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John Mitchell

Radical QC Suggestion

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At the risk of making myself very unpopular, I would like to make a radical suggestion, namely that after almost 14 years (I believe) of operation, Alamy should consider reassessing its QC policy. The essence of my suggestion is that Alamy should think about doing what every other stock agency that I know of does  -- i.e.  simply reject images that don't meet its standards from submissions and let the others pass through the gate right away. I realize that this would probably mean more work for QC because they would have to check more individual images. But surely this could be overcome by limiting the number of images that could be submitted at once to a rational maximum number (100 images say). If this system works for so many others, I'm sure it would work for Alamy.

 

There, I've gone and said it. Shall now run for cover.

 

-John M

Edited by John Mitchell
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John, I like the suggestion of individual image checking. 

 

I dislike the suggestion of throttling contributors with a maximum number of submissions in the queue at one time.  In fact, I am terminating my contract with a German agent when it comes up for renewal for this very specific reason (they limited me to 100 in the queue at one time, then they decided to keep my 100 limit but had me make my batches smaller because 40 images in a batch was too many for an editor to handle at once, then they started to ask stupid questions about the images in an attempt to slow me down - by stupid questions I mean asking if a model is American Indian when it specifically states on the signed model release that the model is American Indian).  Essentially this disturbed my workflow so much, and related to such a small return in royalties, that it was not worth my time to continue submitting.

 

I feel the same way no matter who the agent is.

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Hmmm...didn't mean to throttle anyone. Having a maximum number was just a thought. My main suggestion revolves around switching to what seems to be the "industry standard" of rejecting only unwanted images and accepting the rest right away. This IMO is the fairest and most streamlined way of doing things.

Edited by John Mitchell
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John,

 

I like your idea, but I think your idea is not a qc question but a significant strategic question. Limiting images on submission means contributors need to think much more about content and which images are more likely to sell. This creates and "edited collection" of sorts. It makes contributors think much more about content and the quality they are submitting. The ultimate feedback are the sales made.

 

While I like almay's relaxed policy, I do think it is too relaxed today as far as volume is concerned. A little tightening up on the contributor side may be a good thing. How the alamy collection would change over time would be interesting to observe.

 

Mark

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Actually, my suggestion was not about limiting the size of submissions, but rather about changing the QC system so that it is like those of the other major agencies -- i.e. I am suggesting that Alamy consider eliminating the "Sin Bin."

 

I only mentioned possibly limiting the size of submissions if it would help make a more conventional QC process easier for Alamy to implement. I was not thinking about creating an edited collection or making QC even more picky than it already is.

Edited by John Mitchell
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Actually, my suggestion was not about limiting the size of submissions, but rather about changing the QC system so that it is like those of the other major agencies -- i.e. I am suggesting that Alamy consider eliminating the "Sin Bin."

 

I only mentioned possibly limiting the size of submissions if it would help make a more conventional QC process easier for Alamy to implement. I was not thinking about creating an edited collection or making QC even more picky than it already is.

 

Hi John I would like to see a system which limits contributors "down time" submitting to Alamy too but don't agree that QC is "picky". If images are "technically correct" they are always accepted, not like some others in the game.

 

Allan

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Actually, my suggestion was not about limiting the size of submissions, but rather about changing the QC system so that it is like those of the other major agencies -- i.e. I am suggesting that Alamy consider eliminating the "Sin Bin."

 

I only mentioned possibly limiting the size of submissions if it would help make a more conventional QC process easier for Alamy to implement. I was not thinking about creating an edited collection or making QC even more picky than it already is.

 

Hi John I would like to see a system which limits contributors "down time" submitting to Alamy too but don't agree that QC is "picky". If images are "technically correct" they are always accepted, not like some others in the game.

 

Allan

 

OK, "pickier" was a bad choice of words on my part. However, what constitutes technical correctness has become a subject of debate in recent forum threads. Anyway, I just wanted to offer a suggestion to Alamy regarding what I think would be a major improvement of the current QC policy, not trigger a discussion about related topics.

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At the risk of making myself very unpopular, I would like to make a radical suggestion, namely that after almost 14 years (I believe) of operation, Alamy should consider reassessing its QC policy. The essence of my suggestion is that Alamy should think about doing what every other stock agency that I know of does  -- i.e.  simply reject images that don't meet its standards from submissions and let the others pass through the gate right away. I realize that this would probably mean more work for QC because they would have to check more individual images. But surely this could be overcome by limiting the number of images that could be submitted at once to a rational maximum number (100 images say). If this system works for so many others, I'm sure it would work for Alamy.

 

There, I've gone and said it. Shall now run for cover.

 

-John M

 

Hi John,

 

It's worth bearing in mind that Alamy has the largest online collection in the world and adds more stock images daily than anyone else too...

 

The current QC pass rate is around 96% - what you are proposing would:

 

- Make QC times slower

- Increase our costs which would possibly have an impact on the commission rate we can offer

- Probably increase the failure rate

 

All you need to do is produce images that meet a quite basic technical standard and they'll be accepted, simple as that :)

 

Cheers

 

Alamy

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QC should take into account "similars".There are photographers loading up many almost identical shots

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Thanks very much for your answer, Alamy. You of course know your business needs much better than I do.

 

I appreciate your giving me the opportunity to make my suggestions. I still hope that you will keep them in mind.

