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I agree

IOTD and Top Picks Manifesto

15 Feb, 2018 10:35
Hi Ruben,

Ruben Barbosa
As for me, the problem is not in the judges but in the submitters.

In my opinion, the choice of the IOTD of yesterday/today tends to prove that there is also things to say about the judge's choices.

I can't imagine they didn't have any other images that were submitted to make a different choice…

15 Feb, 2018 10:40
One other thought - maybe it is as simple as the name!
IOTD implies winning?
Todays Peer Pick - maybe not so much.

15 Feb, 2018 11:43
Jean-Baptiste Auroux
Ruben BarbosaAs for me, the problem is not in the judges but in the submitters.
I would just like to say, that despite my feelings about remote and professional data v data from backyard imagers, I am doing a job as a submitter and while I do make a point of seeking out good backyard images and choosing them if they are good, I also choose downloaded data images as well because Astrobin allows this.

I would however like to have a separate category for self captured data as I do not think we should be comparing images processed from such differing sources.

I am sure with such a large number of submitters even if there was one who was biased there are enough others for the good images to get through as witnessed by the Top Picks selected every day.  Having a large number of submitters means you get a wide number of opinions and this is good.

 I take the job seriously, but I hope that there will be some changes in the future.  The rolling Top Picks banner sounds good to me.

15 Feb, 2018 11:46
First of all I like AB NOT especially for IOTD but for all the other many good things here. I could live without IOTD, however it is good to have at least something like top picks for the bests.

But if we talk about IOTD I would add 2 points:

-  If we have IOTD take it seriously: something final check is needed to avoid issues like last month (picture submitted with serious errors and after noticing it noone has changed it) or today (same picture as yesterday).

- Question of own source, other source
Would be good to have a flag when uploading an image to group own source and others and probably select 2 images per day.
  • Own source is pure end-to-end own work from equipment through the acquisition until processing (of course this can be remote location as well)
  • other could be a everything else which is not own, like downloads from different sites or mixture of own and other, professional sources etc.
I think this is needed to keep the competition clean and compensate the overrepresented "other" portion in the IOTD. I did not perform any statistical analysis, but my feeling is that own source is 99% in the community, but IOTD portion is less than 50%.
Don't get me wrong, I also like to play with other sources, especially on the cloudy nights, and a good picture is good picture and worth to see, but these are 2 different games.
15 Feb, 2018 11:55
Some good points there Xordi, especially about the "final check" on IOTD and some sort of flag to say the source of image.

I always try to put that sort of stuff in a description but not every-one does.

Edited 15 Feb, 2018 11:57
15 Feb, 2018 11:57

I'm too with
1) Luiz: "Hi Carole, I think it is a great idea to have different categories for IOTDs:
(1) Public observatories data;
(2) Own equipment data"

2) Carole:
"There are many good imagers on this site who do not choose to use data they did not capture themselves and struggle with poor skies and equipment foibles, and I don't think it is fair to compare those who do the entire image capture and process themselves to those who merely download ready acquired data from locations with good skies and first class equipment they don't even own."

…but I've told that Salvatore already over a year ago. Personally it's not "Astrophotography" for me if you download data from remote or even professional scopes and "just" process them and it should be treated the same way as if I'm struggling at home or out in the field with my personal equipment, the weather, the light pollution and so on.
Therefore I'ld like to see two categories - selfmade or processed from a data pool/remote scope, that would bring more fairness.

best regards,
Michael S.
15 Feb, 2018 12:17
Thanks Carole!

Maybe the "final check" could be something like that the reviewers (and also submitters?) receive access to the IOTD queue and can double-check the selection for the next days and in case of findings they can make a warning or raise a question…

As far as I understand the process currently only the judges can see this queue, but even they cannot change it if a pict is booked for IOTD.
Edited 15 Feb, 2018 12:23
15 Feb, 2018 13:04
Unfortunately it can happen. No one is perfect and peculiar situations can happen to any decision maker. I'm not against submiters, reviewers or judges. I just think that the current system, which is good, should evolve into a category situation.

