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Thread: Forum Policy Discussion

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmm4444bot View Post
    You know the difference between "We" and "I". You don't speak for the rest of the membership.
    I don't believe I post anything with "we" that isn't generally applicable. Is there anyone here who intends to be a free consulting service? I suppose there could be. I know I certainly don't mind free consulting as long as I find the problem interesting and the user knows it isn't what we normally would intend.

    Some people are offended by certain presentations;
    Some people are impossible not to offend by any presentation. I know that I am very, VERY difficult to offend - even if someone is trying to offend me. It would be honest to admit that I sometimes forget other people may not be quite that way.

    my goal is to keep friction off the boards
    This is a reasonable goal.

    and to treat new members with neutral language.
    Unfortunately, "neutral" is a matter of opinion and personality.

    MMM Approach
    "Please read the forum guidelines." Is brief, maybe curt, possibly off-putting, and it clearly indicates to the user that a behavioral modification is suggested. I have observed that this reply often results in an apology. I'm not sure why it is not usually taken as harsh or offensive. Often, besides a link to the Forum Guidelines, there is nothing else offered in the initial short response. In my mind, this deficiency should lead to greater offense, not less. Oddly, that doesn't seem to be the case.

    TKHunny Approach
    "We are not a free consulting service." Is brief, maybe curt, possibly off-putting, and it clearly indicates to the user that a behavioral modification is suggested. More often than not, this elicits no response at all, since it is usually followed by an attempt to be of assistance. Occasionally, it is taken as rude or confrontational.

    Stapel Approach
    "What section are you studying?"
    "What formulas have you been given?"
    "Have you worked other problems like these?"
    "What instructions were you given with this assignment?"
    "What does _____ mean? Did you discuss this term in your class?"
    ...
    This is not usually brief. I don't recall many responses to this. I think it may be off-putting - maybe just too much and the student runs away? It always makes me smile when I see it.

    It's a tough call, "neutral language". All three of these methods (and there are many others) have significant value and reasonable justification. The very intent to accept a wide variety of students suggests a wide variety of approaches might be a good way to go.

    If a new member creates a few posts at once, before understanding the guidelines, then their post count ought not to be perceived as an abuse. Let's give people the benefit of the doubt, until they give us a real reason not to.
    Fair enough.

    If you're still unable to compromise, then I'll invite Ted, staple and Subhotosh to weigh in, and hopefully we can arrive at a concensus together.
    Compromise what? If you would like me to espouse your impression of what constitutes "neutral language", I'd happy to do so.
    Last edited by tkhunny; 01-25-2018 at 07:57 PM.
    "Unique Answers Don't Care How You Find Them." - Many may have said it, but I hear it most from me.

  2. #12
    Elite Member stapel's Avatar
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by mmm4444bot View Post
    I'm not sure what this means.

    Can you provide more detail about this intent that you often observe?
    People who end up saying that they need this for their job, because they'd told their boss they could do this. Or people who end up being tutors who need us to give them the worked solution, so they can "explain" this to (and in return for payment from) their customer.

    Ya know: business.

  3. #13
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    I am not sure what triggered this thread, but my feeling is that:

    if someone seems to be asking for the solution to a practical problem (about carpentry for example), I just answer it because I do not see that only students deserve help;

    if someone seems to be asking (overtly or covertly) for an answer to a homework problem, I revert to the forum rules that strongly militate against just answering; and

    if someone seems to be trying to get free consulting advice, I simply ignore them or tell them my hourly billing rate.

    "Circumstances alter cases" has always struck me as profound advice.

  4. #14
    Elite Member mmm4444bot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffM View Post
    I am not sure what triggered this thread
    When a continued pattern of disturbance (i.e., something I don't see associated with most regular contributors) becomes apparent (eg: new members complaining through off-board mechanisms or posting comments about rudeness) , I am motivated to seek a solution.


    but my feeling is that:

    if someone seems to be asking for the solution to a practical problem (about carpentry for example), I just answer it because I do not see that only students deserve help;

    if someone seems to be asking (overtly or covertly) for an answer to a homework problem, I revert to the forum rules that strongly militate against just answering; and

    if someone seems to be trying to get free consulting advice, I simply ignore them or tell them my hourly billing rate.

    "Circumstances alter cases" has always struck me as profound advice.
    Thanks for posting this information, Jeff.

    I view this as an example of common sense, and this is fine with me -- if it's worded in a light-hearted way, without implying that the member of our community is not welcome to post, and perhaps also includes some statement advising the member that they are welcome to wait for other members to take an interest but it's up to other members to choose to do so.

    PS: Watch for a new thread on the Administrative Issues board, within the next couple days, regarding an update to the Guidelines Summary text that you and I wrote a few years ago. I've got some new ideas, and I'm going to solicit the general membership for input.
    "English is the most ambiguous language in the world." ~ Yours Truly, 1969

  5. #15
    Elite Member mmm4444bot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapel View Post
    Ya know: business.
    Ya, I know. They key word for me is "intent".

    I find it difficult to discern true intent on the Internet.

    Without soliciting answers to specific questions designed to ascertain some facts, it's very difficult to know exactly what the situation is. We don't have the benefit of non-verbal communication clues or other aspects of personal communication to inform our opinions, as we do when speaking to a stranger face-to-face.

    Arriving at certain conclusions or making certain judgments based solely on words displayed on a screen is not always wise.

    I'll give the question of intent more thought. It may end up not being as important as the wording of member replies in threads and the mission of this web site.
    "English is the most ambiguous language in the world." ~ Yours Truly, 1969

  6. #16
    Elite Member mmm4444bot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tkhunny View Post
    I don't believe I post anything with "we" that isn't generally applicable.
    You certainly don't speak for me, when you state that we are not a free consulting service. I don't actually have a good sense about the percentage of our community that agrees with me on this. My viewpoint is that any member has the right to provide consulting services to another member, if they choose to do so.

    If you would like me to espouse your impression of what constitutes "neutral language", I'd happy to do so.
    Thank you for that. Here's my start: "I am not into providing free consulting services, but you're certainly welcome to wait for other members of the forum to reply. It's up to each member to decide whether they're interested and how to respond." Also, if this were to comprise your reply, I feel that it would be better to simply ignore that thread, instead.

    You posted a lot of information, tk. A couple of your statements I view as complete malarkey, but you've also made a greater number of good points. I'm not able to digest it all at once; I want to sleep on it. I'll re-read the entire situation, and I believe that some of your points will inform my overall opinion on this matter.

    I started this thread with a more singular goal (wording), but I now perceive a divergence of the topic into three different issues. (1) Do we as members of a community need to think about our choice of words, when replying to others -- particularly to new members. (2) What is the purpose of this forum? (3) Are the moderators pretty much operating off the same page, when dealing with issues?

    Some time ago, I suggested to Ted and all of the moderators that I thought it would be a good idea for us to have a pow-wow (to discuss the three points above, actually, in addition to others' concerns). I never heard one peep from anybody.

    I have sent Ted a request for some clarification on his web site's mission (both the main pages and the forum), as it's been quite a while since we last discussed it. That discussion was not really in-depth.

    I'll pick up this matter, after Ted and I have finished our exchange. Cheers
    Last edited by mmm4444bot; 01-27-2018 at 10:34 AM. Reason: reworded area around "three points above"
    "English is the most ambiguous language in the world." ~ Yours Truly, 1969

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