The PUF story

Image by WordRidden

For those of you wondering what happened:

The saga began with me posting a thread in General Chat entitled “For those of us born in the 70s” which contained nothing but a link to this page which demonstrates a ‘Mario Brothers’ inspired photography idea.

A few minutes later the thread was deleted and I received a PM from John Riley saying that my link was “nonsense” (that is a direct quote, mind you) and that I should re-post it on page 573 of the ‘Another Pointless Thread’ thread.

It is worth noting at this point that the ‘Another Pointless Thread’ thread contains numerous suggestions that the thread is restricted to non-photography chat. It is also worth noting that many people (myself included) simply don’t bother reading the Pointless thread as it is … well … pointless.

I was (and still am) mystified as to why the Mario brothers thread had been deleted. I was also quite annoyed with what I perceived to be yet another example of Riley’s overzealous moderating. I therefore proceeded to post a new thread in General Chat. This thread contained a description of the Mario link, but not the link itself, and asked for opinions as to whether it was “nonsense” or not. Within a minute or two robbie_d had posted a reply to the thread. A further minute or two later and both of us had been banned by Riley. I was banned for an initial 7 days, robbie_d tells me he was permanently banned straight off the bat.

At this point Dr Orloff started the “Tim” thread in General Chat. robbie_d had 4 or 5 posts deleted from this thread but otherwise it is mostly as it originally was. In this thread Riley increased my ban to a permanent one but said something along the lines of ‘the situation may change in 7 days’. To be honest I didn’t really understand his post.

By now ‘quite annoyed’ had evolved to ‘fuming’, and I considered ways to get my version of events across. I eventually decided that my best chance was with Flickr, as I am in Flickr contact with a large percentage of the active PUF members. I therefore posted an eye-catching graphic saying that “John Riley has become a power-mad dictator” (on later reflection “dictator” was probably a mistake, “tyrant” may have been more appropriate.) This was set in a large heavy font in order to attract attention as I was limited to the 75×75 pixel thumbnail that goes out in Flickr’s daily email digest. This Flickr image indeed attracted some attention, including a surprise visit from one Richard Housham, who introduced himself as one of the Web Developers behind PUF and said he would look into this matter. I don’t know what that means.

Interestingly the Flickr image quickly shot up to 3rd place in my ‘most viewed’ images list.

About 12 hours later the Flickr post was removed by Flickr due to a complaint from another member, presumably Riley himself.

And that, my friends, is that. Thank you for all the support over the last 24 hours. The large number of emails and Flickr mails have been a pleasant surprise; both they and the various supportive posts in the “Tim” thread are greatly appreciated.

Several people have asked questions along the lines of “what are the chances of you returning to PUF?” At the moment, at least while Riley remains a moderator, I think we can safely say that “slim” is a fair description. However if you wish to stay in touch please feel free to do so via Flickr, 500px, or PentaxForums. My username on all of them is ‘thoughton’.


Update 18 Sept 2011: From the continuing thread I see that some people still don’t get it. Riley has still not offered any reasonable explanation, to me or anyone else that I can see, for deleting the original thread. Quite the opposite in fact, he has removed several attempts to ask him why he did so. Keep the pressure up! You deserve an answer.

I see from the ever-growing “Tim” thread that at least 4 more members are leaving the forum over this and related issues. We’re not talking about 4 individuals out of 100,000 members here; we are talking about 4 out of the 50-or-so active members. That seems like a significant percentage to me. Will the PUF authorities learn anything from this?

And finally I see that the peanut gallery has arrived. I would be grateful if someone could pass on my complete indifference to Shaky, Algernon, Gwyn, and George.

15 Responses to “The PUF story”

  1. robbie_d says:

    Just to add my 2p as the other party involved in this saga, I can honestly say the banning of Tim (a long-serving and valuable forum member) is an absolute travesty.

    The over-zealous nature of moderation has not gone unnoticed by a large number of forum members, many of whom have voiced their displeasure, but it seems to have no effect on Mr. Riley, who continues to treat the forum as his own private playground. Any threads or posts which don’t interest him or challenge his (increasingly) narrow-minded views are deleted, with warnings and threats of bans being issued for the most minor of offences.

