Forum Posting Ethics

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Fish
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Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Fish » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:12 pm

This just needs to be said...

I recall in the old internet there were FTP services where users were required to upload before they could download. Depending on the server, this digital content could be games, music, etc. For example, a server might require that you upload 1 byte for every 1 byte you downloaded. This ratio requirement prevented abuse and ensured that the server would have a growing collection of content over time.

Now, on these forums there is a type of abusive posting behavior where certain individuals will ask lots of questions or repeatedly bump their own topics without contributing meaningfully to the community. (I’m talking about regulars, not newbies.) When assistance is given, they will require information to be spoon-fed to them, that is, instead of taking the time to search for answers based on the clues provided, the abusive poster asks the community to do the legwork for them. It’s parasitic.

Fortunately, this is not the case for the vast majority here, but occasionally this occurs and my response is to ignore these requests for information and/or attention when accompanied by parasitic behavior. The problem is, these “silent votes” by myself and others are easily overridden by a minority who are either oblivious to the situation, or simply don’t care. They respond and bump such topics up because they’re easy questions or they have an opinion that they desperately want to share. The resulting discussion is not such a bad thing on slow days but at other times it crowds out other voices that IMO are more deserving of the attention. (I’m assuming most here read the forums using RSS or the active topics link.)

An isolated incident here or there is tolerable but it appears to have been occurring more frequently in recent weeks, to the point where it is starting to get bothersome (to me at least). The point here is not to name and shame the abusers, but rather to increase awareness and encourage the community to insist on a higher standard of behavior by regular forumites. If you don’t already filter, I request that you be just a little more deliberate when deciding whether to respond to a post.

I submit that all community members should strive to be helpful or insightful, and failing that, at least be interesting. Again, this is not directed at the 95+% who already meet this criteria, but it is stating an ideal to be insisted upon and upheld. It is acknowledged this is not always possible (particularly in journals or when asking help for detailed, specific situations), but when this is the case one should make an attempt to even things out by adding to the discussion in a different area or at a different time as able.

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chenda
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by chenda » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:43 pm

I can't say I've noticed this. Actually I'm not sure I really understand what you mean.

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Fish
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Fish » Wed Oct 25, 2017 4:17 pm

Thanks chenda. I might have to chalk it up to personality differences or being hypersensitive about certain individuals taking much more value than they add, or contributing more noise than signal. (This being in my own estimation and not by any objective measure.)

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Seppia
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Seppia » Wed Oct 25, 2017 4:36 pm

Fish wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 4:17 pm
certain individuals taking much more value than they add, or contributing more noise than signal.
We aren't all on the same experience, age,or anything level though.
I think it physiological that some people give more than they take, and vice versa.
Also, it depends by the subject
I read theanimal's journal in awe and admiration of what to me look like superhuman feats, but I probably know more about Italian cooking than him.

As long as the curiosity is genuine and the willingness to learn is there it doesn't bother me.

I'm a noob on plenty of subjects and I would for sure ask stupid questions on a variety of things.

There might have been a couple posts here and there where I also had a bit of an impression that the forum was used as a substitute for google, but it's incredibly rare in my opinion.
For what I have read thoug, you (Fish) seem to put an extremely high level of care in your posts: the impression I got is you value quality over quantity even more than the average here, which Is very high just because of the nature of this place.
So you probably notice it even more because you're on the complete opposite side of the spectrum.

jennypenny
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by jennypenny » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:00 pm

I thought we were judging by quantity not quality? Crap.

More seriously ... people go through phases. I was annoyingly inquisitive in the beginning. Then I found a grove and posted frequently and tended the wiki more often. Then shit got weird this year and some personal relationships soured, so I became more skittish about posting 'deep' thoughts. Maybe that will change again, although I don't feel as knowledgeable about the topics that are popular on the forum currently as in the past.

Plus, most people don't find my advice helpful (even here, I'm the odd one out). For instance, you (Fish) had that thread on time and time management a while back. I really wanted to post because I couldn't understand why you were looking at time in such a strict fashion -- time was set aside to do X or Y or Z. You also talked about your time in a way that implies it will be fundamentally different after you've raised your kids. Suomalainen has said the same thing. That got me curious so I searched the forums and found the same problem mentioned by other people in their journals ... all of whom turned out to be men. It made me wonder if women approach personal time management differently, and therefore I decided not to post.

