Great topic for a discussion Tom!
To go on a small tangent here: I started learning piano two years ago without a teacher. While playing for non-musicians or just for myself is fun and a sure way to get compliments, I noticed that the learning process is quite slow, since there is nobody to point out non-obvious mistakes or other parts I can improve on. So I decided last week to get a teacher to advance my playing more quickly.
I think the same can be said about painting. The fastest way to get better is input from better painters. I know that it is a very subjective question to decide what's "good" art, but I also think that there are technical aspects where this is much more objective. Like perspective, brushwork, composition...
While I greatly enjoy the positive and friendly atmosphere we have here (someone once described TwoInchBrush.com as the friendliest place on the internet), I am not sure this atmosphere is the best for individual painters' improvement.
I guess a lot of us don't want to give out criticism for fear of going against the grain here.
The question is, how can we keep the friendly vibe while also providing valuable input? Tom, since you've mentioned a while ago that you'll stop posting watercolors since there is nobody here to help you get better I have had this topic in the back of my head.
One solution I had would be to be able to tag paintings with something like "Criticism Wanted". This would set the painting and all discussion to an anonymous mode, where everyone commenting (including the original poster) would have their names hidden. The painting would then also not be visible on the uploaders page. Maybe I could also generate codenames that are shown instead of the usernames, so the discussion would not get too confusing.
Everyone would then be free to give (and receive) criticism, without being "identified". Of course, for some signature styles (like your watercolors) it would still be clear who uploaded the painting.
What do you (and of course everyone else) think?