APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

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Many APOD explanations start with a question. Do you like this format?

No, I find the leading question annoying.
40
4%
Yes, I find the leading question intriguing.
662
74%
APOD images have explanations?
23
3%
Neither clearly yes nor no. (Feel free to explain below.)
175
19%
 
Total votes: 900

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RJN
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APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by RJN » Fri May 16, 2014 7:56 pm

Thank you very much for your interest in Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD). We very much appreciate the time you have given us viewing our images and reading the explanations; your dedication drives us to keep doing the site. APOD will likely be asking other questions in the near future; your responses will help us better understand viewers like you, and will allow us to improve what we do for you.

Please select the option that best reflects your opinion on the poll statement listed. Please leave any comments you may have on this topic below.

Thank you!

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MargaritaMc
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Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by MargaritaMc » Fri May 16, 2014 10:04 pm

I ticked neither yes or no, so I'm taking up the option to say why.
Simply - I actually hadn't noticed that the Apod texts often begin with rhetorical questions or leading questions. :roll:
I always read the text and follow the info links, but I must slide my gaze over the opening sentence as I know that the meat of the text will usually be in the links.

Thanks for the opportunity to give some input and I look forward to your next set of queries.
Margarita
"In those rare moments of total quiet with a dark sky, I again feel the awe that struck me as a child. The feeling is utterly overwhelming as my mind races out across the stars. I feel peaceful and serene."
— Dr Debra M. Elmegreen, Fellow of the AAAS

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Nitpicker
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Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by Nitpicker » Fri May 16, 2014 10:37 pm

I also voted neither yes or no. The leading question is sometimes a little superficial, and could be removed with no loss. Other times it is fine.

After you've read a few APOD captions, you realise they can be a little formulaic. It can be good to mix things up a bit in style. I am arguably being superficial here. :ssmile:

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Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by stowaway » Sun May 18, 2014 4:22 am

I clicked neither yes or no. I'm not sure if I really understand what you are asking. I've been following this page since 1995 and I'm not sure if I have ever even noticed the leading question. If I did, it certainly did not bother me. It is your page and you can ask those kinds of questions and I can either answer or not. Do I like this format? Absolutely! The only thing that has ever bothered me about APOD are those times when the subject is something other than astronomy.

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Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by elipongo » Sun May 18, 2014 4:53 am

I picked neither yes nor no because, to be frank, I had never explicitly noticed the leading question format until you called attention to it with this poll! I quite enjoy the write-ups as they are, and as the format has been quite transparent to me, I have to say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Ludwig99b0

Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by Ludwig99b0 » Sun May 18, 2014 7:56 am

Are you, in fact, entirely ignorant of the meaning of the expression Leading Question? In case you are in doubt: that was a leading question.

Guest

Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by Guest » Sun May 18, 2014 8:01 am

I think the format has run it's course, perhaps? Time for a new leading-sentence trope!

Guest

Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by Guest » Sun May 18, 2014 8:03 am

I think the format has run its course, perhaps? Time for a new leading-sentence trope!

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Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by Nitpicker » Sun May 18, 2014 8:29 am

Ludwig99b0 wrote:Are you, in fact, entirely ignorant of the meaning of the expression Leading Question? In case you are in doubt: that was a leading question.
Whilst "leading question" has its own meaning in a legal context, in the context of a journalistic writing style, the terms "lead sentence" or "leading sentence" are common and refer to a tool to immediately capture the attention of the reader. If the sentence is a question, it could naturally be called a "leading question".

...

(FWIW, I just reviewed the last few APODs and the majority did not have leading/starting/opening questions. So, my criticism in an earlier post in this thread, is not really that relevant, and I should pay more attention.)

Admac

Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by Admac » Sun May 18, 2014 8:43 am

If the caption is well written, then question or not, it's fine.

But if I may, on a different matter, as I've been given the opportunity to comment...

I check out POD to enjoy and wonder at the visual feasts within our universe and on our planet, and to learn. There is evidently no shortage of incredible, breath-taking imagery... fantastic photographs and video of the world we live in and the worlds we don't.

So why oh why include "artists impressions" in the POD? I don't want to know what someone thinks something might look like, I don't need to see conjecture; I want to see reality, fact. In my opinion "impressions" have no place on this great website and I am always disappointed when I open the page and see one.

jiharmer

Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by jiharmer » Sun May 18, 2014 9:04 am

Is it a question that haunts the APOD copywriters mind?
Until it was drawn to my attention with this poll, it was something that I'd never noticed, and I've been a regular APOD fan since it's early days.
Everyone has their own writing style and if APOD's includes the odd rhetorical question, does it really matter ?

Guest03

Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by Guest03 » Sun May 18, 2014 11:12 am

I like the leading question when it's appropriate. In the case of Jupiter's spot, it's entirely appropriate since it explains the main idea in one engaging sentence.

RayM
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Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by RayM » Sun May 18, 2014 11:14 am

Like most of the other commenters, I had never particularly noticed opening questions, so I, too, answered 'neither yes nor no'.

But now that you have drawn attention to it, it's going to act just like a spot on someone's nose - it will become impossible not to be distracted by it. Thank you very much!

Jtsteimle

Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by Jtsteimle » Sun May 18, 2014 11:41 am

I always assumed the leading questions was required policy of the HAL 9000 computer which has been in charge of all our space endeavors since early this century.

