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Hardly surprising newbies are put off.


nephilim
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It makes me wonder how honest the reviews are in magazines too.  Are the magazines paid for these ads to review stuff or are they 100% independent and the reviewers can be 100% honest and if something sucks then they can say so?

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2 minutes ago, kirkster501 said:

It makes me wonder how honest the reviews are in magazines too.  Are the magazines paid for these ads to review stuff or are they 100% independent and the reviewers can be 100% honest and if something sucks then they can say so?

A few members on here have written reviews and other pieces for magazines so will no doubt have an opinion on that.

 

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4 minutes ago, kirkster501 said:

It makes me wonder how honest the reviews are in magazines too.  Are the magazines paid for these ads to review stuff or are they 100% independent and the reviewers can be 100% honest and if something sucks then they can say so?

I'm tempted to say that Journalistic ethics is all but dead and that 99% of texts out there are crafted with "a purpose" (usually just financial gain) - in one form or another.

 

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52 minutes ago, kirkster501 said:

It makes me wonder how honest the reviews are in magazines too.  Are the magazines paid for these ads to review stuff or are they 100% independent and the reviewers can be 100% honest and if something sucks then they can say so?

I've seen this from the inside as an occasional reviewer for Astronomy Now and have nothing but respect for their editorial ethics.  I wrote a luke-warm review of a product, once, and the supplier wasn't happy with it. The magazine was perfectly clear on this matter, accepting a change of tone in one sentence (not a change of content) and then said straight out, No more changes, the articles goes to press as it is. I felt I was entirely supported by the magazine. I would not write for them under any other circumstances.

It's often stated that there are few unfavourable reviews, but consider this: how do I or other reviewers feel when asked to review a product I think will be junk? Do I want to disrupt the life of my observatory, go to inordinate lengths to set up a bit of equipment and inordinate lengths to test it, all in the near-certain knowledge that it will  be a bad product? I do not! Life is too short. Similarly, I don't review books I don't want to read. Who would? So there's a selection pressure in favour of the good stuff.

The internet is not the paper press.  There are lots of U-tube and other 'reviewers' who, at the end of their review, say you'll get a discount if you order the product from such-and-such an outfit.  You will, and they will get a sales commission as well.  They are not reviewers at all, the are freelance sales people.

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
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21 hours ago, vlaiv said:

This reminds me of a thing my friend said once:

"I don't have many superpowers, but one I have is - being able to sift thru ‘rubbish’ on the net quickly" :D

 

ha!

Something I find second nature too, but most don't. I've often thought rather than teaching kids about subjunctives and pronouns, a better use of the time would be to give them the mental tools they need to understand and descriminate between facts and internet mince. It's not that difficult, but seems a skill as rare as hen's teeth.

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The best and most honest reviews are found on places like SGL, CN, etc.

We have nothing to gain from telling the truth and so personally if I am uncertain about something in which I may be interested, I am happy to either ask the question in open forum or if I know of someone who owns or has experience of a certain product, message them for opinion. I know many of you are of a similar mind.

However and sadly, not everyone out there knows of these wealth of knowledge forums. Google searches do not point you in the direction of useful forums unless you state forum rather than website.

 

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12 hours ago, powerlord said:

ha!

Something I find second nature too, but most don't. I've often thought rather than teaching kids about subjunctives and pronouns, a better use of the time would be to give them the mental tools they need to understand and descriminate between facts and internet mince. It's not that difficult, but seems a skill as rare as hen's teeth.

Yes!  When I left teaching in 2003, the internet was just becoming a mainstream mass medium and I don't think English teachers were geared up to examine it it in the way we examined the printed press or TV.  We certainly looked long and hard at the latter, analyzing with students such things as loaded language, editorial bias, the role of supporting images, position on the page or in the sequence of news broadcasts, etc etc. We aimed to alert students to the ways in which the media would spin the news pretty much subliminally.  (You want to discredit a politician? Interview them in a perfectly unbiased way but make the next item one about a talking poodle in Penzance, or whatever.)

Media analysis has been part of English teaching for at least half a century and Internet Analysis needs to become a part of that - because internet gullibility is, quite literally, a threat to our civilization.

Olly

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I believe these are all  variations of autoblog domains for WordPress
If you have not heard of them before google (autoblog plugin)
Its a very fast way of setting up cheap web sites by the thousands if you wish.
The first one I ever saw was (blogsolution) now gone but you can still read about it on the wayback machine
https://web.archive.org/web/20070624224053/http://www.theblogsolution.com/why/

Trying to explain how it all works would mean writing a book. There are lots of different variations and they are unavoidable

as more companies add them to their marketing machines.