    When questioned about events by other forum members, Mr. Riley employs a huge portion of revionist history to ensure he is portrayed as the reasonable, long-suffering moderator, when in truth he is far from it.

    Any regular visitors to the forum have noticed a decline in activity and a lesser atmosphere over recent months and this results in no small part from the actions of Mr. Riley; a man whose role as moderator means he should be defending the welfare of the forum, not destroying it through his stubborn, petty actions.

    His behaviour of this latest matter only goes to reinforce my views above. It is no coincidence to me that both Tim and I had posted recently on a thread questioning the value of the Pentax Q. This was in direct opposition to Mr. Riley’s view, who had been lavishing praise on the concept and execution (especially interesting as prior to Pentax entering this market, similar cameras from other manufacturers had been poo-pooed by Mr. Riley as tools that serious photographers shouldn’t really consider), and no doubt had rankled with him. The speedy nature by which he had thrown together a list of my prior ‘offences’ is certainly congruent with a man who was just waiting for someone to step out of line.

    All in all, a very sorry sequence of events, not least because the forum has lost a very dedicated and valuable member in Tim (I’m more of a part-time member myself). He’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last if Mr. Riley is able to use and abuse the power at his disposal.

    The grand irony of the situation is this, the actions of the staunchest Pentax defender are actually one of the main reasons the community is dwindling. I only hope he realises this before it is too late and does the honourable thing, pass the torch over to some younger, more open minds, who can take the forum on to bigger and better things.

  2. Gareth says:

    Agreed, the forum is getting more baron than the desert. Change? New man/lady at the helm? Not in our lifetime! Shame as it’s sinking more than the titanic but it has/had potential

  3. Danny Ewers says:


    Have been following this sorry saga and have to say, unfortunately, that I am not surprised.

    It’s good to read your side of the story Tim and as one who has been on the wrong side of, and I quote ‘Riley’s overzealous moderating’ I can sympathise entirely. He even deleted one of my posts in the F*250-600mm sale which was direct communication with the seller stating my intentions to buy it. It’s no secret that the purchase of that lens has changed my life and he very nearly scuppered my chances in that sale and I have absolutely no idea why he would chose to do such a thing. Also strange that a lot of other non sales related posts remained in that thread at the time.

    Why anyone would delete a fun photography related thread, on a photography forum, posted under a General Chat section which is described as ‘Area for open chat’ is beyond me. It’s yet another example of how contradictory this man is.

    There are many, many others, one of my favourites must be “no chat in sales section’ unless of course I want to do it myself!

    Even as I am typing this he is busy deleting posts in the ‘Tim’ thread that he either doesn’t like, is uncomfortable with as it shows him in his true light or that he just doesn’t want the rest of the forum to see. As Prieni has stated there is a reason why trials are held in public.

    Just reading this makes you laugh..

    JR: One post deleted Smeggy, no need to broaden the discussion any more, enough is enough.

    SP: Just deleting something you’re uncomfortable with is exactly why you’re getting the criticism you’re getting John.

    I just asked what was wrong with a thread showing a fun photography stunt?

    JR: I’m not uncomfortable with it, but it’s definitely off topic.

    Off topic??!! It’s the whole bloody point!

    Robbie stated above that his over bearing nature on the forum is making people leave. It is correct. Only in the last few days did I come back to the forum after a self imposed 2-3 month absence because of his attitude, had I stayed I’m sure my reactions to him would have got myself banned.

    Beginning to wonder now why I bothered coming back! It was for the people and friends that I made of course and because of a promise I made that I would share my work but with so many people leaving or getting banned there are fewer reasons every day why I should continue to do so.

    The idea that Mr Riley should stand down and let some younger moderators take over and help move the forum forward is a good idea, of course another good idea would be for someone to register and set up a better run forum. Just planting seeds…

    Sad to see you go from there Tim but at least I will see you more at PentaxForums!

  4. Gareth says:

    My latest PMs with JR:

    I’m not sure why you decided to bring up Polchraine tonight, but that’s got nothing at all to do with things. Polchraine went a very long time ago, I seem to remember him continually posting offensive material over a long period if time. Can’t be done on a family safe forum.

