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Cloudy Nights Classified Section Rules

(03-NOV-2023)


We know that you’re enthusiastic to sell your excess eyepieces or get a great deal on that sweet plastic mount (which is too cheap for a reason), but let’s slow down to discuss some rules which will save all of us time, effort and heartache. Yes, this is a long document. Thank you in advance for reading it.

Ground Rules & Concepts

1.) Cloudy Nights is not a classified site. Cloudy Nights is intended to be a discussion forum and we do not benefit from hosting classified advertisements. The Classified Section is simply a service meant for established discussion forum participants.

2.) We don’t verify your identity with a credit card charge. Which, let’s face it, is the main motivation for many to come here. Additionally, because we allow you to hide behind a cute User ID, nobody on the site has any reason to trust you until you have built up some sort of reputation. Therefore, to submit advertisements, you must have been a member for at least 30 days. On top of that, until you have authored at least 30 posts in the discussion forums, you are limited to sending five private messages every 24 hours with at least half an hour between them. No, we don't make exceptions to this. Efforts to pad your post count with low content/effort posts will not be looked upon kindly.

There are other sites on the internet which can cater to your need for speed.

3.) Every advertisement on Cloudy Nights is approved by a human volunteer. Each time you submit or change an advertisement it creates work for somebody who was nice enough to spend their free moments helping you make or save money. In other words, our volunteer staff & Astronomics are doing you a favor. Please manage your sense of entitlement and be efficient with everyone's time. Notes asking us why your advertisement hasn't been approved may send it to the bottom of the stack.

4.) Are you a regular member buying or selling an occasional personal item? If so, fine. Are you using Cloudy Nights as a subsidized marketing platform for commercial sales? If so, stop. Go to another site meant for business transactions. Whether you are profitable or not, your classified posting pattern resembles anything beyond occasional private sales, or if you are consuming a lot of our time, we may suggest that you take your traffic elsewhere.

Are you a registered Vendor on the site? Unfortunately, due to unrelenting "for sale" advertisements from vendors, access to the Classified Section was restricted for vendors (even for personal items). You can, however, post an advertisement in the Vendor Announcements Forum once a week. If you feel that you should no longer be a registered vendor, please contact a site administrator to talk about it.

5.) Items advertised here need an obvious connection to astronomy. Just because you like robots, drones or Scrabble doesn’t make Cloudy Nights an appropriate place to sell items related to those, or any other, hobbies. When in doubt (computers, tools, microscopes, etc), explain the connection in your description. This goes for real estate or vehicles as well. Is it a house (or a car) with a pier and dome built into it? Maybe. Is it a nice house in a dark place? No.

6.) Buyers should not have to deal with anybody but you. If you decide to risk your reputation on behalf of a non-member by advertising a third-party item (something owned by somebody else) then you need to assume all responsibilities for the transaction and contact a site administrator before you post the advertisement.

7.) Do not submit a new advertisement for something that you already advertised less than a week ago. Re-approving your "bumped" advertisement creates additional work. Serious buyers generally search for specific items anyway, so "being at the top of the list" is unimportant.

8.) If you have an account which has been inactive for some time, you may have a block on your Classified Section access. If this is the case, then do as the error message says and contact an administrator.

Explanation of Fields in the Advertisement (Please fill them all out)

Category: Select the category for the item you want to sell or buy. We may not always have an exact category for every item but do the best that you can. Post only a single advertisement per item. Remember that Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes are not reflectors.

Occasionally, during the approval process, the category may get goofed up. If this happens to you, please trust that it's neither a conspiracy nor are we as stupid as you want to tell us we are. Just send us a nice note and we'll fix it.

Type: Did you indicate if the advertisement is a want/sale/trade ad or did you dive straight into writing a description? Flagging the advertisement as to type is important if you want the advertisement to be noticed.

Name: Type a descriptive, but short, name for the ad.

