I'd like to know whether any of the underground pro forums have been active enough to prove useful?
I don't know what underground means, but private forums can be very useful if the participants are knowledgable and the agenda is non selfish.
Let's be realistic, RG, Fred Miranda, even this site have an agenda beyond just the sharing of information and the building of a professional community.
Not that there is anything wrong with Micahel's DVD's or seminars or RG's advertising, FM scripts, they are all very clear what their motivation is and have never once hidden it.
Still, when someone with a following, like Mark, post on this forum it adds viewship for what really is a for profit enterprise.
Mark, as I have only posted in public to share, or to hopefully learn, but there has never been an added agenda to our posts and at some point I had to step back and ask myself why was I investing the time to participate.
Still, there is nothing wrong or hidden with most private forums, it's just much easier and safer to post "work product" information on a private forum that to take the risk of laying it out there in public, because you know exactly who you are talking to and if the sharing is reciprocal.
Everytime I am willing to post publically, someone on one of these public forums gets in a DP Review type argument, or like I read recently on this forum some photogrpaher was mad because he wasn't allowed on a private forum and had a hissy fit.
To me, that type of post comes across to me as bitter and makes me want to stay away from the public forums.
But to answer the question, yes private forums are very, very effective if the agenda is clear and everyone is honest and open. In fact it becomes more than just a place to kill time or find a quick software fix.
You become part of a trusted community where the world becomes your production base and sharing is the rule, not the exception. You learn people's personalities, enjoy the differences and most importantly appreciate the trust.
Yes private forums are very effecitve.