Is there any inconvenience in terms of a system of categories of images as suggested by Carole, for example, Top Picks of daily yard, remote TP 3 times a week, professional TP, once a week, etc? (just an example, since I do not know the amount of images in each category). I think it would please everyone much more, don't you?

Just a clarification, when I spoke of valuing images with a scientific character, i may not have expressed me correctly although in the 2nd post i tried to explain better. I have already done several scientific images like supernova magnitude mediation and exoplanet detection. But these images do not fit the Astrobin spirit. I wanted to refer to images such as the 10 years of the crab's pulsar or rarely seen or even unknown images. If someone makes an image of an area of ​​a galaxy with detail never seen before, this image for me has a lot of value (provided it also has a reasonably presentation).
Edited 15 Feb, 2018 19:05
15 Feb, 2018 13:47
Paddy Gilliland
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.

Thks Paddy, this traduces what I exactly think. smile

15 Feb, 2018 14:02
I have two observatories - one at home and one in Spain.  I set my home observatory up with the help of my wife  - or possibly it was the other way around!  The remote one is jointly owned with another AB user, and we both went out to Spain to set that up (again with some assistance from my wife).  Setting up the remote observatory was much more challenging than the home set up for reasons that should be obvious.  After setting up the remote site, I went ahead and converted my home observatory to run ‘fully unattended’.  In terms of operating them, I use TeamViewer - one window on each of my PC screens.  To all intents and purposes there, is no difference in operating at home or remotely.

Before I had my home observatory, I was setting up and tearing down on a tripod every night (I’ll call this ‘tripod-imaging’ for the sake of convenience).  That was much more taxing than working from an observatory.  With the observatory, there is little do be done from one night to the next - that is, after all, the point of an observatory.

To my mind, there is a much greater difference in ‘hands-on’ involvement and effort between tripod-imaging and observatory imaging, than there is between remote-observatory-imaging and home-observatory-imaging.  There is a stronger argument, therefore, for having different categories for observatory-imaging and tripod-imaging than there is for remote-vs-home.

I will also admit to not really understanding the mystique around the setting up your rig yourself.  Of course, I have done this several times now.  But I find it quite … ‘mechanstic’.  Of course, you need to learn to do it the right way, but, after that, it becomes something you do by rote.   Indeed, it becomes nothing more than a chore.

To me the thing that is most difficult is the processing, and, in my mind, it is this that marks out the skilled processor from the less skilled.  I suspect we all could learn how to set-up a rig as well as the next guy or gal.  The processing is the artistic bit.

That is one reason why I cannot get uptight about people who download data that they themselves have not captured.  Indeed, I take the view that the beginner would probably be better off downloading data, and seeing whether or not they like the craft of processing, before they start investing in something that can get very expensive, very quickly.

We also have some folks here who get no astro-dark for a large chunk of the year.  Why should we discriminate against those people?

Of course, there is a very real possibility that indifferently processed Hubble data will produce a better end-result than skillfully processed data from a poor imaging location.  But we all know that, and we make these ‘allowances’ when we judge someone’s work.  I don’t think we need to have different IOTD categories to take care of that, with all the additional complexities (and arguments) that would bring.

Most of the IOTDs I see are outstanding images.  Of course, there are a few that don’t excite me so much.  Thank goodness we all have different tastes.  There isn’t an awful lot wrong with the current system.  Naturally, it should be tweaked from time to time.  I like the ‘Top Picks’ system and, as I have said, Ruben’s ideas seemed mostly sensible.  But let us not move to something complicated.

Finally, I would again make a plea for us to be a broad church.  I understand that some people prefer to own their own equipment and to be involved in all aspects of setting it up.  Fine - I respect that and I wouldn’t seek to prohibit you from pursuing your hobby as you see fit.  Other people take a different view: can’t we afford them a similar level of respect?  By all means, let’s debate the pros and cons of one way over another, but let us steer clear of descending into abuse.  Accusing people (or groups of people) of ‘cheating’ is rude and mean-spirited.

