#29 in a series of background briefs

On the biggest challenge of making a looser labeling standard (see #4 here).

The Problem of Arbitrariness

What is “the problem of arbitrariness”?

A: The problem is that it is very difficult to make a “looser” labeling standard than TCQ without being arbitrary — and viewers do not trust arbitrary limits (which is why nothing about TCQ is arbitrary).

When is it going to be tempting to make up an arbitrary limit?

A: This is a temptation anytime someone wants to create a “looser” labeling standard for post-exposure manipulations that rinairs doesn’t allow.

Common examples on non-rinairs manipulations include post-exposure perspective correction and adding post-exposure ‘bokeh’ blur.


So what are the options when trying to create a label that has looser limits than TCQ has?

Because there is no respected “arbiter” (comparable to rinairs) that allows a “looser” limit, there are only two options:

1. Make up arbitrary limits

“Not one degree more nor one degree less is allowed, because I say so”
(but in that case viewers will dismiss the labeling standard as “arbitrary”)


2. Establish no limits at all

“Do whatever you want”
(but in that case photographers will carry the manipulation to extremes, causing viewers to dismiss the “looser” label on those photographs as toothless and a joke).

Bottom line: Viewers will dismiss any labeling standard that is (1) arbitrary or that (2) allows extreme manipulations.


Why not make a standard that’s like TCQ but less strict?

Why doesn’t TCQ allow my favorite manipulation?