Gurushots Revisited

The earlier piece I wrote about the online photography game/competition at, has probably been the most commented (via email) piece thus far. While most of that post is still true, some things have changed recently, and it’s driving people up the wall.

I’ve decided to write a periodical blog (with its periodicity undefined!) about Gurushots. I have no preplanned intent or direction, I’m just going to take it as it comes.

I’ve had dozens of emails (thank you!) appreciating my last article and agreeing with most of what I said. I also got many expressing empathy, frustration and several even asking me if I’d accept some sort of consideration in return for giving them the TGP in my next challenge.

For example, I got an email from a Gurushots player, who we shall refer to as Bob (not his real name). Bob has been stuck at Master and is getting frustrated. We’ve all been there. I remember I’d struggle to reach Guru, reach the top mark and have a bunch of people blow past me in the last one minute. It got to a stage where I’d have an opportunity to win, and wouldn’t make it, and for the next hour or so I’d contemplate just deleting my profile and starting again. A team member stopped me from doing this, and shortly after, I got my first win!

Back to Bob:

Here’s our (short) exchange:

“Hey there! You are a Guru on Gurushots right? Would it be possible to pay you for giving me a guru top pick win? I am really frustrated by other people doing this to their team members. I never have a chance to win.“

I wanted to see how far he’d go with that, so I responded with “That depends. I’ll do it, but I’ll also post our exchange on a few Gurushots Groups on Facebook. What’s your shame worth?”

“I don't care about the shame any more. There are gurus with nokia 3310 pictures out there. But sharing this would mean a high ban risk. What exactly would you share?”

I didn’t respond after that, because I didn’t want to do it. I definitely didn’t want to take a bribe, with or without shaming him, but I’ve often thought about him and wondered how he’s doing and whether he has yet make Guru.

You know there is something wrong with the system, if it has reached a stage where Masters are so frustrated, that they’re willing to shell out dinner for us all, in return for a Top Guru Pick. 

The cheating by Gurus, also, absolutely needs to be curbed. I find it hypocritical that we say ‘the voting screen for Gurus awarding picks, is a blind voting screen, just like the one everyone else uses.’ Yes, it is the same, but at the same time, a bunch of other things are also the same; the Guru is able to see the challenge, see who’s winning, who’s losing, who’s posted what image, and has the ability to go through the rankings and find his buddy’s photos. Just as regular players can. He can then go to his ‘blind’ voting screen and keep scrolling till his buddy’s images come up. It’s easily done, and it’s very possible, and it is happening!

The very fact that Gurus routinely go through their chosen GPs before the challenge has ended, and congratulate the player for their GP, means the Guru knows who the awardees are, and the decision on awarding the Top Pick, has assumed some (intentional or otherwise) bias.

(Incidentally, this is why I’ve stopped doing that - when I run a challenge it’s completely blind. I don’t congratulate till the challenge ends, I don’t look to see who’s winning, or who has entered, the only thing I look at is the blind voting screen. Once I’ve awarded all my GPs, and decided my choice of Top Pick, I’ll go see who’s got what.)

Personally, I think once a challenge starts, the Guru shouldn’t be able to even see the rankings or the names. They should only be able to look at the voting screen.

I also wonder about the criteria for becoming a Guru. It’s not supposed to be easy, I get that, but once in a while you come across a profile that has hundreds of GPs, scores of top 10s, hundreds of T100s, a few million GS Points, and the guy is a Master because he hasn’t managed that one win. How frustrating must that be? Why would he keep playing?

On my team, Deadpool, we’ve had Masters go straight from Master to Guru III, something that seems fairly common, judging by reports on the various Gurushots FB groups. Then you have people like me that raced to Master, managed to get a win and become Guru, and now are plodding their way through challenge after challenge, to build up enough GS Points for the next Guru level. From GIII onwards, you’re literally looking at years of play before you get the next Guru level. There has got to be another way to do this.

Right now, in the game, a lot of people are confused. The algorithm, has changed, so we’re all confused about when to join, add, boost or swap. They’ve recently added a 24-hour, 4-photo format. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to play it, with any level of consistent success.

Another thing that I often think about, is how one would play without using tools. I recall a conversation I had a year ago with a GS employee who said, and I paraphrase, ’We try to ensure that anything you can achieve with tools, remains possible without tools.” 

When I first started playing, I never used tools, and got to Master. In my two wins, I used the classic double swap, but would occasionally come across a player who won a challenge without tools. I don’t think this is possible anymore. 

Have you heard in the last few months, of anyone won a challenge or a top photo, without using tools? I have not.

Happy shooting!