Description: This is your opportunity to sell your specific item, don't squander it. Provide provenance & details. Try not to sound clueless or as if the item fell off the back of a truck. Limit your description to 400 words. Text in the description must be original (in other words - you wrote it yourself). Do not steal text or language from somebody else. Do not use AI generated text. Any advertisement that sounds like AI generated or stolen text may be deleted without explanation. If you must cite somebody else’s work or information then use a hyperlink.
Have mercy on your reader. Obnoxious text sizes, CaPiToLiZaTiOn, colors or formatting do not make your advertisement “eye catching”, they make it annoying. Likewise, refrain from excessive ASCII art or emojis.

A CN classified advertisement should be able to stand alone. Please do not just post links, with nothing else, to your sale items located on other classified sites or eBay. If you are unwilling to invest effort in your advertisement, why should we?

If you are resubmitting the advertisement, it is useful to explain how the advertisement has changed.

Do not post personal information such as phone numbers, e-mail addresses, or physical/mailing addresses in classified ads. Use the site's private message system for initial communication.

Photos: The purpose of an image is to show your specific item. Use the image upload function. Images are the only thing that can be attached with the utility. Do not embed links in order to display off-site images within your description (textual hyperlinks are OK). Remember, the photos are meant to indicate the condition of the item. Are the photos yours, or did you steal them from somebody else? If your pictures are stolen, then you’ve lost your credibility. Did you hold the camera or phone right-side-up when you took the picture? CN won't flip your sideways photos like your mobile phone does. Is your photo in JPG or PNG format? CN may not recognize the latest image format that Apple or Samsung switched your phone to use behind your back. Are the images under the cumulative two megabyte upload size limit? Hundreds of people a day upload images to the CN Classifieds Section, if you don't know how to resize an image, then please learn.

Photos are not used for "wanted" ads.

Condition: This is relative but please be realistic. Avoid cheesy adjectives like “minty”.

Location: List a useful location rather than something vague like "Asia" or "Earth". If you want to post a Zip Code, go ahead but also tell us your approximate location in words. We should easily be able to connect the item's location to you.

Price: Cloudy Nights is not an auction site. Every item must have a realistic price in the correct field, which may be negotiable. Posting a price in the "price" field is mandatory for every single-item advertisement, regardless of if you list the price in the description - don't make people hunt for it.

If you have several items for sale in the same advertisement, then the situation is different: Go ahead and enter "N/A" in the price field (the default) and explain the prices in the description. Don’t lie by claiming that the price is $1, enter something silly like "$123456.78" or list the price of only a single item. Please be precise about your expectations. In other words, if you want to receive a certain amount (net) then explain that. Similarly, don't say something vague like "no fees" because nobody has any idea what you mean. Extra points if your price is all-inclusive or simple. For example, don't force people to use PayPal and then expect them to do the transaction fee math for you. Finally, are you asking a realistic price? Nobody really cares what you paid for the item or if you think the item is "back-ordered everywhere". Similarly, there is no need to tell buyers about an item's MSRP - they already know. If you regularly edit the ad to lower the price because nobody bought your precious 1950s Japanese counterweight extension bar, you are wasting people's time.

Follow the user agreement for any payment mechanism which you use. PayPal "Friends & Family" (F&F) is not an acceptable method to pay for goods & services. PayPal F&F is also the most commonly used method for scamming people on Cloudy Nights. Do not even suggest or hint to buyers that they should use PayPal F&F on Cloudy Nights. If you use a payment method with no buyer protection, then you obviously don’t get buyer protection. Your advertisement should be about your item, not the payment method. Don’t preach or post political manifestos about the merits of cryptocurrencies or how much better Zelle is than PayPal.

For "wanted" ads, please post either a realistic price or "n/a". While we won't reject your "want" ad if you change the default of "n/a" to $1, it will make you look delusional and you can do better.

