later that will become very boring because not everybody is interested in real estate photography. Safaris are another area that I am passionate about, but there wasn't one last year, so content is thin in that regard. The one coming up in June will spark some new material though, so expect material in that area soon. 

 

Ideally what I would like to see is a variety of content produced by many FZ members. The way I have the site set up now it is very easy for me to promote that content to the front page of the site, rather than creating articles. Everybody should be using the home page as their starting point on FZ because that is where you'll find the latest promoted content, as well as a sidebar containing links to the most recent forum discussions. This portal works really well and I can promote images posted in forums and galleries to there, as well as great posts found on the forums. 

 

Please keep the ideas and insights coming. Let's make this site special again.

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There is no doubt that fotozones is the most modern looking and most comfortable photo community I know. 

There is no doubt either, that a very friendly and international community meets here. 

These are the two reasons keeping me coming back (and reading your newsletter mails, @Dallas).

 

Things lacking: For some time fotozones contained so many features that it was impossible for anyone to provide enough content for all these categories available.You already trimmed down the focus, but some categories like the gear section still feel quite empty. So my advice would be to focus on sections which don't appeal to "completionists": E.g. Why is xyz gear not reviewed in this section?

 

Photographic experiences, photos (!), and advice on how to make them are always appreciated.

Speaking about myself: I still feel like a mediocre hobbyist, so I rather consume information, but I am not the best of advisor.

Such advice should imho only be provided by people "in the know", not by intermediate hobbyists like me. Our answers tend to fall in two categories: either renarrating reviews from some test site, or our own limited amateurish experience.

 

You mentioned that you ponder focussing on one's gear and how to enjoy it. 

I'd certainly be part of the audience you aim at. But then there is the question of who will provider high quality content: Things to strive for, to improve one's photography.

 

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If photos are the focus (sorry for the pun), 1x.com is the best site by a country mile..

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57 minutes ago, vivionm said:

If photos are the focus (sorry for the pun), 1x.com is the best site by a country mile..

Agreed.


Still trying.

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Dallas,

 

I got here via your email to me which reminded me how long it has been since I visited Fotozones and triggered this response.

 

I agree with a number of the other postings that things have changed for me because I now have a set of equipment, Fuji X-H1 for general use, X-T1 for portraits and four Fuji lenses with which I am perfectly content, apart from a wide angle zoom (10-24) which I am hoping to be able to fund later this year. Therefore I no longer look for equipment articles.

 

As regards posting to the site, this fell off for personal reasons, which are no longer relevant, and I am hoping that I can now spend far more of my time taking photographs than I have been able to during the last year.

 

I hope that your present troubles regarding lack of response are temporary and that by asking the question that you have regarding this will result in a greatly improved situation.

 

 

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I want a place where I can post my pics and see good pics from the community and read reviews of the latest equipment.

I understand that many people prefer photographic equipment over the pics. I witnessed it at last year's Photokina. Few people looking at wonderful pics at the the various galleries and the cameras makers stands crowded.

I love equipment too, but they don't mean anything if I can not make good images with it.

You can picture in your mind the several 85 yo rich men that are proud of their Ferraris parked in their garage but don't know the pleasure to drive it at 200km/h in a curve. (I don't know that either, but I'm not 85 not rich nor have a Ferrari. lol). Similar to many photographic equipment owners.

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Aguinaldo

www.aguinaldodepaula.com

Nikon / Zeiss

"You are not a loser when you're defeated.
You are a loser when you quit".
(Dr. House)

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Dallas, I am admittedly biased because I was a big fan of another photography forums site named photographyreview.com (now defunct, but still online), but I find the FZ categories of the forum to not be what I want. What FZ has:

 

- Birds (but no Animals)

- Botanical (different than Nature?)

- Macro

- Nature (is this landscape, or animals, or ?)

- People (extremely general)

- Photojournalism (Ok, but is this City, people, all of the above?)

- Places (huh?)