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13 hours ago, powerlord said:

ha!

Something I find second nature too, but most don't. I've often thought rather than teaching kids about subjunctives and pronouns, a better use of the time would be to give them the mental tools they need to understand and descriminate between facts and internet mince. It's not that difficult, but seems a skill as rare as hen's teeth.

I did GCSE (read 'O' Level) History and I do recall that there was quite a bit of emphasis in evaluating primary and secondary sources of information. I guess that part of the syllabus just needs to be updated to include Internet tosh as well.

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27 minutes ago, gilesco said:

I did GCSE (read 'O' Level) History and I do recall that there was quite a bit of emphasis in evaluating primary and secondary sources of information. I guess that part of the syllabus just needs to be updated to include Internet tosh as well.

I don't know about GCSE now in England (I was O-level, too) but in Scotland my daughter has had lessons including the unreliabliity of internet-based information and how to fact-check from multiple sources. This was in the earlier secondary years and in the 'life-skills'-type lessons. Hopefully it will be covered again during the later exam years.

Not sure whether Amazon reviews were included though!

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huh. my sister is a primary school teacher and says she teaches it too.

Difficult to square that with 1 in 3 adults deciding to not get vaccinated though, with placards being held up claiming covid is a hoax, or that it changes your DNA.

perhaps horses and water are involved.

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The very first thing i saw when i scrolled down the list to the number 1 telescope they recommend: The astromaster 130 😬 which is apparently good for long exposure photography. Having owned and used that as a first telescope i would point a few things out, which i believe most of us already know about.

"you'll need to collimate the setup. This process can be tricky for beginners, but with practice it's easily achieved – especially given Celestron has supplied a manual that walks you through the process." - True, the manual does touch up on collimation. Reading it it just says to center your eye on the focuser drawtube and adjust until you see all 3 mirror clips and the reflection of your eye in the center. Technically a form of collimation but just eyeballing it will not work and the views will keep on being bad.

"The equatorial mount assists with tracking, which is essential for longer exposure astrophotography." - So it assists in it or it does it? Which is it? Assisting in it does not lead to long exposure photography, unless 1s exposures are long.

"The optical performance is very good, with no major visual defects visible and we enjoyed the stunning contrast and clarity in the field of view. "  -No visible defects other than spherical aberration from the entirely spherical F5 primary mirror, astigmatism and just a general lack of sharpness even on-axis. So if we ignore these deal breakers then yes we do not have optical issues 😂.

"The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ comes fairly well equipped, and features two good quality eyepieces (20mm and 10mm), a StarPointer red dot finderscope" -The 20mm erected view eyepiece might actually be the worst piece of optical equipment i have looked through. I dont know what the apparent FOV is but it is similar to the 10mm... The 10mm is your average Kellner 10mm (i think kellner) and nothing to write home about. Not awful is what i would call it, although wouldn't dream of using it if there are any options. The red dot finder has plastic adjustment screws and loose threads so it looses alignment pretty much immediately if you touch it. Sometimes even if you dont touch it.

"Overall, the package is a sound choice as a first serious telescope for astrophotography." 🤮

Honestly i am quite shocked reading this through since i agree with almost none of it, pretty much all of the review is the opposite of truth. There is no way the person who wrote this has ever been in the same room as an astromaster 130, which leads me to believe that yes this is indeed just an ad, probably written by Celestron themselves.

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18 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

I've seen this from the inside as an occasional reviewer for Astronomy Now and have nothing but respect for their editorial ethics.  I wrote a luke-warm review of a product, once, and the supplier wasn't happy with it. The magazine was perfectly clear on this matter, accepting a change of tone in one sentence (not a change of content) and then said straight out, No more changes, the articles goes to press as it is. I felt I was entirely supported by the magazine. I would not write for them under any other circumstances.

It's often stated that there are few unfavourable reviews, but consider this: how do I or other reviewers feel when asked to review a product I think will be junk? Do I want to disrupt the life of my observatory, go to inordinate lengths to set up a bit of equipment and inordinate lengths to test it, all in the near-certain knowledge that it will  be a bad product? I do not! Life is too short. Similarly, I don't review books I don't want to read. Who would? So there's a selection pressure in favour of the good stuff.

The internet is not the paper press.  There are lots of U-tube and other 'reviewers' who, at the end of their review, say you'll get a discount if you order the product from such-and-such an outfit.  You will, and they will get a sales commission as well.  They are not reviewers at all, the are freelance sales people.

