Chat groups and forums are not always so friendly
The Internet is full of forums and chat groups where you can discuss any aspect of photography. However, it doesn't seem to matter what topic is being discussed, sooner or later someone will feel the need to abuse another member. The thread will then descend into a profane slanging match between the various participants, with nothing constructive coming from it. Moderators do little or nothing to stop this, and so the trend continues. I've lost count of the number of "communities" I've stopped frequenting because I'm fed up with reading these types of conversations.
As an amateur photographer and blogger, I occasionally want to take part in discussions. One discussion topic that seems to get people going is the request for critique and comments. Asking for C&C is like a red rag to a bull for the haters. It is their opportunity to attack you and your photography. Whether they do this out of jealousy or over-inflated egos about their own photography, I don't know. Whatever it is, you need to have a fairly thick skin not to be affected by some of the comments I have seen. As an educator I know that giving and receiving negative feedback never feels good, but receiving constructive criticism is always welcome if you want to improve.
Silence is not golden
At the other end of the spectrum, are the chat groups or forums where nobody comments. Threads are opened and remain void of interaction. Even after months of being there, threads attract no comments at all. This can be as bad as receiving abuse from other members as you feel dejected, rejected and as if your photography is not worthy of remark. I accept that in some cases it is hard to know what the opening comment is about at times, but even asking for clarification can start a conversation which might turn into something thought-provoking and interesting.
Despite all of the above, I know there are some great discussion groups and forums out there, where members often go out of their way to help and engage the members in conversation. Please leave a comment below with the name of your favourite group.