PS:  This ‘fairness’ business concerns me.  My idea of fairness might be very different from someone else’s.  Is it fair, that someone can afford to buy a better mount than I?  Is it fair that they have better skies?  Is it fair that they have a more natural artistic instinct?  I could go on.
15 Feb, 2018 14:07
Have a representative number of each specialty in all volunteer categories. This will iron-out any odd results and will give equal chance to all kinds of astrophotography.

As a volunteer, when evaluating an image, ask yourself:

  • Is this image good among other images of its kind?
  • Do I have the experience to judge this image?
  • Do I feel that this image is unique/different/interesting?
  • Do I like this image?
Is an IOTD something to put in your professional resume? Probably not. IOTD is something like the "dish of the day" for me. Maybe it will bring something interesting to my attention; maybe not. Maybe it will suit my taste; maybe not. Maybe it will make my day; maybe not.
Edited 15 Feb, 2018 15:23
15 Feb, 2018 15:20
I didn't read any comments beyond the original manifesto, but here's what I disagree with:

• The scientific aspect of the image must be evaluated and only afterwards the artistic aspect.
Many astroimagers consider this art first and foremost. I would like to delude myself into thinking there's a scientific aspect to the images I create, but my primary goal has always been to make pretty pictures. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that, why there should be something wrong it, or why images shouldn't be judged primarily on that aspect if that's what they're going for.

• IOTD and Top Picks cannot be about objects that are human artifacts, e.g. satellites. Nor can be terrestrial phenomena such as lightening or even Northern Lights.
There have definitely been at least one IOTD that was a brilliant image of the ISS. That absolutely deserved IOTD in my opinion - to show others what you can do in this hobby - including taking detailed images of man-made satellites - is worthwhile and deserves recognition.

• Each member can not have more than one IOTD per month.
There's a lot I could say about this. I've seen frequent IOTD-ers get IOTD on subjects that I thought I could have competed with. And I can't say I haven't felt a bit discouraged seeing the same names get picked over and over - I used to joke with a friend of mine who recently got an IOTD here (but who has deserved at least 5 of them) that we'd get APODs before IOTDs. However, I don't think there's a need for an arbitrary limit like this. As long as those who nominate are aware that there needs to be more variety in the names selected, I think this will take care of itself. Besides, there are definitely images and imagers that deserve more than one IOTD per month.

• Each member can not have more than 2 TP per month.
Why - no really, why? If anything, I'd like to see way more Top Picks. I'd like every exceptional and interesting image get labeled a Top Pick.

• Half of the TPs selected on a daily basis should lose the distinction of TPs, more specifically the least voted, thus avoiding the attribution of hasty distinctions.
Why? One of my favorite Top Picks of all time is this animation of Pluto's switch from retrograde to prograde motion: It has 20 likes. Still. And I'd never have found it if it hadn't been a Top Pick. It definitely doesn't deserve to lose that distinction just because others don't think it's as pretty as M42.
15 Feb, 2018 15:33
Hi Chris,

there has already been a very significant change from the original publication, I have already changed my mind (may i  suggest reading my first publication on page 3, where I make a brief situation?).
15 Feb, 2018 15:49
Thanks, Ruben, I will - I need to get back to work first before going through the entire conversation, but I felt like it was important to get some thoughts off my chest first. I'll read through it tonight (GMT-5) and add some more thoughts later.
15 Feb, 2018 17:02
First of all I like AB NOT especially for IOTD but for all the other many good things here. I could live without IOTD, however it is good to have at least something like top picks for the bests.But if we talk about IOTD I would add 2 points:

-  If we have IOTD take it seriously: something final check is needed to avoid issues like last month (picture submitted with serious errors and after noticing it noone has changed it) or today (same picture as yesterday).
15 Feb, 2018 17:46
I see no detractors from a process that generates a great image aside from my own prejudice and preconceived notions. I find I enjoy and learn from the work of others more by opting out of contests while supporting them with my 3-picks. Few here design and build their own equipment, write their own code, drive countless hours to collect data, setup equipment, or face issues of running off the grid. Seems completely arbitrary where you draw the line(s), except when it precludes great images or the education of those aspiring to create them.