Olly

So many well known U-tubers chucking out help guides for beginners full of hyperlinks to astronomy dealers.  Best mount, best scope , best eyepieces etc etc the list goes on and on,  just lining their own pockets under the false pretence they are helping when they are causing confusion and disappointment.  As long as they get their kick back from the suppliers all is good 😉

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If it's not off topic, that's something else I've noticed 'wrong' with millennials - they seem to have no qualms about Shilling. It's constant. Even with podcasts where I really respect the presenters (e.g. No Such Thing as a Fish). Whether it's rubbish like Harry's Razors, or nonsense like HelloFresh, each is talked about personally as if it has made their life complete.

In the UK we had/have laws against that sort of shilling nonsense - it's why on the radio you don't hear the presenters read out adverts as it would be seen as them endorsing them. But this behaviour has been common in the states since radio began.

It seems that it has been allowed to jump into podcasts, youtube, etc with no controls and just become acceptable in the UK too by most people. And of course, being part of the content even an adblocker does not remove them - one has to skip past the shilling mince.

Anyway, on another topic, why not try Blinkest* - I have been a subscriber since birth, and would find it difficult to survive a day without it. Blinkest lets you read books  in minutes by condensing them into a few pages of meaningless drivel  succinct content. When you subscribe, use the code 'IdSellMyGranny4aPound' to make me money save you a pound on the first month.

*this is a real thing.

Edited by powerlord
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5 hours ago, Peter-uk said:

I believe these are all  variations of autoblog domains for WordPress
If you have not heard of them before google (autoblog plugin)
Its a very fast way of setting up cheap web sites by the thousands if you wish.
The first one I ever saw was (blogsolution) now gone but you can still read about it on the wayback machine
https://web.archive.org/web/20070624224053/http://www.theblogsolution.com/why/

Trying to explain how it all works would mean writing a book. There are lots of different variations and they are unavoidable

as more companies add them to their marketing machines.

In the case of these articles, the websites are all owned by Future Publishing. This is a company that started off in the 80's publishing computer magazines, but now has a portfolio of nearly 200 brands. Some of these are magazines, others are digital only content. 

I suspect more effort goes into the search engine optimisation (SEO) than has gone into an article such as this - it is designed to drive traffic to the website - page hits means advertising revenue and possibly some affiliate commission through click-throughs on the products listed in the article. The biggest problem with any 'best of' list covering something like astronomy is that 'best' depends on so much more that just the telescope - individual circumstances and whether you want to image or observe.

My litmus test for a website of this type is whether each product mentioned has a link to a full product review on the same website - an indication that the product has really been assessed and reviewed - in most cases this is not the case. Strangely though if you search the website, you can find more balanced reviews for the scopes in the list.

I do have some sympathy for magazine publishing houses as people still want to see articles, reviews and news but there is a cost to providing that - so affiliate links and 'best of' lists to attract you to the website are here to stay - but it would not take have taken much effort to produce an article that had some value.

 

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On 02/01/2022 at 16:01, Chaz2b said:

I would much like to see references made to places such as forums and possibly YouTube and others for further in-depth reviews and literature.

chaz
 

Point taken, but some forums... ahem, Cloudy Nights, ahem... often contain more chaff than wheat or endless debates that would likely turn off a newcomer.

Cynical sidenote:  Somebody once wrote, "Integrity don't pay the rent."  Probably a local politician here.

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2 hours ago, jjohnson3803 said:

Point taken, but some forums... ahem, Cloudy Nights, ahem... often contain more chaff than wheat or endless debates that would likely turn off a newcomer.

Cynical sidenote:  Somebody once wrote, "Integrity don't pay the rent."  Probably a local politician here.

I dare say somebody did say it, but they were wrong. Integrity does pay the rent.

Olly

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On 03/01/2022 at 07:22, skybadger said:

So the outcome of this is that someone has written an article that in general astronomers who know wouldn't agree with and it's been syndicated across retail websites, using the tools and practices of retail websites ? 

That's not a scam or particularly offensive. 

I suggest the action to take is to write a friendly  email to the author to improve the content or to write a piece yourself and get it syndicated. There's clearly a demand..

Otherwise this is just on par with slightly misleading television advertising. 

Seems a really reasonable way of deal with this (SGL) "Storm in an Tea Cup"!
But I sense Amateur Astronomers are (as not infrequently?) "Out for Blood"? 😐

A big problem with "Social Media" (and sometimes here):  "Kangeroo Courts"?
Also the LOADED Language! E.g. "Hardly Surprising newbies are put off"?!?!? 🤔
Ah, those "Evil" Scientists! Out to "get" those innocent Amateur Astronomers?!?

