Art Quality/Downvotes Discussion


Hopeful Pioneer
Users of Ponerpics have of course wildly different tastes regarding art and that's fine of course. It does lead to cases where some art winds up in a "tug-of-war" of upvotes and downvotes, sometimes for odd reasons. Or maybe a work you really like somehow got massively downvoted or the other way around.. Here feel free to ask about why any particular piece, whether your own or made by someone else, received a reception different from what you expected. These discussions are good to have but might otherwise take up too much of the General thread, and talking about it in comments would be too diffuse.

Also, in your opinion how do you draw the line between filtering/ignoring something you don't like and downvoting it? The two extremes are clearly upvoting/downvoting based on pure artistic quality irrespective of theme, and upvoting/downvoting everything you personally like/dislike. Hardly anyone is at either pole so I'm wondering how people weigh the merits of art.

Early Adopter
There's some weirdness here that's hard for me to nail down.

Sometimes I'll downvote something only because it's offensively bad in terms of quality. Other times I'll upvote it because of the concept behind it, or the story the picture tells, even if it's otherwise just mediocre quality. There's this thing where there's more to art quality than just the smoothness of the lines or whether colours are perfectly blended together. I guess you could call it a "creative" aspect to art.

Suppose someone would be able to draw a nearly photorealistic horse. It was a technically superb drawing, but the image itself was boring. Just the horse standing still. Now, you have a second image of a horse. This second image is not quite photorealistic, and the stylization is a little bit unsteady. You can tell that the artist doesn't quite have all their ducks in a row as far as practicing all the fundamentals, but it's not offensively bad. But, in this second image, they also drew a lot of busy, crazy stuff happening around the horse in the background. This adds a level of attention to detail, overall visual complexity, and a sense of purpose to the image. The purpose of this second image would be in the contrast between the frenetic action and hijinx happening around the horse, and the horse's "gives zero fucks" attitude. The second image tells a story. It's expressive. It has personality. Even though the drawing is not as technically high quality as the first image of just a well-drawn horse, I would say that the second image is better.

I might have wandered around a bit, but I do think that the criteria of concept and technical expertise are both indicators of legitimate quality in some way.

Related to what I just said, downvotes for offensively bad art are one thing. When that art style somehow gets forced into it's own meme and it's own signature, then things get a bit complicated. I don't know how to connect this idea to the main thread, but there are some cases of technical art quality and expression of subjects I don't like that can be good enough that I'm tempted to toss a like or in rare cases, favourite it, despite generally disliking the subject matter or theme of the image. Linked to this are cases of subject matter I don't like that are especially offensive. Where, normally, I'd just scroll past and barely notice it because it has zero appeal to me, this actually makes my experience with browsing worse. In those cases, whether it's prompted by offensively bad art style or egregiously disgusting expressions of subject matter that I actively dislike, I (rarely) find myself hitting the dislike button.

It's a bit complicated. The exact lines probably vary depending on a number of factors from what my mood is that day, how much I feel like interacting with the voting system, how much of the possibly-disliked concept fits in with whatever I'm searching for at the time, how much the disliked thing stands out, or other things I forgot to list.

Edit: I don't really have a clear and concrete answer for you, but I do have a bit of musing on the subject to toss in to the thread.

Early Adopter
The kind of user that invests deeply in using the upvote/downvote system as intended is a particular breed. We can simplify their description as "over-socialized and lazy".

Altboorus select for a userbase that is aware of what's going on (Derpi's Restera-tier corruption and the trainwreck that prompted the creation of the altboorus), and cares enough about the subject to migrate. This requires a certain level of disagreeableness as a personality trait. Part of the "freedom-seeking" they're escaping from has to do with wanting the freedom to mass-downvote things they dislike. I'm sure there are multiple people running bots that downvote literally every image with tags they decided they don't like. It's an issue when there are relatively few hands clicking on the vote buttons.

When it came to Derpi, the inflated downvotes came from outrage mobs virtue-signalling for political reasons. Usually for the spicy porn or anything grimdark. Groupthink and herd mentality. It's easy to mobilize people to shit on images of a certain kind or get people to verbally attack and harrass users in the comment section of those images, because each iteration of the pattern becomes an "event" in their lives that they measure time by. Like going out to grab a bite with some friends who do the same thing at a different bar every other week. It's much harder to get people to organize and fine every image with a certain set of tags and spend the hours manually clicking the vote button. The masses like this aren't going to be using large-scale voting scripts because they're too stupid to actually use technology. It's a different sort of problem.