So even though I've contributed meaningful posts in the past, I'm much less likely to do so now. I can see how my contributions can come across as frivolous but I feel like I've earned my place here even though people who've joined the forum in the last couple of years may not have read anything useful from me. People can 'foe' me if they want.

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Ego
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Ego » Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:36 pm

Fish wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:12 pm
An isolated incident here or there is tolerable but it appears to have been occurring more frequently in recent weeks, to the point where it is starting to get bothersome (to me at least).
@Fish, have patience. Give it time. The questioners and the dreaded post-bumpers might just be building up to The Meaning of Life in a more poetic way than you are accustomed. We're bound to get around to it eventually.

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C40
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by C40 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:25 pm

jennypenny wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:00 pm

Plus, most people don't find my advice helpful (even here, I'm the odd one out).
I've found your advice very helpful, and I'd think that most people here also do.

Scott 2
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:43 pm

Yep, jennypenny is one of the few members whose posts draw me to a thread (opposed to the topic).

The only thing I've seen get out of hand is some of the politics stuff. There was a period earlier this year with three hot concurrent politics threads, everything else on the board dried up, I didn't like that.

In my experience, most forums reach a moderate level of sophistication, then conversation stabilizes there. Highly specialized questions can get answered if asked to the right people, but raising the average level doesn't seem to happen.

For the most part, I think it's because the experts tend not to use the really fancy ideas. They seem more likely to consistently apply basics, at the points where they are most valuable, and ignore the other stuff.

It's also really difficult to discuss something very advanced or complicated relative to the average level of the group, in a shared conversation.

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BRUTE
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by BRUTE » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:09 am

brute thinks there exists a certain personality type that exhibits this behavior, and certain online forums are prone to this type. but it also exists in real life. in fact, dear leader jacob mocks this personality type frequently, as the one that requests lists of "1001 tips and tricks to ERE", but gets bored with or is incapable of understanding complex systems analysis, frameworks, or anything else but cookie cutter, easily digestible answers. the type of human that posts a review of the ERE book as "too theoretical and not actionable".

if this really bothers Fish, brute recommends simply ignoring it. brute definitely goes by poster names on this forum. there are certain names that he always tries to follow (jp, jacob, C40, Rigger, Tyler9000), there are others that he often follows, but is ready to skip over, and there are certainly users that brute will mostly skip over, unless the topic seems really interesting. brute also skips over any topics that seem to be stuck in the question question question loop, or he posts irritating troll replies there.

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Seppia
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Seppia » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:10 am

C40 wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:25 pm
jennypenny wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:00 pm

Plus, most people don't find my advice helpful (even here, I'm the odd one out).
I've found your advice very helpful, and I'd think that most people here also do.
I'm on the same camp.
the US politicking thread jp "runs" is one of my favorites, for example.
Sorry for the OT

RealPerson
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by RealPerson » Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:18 am

I don't really understand the OP either. I like some posters because of the uniqueness of their situation (theanimal), their fabulous storytelling (halfmoon), expertise in human relations (7 wannabe 5), analytical skills (Jacob), humor (Jason), inside political knowledge (jennypenny), or a myriad of other reasons. I don't see why there can't be validity in the many different motivations to read posts or respond to them. Certainly not all posts I like to read have a direct applicability to my personal situation, and that's okay.

The only threads I dislike are the ideological political ones, but thankfully those are rare here. I haven't observed a proliferation of parasitic posts. Quite the opposite: I am frequently in awe at the intelligence, originality and thoughtfulness of many forum participants.

saving-10-years
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by saving-10-years » Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:29 am

+1 to fan mail for jp. I am interested in her theories about time perception and gender TBW (won't say more as that would hijack the thread).

@Fish, I can get irritated (IRL and on forums) by people who ask for advice and then don't read the links/believe evidence/listen to counter arguments. I think that its that combo that gets me most - ask the question (with some perceived answer in mind) ask again with some counter argument if they don't get reinforcement/agreement. On and on. Not everyone learns in the same way however, some people are more geared to this Q&A (repeat) process and I have to assume its helpful to them. I suspect that these are not the INTJ/P types I favour and understand most. I've seen plenty of helpful suggestions to 'read the book please' on here addressed to a variety of these types of posters. I have also laughed out loud at some of @BRUTE's ways of dealing with these threads. Never boring that guy.

