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Should Vendors be included on this or other forums

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#1 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 May 2003 - 06:45 AM

Hi all,

I want to express my thanks to this group for all the feedback and suggestions you have sent me as we slowly move out of the beta phase of the forums. Many things have been fixed and features added over the past 2 weeks. One of the personal motivators for me is to create a non-advertising forum where the users and the administrator (Cloudy Nights) can work together to mold a forum that everyone can enjoy.

On my end of things I am on the learning curve for running a discussion forum board. Exactly how to run it and what policies to implement are more difficult then one would think at first brush. However, in the spirit of just about everything we've done at Cloudy Nights, I'm going to bring the issues one by one to the community for their thoughts.

Here is my question for today - does this group want a vendor inclusive or a vendor exclusive binoviewer forum? What about other forums?

Any thoughts you care to share with me will be very much appreciated.

Thanks
Allister
 

#2 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 May 2003 - 08:04 AM

I am new to this CN forum but have been a member of the Astromart, Binoviewer, and Binoviewers fori. Although on rare occasion I have enjoyed reading the comments by a particular vendor or two, I strongly feel that having vendors participate in a public forum corrupts the spririt of the forum. Additionally, we know from past experiences that a vendor will abuse hisor her rights on the forum. Tactics like fillubustering and blatent oportunism have soured me on the idea of vendor participation. I wish to leave out the name of the vendor. Thanks.

Clear Skies,
- Chris M :shameonyou:
 

#3 jrcrilly

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Posted 04 May 2003 - 08:46 AM

I see advantages to both formats and will hang around whichever way the Forum moves. My feeling is that moderate vendor participation is a good thing so long as everyone knows the messages are posted by a vendor and everything remains civil. My favorite Yahoo Groups are owned by vendors but they maintain a very low profile; in fact, they post so rarely that many don't realize the Groups are vendor-owned because they've never seen a post by the owners.

John
 

#4 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 May 2003 - 09:35 AM

I see were all this is leading to. So if you do not want Vendors to post, than we should have no one sided pushing of any product like in one sided e-group that I know of.

DonR.
 

#5 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 May 2003 - 03:29 PM

I can see some kind of precedent is being set here. Here are some things to consider very seriously. Many vendors do not participate in various forums under their own identity, but they do participate. I personally am trying to be straight and honest about what is said. And you have the benefit of knowing that it is a vendor talking to you and can take what he says with a grain of salt. Trying to exclude vendors will only hurt honest vendors. Not all vendors speak for themselves. Some have a very cleverly designed a propaganda machine put together with close knit friends. So they really don't need to talk since their friends can promote their products for them. I have had numerous emails where individuals mentioning my products were swooped on by other binoviewer users who insisted that they needed a particular type and a certain optical corrector with it. They felt intimidated into silence by a close knit group of individuals that does not seem to stop and don't mind speaking their mind and have no responsibility for it. (Ah! Isn't the internet great!) This is unlike the standard for vendors who have to take responsibility for what they say. All I am asking is for a fair chance to counteract misinformation in an open, honest manner.

I have to give Herb credit on his forum for one thing, as much as I was bashed on the binoviewer forum over there by key members of the Yahoo Binoviewer group he never stopped them from bashing completely and he never took away my right to voice my side of the story. As long as I never blatantly advertise on the forum I am free to discuss various issues. That is why I will continue to sponsor Astromart. It's classified are another big plus, but I will be honest with you, free speech is the only thing my rather large sponsorship is purchasing here. I have never complained about the less than flattering review on my personal units that has been posted here for a little over a year and I really don't care if any future products are reviewed here. I quite honestly have all the work that I can handle, am published in books and come up first and second when the name binoviewers are typed into the leading search engines. So I am being very well viewed. So what I am doing here is not advertisement. I am simply trying to educate people. If you read my posts no promotion of products has been done. The pricetag for sponsorship here is a little too high considering what I see taking place in some of the more recent reviews. And if no opportunity is given to give all the facts by vendors than why sponsor this forum. It would be easy to have someone write a fantastic review of my binoviewers and compare them to someone else's, possibly at the expense of someone else's unit, and with my knowledge of astronomy and products it would have an heir of legitimacy that would be hard to refute. But that is not the point to this site and it hurts me to see what I perceive as the possible misuse of this forum and others like it. It has been suggested to me on another string that vendors put the information on their web site and link this site to it. I doubt Alister wants people siphoned off of this group. Then again I will just be accused of trying to market again by leading them to my web site. Some say that a vendor should only answer questions when asked. But there are sometimes questions are asked of users that only a vendor can answer, hence the lack of comprehensive technical information on various forums. Once again as long as no marketing is being done what's the problem? It is easier to see marketing from a vendor than from an "enthusiastic user". Once again what is said by the vendor can be taken with a grain of salt.

