An Alamy executive once quipped that he could only bear to read the Alamy forums while peering out from behind the settee. He was referring of course to the unofficial forums back in the bad old days before the agency decided to get in on the act themselves with the Alamy Blog.
The anarchic nature of the company blog, launched in January, so exceeded that of the unofficial forums that it led to much entertaining speculation here at EPUK Towers as to where James West & Co believe it’s safe to view their own progeny. Whilst hiding in the lavvy? From a locked basement? In a military grade underground bunker?
Indeed the blog’s full and frank exchanges of compliments has at times led us to expect the imminent first deployment of UN peacekeepers in cyberspace:
‘Retards like you will certainly help Alamy standings among the industry.’
‘I’ve never had anyone call me a retard to my face. That would end badly.’
‘Please get out and take pictures and stop giving the majority of serious photographers who contribute to Alamy a bad reputation.’
‘If it is important to you for your picture to appear as the first image on a page, I would suggest you examine your ego.’
‘I just have to laugh at your continuous stream of comments.’
‘Thank you so much for taking the time to expose how dumb the average contributor is.’
‘How can anybody with a brain be confused over Alamy’s guidelines?’
‘If you can’t do that hire a professional photographer.’
‘Yet another piece of slime emerges from the shadows.’
‘Please close this blog down Alamy, it is making us all look like amateurs.’
But the most Alamy have done is to occasionally dispatch a member of staff, usually James Allsworth, to the front on a suicide mission to encourage the combatants to obey Queensbury Rules. This is usually followed by a reminder that the blog is not a forum: at which point the various factions cease fighting long enough to unite and repel Private Allsworth with a cry of ‘yes it is’.
Such are the overwhelming navel-gazing instincts of some contributors that one even set up a forum to discuss the individual postings at the Alamy Blog. And needless to say the existing unofficial Alamy forums, populated by many of the same people, have joined in the fun. The result has been a plethora of related threads across the web, hindered only by the occasional reciprocal banning of opposing contributors from one another’s forums.
So, presumably on the basis that you can’t have too much of a bad thing, Alamy a few weeks ago ran up the white flag and used their blog to announce… ‘the all new Alamy Forum’.
We were of course excited by the prospect. If Alamy contributors can wreak so much entertaining havoc in the relatively controlled zone of the company blog, how much more might they achieve with an entire forum to play in?
Mutually assured destruction appeared inevitable, and early signs were encouraging. An indecently short time after Alamy’s announcement of the forum’s existence the usual suspects were already assembling, so we donned protective clothing and grabbed ringside seats.
However the truth is that the new Alamy Forum has proved a sad disappointment to chaos aficionados. At the blog contributors gleefully hijack the company’s every subject line to engage in hostilities. But at the forum, faced with a free choice of subject and weaponry, the same contributors seem lost for even the mildest of insults. Why, they’ve even been seen apologising to one another: if Alamy were charging we’d be demanding our money back.
The number of posts at the forum is also markedly lower than at the blog. The first month at the forum garnered a mere 173 posts. The same timescale at the blog threw up – we use that term advisedly – almost four times as many: and that’s not counting the blog’s surprise advertising concession for Viagra and Cialis. Given the relative silence and good behaviour at the forum we’re tempted to speculate that Alamy have been distributing free medication of a different kind to some of their more lively contributors.
Or it may be that the brawlers have simply become battle weary and decided to retire from the internet abuse business, finding another way to keep themselves entertained.
Perhaps they’ve taken up photography instead.