Entry rejected re photo source

Hello - I have an entry that has been reviewed and ready to be approved except the email I got says you cannot use the photo I included. The photo I submitted is a photo I took myself. I selected “I took this photo” for Image usage. So not sure what the issue is with the photo.

It is a professional looking photo, so perhaps you thought it was not really mine? Is there a way I can provide additional verifying info?



Hey @markparascandola always feel free to drop the places team a note, I’m sure this was a mistake in the haste of processing new entries to the database. Apologies for any inconveniences and we are in the process of better outlining photo requests in an updated FAQ. Thanks again for all the hard work.

I kind of agree, the process now really took a nosedive and so did the communication between members and staff. I’m guessing that it’s covid related for a large part so I can’t blame them for focussing on profits and keeping their heads above water.

I do absolutely agree that the membership thing was insulting. I got one for free after suggesting that everyone who submits gets it temporarily. No further info.


@Rainman Truly apologize for the inconvenience and lack of transparency you felt in correspondence. We use a system that flags entries if the text includes any similar language that can be found on the internet. We are also open to a contributor laying out the case for a particular entry if it was rejected, so long as it meets the baseline parameters for an entry. We’ve no issues reevaluating entries. Feel free to send me a list of the entries in question, and I can provide more insight and give them another look. Sorry again for any inconvenience.

Yea, I wish that they did not just offer stuff to people who are unhappy but include these things for everyone.

As for the covid thing, I get that they are focussing on getting money now. My job technically doesn’t suffer under covid, except that I never see colleagues anymore productivity just goes down because you can’t discuss issues over lunch etc.

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Same here. I joined this community enthusiastically, as I travel often (when it’s not COVID time) and was hoping to contribute. I did submit several entries…a couple got published (one was heavily edited, which was not at all an improvement, but ok, whatever) but the rest have sat in limbo for a VERY long time. Most of my unpublished entries are pre-COVID so that’s not working as an excuse, sorry. One of the entries I submitted was WELL over a year ago, maybe 2…crickets…I recently updated it as the place’s status has changed…still nothing.

I couldn’t agree more that it is INCREDIBLY frustrating to spend time putting together an entry - as a volunteer, no less - just to be ignored. The membership thing is indeed laughable. Really?? Sad thing is, I WOULD have happily purchased one had it felt like my contributions were valued or even acknowledged. Even if you don’t want to publish them, the least that you can do is respond with a reason why. This is not the way to build a community…and it’s certainly not the way to sell memberships, either.

I write quite a bit professionally so I was hoping for this to be a fun, creative outlet to write something other than “work stuff” but this has proven to be more frustrating than anything else. This is not the first time that this topic has been brought up but I guess that’s just how it is since it seems there are still the same issues from months ago when I remember seeing that discussion.


Yea the places team is still very mysterious about their methods. I have one place that has not been touched since December 1st even though they told me via email that they would. The fact that this ‘ignored’ place is a pro-LGBT location does not help either.

Personally I don’t have many issues with rewrites of my articles, I had some rewrites and massive cuts in the beginning, but over time I got used to what they want. A basic explanation with some basic background 200-300 words tops, preferably with some cool photo and a fun catchphrase. Anything more then that is not really what they want I think, which might be what you are having trouble with.

I had two egregious edits to my places, which honestly upset me. The biggest one is my entry on Antwerp hands, which became a hit piece on Belgium with all your typical uninformed American grandstanding. They did not change it after I complained, but at least until now they did not repost it on the facebook (which always led to people raging on Belium). My entry on the Gypsy king had the same problem. Polish people are not allowed to use the word ‘gypsy’ and neither can the actual polish gypsies decide what they call themselves. This is because some people in the US has decided that it is an insensitive term. (Same problem like non-indians calling indians ‘native americans’ because they decided that it is insensitive. Meanwhile the actual natives overwhelmingly hate the name, but they obviously don’t understand the problem as well as the people who oppressed them for centuries. Latinx is another example of this, but oh well.) I wish that AO would write more from a neutral point of view, rather than condemning, apologizing and assuming for other cultures. (Like with the Dutch article on swear words.) Of course, as illustrated above, this is not a problem of AO alone, but more an issue of current society, so I will stop complaining about that.

Then there is the foods database that is a major annoyance from my side, but I just gave up on that and post to the taste atlas.

Actually, all the entries which have been sitting in limbo with no acknowledgement are around 200 words or shorter, each has a good, clear photo that I have personally taken as well. So I don’t think that’s it. Whatever the reason actually is, only they know…but either way…this is not a good look for the community to just blow off participants and it seems I’m not the only one who has had this issue. I can imagine that there have to be others who have experienced this as well but just haven’t said anything.

I don’t have a problem with anyone editing a submission. The only time I do is when it’s been edited to make it sound worse than the original - with grammatical errors etc. Changes should be improvements, not downgrades in my opinion…nor should they be done just because of a personal preference on word choice. I have edited many thousands of pages written by others and even if something is not written the way I would have said it…if it’s not incorrect, I leave it alone. Maybe that common sense approach isn’t what is done here…who knows…but I’ve long since given up on trying to figure it out.