    I’m well aware of your opinions, but you do seem to forget the help you have received from time to time, without any hesitation despite your communications to PU.

    It’s not necessary to pursue this, so let’s just give it a rest now?

    From: cardiff_gareth
    To: johnriley
    Posted: 17/09/2011 – 00:47
    What led to him being banned was an avatar that some (not all) disliked and before he had chance to remove it as he receive a pm in the morning but was unable to act on it till later that day he was banned!
    It was a long time ago but several long standing forum members, myself included couldn’t beleive what had happened and were shocked at the way in which he was banned. Now fastforward and here we have Tim in a similar boat!

    I have not forgotten the help I have received here from forum members and I am one of the main forum contributors as I try to give back help in what I have received in the past. I think the past shows we have had a rocky relationship, I don’t think you’ve ever commented on any of my images but things were moving on and my perception of you changed and we seemed to be getting on better but I’m in total shock with the banning of Tim and it’s made me see that you haven’t changed and you still like to rule this forum with an iron fist, like a dictator, and you have no regard for people’s opinions if they happen not to be the same as yours.

    Your reluctance to see the forum community is reeling at Tims removal and your wanting to put it to bed and move on will only antagonise people further

    I remember the avatar now, thanks for reminding me. The avatar was simply the final straw in along list or warnings and maybe a 7 day ban, not sure now it was a long time ago. If Polchraine felt hard done to he could have looked at how he acted a bit sooner. being all dismayed and effectively saying “what have I done?” doesn’t wash.

    Tim had been warned Gareth, whether he cares to admit it or not, and when people run amok they can’t expect us to shrug our shoulders and ignore it. As for those reeling, I have a lot of time for those who are genuinely concerned, but none for those who just seek to stir things up. Is that fair enough?

    The guy is blind to see !!

  5. Martin says:

    Well……At least we have a fairly good idea why your flickr post disappeared.
    Seeing the progress on PUF, hitting page 7 already I think the thread is about to be closed.
    One of the other “favourite” tools of John Riley. But….In this case I think it won’t stop there.
    There are to much long standing members who express their concern and new threads are
    ready to pop up if needed I guess.

    Obviously the matter could be resolved very easy. JR has to step back and allow some new form and style of moderation.
    Unfortunately the editor of PUF , Peter Bargh is to be considered in the JR camp. And since PUF is only a very small part
    of his daily business he probably couldn’t care less about some ” long standing members” being moderated away.
    Fortunately we have the chance to interact on that other “friendly place” on the web. Bliss !

    Martin ( formally known as Malo1961)

  6. Mike Webb says:

    Have so many people really left? I can think of a few active members who have left (Clarky for example or givingtree) but usually there is a good reason unrelated to moderation. Other long term contributors left because they moved to another brand which is a pity but it is a Pentax based site.

    On the evidence we have it looks like JR acted quickly and precipitately and that would be unfair and has raised a reaction within some of the membership. But once Tim created multiple accounts he broke the rules and he’s out although it would seem JR offers the chance for a return.

    Previous bans that I am aware of were quite positive – I can’t recall the band of hooligans by name but I think cloudhunter was one?

    I personally think the nature of the place changed when the standards of critique and comment was massively diluted by a small group and that tendency to mutual fawning praise remains today. As a source of help and technical advice about Pentax it remains a good place to go and to be fair JR is generous in his help.

    I left because I was always getting into arguments and people took it all way too personally but I lurk on a daily basis as some of the threads are quite interesting because people like Tim share their experience and finds with a broader community.

    I don’t think the forum is barren, new members arrive and some take root and show great skill – Markj for example – others just drift in and post less or leave, Pauly or what the guy’s name isn’t.

    I think the best outcome would be if Tim could swallow hard and manage to show some remorse and JR could perhaps agree that he was a little heavy handed and that a public warning in the thread that the offending thread was unsuitable and lock it or something.

    It seems a pity that PUF loses a good member and Tim loses a pleasure.