- Other

 

The old PR forum categories were as follows (http://forums.photographyreview.com/forum.php). Not all of them here, but most:

 

- Viewfinder (for those who don't want critique, but to show their work)

- Photo Critique (broad)

- Help (about your equipment , etc)

- Camera Reviews

- Canon Camera Equip

- Nikon

- Sony

- Olympus

- Pentax

- MIrrorless

- Software and Post Processing

- Camera Dealer Feedback

- Video

- Nature and Wildlife

- Film

- Photo Biz and Law

- Studio and Lighting

- Sports

- Photography as Art

- Photo PRojects

- Camera Gear for Sale/Wanted

- Off Topic

- Site Feedback

 

A lot I know (perhaps too many), but you get the picture. They were also listed in a simpler list that required less scrolling (yes, it does make a difference).

 

Anyway..

 

Gb

 

Edit: one of the above categories that I think was important is the Viewfinder. There are many situations where a person simply wants to show their work. In some situations, they really do not want to here criticism and simply dismiss any comments that are not favorable. These need to be policed and moved to the Viewfinder because they waste the responder's time and effort.

 

Edited by GB111
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Thanks for the input, @GB111

 

I hear what you're saying, but over the years (admittedly a LOT of them), I have found that creating specific boards for various types of photography didn't result in any increase in posts for that kind of photography. A classic example was sports photography. I think I created it at least twice and we had maybe 2 or 3 participants on a regular basis. Same with a few others that were requested, created, then absorbed into more general boards. With the reduced levels of participation, and with the advent of topic tagging in the software, I am more inclined to consolidate all the image sharing boards into one big one covering everything regardless of subject. Of course history has also shown that my ideas are not always welcomed, but I put them out there anyway. :) 

 

Then there are Clubs. If any member subscribes to FZ they also get the ability to create up to 5 clubs, which are like fully featured mini-forums on FZ. If you are interested in starting a sports photographers club that is open to all, that is an easy thing to set up. Or if you wanted to create a premium club where you charge members to view your posts that would also be possible using a revenue split with FZ. 

 

For me the real value in FZ is for members to create their own following audience by adding new, rich content as often as they can. With the way this software works it is possible to follow other members and get notified every time they post a new topic. The notification can be via email or browser notices. Or both. Every member can build their own audience and also use their profile pages to keep other members informed of their gear choices, etc. There is an option to create your own About Me page and you can also post status updates instead of posting in forum boards if you so desire.

 

The Fotozones platform is very powerful - I just wish more people would see the potential it offers. 

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Maybe a reduced set of these topics put in a priority order to suit people might be worth considering?

 

 

4 hours ago, GB111 said:

Dallas, I am admittedly biased because I was a big fan of another photography forums site named photographyreview.com (now defunct, but still online), but I find the FZ categories of the forum to not be what I want. What FZ has:

 

- Birds (but no Animals)

- Botanical (different than Nature?)

- Macro

- Nature (is this landscape, or animals, or ?)

- People (extremely general)

- Photojournalism (Ok, but is this City, people, all of the above?)

- Places (huh?)

- Other

 

The old PR forum categories were as follows (http://forums.photographyreview.com/forum.php). Not all of them here, but most:

 

- Viewfinder (for those who don't want critique, but to show their work)

- Photo Critique (broad)

- Help (about your equipment , etc)

- Camera Reviews

- Canon Camera Equip

- Nikon

- Sony

- Olympus

- Pentax

- MIrrorless

- Software and Post Processing

- Camera Dealer Feedback

- Video

- Nature and Wildlife

- Film

- Photo Biz and Law

- Studio and Lighting

- Sports

- Photography as Art

- Photo PRojects

- Camera Gear for Sale/Wanted

- Off Topic

- Site Feedback

 

A lot I know (perhaps too many), but you get the picture. They were also listed in a simpler list that required less scrolling (yes, it does make a difference).

 

Anyway..

 

Gb

 

Edit: one of the above categories that I think was important is the Viewfinder. There are many situations where a person simply wants to show their work. In some situations, they really do not want to here criticism and simply dismiss any comments that are not favorable. These need to be policed and moved to the Viewfinder because they waste the responder's time and effort.

 

 

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