You seem to have added a lot of places, so you would think that would get you some type of push to the top for adding new ones…but perhaps not. That’s unfortunate. And let’s hope that the fact that the latest is a pro-LGBT spot is simply a coincidence and not something else.

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I mean I get if they want the articles to be similar in style. Also if they add some lines to better crosslink other articles (which is fine imo, but some people got upset about).

As for being a ‘senior contributor’, I am not sure if I get treated differently due to that. Yes I did get the membership, but I do also experience a lot of the things that others complain about. I am also vocal (as you might have noticed :P) so that probably helps.

Personally I would really like if they would treat all the writers better and equally. I’ve been suggesting to give free (temporary) memberships to everyone who gets published and also to give more attention to the writers, as now its very hard to even see that the database is user sourced. (Which also hurts AO because people don’t get tempted to add stuff.)

Back in the day there used to be a ‘top contributors’ bar on the front page that showed the top 5 people with #submissions and I think with #edits of that month. It was fun to try to get on there, and you got some recognition once it happened.

I also suggested that they maybe try interview some of the bigger contributors, as most of them are pretty interesting people. Do that for everyone who hits 100 places and you get a lot of fun content and people would probably get a lot happier.

IMO they really need to do something to save the community, before it falls apart (like you said.).


Those are great suggestions. And yes…I think they do need to do something. Can’t build a community when you alienate the people who are trying to contribute to building it. Again, some of us have brought it up…but there’s no way to know how many others experienced this too and didn’t say anything…just left and never returned. Let’s hope they pay attention to this feedback.

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Hello all, apologies for any and all issues you all have had submitting or getting places published. We truly, truly hear you, truly appreciate your contributions, and promise to be better. None of these notes go unnoticed and are discussed internally at every turn. We are working on several projects that will help us better communicate with our community. Some are laid out here. And more to come in the future. Thank you all again for your patience and insight.

Could you maybe also take a look at the forgotten places that @MarilynR mentioned. (Or get the places team to check?)

I think that doing a general sweep might be good. How many pending places do you guys have atm? Are older places ever dragged up or do they just die? And can someone bump their places somehow?

It’s best to send an email to places regarding any entry.

@MarilynR I’ve alerted the team and you should be receiving some emails on the entries.

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The offensiveness thing is quite peculiar in terms of what is chosen to be edited out and what isn’t. You mention that some topics always get the same reaction on social media and one case I have seen often yet remains to be changed is the main picture of this Keith Haring mural:

Looking at censorship on TV, I’d say it’s a majority of countries in the world that consider that explicit sexual acts are worthy of some degree of censorship or watershed system. No denying that if they involve homosexuality, they are more likely to be censored further. So the entry above does make me question your theory that your submission might have been passed over as it is LGBT+ related.

But it also makes me wonder why AO would censor potentially sensitive topics related to other types of “offensivity” like ethnically-charged terms (so long as they are not being used with the derogatory connotations but rather in a historical or reappropriation context) yet leave the sexually-explicit picture above as the main one for the entry, seeing how there are a couple less explicit ones that still show the artwork for the celebration of diversity it is, and the standard reactions every time this place is shared on social media.

To add to the other feedback topics mentioned before, generally speaking, I would say there is a noticeable worsening of the editing process for new entries before they are published. I’ve noticed more typos, grammar and location issues in new places than at any other point since I started visiting the site regularly. If the edition duties have been assigned to a different group or department, I think they might be in need of some feedback.

@jonathancarey I know the standard response is “please inform us of place issues via email”, but if they appear more often, it doesn’t make much sense for me as a user to address them individually as it is most likely a trend that would be better dealt with internally as a whole than in parts.

Just for the sake of examples I would mention a recent place that misspelled “Massachusetts”,

the former version of this entry’s logline and title (which have already been edited as I emailed the Places team),

and both the location and translation here being either incorrect (not sure why the Spanish “meridiano” is used on the English version or why “cerro”/hill was not corrected to “cero”/zero) or outside AO’s own standards (this has city, island and country on the location, whereas most places will be either city and country or just country):

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I agree that AO is generally pro lgbt entries, but this one place is the longest edit that I’ve ever had after talking to the places team. They started with rejecting it, then they said that they changed their mind, then they didn’t touch it for a month. I then emailed them and they said that they would publish it that week, then another 2 passed and I emailed again. They said within last or this week, and nothing again. Up til now, the place would always go up within a few days of the team acknowledging it. Maybe there is another reason, but it sure feels odd.

As for the rest I agree, even though the meridian one is mine. :stuck_out_tongue: did you suggest an edit for that one already?

I can’t remember if I did, I have used the feedback option or emailed them about the other two (the Massachusetts one has not been corrected yet) and so many others typos that I forget.

Just to be sure I went ahead and did an actual edit on the Meridiano today.

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It is set for publishing, but they made it weird. So hopefully they will edit now before it goes live.

I mean, I don’t know if it’s my standards but I’m genuinely surprised that something like “experiments” here was missed, specially since it’s far from an isolated thing:

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Thanks for the note on this, truly. We will certainly be more aware of these grammatical errors. Thanks for the note and I have updated the entry.

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