I for one appreciate the considerable effort it takes to make the average image posted here and have great admiration for the community and team that makes AB possible… many thanks to you all…
Edited 15 Feb, 2018 17:47
15 Feb, 2018 18:22
Ruben Barbosa
Is there any inconvenience in terms of a system of categories of images
Nope - other than the complication, Salva will need to code for it, users need to be aware of it etc.  It has overheads and this is a voluntary staffing role.  Just mindful of the cost in dev time and that of the staff.  If everyone else is happy with it then crack on and enjoy.  I feel it is overkill but i am just one voice smile 
Ruben Barbosa
have already done several scientific
Was not questioning what anyone has done in terms of science - more the fact very few do - same point applies.  If it is of scientific value and interesting and fits the AB criteria then the judges can decide.  The M1 you quote was a great example.  But applying scientific criteria as the first requirement is not what the site is really about.  I don't expect chapter and verse on the composition of a nebula and why this image is unique unless it is actually interesting and valid.  Sometimes a world-class pretty picture is just that and equally a deserving winner.
? "speak badly of or tell lies about (someone) so as to damage their reputation."  Not sure i understand?

Steve Milne
I will also admit to not really understanding the mystique around the setting up your rig yourself.
Agreed.  I fly to Spain and set up far more complex set ups than I ever had in my garden.  I  don't expect any prizes or special merit for it.

I'll leave you all to it for now - I am happy for the staff to assess my work and roll with the outcome.  Other changes will no doubt create other issues.  There is no perfection here, if you view as a comp you will no doubt have stronger feelings. I'll stick with my view that it is a generous peer acknowledgement and trust that not only will they do a good job but any issues will iron themselves out,  current staff only in place for a short time lets not forget.

15 Feb, 2018 19:15
Carole Pope
These are my "qualifications", I haven't bothered to submit images for publication much in recent years……..

I am new to Astrobin but far from new to imaging, I have been doing astroimaging since the days of film and hand guiding (which means I am old -  smile ). I used to play the "get published" game (and was moderately successful - see link) but decided that was a fool's errand. I now image for two reasons:

1) It is an enjoyable technical exercise.
2) I have made lots of friends in the astronomy hobby.

#1 keeps me busy in retirement and #2 insures visits to my rural dark home (especially last August - I live under totality for that smile ).

About Me

So from my point of view this is maybe an interesting discussion and although it is nice to see pluses and top picks and IOTD, it is really not that important.
As a former USAF colleague used to say about medals "with that and a few bucks, you can buy a cup of coffee"

Or, to quote "Gone with the Wind"-  "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" smile
15 Feb, 2018 19:34
On my opinion, processing datas from someone else is not a problem, but could be called computing skills. It is not exactly the same than making your own picture.

Sorry, but if we want to make a processing contest, I am afraid it could go far away from astronomy, which deals with an exchange with the universe. This is far more interesting then spending hours in front of a screen tuning pixels.

I made my own scope, and all I produce is mine. Not perfect and revolutionnary, but mine. If this changes between astronomers, I could want to see away from AB.

It is not the same writing and composing a song than interprerting it.

Even if I am wrong. Just feelings count.

Edited 15 Feb, 2018 19:57
15 Feb, 2018 19:59
On my opinion, processing datas from someone else is not a problem, but could be called computing skills. It is not exactly the same than making your own picture.Sorry, but if we want to make a processing contest, I am afraid it could go far away from astronomy, which deals with an exchange with the universe. This is far more interesting then spending hours in front of a screen tuning pixels.