Reading this topic I realise that I too have turned into someone who reads new threads mainly because of the names I see there. Just as volume control and busyness. Its a shame if we all do that and I've definitely seen unpromising thread starts turn into very interesting discussions. With many of the people here any discussion is bound to turn interesting and worthwhile eventually.

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Fish
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Fish » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:31 am

@Seppia - Good points, though I'd like to disagree with (or merely discuss?) some of them. I'll use myself as an example. When I joined these forums, my goal was to direct the ERE hive mind to working on questions of personal interest.(*) FBeyer noticed the pattern, and I'm sure others did too. Being a part of the community was not a goal at the time, and I declined to help out and answer "easy questions" in areas where I could give competent advice. I figured my time was too valuable and that someone else would do it, and I was usually correct on that last point. Doesn't make it right though.

(*) I joined because I reached the limits of my ability to work out my own questions regarding ERE and needed help.

However, I have come to realize that it is very selfish to always try to change the topic to one of personal interest, without engaging with the community on the other topics it cares about. It's like that self-centered person who loves talking about themselves and has no interest in discussing other things. The kind of person I**J-personalities silently resent in real life.

While genuine curiosity can be a redeeming quality, I still think it is reasonable to expect those who repeatedly request advice and information to be a part of the community. Even if unable to be helpful or insightful (due to differences in age, experience, education, etc.), one is always able to offer encouragement. And that is something that I think is somewhat lacking here.

The ERE forums can be an intimidating place to post. I venture that outsiders are deterred by the quality of the discussion, composition of the audience (above-average education and life experience), and tendency to argue/debate issues. To me at least, the ERE forum gives off a "no noobs" vibe that pushes me to double-check facts and think twice before posting. I wonder if others with judging-preference also sense this? Or you all must be supremely confident in everything you do. 8-) Since we might all not have jacob's rock-solid internal compass that allows him to take personal satisfaction whenever he writes an eloquent, unresponded-to last word on a topic, it can be a good thing to leave some positive feedback when someone writes something helpful/insightful/interesting. Without that feedback, the poster sees the views accumulate in silence and second-guesses their decision to post, perhaps thinking that they must be a loser or a moron in the eyes of the forum. For this reason, I recommend that more encouragement be directed to newbies and non-regulars particularly, when they post well.
jennypenny wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:00 pm
For instance, you (Fish) had that thread on time and time management a while back. I really wanted to post because I couldn't understand why you were looking at time in such a strict fashion -- time was set aside to do X or Y or Z. You also talked about your time in a way that implies it will be fundamentally different after you've raised your kids. Suomalainen has said the same thing. That got me curious so I searched the forums and found the same problem mentioned by other people in their journals ... all of whom turned out to be men. It made me wonder if women approach personal time management differently, and therefore I decided not to post.
This is exactly why you should post more often. :) I was starting to second-guess my decision to start this thread (see part above about feeling the judgment of the forum), but your post made it completely worthwhile. That's a really good insight and pattern recognition. In the past I would frequently complain to my wife about "lack of personal time," and it always drove her nuts. Your hypothesis that men and women approach time management differently gives me a new approach for understanding why this might be the case. I'll have to come back to it in another thread, to avoid getting too far off-topic.

I'm not saying this to be patronizing, but I honestly find the female voices on this forum highly interesting and insightful because I never know what to expect. Could be my own ignorance, lack of empathy, whatever, but I'm completely incapable of approaching problems and thinking the way you do. For most males here, I have a decent intuition for how they will respond to a particular topic, though I can't predict the exact response due to gaps in knowledge and experience. So please don't hold back because you think women's perspectives are not welcome... in fact, it's quite the opposite. You'll be surprised how often you'll be able to contribute a critical insight or new perspective to the conversation. One of my very favorite people on this forum is a certain ENTP female who's always willing to intelligently discuss anything and everything :D ... but I would like to hear from other women, too, especially the I**J-types that tend to feel ignored in conversation.

