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I agree

IOTD and Top Picks Manifesto

13 Feb, 2018 23:19
Steve Milne
You say that I am in favour of the current system because it ‘obviously’ suits my purposes.
I didn't say that at all Steve.

I said " those of you who favour the current system", I didn't mention any names at all I was speaking about those who don't want to change.

You made yourself quite clear from this statement "but I don’t have strong feelings about how IOTD is run."

Edited 13 Feb, 2018 23:21
13 Feb, 2018 23:24
Perhaps your opening your post by quoting me led me to think otherwise.
13 Feb, 2018 23:28
Ah yes, I was just clarifying your query on what I considered should be classified as a professional observatory.

Its amazing how sometimes written words can get mis-interpreted.  Think I am going to get off this thread now before any more mis-understandings.

Edited 13 Feb, 2018 23:31
14 Feb, 2018 00:12
I calculate each of the pixel values myself … using an abacus.
Steve Milne
I calculate each of the pixel values myself … using an abacus
your going about it the hard way,  just submerge your hard drive into a warm vat of developer and then rinse in citric acid.
Edited 14 Feb, 2018 00:13
14 Feb, 2018 01:29
If we replace IOTD with Top Pick Categories, we will of course need to define the categories. Here's a first shot for possible editing…

Rules: To be considered for a Top Pick, image must be categorized. The Backyard category requires a Bortle scale.


Backyard: You did it all (equipment setup/maintenance, capture, processing). You did not pay anyone to help, unless they were helping you overcome a physical disability.
Remote: You paid someone for their services to help produce the image. This might be to startup/house/maintain your equipment or theirs, or you paid someone to help capture the image for you. Might also include paying someone to process the image for you.
Professional: Your image used data captured using high-end equipment not normally available to the amateur.
Terrestrial: Images related to Earth or its inhabitants. This includes landscape, aurora, satellites, etc.
Other: None of the above. For example, you processed data captured by another AstroBin member.
14 Feb, 2018 01:39
I do not understand why there's such an uproar about the image of the day. I have never won anything or any accolades and yet I think it's working just fine. Also I'm pretty sure this is Salvador's baby.
But props to you people that are coming up with different ways of making a good thing good.
Edited 14 Feb, 2018 02:29
14 Feb, 2018 09:27
I would like to make a small assessment here of this discussion.

The theme of IOTD and Top Picks will be reviewed. It is a natural evolution.

And it's time for new ideas to come forward.

All of us here really like astrophotography but we have different methodologies:
1. Some do for pure pleasure, others professionally.
2. Some do in the backyard, others do remotely, others use professional data.
3. Some use professional software, others use free software.
4. Some know how to process images, others are still learning.

What is wrong with this? Absolutely nothing. Contrary to what I have read, the concept of cheating does not exist in these cases. What is missing is to implement an election system that is better suited to the different methods used by all of us.

What we aspire to is to get the best picture possible. If we live in the north and want to photograph the south or if we live in a place with a lot of PL or in bad weather, how can we do it? We have to use a remote observatory. That's cheating? Of course not.

There have been new ideas and some consensus. I myself started to defend the idea of ​​improving the process of election of IOTD and now I am in favor of its extinction in the face of the category model presented in the meantime.

Please participate in this discussion with new ideas (on the solution side and not on the problem side).
14 Feb, 2018 10:11
Thanks, Ruben - this is a good summary of the present position.  I am especially pleased that you addressed this use of the word 'cheating' - I don't think that it is acceptable for folks to use this word as loosely as it has been used here.  The fact that it has been used by members of the 'selection board' is extremely disappointing.

Whilst I understand why some would favour the idea of having diferent categories, I suspect that, in practice, this could very quickly get out of hand, with people having multiple different views about what should or should not be a sub-category. And the main problem is - who is going to administer all of this added complexity?  I think Salvatore had enough problems finding folks to volunteer as judges last time around.  And, as a reviewer, I have quite enough to do every day with choosing my 3 favourites, without having to consider multiple images and to which category they should be allocated.