I made my own scope, and all I produce is mine. Not perfect and revolutionary, but mine. If this changes between astronomers, I could want to see away from AB.

Even if I am wrong. Just feelings count.

Yes, this discussion has been repeated quite a bit on different forums lately. I have over 20 years doing imaging back to the days of hypered film. Processing meant a different thing in those days but was still a totally different set of skills compared to data acquisition (which was also vastly different - hand guiding and all smile )

I am fine with using data you bought or downloaded but do not expect to get the same level of respect from me (or anyone that knows anything about imaging) as you would if you acquired the data yourself and even then you would not get the same respect as you would if you set up and tweaked and configured the equipment yourself as opposed to having someone at a remote site do that for you. For the ultimate respect, there are the amazing folks (I am not one of those) that build their equipment, tweak and set up their equipment, acquire their data and process their images! Now THAT deserves true respect! The more you do, the more respect you deserve, the less you do, the less you deserve. Pretty simple, really.

Where I really get torqued is when full disclosure is not made as to how much an imager really did themselves.
15 Feb, 2018 20:20
Luiz Duczmal
I think it is a great idea to have different categories for IOTDssmile1) Public observatories data;
(2) Own equipment data;
and I would add another:  (3) Solar System data (including satellites, rockets, auroras, etc.).
There is now another category and that is data obtained from (sometimes purchased) from amateur observatories using often high-end amateur equipment at dark sky sites. Since it is already acquired with amateur esthetic processing in mind, it is very likely easier to process than public observatory data.

I would then suggest (in order of credit due):

1) Own equipment data (including at remote rental sites but still user owned and operated)
2) Public data (typically professional observatories)
3) Data acquired by others at remote sites (often purchased data)

Plus a fourth category where the amount of skills required can vary widely but is a catch-all for "other astronomy stuff"

4) Auxiliary astronomical images - anything not specifically mainstream astronomy images (satellites, rockets, auroras, astronomical landscapes, time lapses, etc)
Edited 15 Feb, 2018 20:22
15 Feb, 2018 21:10
Don't know if already said, IMHO IOTD must be an image posted at the full resolution of the optical train.
Does anyone agree?
15 Feb, 2018 23:09
Roberto Colombari
Don't know if already said, IMHO IOTD must be an image posted at the full resolution of the optical train.Does anyone agree?
If by that you mean the largest FOV possible with the data, then no. Cropping for composition is a long and time-honored photographic tradition that should not be decided by anyone but the photographer.

If you mean that a full 1:1 resolution version be available (cropped however the imager chooses), then yes. It is nearly impossible to properly evaluate an image for quality if you cannot see all of the resolution. This is especially true for noise. There are lots of astro-images out there that look nice as long as you don't look at them closely but on looking at them 1:1 you see the nasties like noise and over-processing.

So whoever is evaluating an image needs to be able to see the image at 1:1 or the evaluation is flawed.
Edited 15 Feb, 2018 23:12
15 Feb, 2018 23:17
Obviously the second  smile
16 Feb, 2018 00:08
I'll probably not make friends with this message, but as everyone is giving his feeling I feel free to express mine.

I don't want to hurt anyone, but why have I always the same feeling that the real motivation of those who are asking for changes, improvments or evolution about the IOTD is just to increase their own chances to be awarded ?

One is specialized in planetary images and ask for a IOTD category for planet ;
Another one is specialized in processing pro data and ask for much consideration for the scientific value of images and a special category for "pro-data processing" ;
Another one lives in a red PL area and ask for a special IOTD category for "backyard Imaging from high PL area"…

So, sure we can create 10 different categories and we will have 10 "IOTD" per day, but will I be proud to be awarded for the "Amateur-data-planetary-Imaging-with 8 to 10 inches reflector-monochrome-intermediate-size ccd chip- from backyard semi-mobile and non-automatized observatory-in orange PL area" ? smile Well, if you are, fine for you ; but what is the sense of highlighting "pictures of the day" in these conditions ?