Anyway, I would like to apologize if you thought that my rant was directed at you. It most certainly was not. You're a huge net-positive to the community, and your forum posts and wiki contributions prove it. Of course, you don't need me to tell you this, but I do wish to acknowledge it.

@Scott 2 - Yeah! I had similar thoughts when politics were discussed to the exclusion of everything else. Then Jacob tweaked the system and the balance seems to have been restored (though we lost Dragline in the process of getting Ego back).

@brute - Good point about this also being a "real life" problem. In fact, I think part of my reason for being hypersensitive to the issue, is having a new colleague that is doing this to me. Asks lots of questions (which is ok) but I also end up doing a lot of his work because he's some combination of inexperienced, incapable, lacks frustration tolerance, or insists on his own personal efficiency at the expense of others. So I can't stand dealing with this in multiple domains and need to vent a little.

@RealPerson - I can understand if you don't see an issue, I haven't provided any evidence. This is partly out of respect for the two people who are bugging me, and partly because others might not see a problem (that is, it's all in my imagination). Trying to be objective about it, there isn't a huge proliferation of activity, more like 1-2 instances a week where I think the community could have done better to contain such behavior. More likely I'm being sensitive because I'm dealing with a similar situation IRL which is increasing my workload by several hours per week (see my reply to brute above).

@saving-10-years - What you said about brute gave me a great idea. Maybe we should let brute and Jason handle suspected abuses... :twisted:

@All - The point I want to make is that as the community, our actions are the feedback that shape how individuals interact with us. Generally, the people who you reply to and devote your attention are the ones who are most likely to return and post again. Presuming your involvement here is not entirely for the purpose of short-term entertainment, please give some thought to the future consequences of your actions. I'm not presenting myself as a role model, but I do care about this community and want to influence others to be more deliberate and adopt "good strategy" if the baseline is "no strategy." I got tired of voting silently.

Farm_or
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Farm_or » Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:43 am

I never thought of it as parasitic, but I do a whole lot more reading (and taking) than posting.

This forum is unique for its quality of posting. I hold most of the members above my level of intelligence in at least one or two subjects.

I am usually hesitant to post, not wanting to cheapen the content. Some people are not naturally as quick and witty as others. We walk away thinking, "I wish I would of thought to say that!". And sometimes, "I wish I wouldn't have said that!".

Thank you for your content and efforts to keep this forum interesting.

blackbird
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by blackbird » Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:28 am

Thanks for the conversation provoking post Fish, I suspect that I fall into the category of posters you reference here. I post infrequently, and often solicit feedback (what metrics do users measure, why are folks anti-WFPB diet, etc). The most recent (glaring) example is when I posted the Vegan / Vegetarian thread without realizing that the same topic had cropped up in a current active thread (What will society be embarrassed about 60 years...).

For what it is worth (not much actually, but that is a general problem of the internet, not just this place), I am self-aware of this behavior. I don't think it is entirely incorrect to view it as 'parasitic'. Almost every time I post (and this time is probably going to be no different), I regret doing so because I either feel like:

1. I should have spent more time framing my question, because I believe the responses would have been less....(searching for the word here)...sharp? I guess is the best way to state it.

2. I feel like the gulf between where I'm at on my socio-economic journey is so far removed from the 'regulars' here that I'm just bashing my head against a wall trying to apply some of the behaviours I read here into my own practice.

3. I feel outright judgment, and then it takes me a long time (weeks, to months) to build up the willingness to post again. That feeling of judgment is something I believe isn't intentional (mostly) but still suppresses my desire to be more active.

I guess at the end of the day I know I could be doing better, but the pace / desire to match what I read here at the literacy / ERE / life-hack / investing level just seems insignificant to you all. That doesn't mean this place isn't helpful. I continue to occasionally post because I *do* find value in it. But I have felt (and your post seems to agree) that I'm not bringing much to the table when I do.

Brute et al acknowledge that they are, on some level, filtering posts based on username as a response to the behavior you reference. To me that seems reasonable and fair. But it also creates a type of invisible barrier where if you are not one of the 'chosen' so to speak, it becomes increasingly harder to move into that group (because some percentage of that group doesn't really engage in your posts, and the regular contribution to threads by members of that group are really what identify you as being a member, so......).