 

-John

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I don't know what percentage of images Alamy check in a submission. 5%? 20%?  If it's about 10% (just a guess) that would mean a ten-fold increase in QC work, which would have a huge impact on costs / time / commission. I think this aspect of the way Alamy work is a huge part of their ethos and something that we accept when we sign up. If they did it otherwise, they wouldn't be Alamy.

 

(Why does the Alamy spellchecker always underline 'Alamy? There, it did it again!)

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I don't know what percentage of images Alamy check in a submission. 5%? 20%?  If it's about 10% (just a guess) that would mean a ten-fold increase in QC work, which would have a huge impact on costs / time / commission. I think this aspect of the way Alamy work is a huge part of their ethos and something that we accept when we sign up. If they did it otherwise, they wouldn't be Alamy.

 

(Why does the Alamy spellchecker always underline 'Alamy? There, it did it again!)

I wasn't saying that I thought Alamy QC should check every submitted image, just that they might at this stage of the game rethink the long notification/waiting periods (i.e. the proverbial "Sin Bin") -- that was my "radical" suggestion. But this has all been debated before, and Alamy has spoken. I rest my case.

Edited by John Mitchell
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I don't think the issue is the methodology in which QC use but the way in which failure is communicated.

 

It would be far easier to write into their coding to tell the user that a submission has failed and lock the upload facility until the "sin-bin" period has finished.

 

The manner in which it is communicated leaves many people frustrated at QC as they don't know whether or not a submission has failed. In the majority it is a delay but for others a failure.

 

if you email QC and ask what is going you all too often get the stock response about submission review times etc which only goes to further annoy people.

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I wasn't saying that I thought Alamy QC should check every submitted image, just that they might at this stage of the game rethink the long notification/waiting periods (i.e. the proverbial "Sin Bin") -- that was my "radical" suggestion. But this has all been debated before, and Alamy has spoken. I rest my case.

 

 

I hear you John, and I agree.  

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I don't think the issue is the methodology in which QC use but the way in which failure is communicated.

 

It would be far easier to write into their coding to tell the user that a submission has failed and lock the upload facility until the "sin-bin" period has finished.

 

The manner in which it is communicated leaves many people frustrated at QC as they don't know whether or not a submission has failed. In the majority it is a delay but for others a failure.

 

if you email QC and ask what is going you all too often get the stock response about submission review times etc which only goes to further annoy people.

 

I agree too. I support the QC system and understand how and why it works the way it does, but I really can't see the benefit in delaying the notification of a fail.

Perhaps it's to add to the suffering of the failed contributor, as an added incentive to get it right next time, but it has the same unfortunate effect on everyone else when there is a QC overload or a technical problem.

Edited by Phil Robinson
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I agree the 'sin bin' time is too excessive. Of late I have spent most of my time in this place !  

To withhold perfectly saleable images for a 28 day period seems a rather silly way of doing business, it just doesn't seem to not make commercial sense.

Most of my failed material is immediately placed with another library, thus starving Alamy of highly saleable material. I find the 28 day holding period depressing, frustrating and stressful.

Having been with Alamy for 10 years I have noticed the problem is now worse than when I began. 

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I have a fair bit of material from a recent trip to Scotland relating to a topical constitutional issue but by the time I am out of the sinbin it will be as dead as mutton.

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)

 

. . . (

 

dd

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Phil,

 

...(Why does the Alamy spellchecker always underline 'Alamy? There, it did it again!)

Using FF and its spellchecker does the same for words not in the dictionary. If I right click on the red underlined word up pops a menu and one of the options is, 'add word to dictionary.' If you are sure that the underlined word(s) are correct once added to the dictionary the underlining stops.

 

Krisken

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Be careful what you wish for.

 

Many agencies would terminate the contract of anyone who is frequently in the sin bin.

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I'm well used to the "every image gets reviewed @ 100%" scenario and would have no problem with that.  Alamy's approach does make a degree of sense though for the reasons stated but only works because there are consequences for submitting below par images - images are still reviewed individually but by the contributor  in who's interest it currently is to do a good job reviewing.

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Actually i am very happy about the QC of Alamy. We as contributors should know what images are correct. As long we send images that are technically good QC should be not an issue. Also Alamy doesn’t thread us like children and helps the photographer getting good content online instead of being a stone on the way.

 

Also when I look at John’s portfolio he seems to know what are good images so you really don’t need any individual check J.

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Be careful what you wish for.

 

Many agencies would terminate the contract of anyone who is frequently in the sin bin.

And Alamy reserves the right to do so. I also find it strange that some people (no names, no pack drill) seem to take an inverted pride in being in the sin bin ;) . If I ever get sin binned (haven't so far) I will stay very quiet about it; I will spend the time working out why my workflow and judgement has failed which I rather think is the reason for the sentence. I can see it would be useful to know straight away even if uploading is disabled for a month; at least then convicts could get on with the hard labour of sorting out their processes.

 

Some sort of channel for very occasional use to check new techniques or styles could be useful - perhaps one batch of say 4 images per quarter; if and only if the contributor had not been in the sin bin in the previous six months. Need to get the basics right before pushing the boundaries.

Edited by Martin P Wilson
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Alamy may reserve the right to show people the door, but there are some agencies (one owned by a rich software guy comes to mind) that would put you out on the street far more quickly. I am in a continuous struggle to keep my quality up and sometimes I actually manage to do so. I am convinced that complacency equals failure.

 

All that being said, Martin, I also support your idea of a test channel that wouldn't harm your submission record. This could be very useful, especially in this day and age of replicating the style of cellphone images.

 

How about it?

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