Today we’re making another change that was inspired by responses to the YLF survey. For several years now it has been possible for forum members to post photos of their outfits and ask for feedback from other members. This turned out to be an extremely popular feature and these days it is common to see more posts on the front page of the forum with photos than without. 

About a year ago we decided that we would make things a little more private by only allowing photos to be viewed by active members. This setting was on by default, but we also gave members the option of making their photos visible to everyone. So the options were “Everyone” or “Active Members Only”.

What is an Active Member?
Not everyone reading the blog is familiar with the forum, so I should clarify what “active member” means. Currently there are three member levels on YLF: “Member”, “Active Member” and “Veteran”. When you sign up you immediately become a member. After 3 days and 3 posts (or replies) you become an active member. The active member level has nothing to do with exclusivity or pressuring people to post. It is very much about managing forum spam. We didn’t want forum spammers (or other bad actors) to be able to (A) post pictures or (B) send private messages. So these features are limited to active members. You can read more about member levels here.

When we restricted the visibility of photos, it seemed natural to use the same “active member” threshold that we used for the ability to post photos. But in light of the feedback it is clear to us now that this was a mistake. There are many people who, for a variety of reasons, do not want to post, but who do derive a lot of value from reading discussions in the forum. The entire point of the forum, and indeed our motivation for creating it, was that it would serve as a resource not only for the person asking a question, but also for other people who had the same question. We don’t want people to feel pressured to participate.

So we are making the setting more granular so that it includes what we think is the most logical threshold for photo visibility. Members can now choose one of three levels:

  1. Everyone can see their photos, even people who aren’t logged in
  2. All logged in members can see their photos
  3. Only active members and above can see their photos

The default value for this setting is the middle one: to see the photos of a member who chooses this option you need to be a logged in, signed up member. We think this is a level that most people will be comfortable with, and we hope that most members will want to share what they learn with other people who sign up with YLF.

A final note: Even the most restrictive level above is not that restrictive. If someone is dead set on seeing your photos, all they have to do is sign up, write three replies on the forum and wait three days. We called this “a little more privacy”, which is exactly what it is, but it is not complete privacy. To get closer to complete privacy you should obscure your identity in your photos, or use the “hide” feature to make your photos invisible to everyone except you once you have the feedback you need.