Hopefully at least a little of that makes sense.

Regards,

blackbird

Scott 2
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Scott 2 » Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:51 am

Funny, the people hesitant to post because they're not sure about diluting conversation quality, are probably the ones we need posting.

In my experience revisiting "basic" questions often leads to new insight. There's also an aspect of paying it forward I think is important.

ffj
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by ffj » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:00 am

It can be very intimidating to post here and I still remember being nervous when I first started becoming active. I think we need to be careful to not run off future contributors because you don't want a few people dominating every conversation, no matter how interesting they can be. Personally I love seeing new names appear on any topic because multiple perspectives create a truer picture on any subject. If a question isn't worth your time just don't respond to it. And don't deny someone else a chance to respond and contribute, even if it's a topic easily researchable. That may be the way they get their foot in the door to contribute other ideas.

Several have mentioned the controversial topics, especially politics since Trump has come onto the scene. I personally don't feel any reasonable subject should be avoided because others may disagree with ones stance. If you want to understand something, then you have to wade through some arguments. At the minimum, you'll at least hopefully understand the other sides position much more clearly, even if you don't ultimately adopt it. There's value in that.

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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by jacob » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:25 am

I think most of what the OP is talking about is covered by old school netiquette. I too remember back when there were server limits (1:1 is pretty harsh :geek: ) and one downloaded forum posts in batches at 240 characters per second---so about 50WPM, slower than many folks could type! I think that that framework and the fact that it required a substantial investment of time and effort just to get online were responsible for creating a very different online environment and ethics than what we see on the internet today.

That environment is reflected in the original netiquette and I made it part of the forum rules (#7) because I very much enjoyed those times.

I regularly reread the Albion rules just to remind myself. It's interesting how many of them are relevant to this thread.

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Ego
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Ego » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:52 am

A few of my basic rules are to leave a place better than I found it and whenever possible to foster relationships that are mutually beneficial. This forum is both a place and a series of relationships. I see that I have failed at both here.

For that I sincerely apologize.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Riggerjack » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:59 pm

@ fish

Well, yes, I have noticed the pattern you speak of, but I don't consider it a problem. At all.

If you look at some of the long time (medium time) posters here, you will see a pattern of development. Zalo, when he first started posting, seemed, well Google-challenged. But he's young, and smart, and has a completely different perspective than I. And if you look at the body of work he has contributed, there is no question that he has been a net positive. His quality of posts, and the perspective he brings, make this a better place. Everyone learns in different ways, and I think his ways are far more common than mine.

For that matter, I have noticed that my posts tend to end threads, so much so that my wife calls me "riggerjack, threadkiller." This is hardly my intent, I am simply very comfortable with declarative statements, and enjoy exploring the perspective and opinions of people who disagree with me. I recently looked through the "my posts" link, looking for a thread I had contributed to a year ago, and noticed how often mine is the last post in threads I didn't start. Maybe I am too comfortable with disagreement.

While I may notice the same question that has been answered many times before asked by someone whose name I don't recognize, I am not concerned. If I have an answer, I give it. Hopefully this helps them. But more importantly, I hope it encourages them. I hope they read further, and post more. I hope that they find subject that they can contribute to, such as Zalo's contribution to the political correctness thread. I consider answering the posts of someone new, who clearly hasn't read the book, or the forum, to be Zalo-mining. Most of the time, it's wasted effort, but sometimes, we hit gold, just like other forms of mining.

Our society is very much vulnerable to self selected bubbles, where we are isolated from the ideas we disagree with. I for one, think one of the greatest things about the people here is the depths of the content we provide in areas where we have expertise. I very much like the political threads, and trying to see thru the eyes of others, but then I have no love of consensus. If we all just wanted everyone to agree, we could all just buy index funds and hang out at bogelheads.

PS sorry to call out Zalo by name, but he was such a great example, and since he has since changed username, this was less likely to affect the perceptions of a newbie reading this thread in a few years.

PSS what is the WFPB diet? All I can think of is Where's the Fucking Peanut Butter, but somehow that doesn't seem right.

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