  7. Gareth says:

    I’ve had a fair few posts deleted in that thread that Smeggy screen shotted before they got deleted. There was nothing bad in them, just my on topic views and opinions that didn’t paint JR whiter than white

    Part of one of my deleted posts:
    Banning Tim was another nail in your coffin. As Smeggy said, no we don’t forget – we remember and to many forum contributers have fallen to the wayside due to poor and overzealous moderation. John, you need to look at what you do and take stock for your actions as you might find you’ve pulled the plug in the bath and it’s only a matter of time before all the water is gone and your left with nothing

  8. Martin says:

    And now G(ollum) has emerged from the darkest place of mother earth to stand up for his ” precious”.
    It only took him 7 pages. It seems logical he expresses his concerns: ” about a number of posters that JR has not acted with propriety and goodwill”. Heaven forbid if His Master should step down. How can he get away with all those fine comments larded with venom, if his protector is there no longer.


  9. Frogfish says:

    It’s really a shame to read of this sorry tale Tim, and what seems to be a totally unwarranted banning. The mediation does seem very heavy-handed at times, as I experienced just after joining, and humourless at times.

    Enjoyed your photos and your comments but I’m sure I’ll see you more of you and your shots on Pentaxforums, which is where I also spend much of my photography based forum time now.


  10. Smeggypants says:

    Hi folks

    I am in full support that the moderation at PUF is terrible. I expressed this in person to John Riley via PM overnight. his reply was basically along the lines of ‘only following PUF orders’

    JR was indeed deleting threads as fast as we could post them last night

    What Danny Ewers posted above

    [quote]JR: One post deleted Smeggy, no need to broaden the discussion any more, enough is enough.

    SP: Just deleting something you’re uncomfortable with is exactly why you’re getting the criticism you’re getting John.

    I just asked what was wrong with a thread showing a fun photography stunt?

    JR: I’m not uncomfortable with it, but it’s definitely off topic.[/quote]

    is exactly how it went. All I did was ask John what was the problem with the Mario Page Tim had had posted. John immediately deleted the post. He was obviously uncomfortable with it and it was right on topic

    My own recent experience of over-zealous and unnecessary moderation from JR was in a Q thread. I made some effort to export and post an image taken on my Sony TX-5 as an example of the Image quality you could expect from the Q. Given they both use the Exmor R sensor. John Riley deleted the post swiftly claiming it’s not a Sony Forum. ironically it was a good image and showed the Q off in a good light.

    Another thing I told JR last night is that if he was moderating Smeggy’s the forum would have closed down years ago. At Smeggy’s I don’t have the luxury of a Brand Name, product or even specific subject to keep people there. It’s a general discussion forum and I have to reply upon the place just being a cool place to hang out.

    I’ve been on the PUF just under 2 years now. Frankly and sadly I can’t see things changing unless everyone votes with their feet.

    Smeggy :)

  11. robbie_d says:

    Interestingly (but not surprisingly), Riley doesn’t seem to have a problem with all photo threads about capturing people mid-air:

    Not only has this one not been deleted, Riley is even joining in the conversation himself, albeit with his usual bland comments adding little of interest to the debate.

    Any claims Riley makes about being even handed are surely now exposed as pure fiction.

  12. timh says:

    Someone else pointed out that thread as well Robbie :) It does seem strange that he is fine with that thread, but deletes another thread about people jumping. Perhaps there was some traumatic Mario Brothers-related incident in his past.

  13. Smeggypants says:

    Looks like I missed all the fun today :)

    .. and then the ‘Tim’ thread being locked–30463

    followed by a childish outburst by the perennial toddler George Lazarette–the-irony–30622

    who has alienated even more people from PUF in manner that John Riley could only dream of and further joined the Pentaxforums to stir up Stefan’s thread there

  14. robbie_d says:

    “the perennial toddler George Lazarette”


    Absolutely brilliant.

  15. Peter Jones says:

    Interesting history….

    I actually ‘banned’ myself from PU and received a refund of my outstanding Plus membership – thanks to Riley….

    I objected to the inconsistent nature of the moderation, ePhotozine were not interested and told me that they were happy with the way things were and more or less told me to bugger off (without using those words)…..


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