Alan Jeffrey Marcy

Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by Alan Jeffrey Marcy » Sun May 18, 2014 1:10 pm

Hi, I am a bio-mechanical spambot with excellent cut and paste skills. I enjoy the APOD very often. I review the past postings to refresh my mind and pick up those I missed. Questions are tiny, the sky is less tiny. I may find a question interesting, I may not. I am tiny, too 8*O Do not be too concerned with journalistic style. Folks are a bit more scattered across this, and their, Universe than we like to pretend. Do keep the pixels flowing. It does enhance my imagination, at times... it is just some information, not "The Trooth". Happy Birthday Grand Daughter Zoey! (five, today)

wekebu
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Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by wekebu » Sun May 18, 2014 1:12 pm

My main reason for submitting a Yes & No answer is because I want to thank you. For the past 15+ years you have been my Home Page. Every morning I'm greeted with a photo that either gives me a better understanding of the universe or simply provides me with a pretty picture (there have been a few that defies my understanding).

So, thank you for what you provide.

Howard Freeland

Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by Howard Freeland » Sun May 18, 2014 2:24 pm

I also ticked "neither yes nor no" and take up the option of explaining why. I would say that it is a god thing to vary the style of the explanation, but, like any other rhetorical device, the leading question approach could easily be over-used. Many scientific papers start with a leading question (I am submitting one to Nature later today) and I see no reason why APOD explanations should not do the same. Just don't overdo it.

tcarroll@keuka.edu

Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by tcarroll@keuka.edu » Sun May 18, 2014 2:27 pm

Your format is great! Keep it up, please!

jstubblefield49

Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by jstubblefield49 » Sun May 18, 2014 2:37 pm

I never really noticed that the explanation usually starts with a question. It works fine for me, but is not necessarily better than other formats you might use. I do notice grammatical errors in the text from time to time, including today's. The second sentence, while understandable, does not say what it intends to say. (It's the rate of shrinking that is accelerating, not the rate of size; size itself does not have a rate.) I've started my days with visits to the site for many years now, and if an occasional grammatical glitch is my only complaint, I'd say you are doing very well. Don't worry about it.

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Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by Rothkko » Sun May 18, 2014 2:48 pm

Neither clearly yes nor no. (Feel free to explain below.)
¿Es conveniente que los textos explicativos de las APOD se inicien con una pregunta? Se supone que a los editores de APOD les preocupa que su trabajo llegue al mayor número posible de personas y que satisfaga a la mayoría de ellas. ¿Pero se puede contentar tanto a astrónomos profesionales como a niños que empiezan a descubrir el mundo a través de una pantalla? Tareas tan ambiciosas son más fácil de resolver consiguiendo un estilo neutro, un estilo que no se note que es estilo, algo con lo que sueñan artistas, publicistas, fabricantes (todos reconocemos un vivaldi, un rollings, un velázquez, un bacon, un cádillac, un escarabajo...) Por cierto ( y ruego que me respondan por interés propio), ¿cómo se consigue esto?

google translator (sorry):

Is it appropriate for the explanatory texts of the APOD are initiated with a question? It is assumed that the APOD editors worry that their work reaches the widest possible audience and that will satisfy most of them. But you can satisfy both professional astronomers as children begin to discover the world through a screen? Such ambitious tasks are more easily solved by getting a neutral style, a style that is not note style, something you dream artists, publishers, producers (all recognize one vivaldi a rollings a velazquez a bacon a cadillac a beetle ...) For true (and beg me to respond in their own interest), how is this achieved?

)
Last edited by Rothkko on Sun May 18, 2014 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ZX14Rydr

Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by ZX14Rydr » Sun May 18, 2014 4:45 pm

The leading question format is immaterial, relativistically speaking. However, misspellings, incorrect punctuation, syntax and grammar, and missing words are reflectively magnified on a page such as this. Profread, pleasebittes'ilvousplaitporfavor.

bub4280

Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by bub4280 » Sun May 18, 2014 5:52 pm

Q: Leading Question A: Ying/Yang.
All science starts with a question, and eventually leads to a declarative. (Other than BTHOM)
Then vice-versa. Some things are known, some are wondered and some need clarification.
"What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?"
It is appropriate to do both.

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LocalColor
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Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by LocalColor » Sun May 18, 2014 6:09 pm

elipongo wrote:I picked neither yes nor no because, to be frank, I had never explicitly noticed the leading question format until you called attention to it with this poll! I quite enjoy the write-ups as they are, and as the format has been quite transparent to me, I have to say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"
I agree.

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Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by TNT » Sun May 18, 2014 8:04 pm

The leading question in applicable APODs is interesting to me. Sometimes I know the answer to the question, so it's not really that big of a deal when I read the explanation. At other times I think I know the answer so I read the explanation to check. If I end up being wrong, then I learn something new; otherwise I refresh my knowledge about the subjecct matter. And then there are the times where I don't know the answer to the question at all, so I learn something new anyway. But the leading qiestion format is a great way to indicate what the explanation is about, and it also gets the minds of the readers thinking. Great job guys, keep it up!
The following statement is true.
The above statement is false.

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Re: APOD Assessment Poll: Leading Question

Post by HellCat » Sun May 18, 2014 9:28 pm

Dear Dr. N,

Thank you for many years of wonderful pictures and information.

Since you've asked, in general, I do find the leading question annoying. It's generally not fully germane to the subject at hand, and does get in the way of delivering information. But that's not to say it can't be better, or that it must be removed.

Astronomers aren't trained for writing skills, and as you attempt to delegate or automate this process (it HAS to be taking its toll) these issues are important. I could argue that a better general introduction will help lead more readers into the explanation, and that's an important part of your (our) mission - to train the public in things scientific.

At the same time I could also argue for a simple factual outline and links, leaving off all the grammar. This would enable and encourage automation and translation.

May I suggest a possible third alternative? What of a crowd-sourced function of sorts, along the lines of wiki or slashdot/soylent? It would be country specific (a different set of editors for each country) and effectively outsourced (if your local English department doesn't want to help with the task) but hopefully attract a much wider general audience than today's.

Respectfully yours,
Steven Davidian