The facts are there is no way to honestly police this site except to make sure to let everybody have a fair say and that everyone remains polite and considerate of other people's products. This is the only way that does not invite unscrupulous methods of product advertisement. The astronomy community is growing by leaps and bounds and the marketing strategies of vendors of astroproducts are still in their infancy, but will mature and underhanded abuses are sure to follow that will be unlikely to detect. Wouldn't we rather have vendors open and honest on the group and take responsibility for what they say? Is anybody listening? Think of the alternative. I could have joined this group under another name, posted everything I have said in not so nice a fashion, called people into far more question and done it completely without responsibility for what I said. You can say, "Well none of this is the issue here." But yes it is. Every word of it. Cloudy nights is too important a forum to allow inaccurate or biased opinions to go unchallenged and the way to combat that is not with another bogus review or bogus username. I have tried to say everything in a way that gives no cause for offense, but the more I try not to criticize or bash or keep ugly details to myself, the more I see the door closing. Should Alister care which way this goes? What forum is doing as well as the binoviewer forum at this time? There is a formula that has made the binoviewer forum an instant success over here. It is the right mixture of discussion, information and personality. The rules state "Controversial discussions, debates and even differences of opinions are acceptable. But all discussions should be polite, and not give cause for offense." Why should it matter whether these come from ordinary users or from a vendor/user? :question:

This is honestly how I feel about this situation.

Harry Siebert

 

#6 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 May 2003 - 04:39 PM

Harry I think it is very simple.You talk about just your product if asked ,Russ talks about Denkmeier if asked and AL can talk about Teleview if asked.That's a simple and straight forward opinion of mine.I have no problems learning about any binoviewer or it's use,that's what we're here for.A vendor should not bring up another companies product good or bad.You cannot have the same rights as a regular member because you have a position of power and it could be misconstrued(sorry spelling).I for one want to here about Siebert binoviewers but perhaps only from regular members.Of course if someone asks "how do I fix this or adjust that"you could answer them on that topic no problem.This is just my own feeling on the topic.
Tom Munroe
 

#7 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 May 2003 - 05:59 PM

I think if venders are barred from this forum we will have lost a valuable technical information resource.Inovations
and unique solutions to the problems that an amatuer astronomer may have while pursuing this hobby have come from small companies.The Telrad is just one solution that comes to mind.Three valuable members whose potential input
would be lost are Roland Christen,Markus Ludes,Bill Burgess.I think the members of this forum are probably more than capable enough to discriminate between fact and hype while reading the comments from various manufacturers.One of the benifits of living in an open society is free exchange of thoughts and ideas. To bar an individual from particpating in this forum because they have the misfortune to be offering goods or services to the amatuer astronomical community is probably an excessive reaction to the marketing that we are subjected to on daily basis.I vote for allowing venders to contribute their knowledge to this forum. Glen Scott

 

#8 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 May 2003 - 07:58 PM

I feel that vendors should be included. Unlike most of the readers here, vendors understand something about optics, and thus can be a valuable resource. Obviously they can answer questions about their own products. I feel they should also be able to talk about other vendors' products, though some caution and balance is needed here.