So, I think that it would be better to keep the system of having just one IOTD (alongside the relatively new Top Picks).  By all means tweak how this is run.  I repeat, I thought your original suggestions were entirely sensible.  John Hayes also made some very good points.  Or, do away with the IOTD altogether.  I think it would be disappointing to lose IOTD, but it does seem to generate such ill-feeling, and (as we have seen) personal abuse.

One thing that you touched upon in your 'manifesto' that perhaps does need some consideration is the issue of judges.  There are, I believe, relatively few judges.  As I said, I think Salvatore did have some problems getting volunteers to act as judges this time around.  I wonder if this is because judges are not eligible for IOTD.  This is a great pity since it would be useful to have experienced astrophotographers on the judging panel.  I don't think, for example, that there is anyone in the top 25 'trending' imagers (last year, or all time) on the panel.  I wonder if the 'judges-are-not-eligible' rule should be abandoned.  If the panel was large enough, then we could have the same system we have for reviewers and submitters, namely that judges cannot vote for their own image.  Alternatively, we could do away with the final panel and just let Salvatore choose from the images forwarded to him by the reviewers.  Certainly, there are problems with having such small 'committees', especially if there are one or two forceful personalities on the panel.  Even if this is not the case at the moment, we might want to protect against this in the future.

Edited 14 Feb, 2018 11:47
14 Feb, 2018 11:30
Regarding the word professional.

It is not  neccessarily about the quality but about the attitutde. Professional sites are making business or sience or both, while amateurs usually dont. In the disclaimer of the AB there is nothing about these 2 categories, but it seems it is a sensitve topic and something distinction should be done on some level.

The same applies in other areas of life like sport or other hobbies.
14 Feb, 2018 12:53
Steve Milne
One thing that you touched upon in your 'manifesto' that perhaps does need some consideration is the issue of judges.  There are, I believe, relatively few judges.  As I said, I think Salvatore did have some problems getting volunteers to act as judges this time around.  I wonder if this is because judges are not eligible for IOTD.  This is a great pity since it would be useful to have experienced astrophotographers on the judging panel..

Just by way of clarification Steve - I was a Judge for a while as I was asked to do it….I contacted Salvatore and asked to be removed from the Judging panel after there was …. ANOTHER ….. thread and comments about who picked the judges, what gave them the rights to judge anything, why did they think they were qualified etc…… The thread and comments I felt were from people of THIS community, making an inference about the Judges. I thought 'Oh goodness, here we go again' and didn't want any of it …. again….. especially as I was personally targeted in a thread when the system was going to change for the first time.

I like the thoughts behind AB, but I have not uploaded for 18 months because of IOTD…. because of the bad feeling it seems to cause, peoples perceptions about who gets it and why etc.
14 Feb, 2018 13:05
Hi Sara.  I have seen some of these threads you refer to, and they were pretty awful.  And I know of others who have had similar experiences to you.  It does seem a great pity that someone with your knowledge and skill has been driven away by the rancour.  It is unquestionably a loss to AB that you haven't posted for 18 months.  I've always taken the view that IOTD should just be a bit of harmless fun.  But if folks can't take it in that spirit, then perhaps it should be abolished.  Astrophotography, like 'regular' photography (or indeed any other type of artistic endeavour for that matter) should not be about 'prizes'.

And, for the avoidance of doubt, I was not suggesting that being ineligible for IOTD was the only reason that people might not want to volunteer as  a judge.
Edited 14 Feb, 2018 13:10
14 Feb, 2018 14:19
Dear All!
I have some thoughts about the topic, so let me share them to You.
- Scientific and aesthetic aspect of images are equally important. I consider myself not just an astrophotographer but an amateur astronomer too. In case of postprocessing my hardest cornerstone is astrophysical realism. For me, scientific aspect means that the author is fully aware of the astrophysical, astronomycal content of the image during the process and does not distort it for aesthetical reasons at will. It should be matter during selection too.
- Board member selection was based on volunteernes so nobody should question it's legitimacy. Everybody had the chance to participate in it.
- Steve's idea letting the judges have IOTD is a really good suggestion, I can share he's point of view.
- I don't think that demolishing IOTD would be a good idea. Healthy competition and recognition is important for most people. AB would lose attractiveness without IOTD, but everybody should handle their own competition spirit.
- IOTD and Top Pick selection is also important for the community, because it SETS STANDARDS for all of the members. Top Pick = Good image, IOTD = example to follow! So the selection board has a huge responsibility because the board is able to influance the whole community's value system, so it is able to develope or ruin the community's value production ability.
- I guess the selection system is good, but offcourse it may happen that some selection doesn't meet with a personal preference. It is not a problem. The problem is that even in the board there is no agreement on selection criterias and this generates frustration. What if we try to settle a guideline of selection criterias togeather which can be represented by all of us? Is that possible? Maybe we could even form each other's point of view, we clould learn from each other and we could act like a responsible and worthy team of photographers serving a whole international community :-)