The willfully blind sheep who work hard to keep their heads buried in the sand are unlikely to migrate. They might come over if they want to be part of a club and we're known as being the only game in town. They aren't trailblazers. They just do what everyone else seems to be doing. There's also a good chance that a lot of them are very invested in giving their opinions on things, not because it's of any value, but because they feel like they have to say something. This is different from kickstarting or continuing threads or discussions for the sake of starting or maintaining a community. These people are just trying to go with the inertia in as lazy a way as possible.

It's a bit of a complicated answer, but I think there are enough group-psychology nuggets in here to serve as decent food for thought.

Hopeful Pioneer
I agree for the most part. I upvote something that I feel has some merit whether in skill, creativity or humor, and I favorite works that I would like to personally save and share. Usually this is something that is creative, but there is merit in "boring" works where the artist hones and practices his skill (which is absolutely necessary to get anywhere). Also I don't really find questionable/explicit works appealing but I'll upvote if they're aesthetically or technically impressive. Sadly consequentialism seeps into my upvoting: if I see something that is downvoted "unfairly" then I'll upvote it even if it's a concept I'm indifferent towards.

Downvoting is a tricky business. Do I downvote things for being uncreative? Well, many screencaps would fall under this but I just ignore them. How about morally repugnant things? I downvote mouthpieces but not lolicon though I find the latter abhorrent. Reason: mouthpieces try to force a message in a medium whereas a fetish is something that can be filtered away. Yet I break my own rules and downvote fat fetishes/foot fetishes and don't have these filtered. I would also downvote futa but I have that completely hidden away for my own sake. I've been thinking about this and my internal justification is that, at a bare minimum, anything I downvote I have to see for myself so as to know what exactly I'm downvoting. I just can't condone mass-downvoting a tag without having any nuance for artistic quality.

Is it really that bad? I knew there was a negativity problem but geez. It's not a good look when artists notice everyone here is a negative nancy.

Good points. Most of the autists here don't have the social nets they might expect on DB. To some extent we need normie bronies. On any social network there are always a few downvoters who'll go after broad categories seemingly obsessively. Usually they're a drop in the pond but here they're a number significant enough to negatively impact the rating system as a whole. That's not to say that the masses know good art, and I've always disliked how run-of-the-mill clop will get more attention than beautiful sceneries, but the "Derpi upvotes" sorting method is still roughly correlated with quality. On the whole most pieces, even mediocre offerings, should have more upvotes than downvotes with much better ones being clearly ahead. If there are more downvotes than upvotes across the entire website something is wrong.

Funnily enough I've become part of this "particular breed" because of this problem. I much prefer to use a booru casually but as a result of mass-downvoting I've been trying to browse every (non-hidden) daily upload to counter it. I'd like there to be a lot more users to outweigh the mass-downvoters so I could go back to being a casual user.

Early Adopter
I'm sure that there will be more upvotes. It just needs time and a larger population. What's happening is just two or three people running bots to automatically downvote hundreds or thousands of images of categories they personally dislike. Most people will vote a few times per visit, but these tool-assisted mass downvoting really tips the scales considering the growing population.

It is not the case that the majority of the userbase is of a negative, judgemental, or confrontational viewpoint. It's just a couple of people.
Background Pony #3FAE
There's only a few reasons I'll downvote anything, even stuff I don't like. Either it has to be a shit drawing, completely disgusting, activist bullshit, or made to antagonize an opinion I agree with. Otherwise I'm fine with leaving it alone.

upvotes/downvotes are only here as an opinion, not as a score, at best the score should be counted in favs.
make anything, there are people who will like it, people who will not even click it, and people who will instantly hate it. depending of their views, opinions and more. And that's a good information because it makes a fair balance.

Too much upvotes means "yes, I'm doing good I reached 100 ups on that thing, I will go on like that and ignore the little downvotes."

by default not everyone will like everything, the fact they can tell «i don't like it» should not be seen as hurting, but as an information for the artist, otherwise he will continue doing the same mediocre thing and never change. Upvotes and «always positive» is an enemy.

Figured out whenever I get a new style I'm tempted to repeat it. It works, people like it, or the client got what he wanted. It's a bit like a restaurant that always serve the same plate, with just changing the sauce, there are customers that have the habit to come and the cook will never try anything else — why would he ?

«Let's ignore the critiques, I just do kebabs.»

When I make a pic that once thrown at a site that gets -20 and that's not about the form but the message, I know something's passed. People who do that generally don't care about the critique, make something and watch the world burn, that's also the role of an artist.