I have two suggestions:
  • Let's give vendors a "Vendor" tag, just like moderators have their own specific "Moderator" tag.
  • To address some of the things Harry Siebert mentions in his post in reference to reviews on this site, consider adding "Manufacturer's Comments" after some reviews if the manufacturer feels his product was unfairly criticized, or if they simply want to correct or explain some point.

 

#9 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 May 2003 - 08:05 PM

Hi Tom, in an earlier post I had stated my opinion that vendors should not be allowed on the forum (pretty presumtuous for a new member like myself ;) ; but the request WAS made by the host, never-the-less.

After reading your eloquent opinion, I think you have indeed swayed me to your side. That being said, however, I would only feel comfortable if vendors were strict to the letter of what you outlined and never cast aspersions (usually veiled and subtle) on a competitor's model.

If the "law" can be laid down in plain, unambiguous language then perhaps the unsuspecting public can feel like they are not being duped by opportunistic tactics by any and all vendors. Just my ol' $0.02

Clear skies,

Chris M
 

#10 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 May 2003 - 08:42 PM

I would like to see input from more manufacturers.Technical info is what I'm after.The how and why.If the tech data is limited because of a persons name we lose something.Put away the tar and feathers!
 

#11 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 May 2003 - 10:29 PM

A discussion page attached to each review would be an extremely good idea. This means that vendors and people alike can discuss the aspects of the review that puzzled them and quite likely will mirror what many other people will notice. This will give manufacturers and others a chance to vent even if it is just a one time deal. (guaranteed) it will encourage more well balanced reviews and reviewers will have a tendency to be more sensitive and considerate to the products reviewed and may even take some of the load off the peer review process). It will be unnecessary for vendors then to use forums like this to warn of inaccurate information and have to keep doing it since these threads tend to get dated and buried. Also it will be up to the individual how little or much information in addition to the review they want to consider. I believe this could truly revolutionize the review process and make sure that all sides of a given story are always told.

I really feel that Larry has really tied in to the solution to this whole dilemma and will make it up to the readers of the review if they want to skip proceeding comments. In a single word "brilliant". In two words "problem solved". This can be done to old and new reviews and may even help to tip off when a review is dated or no longer accurate or needs revision. This is already being implemented to a smaller degree on the extremely well written review done between the Nexstar 11 and the Meade 7" Mak. At the end of the review it refers to a discussion forum. Something similar to this can be done even if the comments are only accessible through the review page. If the review page goes unused no big deal. Obviously the review was well written and thorough and left little to complain about. This would be the first site to have such a useful mechanism. People often times are reluctant to go through the entire process of doing a another review on the same product or may fear to be in stark disagreement to an already posted review. This would remove most the hesitation people have to expressing their opinion. Things can be put into place to keep things in hand, like a character minimum so nobody rattles on and on. A 2000 character minimum seems to be enough to get your point across without being overly wordy. Hopefully more will feel that this may be a viable solution and reduce the need for rules on the forums.

Also I am not opposed to a "Vendor Tag" either.

What do you think about these ideas Allister?

Harry Siebert
 

#12 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 12:27 AM

I don't like the idea of excluding vendors, but I do like Larry's idea to give vendors a "Vendor" tag.

I wouldn't restrict a vendor any more than other members are restricted. After all when it is known that a vendor is posting, one can choose to read or not.

I've never been forced to read what any vendor has posted. But I do read their posts, because I realize that they enjoy an insider's view of the subject and very often proffer useful information and insight. Sure they have a bias and a very strong bias indeed, but who doesn't. It's common knowledge that many people are strongly biased towards the equipment that they already own and will tell others that it's the best thing since sliced bread even though they really don't have a lot of experience with other equipment.

Let's face it, everyone has an agenda and it is up to the reader to sift through and separate the wheat from the chaff. And "separate" is the key word here. If you toss out all the grain because it's wrapped in chaff, well then you're not going to end up with any wheat.

I, for one, believe that the more material we have to work with, the better. Let the vendors talk.

Nalod

 

#13 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 10:01 AM

My feeling too. Only specifics on own stuff, no comparison with or other comments on other vendor's equipment, no matter if good or bad, veiled or open.
 