Thanks for considering my points
14 Feb, 2018 15:55
Ruben Barbosa
Please participate in this discussion with new ideas (on the solution side and not on the problem side).

100 % agreed. But since I have no problem with the actual system, I don't need solution. Will keep on watching. Rgrds

14 Feb, 2018 16:07
I'm munching on popcorn and trying not to cry, reading yet another attempt at "improving" IOTD.  The last time it was overhauled was bad enough; let's live with what we have!

If I had a suggestion to improve things it would be to publish a standard for judging images. I have a really tough time accepting an IOTD that still has stacking artifacts, to name but one issue.  Why can't we have a published guide for judging images - a best practices so to speak?  It's been asked for time and again, but nothing.  Since there is no standard to go by, it's just subjective picking and that leads to problems.

On the good side, I think adding the "Top Picks" category has helped. But again, I wish there was some standard we could go by. To me, that would be a great discussion here for the forum: What are the standards we should be judging images by?
14 Feb, 2018 16:15
Goofi, you are completely right.
Anyway the issue is that with dozens (40 ?) of people picking and judging images, you can imagine the complexity to check if everyone is promoting images based on the established standards. It would be different if the selection process weren't as complex as it is right now, maybe with just judges (3-4) as I suggested 2 years ago.

Stated that, I'd really remove IOTD just leaving the Top picks divided by categories.
14 Feb, 2018 22:42
I believe that Top Picks would become the contentious label if IOTD was removed.    There will always be people striving for this recognition they feel is, in some way, deserved and that is what creates some dissent.   I’ve seen images of various quality receive IOTD, but they all have one thing in common, they are interesting in some way.  They just don’t filter through all the levels of review if they are not.   In my opinion, the spirit of IOTD is to filter those images to the top so they can fly one day as the banner.

In this way, I think the system works fine.    Sure, everyone has an opinion about what makes a top level image, but does it matter that much if someone gets awarded an IOTD and can share the work with a larger audience even if it has a few “flaws”?

I simply don’t understand the need for rules upon rules.   Little golden digital trophies have very little real value.   So, let’s just celebrate the sharing.

Either that or we can get sponsors to kick in a cash prize?   Then we can make rules.
15 Feb, 2018 04:21
There have been three major changes with how IOTD is picked (number of likes, picked by a small team appointed by Salvatore, and then picked by a large volunteer based team).  Despite this, the argument about IOTD comes up every half year, or even more frequently.

I do agree with the spirit that we should always try to make a system better.  However, after seeing this year after year, I am convinced that there is no way people will be satisfied.  It can never be 100% fair (and life is never fair, remember this).  There will be always disagreement or bitterness, and sometimes even anger.

People, astrophotography is for fun.  Enjoy the sky.  Enjoy taking the images, processing the images, and watching others' images.  That's why we are here.  Well, at least this is why I am here.
15 Feb, 2018 05:33
Wei-Hao Wang
People, astrophotography is for fun.  Enjoy the sky.  Enjoy taking the images, processing the images, and watching others' images.  That's why we are here.  Well, at least this is why I am here.
Totally agree Wei-Hao

Humble nobody here, first off, I love this place.  I’ve become a better astrophotographer because of this place. I’d say that over the last few years I’ve slowly watched the quality of day to day images get better and better. In part because of practice and in part because of the information one can acces here. Salvatore did that by uniting us through Astrobin.

