BLUF Backstage: How we handle photos

BLUF • policy

Submitted by Nigel Whitfield, BLUF webmaster, Nigel, aka LondonSubNigel (3), 15 December 2014

 

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In this backstage blog, I'm going to explain more about our current process for photo approvals. Photos, and whether or not they're accepted, is probably that thing that people query most once they're a BLUF member, and I'll admit that it is something that, from time to time, causes problems, and a lot of soul searching.

We aim, as far as possible, to be consistent the with application of photo rules, and the current mechanism is designed to do that. Because it's not the only way things have been done in the last 17 20 years, there are anomalies, and I'll explain those later, along with answers to some of the questions people have about photos.

How to upload photos to your profile

One of the big changes in the current previous iteration of BLUF was the ability of members to upload their own photos directly to their profile. Before the end of 2009, they had to be emailed in to an assistant webmaster, who would check them and add them to the profile.

Now, you are invited to review the dresscode, before clicking to enable uploads.This step is intended to remind people before they simply upload all the pics they have on other sites. It doesn't always work! You can upload photos one at a time and they're placed into a queue waiting to be approved.

Now, you can upload your own photos, just by dragging them on to the box. Please, however, pay attention to the dresscode - don't just upload your whole photo collection and expect us to work out what's suitable. It causes unnecessary work for our volunteers.

If you use our Android app, you can upload phones directly from your phone. Open your phone gallery, find a photo, and tap the share icon. You should see BLUF Messenger listed; tap it, and the photo will be uploaded, and added to the queue for approvals. You can also choose 'Upload photo' from within the app, on the main menu, and then select a photo from your device.

In our desktop app for Windows and Mac, you can also upload photos. Select Upload Photos from the File menu, and then drag a photo into the window that appears, to upload it and add it to the approvals queue.

What happens next

All photos uploaded to the site, by whatever method, are added to the approvals queue. This is a two stage process. In the first stage, one of a team of volunteers (presently seven different people, but if you'd like to help, get in touch) will review your photo.

These first volunteers see a single photo at a time, with no information about which member it belongs to, though they might of course recognise someone. They never see any of their own photos, however. Each photo can be classified with one of five buttons, or skipped until later.

The options for classifcation are Face, Dresscode, Dresscode with face, Both, Not dresscode, Not dresscode with face, Neither, and Unsuitable. The last option is for pictures that clearly breach the guidelines, for example nudity, cock shots, sports gear, and the like. Neither is used for photos that may not meet the dresscode, but are of a fetish nature, and may be considered suitable for your profile, subject to the notes below.

Photos are displayed in a random order, so if there are lots from one person, they won't necessarily all be seen one after the other.

Second stage approval

After the first stage of approval, photos are available to be reviewed by the main admin team, which has just three members. In this stage, photos are classified using the same system, however instead of being seen one by one, all the new photos for a member are show together, with their member info, and a summary of how many photos are already on their profile, and how those are classified - together with a warning if there are more than five marked as non-dresscode. Admins can quickly see what photos are already on the profile, and may use that information to decide how they classify the new ones.

When all the photos have been classified here, a summary of the results is sent to the member. If a photo was marked as unsuitable by the first team, and to be rejected by the second, it will be deleted.

If both the people who have viewed the photo gave it the same classification and it was classified as dresscode, it will be added to the member's profile.

If the two classifications are different, or the photo does not match dresscode, the photo will be marked as needing review, and I make the final determination - when that happens, I also see the original classification and who made it, so I can give them guidance on the rules, if necessary.

Be patient

Most photos are approved within a few hours. Sometimes it takes a bit longer. Please remember we are all volunteers, and there are times when a lot of people may be away.

Quick summary

So, each photo is viewed by two people before a final decision is made. If both think it's unsuitable, it will be rejected immediately. If both classify it the same way and it meets the dresscode, it will be added to your profile. If they disagree, I make the final decision.

Since there are a number of people with privileges to review photos at each stage, it is entirely possible that when you have a photo accepted or rejected, I may not have seen it myself. So if you write to complain, do remember to include the photo you're writing about. And also bear in mind that two different people thought it wasn't appropriate for BLUF.

Non dresscode photos

We allow, at our discretion, some photos that may not meet the dresscode. As a rule of thumb, these will not be allowed unless you have a reasonable number of dresscode images. So if you have only one photo, and the next one you upload is a fetish pic, but not dresscode, it will be rejected. If you already had 20 dresscode pics, and uploaded a non-dresscode fetish pic, it is more likely to be accepted. But if you already have more than five non-dresscode pics, we will be less likely to allow you any others.

But it's not consistent!

We try hard to make sure we approve photos in as consistent a way as possible - and that's why every photo is seen by at least two people, and has been since late 2011.Yes, we are fallible and sometimes mistakes are made, but if you think that's the case, please don't start off being incredibly rude. Act like a leatherman, not a Prom Queen.