Before you press "Submit": Did you proof-read the ad? Is it complete? Don't promise or add "pictures or more information later". Subsequent edits will cause work for us and delay the posting of the advertisement for you.

Next Steps

Status changes: Please mark sold items as "sold". You don’t have to resubmit an advertisement because you sold your item or a sale is pending. Instead, press the big green buttons in the ad which don't require anyone to approve the change.

Obviously, a multiple item advertisement will require resubmissions for updates, which will take time.

Reviews: When leaving feedback for another member, please choose your words carefully, and be objective. Ratings are only for completed transactions (the classified number is shown in the advertisement). Misuse of the ratings system will not end well for you.

Rejections: If your advertisement appears back in “draft status” after you submit it: No, it probably wasn’t just a “system error” which you can get past by submitting it again. Please don't waste our time. Any advertisement that is rejected will result in a notification sent by PM and to the email which we have on file. In unusual cases, we may put a hold on your advertisement and contact you only by email. If you need to update your email address, tell a site administrator.

Everyone gets one rejection with an explanation. The next time, we will probably delete the ad because you're obviously not paying attention.

Scams:

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Note that the most common type of scam on Cloudy Nights these days is to be approached with a reply to your want-ad for astrophotography gear such as a mount, camera, filters, reducer or OTA. When you create a want-ad - you are providing the scammers of the world with a recipe which they will be happy to feed you.

Yes. We know that you're probably way too smart to be ripped off, but it happens every week to people who think they are as smart as you think you are.
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The world is a tough place. The CN classifieds are regularly used by scammers. We try our best to keep them out, but we sometimes fail. Use common sense. Do your research. Shop the buyer/seller. Is the price too good to be true? Are the photos generic? Is the text description vague? Does the seller, or buyer, want to use some sort of complicated payment scheme? Do the names on the payment accounts have any similarity to the other alleged seller? Do they try to talk you into using a different payment method? Are they trying to involve a third party? Do they want to communicate with you using text messages on a mobile phone? Does their phone number (or email address) square with the claimed identity of the person and the location of the item? Does their communication style resemble that of the advertisement? Do they have any recent posting related to the type of thing they are trying to sell you? Scammers often try to use your greed and impatience against you. When in doubt, walk away and report the advertisement to site administration.

Remember that not everyone spends their life logged into Cloudy Nights or watching their emails, so be patient with people during a transaction.

Notifications to Administration: This is used to notify site administration that there may be an issue with the advertisement or the seller. For example, if an advertisement genuinely appears miscategorized or fraudulent. It is not used to start discussion with the poster of the advertisement. We certainly appreciate when people tell us about suspicious or problematic classified advertisements, but please carefully consider things before reporting an advertisement. Members are under no obligation to respond to your messages or sell an item to you. If you report an ad, please stick to the facts - there is no need for you to explain your interpretation of the site's rules to the administration team.

Recourse: Transactions can and do go wrong. If you decide to pursue a sale on Cloudy Nights instead of buying a new item from an established retailer, you are choosing to take a risk. While we are certainly interested to hear about problems in the Classified Section, there is little or nothing that we can do in case of a problem. In the majority of conflicts, which seldom seem to have definitive evidence, we are inclined to favor people who have a good reputation on the site versus people who do not. No, we do not read the private messages of members.

In Conclusion

Access to the Classifieds Section is a privilege intended for active participants on the site. Dealing with classified advertisements and their related issues takes up an enormous amount of volunteer time. The advertisements, themselves, involve the exchange of money and expensive equipment. As a result, we take the above rules very seriously. If we think that you: 1.) Are not a legitimate member buying or selling personal items; 2.) Are attempting to deceive other members; or 3.) Are wasting our volunteers' time then we will: delete your advertisement; probably restrict your access to the Classifieds Section; and possibly ban your account. Neither whining nor arguing will strengthen your case.

Please ask a site Administrator if you have any questions about the Classifieds Section.

Thank you for reading and best of luck buying & selling.


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