Now, IOTD is amazing and Ive been humbled each time I have received one, but it’s not why I upload images. It’s a great honor for sure, but is that what we want this site to be?  The yardstick of astrophotographers? Just asking.

So I’m just not blowing hot air, here’s some thoughts.  I’d propose moving the IOTD to a discussion based realm in the forums with maybe a selection of images?  I think the idea of a slideshow of top picks on the front banner is a great idea. The judges become mods in some regard and it’s all a little more organic and transparent.  Not that it’s not now, I just cringe a little at some of the jaded comments I read about judges from time time. To think the judges don’t upload their work here is sad for them smile and how do you really expect a community to thrive when you wear down the leadership?  When Astrobin started, the forums weren’t a resource, so maybe they could be now that we have them?

Regardless, this place is great and I appreciate all the hard work of the judges and Salvatore.
Edited 15 Feb, 2018 06:01
15 Feb, 2018 08:31
I am driven by things like IOTD, APOD, AAPOD, IAPY, D.M.A, Likes and shares……because that is what i saw as my goal when i started this hobby….. i saw the level i could reach, and asked questions, researched lots of forums, tested lots of things, tried plugins, actions, software, settings, filters, everything…… and lots of that came from Astrobin….. reading what others do…….. admiring the IOTD guys……… LEARNING from everyone but looking up to the people that stands out……..

Having been on this hobby for not a long time, i can say only what i feel because my experience is too short to give my opinion, i have STRONG feelings about this topic and also my own way to be a Judge……. i have my DOs and DON'ts….  based on how much effort i have invested in set up, shoot and process my data…. yes, i am on the backyard side of things, work on my gear, make it perform better, find ways to overcome light pollution, bad seeing, second hand equipment… etc

I do love IOTD, i love my photos to be considered, i like the TOP Pick idea……. makes me feel that my effort has been seen, love when someone writes me saying how can i do it better, better framing, color, star shapes…….. LOTS of effort…..

Reason why i am not a fan of shared  or pro data, is not cheating, but not a fan,,,, sorry guys…. not my priority… i like to see what people like me can do….. that is exactly what i was looking for in ASTROBIN when i joined………

The way i see it, if you don't care about indexes or top picks of IOTD…. then no problem…….
If you want to earn an IOTD or a top pick, PLEASE, use your data, your effort… (MY OPINION)
Don't try to change the way things are so you can have a chance, instead, do more, shoot more, get better, learn  and get there on this conditions…
aaaaaaaaand…… no man made things for me….. only DSOs….
I prefer to be amazed and inspired by the 10 year M1 timelapse or by Andy's big mosaics than an iphone photo of a Rocket…. or a hubble photo.

So…… this will end up in people angry instead of people satisfied…. do the maths, it wont be fair for 100% of the people, i understand Sara and Andy and everyone……. but…… i say…… Let it be…. or "Be a judge….."

Sorry if someone doesn't like my ideas…. i have worked hard for my photos….
15 Feb, 2018 09:21
Everytime there's a considerable effort behind a work, I think it should be rewarded.
Be it a biblical pro data composition or nights spent outside for shooting.

I usually manage pro data but this night I went under dark skies with my friend Luiz Duczmal. Came back at 3.30am and woke up at 6.30am to go to work. Totally destroyed LoL
Edited 15 Feb, 2018 09:22
15 Feb, 2018 09:29
Wei-Hao Wang
People, astrophotography is for fun. Enjoy the sky. Enjoy taking the images, processing the images, and watching others' images. That's why we are here. Well, at least this is why I am here.
Could not agree more!

Diego Colonnello
Let it be…. or "Be a judge….."
Well said Diego!

There is always room for improvement but all in all I feel like the current community driven process runs fine. Everybody can apply for any position in the IOTD staff. But then, when I look at yesterdays and todays IOTD … the same object from the same source … smile  …
15 Feb, 2018 09:36
But then, when I look at yesterdays and todays IOTD … the same object from the same source …   …

Some things are not perfect….. that is clear…  smile
15 Feb, 2018 10:08

There's a lot to say about all of this, and I will give you my 2 cents later…

But for today, I feel disturbed by the choice of Judges : giving the IOTD for 2 consecutive days to the same data ?!