If you include the photo you think should have been approved, we can explain why it wasn't. Remember that there is some discretion involved, especially when it comes to non-dresscode fetish photos. You may have a few on your profile, but if they're the majority, or there are more than five already, we are likely to be stricter.

There are two main complaints people have about photos.

  1. You don't apply the dresscode strictly enough
  2. You applied the dresscode too strictly for my photos

Please try to avoid arguing both at the same time.

But HE has a photo just like the one you rejected

The biggest issue with photos is that someone has had a photo rejected, but immediately accuses us of favouritism because there is a very similar photo on someone else's profile. Unfortunately, unless we do something that many people will consider unfair, this will continue to happen.

BLUF has been going for 17 20 years. Over that time, a great many people have been involved in adding photos to the site, and until 2011 it was generally their own opinion, without a second set of eyes. Some photos that are currently on the site would not be approved now. There are, for instance, some with bare chests, some with harnesses, or just T shirts. If someone tried to upload such a photo today, it would probably be rejected.

Many of these photos date back quite a few years - mostly to before 2009, when the new site previous version of BLUF went live. In 2011, when the new classification system was added to the site, they were classified in one of the "not dresscode" categories, but they remain on profiles.

That's because, while we may not allow those photos to be added to the site now, we also think it's unfair to suddenly remove from someone's profile a photo that may have been there for several years. As a general rule, if we make a mistake and approve a photo in error now, if we spot that error within around 48 hours, we may remove the photo and let you know.

But - aside from some very specific circumstances - if a photo has been approved and added to your profile, you are, I think, entitled to know that it will stay there and not suddenly disappear one day without notice.

So, yes, you may find photos on someone else's profile that match one you've had rejected. It's not personal. It's not because we're sleeping with them. It's an anomaly which can only be fixed by either allowing more photos that people think don't match the dresscode, or by removing photos from people's profile that they've had for ages.

I think that the current policy, of not allowing more of those photos, and leaving the old ones, is the best compromise. For reference, the current proportion of photos marked as "not dresscode" is 10% 9%, which is a slight decrease, probably as a result of some older profiles being deleted.

When do photos get removed?

I mentioned very specific circumstances for photo removal. So far, there are two. Firstly, when we reviewed all the photos in 2011, and previous to that in response to a national news story in the UK, all photos with any hint of SS/Nazi imagery were removed. These have never been included in the dresscode in any case, but a few slipped through. And we are very strict now - you can photoshop over the swastika, but if it's a red flag with a white circle, we know what you've done, and the pic is removed. Trust me - this protects you as much as it protects us. If a photo was removed from your profile under this policy, you should have been notified and directed to this article.

The other situation in which photos have been removed is for explicity nudity - cock shots, and other explicit sexual content. This was done when we moved to our current web host in 2009, because we do not have adult hosting, which we can't afford. Occasionally we spot things we've missed, and again if we do that, a photo will be removed, with a note being sent.

I deleted my own photos, now I can't see anything

One of the less anticipated things about the ability of members to organise their own photos is that some would choose to delete them all. We believe that, as BLUF is a community, you have to give and take. So, if you delete all the photos from your profile, you cannot see other people's profiles.

If you want to replace all the pictures on your profile, the best way to do it is to upload at least some of the new ones first, before you delete all the old ones. Otherwise you will have a period when you can't see other profiles, while the new pictures are awaiting approval.

I can't turn my photo into a thumbnail

Only photos that have been classified as having a face visible - by which we mean something that you can be recognised by - can be turned into a thumbnail. If you want to use a non-face pic as your thumbnail preview, explain why, and I may be able to help. But we would prefer as many members as possible have a face pic as their preview thumbnail. At present, 94% of members have at least one photo classified as a face pic.

I can't delete my own photos. Why?

If you've just joined BLUF, you cannot delete any photos from your profile for two weeks. This is one of the ways we spot people who are using fake or stolen images. If you really need one removed, contact the webmaster, but make sure you have a good reason.

My photos don't show up in the BLUF apps

When someone joins BLUF, their photos have to be classified, just like new photos uploaded by an existing member. This is done in a similar way, with two of the admin team having to rate the photo, and any final decisions taken by me.

To ensure that, if we do in future use any app stores to distribute our various BLUF apps, we can comply with their rules, the BLUF app system only display photos that have been classified. If you are a new member, this means that your photos will be visible on the main site right away, but it may take a little longer for them to appear to users of our apps.

How do I know how my photos are classified

If you go to the photo organiser page, you will see a small BLUF logo below the caption box for photos that are classified as meeting the dresscode. If the photo is classified as a face photo, it will have a 'Make thumbnail' link below it small icon of a head next to it.

If you think a photo is classified wrongly, let me know. However, to reclassify one of your photos, it is necessary to reset the classification on all of them. This starts the review procedure and two admins will look at all your photos again.

This post was updated April 2017, to reflect changes in BLUF v4. Text that is no longer relevant has been marked like this while new text is in italics

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