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Re: Commercialism in the hobby

On Wed, 3 May 2000, Karen Randall wrote:

> I don't know Shawn and I don't know his material.  If what he's writing is
> good, scientifically accurate, and not blatantly pushing his product, I see
> no problem at all.  Do you know how many aquarium "buisiness" people we
> depend on for good information?


It wasn't my impression that Adam was complaining about the quality of the
information offered by the authors.  Certainly I was not.

Information provided by manufacturers and vendors is critical and often it
is of the best quality.  In my field, for instance the best practical
manual available on well design and construction is "Ground Water and
Wells" which is published by a manufacturer of well components.  Similarly
Ingersoll-Rand Corp. (one of the largest pump manufacturers in the world)
publishes "Cameron Hydraulic Data" -- an excellent volume on fluid
properties, pump selection and design.  You would be hard-pressed to find
anything like advertising in either of these volumes -- they give
information, they don't promote. Even company catalogs often contain more
hard data than promotional copy.

In all of my other fields of interest the editors and publishers always
seem able to maintain a clear distinction between information and
advertising -- a distinction that seems completely absent in TFH and
some other hobby magazines.

I buy and read journals and magazines for the information they contain;
the quality and dependability of the information is paramount.  A
relationship between a supposedly factual article and a business interest
in the same field damages the objectivity of the article and may cast
doubt on the quality and dependability of the information.  In many
instances it would be literally scandalous if such a relationship existed
and it was not clearly disclosed along with the article.


> _Your_ job as a consumer is to read carefully and thoughtfully, and not
> jump on every band wagon that comes along.  The _good_ aquarists, who
> produce _good_ merchandise for our hobby deserve our support.  The rest
> will get sorted out sooner or later.

This issue isn't about the authors, it's about the editors and publishers.
Some editing practices make it very difficult for a consumer to do the job
you describe.  They intentionally obscure the difference between
advertising and information and color their reported "facts" with
advertising copy.

If a hobbiest doesn't like that practice then it's his or her job as a
consumer to pull their financial support out from under the magazines that
use it and give it to those publications that maintain a higher level of

Roger Miller

In Albuquerque, where the mornings are cold enough to make you turn
your heater on and the afternoons are warm enough to run the air