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Frequently Asked Questions

The users of this website are likely to be the kind of bonsai enthusiasts who attend exhibitions and their opinions will help you understand how your bonsai would be appreciated in an exhibition. Some users will be your peers, some will have more experience than you, some will have less but they are all representative of the audience who would view and appreciate your bonsai in an exhibition.

You can use the opinions you receive on this website to help you understand in detail what people like and dislike about your bonsai, empowering you to improve your trees and identify your most popular trees to exhibit.

Constructive criticism is an important part of everyone's process of developing their skills. There's a constant cycle of experimenting then evaluating what works well and what doesn't. We can evaluate ourselves, we can ask for feedback from an expert we respect, and we can ask our peers.

It's been said that "a camel is a horse designed by a committee". Learning what others think about your bonsai doesn't mean you have to compromise your personal artistic vision and taste to try to please everyone, you don't want to end up with a camel! If you really love that knobbly branch that everyone else seems to want to cut off, have the courage of your convictions, make it a feature! Be bold in your bonsai design, but do it with your eyes open to the qualities that other people see in your tree.

Why would I value the opinions of people who aren't experts?

We are all better at judging the quality of bonsai than we are at being able to create good bonsai ourselves. We all have an instinctual appreciation of beauty and we tend to agree more than we disagree on matters of beauty, even if we can't explain why. Our judgements are naturally instinctual, we don't use reasoning to arrive at judgements.

Most of the people who view your bonsai in exhibitions won't be experts, in fact they're likely to be less experienced than you. These people are your audience, it's worth paying attention to what they think about your trees.

Why can't I give/receive written opinions

You can easily do this already on bonsai forums. The value of the tools on this website being more number-based is how they make it possible to get the average opinion of a large number of people.

Why can't I see each user's ratings individually?

Test results become more meaningful when averaged over a large number of users.

What about spam or users who give nonsense results

The website is able to quickly identify any users who give unusual results and filter them out. Your test results will be weighted towards the ratings given by the most reliable users.