I also have the feeling that since AB turned to a paying model, some users are awaiting for more counterparts, including more gratitude in awarding process. In other words, more medals should be assigned to satisfy everyone's ego, at least from time to time.

Some users make stunning pictures and too often collect IOTD ? "Let's limit the number of IOTD to 1 or 2 per month per user, in order to let a chance to the others" ("me" if possible… ). Or let's just drop the IOTD concept, and let's give Top picks to everyone…

In my opinion, the interest of an IOTD is precisely there is only one image awarded per day. The "top picks" concept is already here to award the best images, I think it's enough. 365 IOTD per year is enough ! smile

Of course, no system is perfect and there always be some unfair situations or choices. The actual system may not be perfect, but it's democratic based and when you look at the IOTD, you can find backyard images, pro-data images, planetary images, ISS or transits images, terrestrial scenes… every speciality and category is represented ! True, pro-data images are less often awarded than backyard-made images, but it only reflects that for a majority of astro-amateurs (and then for a majority of submitters, and reviewers, and judges), a backyard image has more "value" (in an amateur sense), than a processing of a third party data.

I think you cannot in the same time ask for categorization and pretend a such system would aim to avoid competition spirit : creating categories is already a competition logic ; in the sense that competition have to be "fair" for all participants, and everyone "have the right" to have a chance to win something from time to time. But here for the IOTD, it's far away from a competition in my opinion ; no need to be fair at all costs : those who have the chance to live in a clear and dark sky area, with top optics and CCD have better chances to make greater images that those who live in a heavy PL area and use small optics… that's unfair because you don't always have the choice to choose where you live or how far away you can travel to make images ; that's unfair because everybody has not the same financial capabilities ; it's unfair because of wheather conditions, and so on… but it's just like that.

That's why I have great respect for those who make the choice to invest in a remote observatory ; and also for those who make great images with little material in a PL area, and also for those who only make planetary images because they live in a town and have limited possibilities to move for imaging… they take advantage of the difficulties and constraints to improve themselves.

Moreover, I have the feeling that creating categories, or dedicate a category of image for each day of the week for example, will lead to more competition and more "tactics" in the way users will publish their images.

As a submitter, I feel a responsability to select each day 3 images which really deserve to be highlighted in my opinion ; but my expectations are obviously higher for a 60h image from a remote observatory under clear skies than for a backyard image from red PL area… I have a preference for deep-sky imaging, but I pay attention to the planetary and landscape scenes in order to diversify my selections and trying to be honest. In my opinion, pro-data images should not be awarded as IOTD on an amateur site, but it happened to me on some occasions to push a pro-data processing image just because it was really beautiful. In brief, I try to be as objective as possible, and not to favor a specific category of image.

To summarize my thoughts :

- the actual IOTD/Top Picks system is clear and nice, and then should be maintained ;
- all images should be eligible to IOTD, including pro-data processing images ;
- there's no need to differentiate backyard and remote images ;
- introducing limitations to the number of IOTD/TP per user is pointless.

Some ideas to limit the competition spirit on AB :

- drop the "index" system, which does not add anything ;
- regulary (one per week/month?), highlight not an image, but an astrophotographer : no need of an editorial work, but for example some reccurent Q&A the user would answer in order to introduce itself to the community, its work, its material, it's personnal "top 5" photos… he could be selected from the actual "trending" list for example. It would be great to know better the "trending" users, the way they practice astrophotography, etc.
- alternatively, if the previous idea is too difficult to realize, allow each user to create a "presentation" page (as a welcome page of their personnal gallery for example) where each one could introduce itself, its material, its personnal "top5 photos", etc. These informations would help to better appreciate the work of everyone…


PS :
Roberto Colombari
Don't know if already said, IMHO IOTD must be an image posted at the full resolution of the optical train.Does anyone agree?

I totally agree with that ; I always look at images at full scale when I submit images.

PS2 : sorry for my English skills and my french accent ! smile
Edited 16 Feb, 2018 00:30
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