Amateur MUSICIANS seem to cope with (e.g. Youtube) reviewers getting "Free
Synthesisers". No accusation of them being "bought" re. (not always positive!)
reviews of stuff? Maybe "Astronomers" should take a leaf from we "Musos"! 😏

P.S. I READ the article too.... Also, without notably *taking* offense? 🥳
I sensed a multi-qualified Professional Scientist was "Trying"?
Sadly, quite an unfriendly tone from dissenters? 😐

Edited by Macavity
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I'm not qualified to write reviews on astro gear, but I have had a large number of reviews published in UK fishing magazines.

I can say categorically that many of the UK fishing magazines were and probably still are influenced by their advertisers.

For instance, I once wrote a very unfavourable review of a reel from a well-known brand.  The reel wasn't very free-running, and in cold weather it almost froze up completely.  I submitted the review to several of the magazines I wrote for regularly.  Not one published it, although they published all the other reviews and articles I sent them!  

That reel was quietly withdrawn from the market.  However, that was after a lot of people (including me with my own money) bought the reels based on brand reputation.

Edited by Second Time Around
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  • 2 weeks later...

Found another gem. These are clearly the best telescopes for beginners out there, i mean it says so in the video! (affiliate links down below, please buy so we get paid)

Also i find it funny that this video is titled for 2022 but was released in december of 2020 😂. These used to be easy to spot as nonsense by just looking at the amount of dislikes on the video, but since YouTube removed the feature to show dislikes to viewers, these are harder to spot for newbies.

 

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2 hours ago, ONIKKINEN said:

Found another gem. These are clearly the best telescopes for beginners out there, i mean it says so in the video! (affiliate links down below, please buy so we get paid)

Also i find it funny that this video is titled for 2022 but was released in december of 2020 😂. These used to be easy to spot as nonsense by just looking at the amount of dislikes on the video, but since YouTube removed the feature to show dislikes to viewers, these are harder to spot for newbies.

 

Wow, I couldn't even watch till the end it's that bad. Even the voice is false (I'm seeing or rather hearing more & more of these automatron 'voices' in adverts these days). This advert is beyond words & those 'scopes'.....well, the less said the better.

I think with the recent launch of the James Webb, there are going to be an abundance of con artists selling tat such as this 😒 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 04/01/2022 at 12:39, ONIKKINEN said:

The very first thing i saw when i scrolled down the list to the number 1 telescope they recommend: The astromaster 130 😬 which is apparently good for long exposure photography. Having owned and used that as a first telescope i would point a few things out, which i believe most of us already know about.

"you'll need to collimate the setup. This process can be tricky for beginners, but with practice it's easily achieved – especially given Celestron has supplied a manual that walks you through the process." - True, the manual does touch up on collimation. Reading it it just says to center your eye on the focuser drawtube and adjust until you see all 3 mirror clips and the reflection of your eye in the center. Technically a form of collimation but just eyeballing it will not work and the views will keep on being bad.

"The equatorial mount assists with tracking, which is essential for longer exposure astrophotography." - So it assists in it or it does it? Which is it? Assisting in it does not lead to long exposure photography, unless 1s exposures are long.

"The optical performance is very good, with no major visual defects visible and we enjoyed the stunning contrast and clarity in the field of view. "  -No visible defects other than spherical aberration from the entirely spherical F5 primary mirror, astigmatism and just a general lack of sharpness even on-axis. So if we ignore these deal breakers then yes we do not have optical issues 😂.

"The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ comes fairly well equipped, and features two good quality eyepieces (20mm and 10mm), a StarPointer red dot finderscope" -The 20mm erected view eyepiece might actually be the worst piece of optical equipment i have looked through. I dont know what the apparent FOV is but it is similar to the 10mm... The 10mm is your average Kellner 10mm (i think kellner) and nothing to write home about. Not awful is what i would call it, although wouldn't dream of using it if there are any options. The red dot finder has plastic adjustment screws and loose threads so it looses alignment pretty much immediately if you touch it. Sometimes even if you dont touch it.

"Overall, the package is a sound choice as a first serious telescope for astrophotography." 🤮

Honestly i am quite shocked reading this through since i agree with almost none of it, pretty much all of the review is the opposite of truth. There is no way the person who wrote this has ever been in the same room as an astromaster 130, which leads me to believe that yes this is indeed just an ad, probably written by Celestron themselves.

Ive got a 130 and the nicest thing I can say is that its adequate for the price - for 150 sheets there's not much better, and plenty worse.

I certainly wouldn't let any camera north of a smartphone near it!

I guess "An adequate and just about usable budget scope with no serious photography potential" doesn't  sound quite as sexy.

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