#14 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 10:57 AM

:ooo: Just a heads up all. CN was down for a little while if i'm not mistaken. It would seem that a few post were deleted in this string. They were the only post done this morning before it when down. Both posts had key info in them and I hope they will be reissued. It must have been bad timing for those post. :foreheadslap:
 

#15 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 11:19 AM

I posted a msg on this topic this morning, but it seems to have gone missing. Since it is the msg that gets me out of the "newbie" category I'm anxious to have it in here.

My earlier post, paraphrased:

Thanks to some hints from a vendor on how to adjust the interocular motion, my TV bino is now much less stiff and much easier to use.

I see freely-shared information as the whole purpose of these forums. If we're worried about proselytizing, then identifying the vendors seems like a reasonable idea, since it's just more information, and more information can only be a good thing.

MPD

 

#16 John_Gillies

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 11:34 AM

I'm siding with NO vendor participation. Past experience has shown that input from vendors can turn into debate, arguement and side taking. Vendors should sponsor the site so thier links are available. Questions directed to vendors should be done off line, as well as replies to those questions. Members can refer someone to a vendor via a post, but as I said, deal directly with the vendor off line. As far as I know, vendors still accept email questions and phone calls.


 

#17 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 11:50 AM

I agree that unwanted communication, or obviously slanted views, can be unpleasant. But really, debate (like this one), side-taking, etc. are the purview of all of us, and not merely vendors.

My issue with the idea of excluding vendor participation is that I personally benefitted by stumbling over valuable information that I would not have thought to ask for from a vendor or anyone else.

That's one of the benefits of the open exchange of ideas, and was one of the really great things about the web years and years ago -- the happy accident, the unexpected idea, the found solution to a problem you'd given up on.

I can't cast this as a free speech issue, since this is a privately funded forum, but I really think it would benefit -- we all would benefit -- from being as inclusive as possible.

Clear skies, MPD
 

#18 rboe

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 12:24 PM

DonR made a point a while back, a fear of this becoming a one vendor forum. He has a point. To extend his thinking just a bit: We have only heard from one vendor/manufacture and I think it would be helpful to hear from other vendors. They have concerns we have may not thought of or do not appreciate being on the user/consumer end.

While we have this discussion open we should not burden Harry as being the sole banner carrier for his side. I for one would welcome some feedback from other vendors. Consider yourselves invited to speak up.

Ron
 

#19 Ken Hutchinson

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 12:36 PM

If vendor input is reasoned, accurate technical information, timely responses to specific customer questions, and good natured chatter with the rest of us on general topics, I vote yes.

If vendor input is endless ax grinding, I vote no.

If it is a choice of neither or both, I vote neither.

Ken
 

#20 Tom T

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 06:56 PM

Thank you all for your input.

Allister has posted the new forum guidelines in the
"Announcements and Guides" Section.

Tom T.


 

#21 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 10:57 PM

Tom,

Seeing how Allister started this thread here, don't you think he should have ended it, and not you ? Seeing how your mainly for one binoviewer, and you state it clearly, it just does not look good. It looks now like theres more going on than whats being told, but thats just my IMO.

DonR.
 

#22 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 11:35 PM

Tom is a moderator, so why can't he point out what has been posted in terms of guidelines?

What really doesn't look good is if you, of all people, continue accusing others of being single-vendor oriented. Either move on to real evaluations we all have been trying to have for a long time, or move off. Also just IMO.
 

#23 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 06:39 AM

My opion is that vendors should be allowed to post,as long it is for giving help and info on their product.They are adults and know if they post misleading info.So keep them on board.With out them their is no hobby to talk about.THANKS BOB HART
 

#24 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 03:58 PM


ya, what ever Hinrich. Real evaluations is what this forum should be about, not trying to silence people, be them Vendors or not. And if you want to point the finger at anyony that is single-vendor oriented, than point it at yourself. As for your statement for myself to move off; ya, what ever Hinrich.



 

#25 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 04:46 PM

Well, those who have been around know who is about what.

:yay:
 


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