Ok, the processing is not the same, but it's the same object, all or part the same datas for DSW, same frame…

I don't think it's a good thing…

15 Feb, 2018 10:19
"Let it be or be a judge." Sorry but is not the question we are discussing. As for me, the problem is not in the judges but in the submiters. If they decide to submit only a restricted type of images, the judges will never vote for other images that could be equally Top Picks. And in the course of these publications, I have read a few arguments of decision makers that realize that they are not in tune, that each one has its analysis and that sometimes they do not understand the final decision, that is, there is no guiding thread, a general orientation.

Just see the number of views and publications of this topic that we conclude immediately that interests everyone and that there are many disagreements.

The motion for a resolution, as far as I am concerned, will not be to let it be but to act on two points:
1. Extend the scope of the election of images (as has been said to make Top Picks of backyard images, professional data, remote, etc.) and thus satisfy a larger number of members of our community and
2. Define some rules of image selection, reducing the number of decision-makers and considering their qualifications (it is not enough to want to be, one must know how to be).

There seems to me to have been a consensus to move on to point 1. It might be a good idea to discuss paragraph 2 (and perhaps the judges and ex-judges are best at evaluating this point).
15 Feb, 2018 10:34
Morning all

A few thoughts for what they are worth.  I have sat on both sides of the fence.  I assisted Salvatore in the design of the current format which moved it away from 1 person judging to a number of people reviewing for an IOTD to be 'achieved' (deliberate vernacular there which I will return to).  I have been a judge and now I am just one of the users again achieving my 1st IOTD since my judging holiday yesterday.
Let's also be clear that sometimes I don't like and IOTD, sometimes I think one that should have been given the nod was not (this has included mine on occasions) and sometimes I think the choice is utterly wrong.  That said a majority of the time it is a good selection which is the aim.  But; does it really matter that much?

As Andy points out the images are submitted and reviewed, these are provided to judges for consideration and final selection.  This is a far more comprehensive system than on any other typical site.  APOD one of two people for example.  Trust me from an aesthetic viewpoint APOD could be viewed as getting it wrong many times over, but they have a different agenda and work to that.  The multi-person/tier approach here, in theory, removes agendas, preferences and individual quirks and normalises the selection process among our peers.

Returning to the earlier 'achieved' point.  Maybe a reframe is required of what TP/IOTD is. For me it is not a prize,  I do not receive cash or goods for it, it is an acknowledgement from a number of your peers that I produced a good image.  One that I am grateful for, in terms of both the acknowledgement and the time these people put into volunteering their time to provide.

I disagree with Sara and others (sorry Sara) that it should be removed.  As Sara points out you can opt out if you do not want to be part of the process - maybe an extension should be included though?  Provide the opt-in/out option for both TP and IOTD.  This way an image could be included in TP but not IOTD.  You can get the TP nod and exclude your self from the IOTD if you feel it is a competition or any other reason.   I am intrigued though with this scenario, and not clear why AB IOTD is categorised differently to other sites?  Just an example here, on Sara's site her extensive list of achievements is listed, these include awards such as APOD and AAPOD2 but no AB IOTD's?  Not calling this out as an issue, rather raising a question as to why AB is considered different to an AAPOD2 where one person has judged the image?  Maybe I am missing something?  If getting an IOTD requires the nod from 3 peers is this not of more/different value as an achievement?

Dealing with the themed points.