This. It's easy to filter, but passing an opinion, positive or negative is also an information some artists may need to see, or can just simply ignore it.
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Soft Lava
Marenheit Contributor - This little pony contributed to the Marenheit fundraiser of 2020
Auti.. Artist -

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First someone blows a whistle about how many people downvote this over that. Then another one agrees with it and starts calling for filters, voting moderation or even removing the voting feature altogether. And shortly after you get shit like being banned for downvoting BLM related garbage.

It's not much of a problem as you think. People are self centered assholes and they do dislike art for reasons that are entirely their own. Irrational, unjustified, egotistical reasons. And I think it's their right to express themselves in ways they choose, even if it shows the worst in them. This is a freedom of speech we are talking about. Truth hurts sometimes but what would you do about truth? Ask nicely for them to stop telling their truth? Whine about it enough for mods to shut the truth down? So far I see this conversation leaning in the direction of somehow sugarcoating the truth to make it appealing. Tweaking the numbers that people were unconventionally agreeing on. Rigging the system for a greater good by removing the bad guys. That's leftist bullshit right there, daug. Check your damn priveleg.

When I see a good picture being downvoted, I feel sad. I may even comment on that in the comments and express my mornful reverie in relation to this enequity. The other day I stumble upon a nicely drawn femboy pony and I instantly downvote it and call whoever drew it a fucking faggot. One time I downvote some silly animation for being a tastless usage of human resourses only to upvote a picture of rainbeen dash that does the same exact thing that I somehow find no problems with. You can see it clearly as day that I am myself guilty of downvoting art. But through my comments and downvotes, you see me. You see the kind of person I am, thus you begin to understand me. And the same can be said about you when someone reads your comments to things you react to, respond to. Most of downvotes are blurred anonymous representations but they serve their purpose of establishing a dialog between a person and the croud. And even if the croud boos at said person, deeply inside we are thankful for it. We are thankful for them being honest with themselves and we cherish their stupidity and ignorence on the same level we cherish our own.

Let's all agree to disagree. Let's cherish our honestly as much as wren cherishes Applejack.

Hopeful Pioneer
Indeed I do think upvotes/downvotes ought to be used as a thermometer to gauge what people like. Unfortunately it's not that simple when the community is essentially a handful of people. Some of us are familiar faces from /mlpol/ or other places so we tend to upvote people based on familiarity alone. As for other artists who aren't on Ponerpics, we're too few to provide much in the way of critique they'll listen to. Finally, the "Trending" page is helpful for finding art when you don't want to go through the entire catalog, but the "Wilson" score is vulnerable to content being buried. A decent piece that gets one or two upvotes will still be sent to the bottom of the pile by blanket downvoters. That hurts exposure and is the only reason I don't use the trending page anymore.

Ideally this would be fixed if we just had more users from Derpibooru/Ponybooru, but that's like saying my personal problems would be fixed if I just had more money. We shouldn't take ratings too seriously. When searching through a particular tag I prefer sorting by Derpibooru upvotes, as this is a somewhat reliable way of finding quality.

@Soft Lava
First someone blows a whistle about how many people downvote this over that. Then another one agrees with it and starts calling for filters, voting moderation or even removing the voting feature altogether. And shortly after you get shit like being banned for downvoting BLM related garbage.

I think we can all agree that would be a "cure" far worse than the disease. That would be directly against the spirit of Ponerpics and its community. This is not something that should be moderated at all. However, I do think we should talk about it as a problem.

Comments are a far better means of critique than the simple boolean values of voting. They're an ideal medium by which to go against the grain and explain why you dislike something the majority likes or vice versa. Art is art and is not a science; it's an expression of the human will and psyche. We all have our reasons and it's fine to disagree; by a combination of voting, favorites and comments we can show our reactions and interact with each other. This nuance is lost when someone mass-downvotes a tag, however. There's no personality you can get from it because it exists regardless of art quality.

If you have mixed feelings about a tag then by all means upvote or downvote items depending on their merit to you, but if you find a tag that's 100% unappealing then write a comment explaining your reasoning on a piece (or better yet go to the forums) and then filter it out completely. This doesn't have to apply to something like an opposing political view (because whoever made that point put it out there to be applauded or attacked), but an art genre is more neutral and is completely a matter of taste. Imagine if someone downvoted every single NSFW artwork on this site (making the score of the majority of them negative in this sparsely-populated place) and never gave a reason beyond considering it "disgusting." There's positive and negative criticism. I've critiqued sumin6301 for drawing essentially the same type of artwork with little variation, but I don't think his well-drawn pieces deserve a zero or negative score because it's EQG. It's unquestionable that blanket downvoting hurts the site as a whole.
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