1.  Don't overcomplicate it - you have a more comprehensive solution already than any other site I am aware of - short of having a formal judging panel that sits periodically.  I think you would struggle to do better without it being so onerous most volunteers would simply remove themselves from the process.
2.  Wider acknowledgement of more good images (not imagers) is good.  I think TP covers this though.  I would like to see a rolling banner or similar under IOTD actively showcasing these rather than the current passive - go to the menu and look option.
3. This is Astrobin - picture criteria is that is should have something to do with Astro! Earth's atmosphere is a great metric, is it outside of it, is it a phenomenon caused by something outside of it/entering it/leaving it etc. Stars, galaxies, spaceships, moons, planets aurora, comets, rockets, satellites, NEO's and so on are all good.
4. Pro-data, remote data, backyard data - All good.  Trust the staff to consider the merits of the source.
4.1 Pro-data - Evaluate based on what is being presented.  As Robert says if he has taken the time to produce a 196 pane mosaic that is a lot of effort and a view that we will not often be exposed to - worth a nod.   This is not cheating (sorry Andy disagree with the word cheating specifically) so long as you are labelling your data with the acquisition source.  A single pane of M16 is often pretty from Hubble but not IOTD, if you are doing something more notable then it is worthy of consideration.    That consideration is the realm of the staff and they should be trusted to evaluate.  If Astrobin is amateur only then yes it does not qualify, last time I checked it is not though.  An example, I have just agreed after a great deal of effort and expense the acquisition of a 0.6m research grade scope (as in people like ESA will also use).  Based on these criteria, as an amateur using this scope, publishing my images here would then be cheating?
4.2 Remote data/backyard data - lumping these together for a reason.  Where you live is normally chance.  Few people move just to do AP.  I fully respect those who for example live in light polluted areas, as Carole points out she images from heavy light pollution (I used to live just a mile or two from her an can vouch for this) now I have my UK obs in the darkest part of Worcester (just chance as that is where I now live) others live in rural parts of other countries with even better viewing.  I have now moved all of my gear to Spain, having the most expensive shed in Worcester was daft!  I rarely get to use due to weather and I made that financial commitment transfer some of my gear to Spain.  Should I now be penalised for the extra commitment?  No more than Carole should be for living in London in my view.  Likewise, many people can not afford 5k of basic gear but they can afford a subscription to remote data on decent equipment.  Should they also be penalised?  We all do the same hobby - surely it is about being inclusive, not elitist or exclusive.
5.  This site is about images.  I doubt there are many here that do any science from there data?  What scientific criteria would you specify Ruben?  Have you done any science with your data?  I have an imaged a selection of close stars relative to our sun (18 month project so far and another six months before I have two full readings) and tried to calculate the trigonometric parallaxes (accurate to within 15% on some, other five too much fuzz for clear disc) should I submit these and expect a IOTD? They are just pictures of stars - wrong criteria for AB altogether.  Should I get extra accreditation for showing my workings  smile
6. Who wins and how often - disagree.  If IOTD is best peer selected picture why then tie the hands of those peers and tell them - well,  actually you can't pick the best picture?  Becuase the user was selected last week/month.  Some people only have good skies in winter and will publish frequently through that season.  Now they are to penalised for this?

So all that said I think we end up with
1. Tweak TP so they have some active exposure rather than passive go and find.
2. Trust the staff and consider the fact n people are required to select an image for IOTD.  A majority of the time this works, rarely I think a mistake is made.  But I don't feel the need to go for wholesale change for the occasional blip!  Those images acknowledged will have met many criteria tastes and preferences.  Sometimes these will be contrary to yours but that is the diversity the process offers.
4. Reframe - It is not a competition!  There is no prize (unless you consider a yellow banner a prize) - It is a peer-based acknowledgement system, a doff of the cap from your colleagues if you like.

The fact so many still feel so strongly about it shows it is a valid process/acknolwdgement and does mean something; if no-one really cared this thread would not exist!  We are all hobbyists (largely) enjoying the same hobby, sometimes in different ways, include us all and enjoy.

Final thought, staff/judges change periodically, they do a great job.  If there is an issue with a selection from a judge I think that can be raised discretely and dealt with offline.  A judge does not try to pick bad images.  It might happen though.  If it happens repeatedly then maybe remove them without any public fanfare, they are likely trying but may not have enough experience or similar.  Thank them for their efforts I say.  In this respect, the staff can be self-auditing.  In n months time, others will get the opportunity to fill the roles, on average though it will all balance out and be fair and inclusive regardless of who is currently 'in post'

My few pennies worth.

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