Re: What People Post (or should or shouldn't!)

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Posted by Jock on August 30, 2006 at 09:48:54 from user Jock.

In Reply to: Re: What People Post (or should or shouldn't!) posted by Kathy_S on August 28, 2006 at 03:20:37:

I am not a newcomer to this list. I have in fact been reading AR-related sites since the good old days of Virtual Tars and Signalling to Mars, when I believed that AR fans were invariably polite and welcoming persons. I think, however, that had I read TarBoard for the first time this year, I would have run away screaming, particularly upon encountering comments that appear designed to shut out newbies.

Kathy, Your comments are particularly valuable because you are a e-AR veteran and have a long-term perspective on our endevours. I will certainly bear them in mind when drafting future posts.

A case in point is the one that, however unintentionally, appeared to imply that persons who haven't read all twelve books shouldn't bother participating. What kind of impact would that have on a young person who has just encountered the few books available in his/her library, and has gone to the trouble of looking for a place to talk about them? The "five year apprenticeship," although perhaps tongue-in-cheek, is not an improvement.

Tarboard is to a large extent self-policing. If someone posts something which is offensive (but not sufficiently so to be deleted by Ian) then they get an earful from fellow Tarboarders. New Tarboarders, if they identify themselves, are warmly greeted. The Tarboard Arms welcomes new customers. The five year apprenticeship comment was a rebuttal to someone who wanted to rebuild our ancient hostelry without any respect for the views of the locals.

If people know each other very well, they often exchange "friendly insults" that would not be understood as friendly by outsiders. I think � or at least try to believe � that much of what I perceive as rudeness, put-downs and point-scoring on TarBoard is really just a group of 'friends" joking with each other and forgetting that they are on public view.

In every pub there wil be a group of friends who are particularly fond of each other. Coming from an Anglo-Saxon background they do not express this with the hugging and kissing that is prevelant in other parts of the world. Instead you will hear, "You dirty rascal. How many pubs have you been thrown out of this week?" This only ceases being funny when the person being addressed loses their Tarboard posting priviliges. The point scoring you are referring to is like a game of pool or darts. This is a discussion board. You would expect some friendly bickering!

I generally try to ignore the bickering and hope for more posts by gentlepersons like Ed Kiser. Unfortunately, I know of at least a few devoted AR fans who just don't bother any more.

It would be impossible to create any group endeavour which would be universally popular. TarBoard, is I believe, one of the friendliest and welcoming discussion boards that I know. I love Ed's posts, but if everybody on Tarboard was like Ed, or like Prue, or heaven help us, like me, the result would be decidedly monotonous.

I suspect this will probably receive the usual response to suggestions that TarBoard is less than perfect, but do think that it would be nicer if people could remember that:

1. Without voice and body language, "jokes" are not necessarily recognized as such. This is particularly true of the "dry sense of humour." Perhaps we should adopt a set of emoticons, or the *g* (grin) and *lol* (laughing out loud) of other boards, to help give the reader some idea of the writer's intent.

Emoticons just don't seem to be Tarboard's style. I tried using them some time ago and was even warned about using them.

2. When presenting an opinion, one could soften the impact by beginning with phrases such as "I think that" or "it seems to me" rather than using harsh declarative sentences. Wording so brusque as to suggest that anyone who disagrees is an idiot is particularly offensive to some readers.

Totally agree with your last sentence. Will re-read all my posts before pressing the "Re submit message button.

3. When people ask AR-related questions, we should make more effort to answer them with at least a polite one-liner. (That includes me, though I will continue to leave anything related to sailing to the sailors. I prefer the more land-based exploits of Winter Holiday, Picts & Martyrs, Swallowdale and Great Northern?.) It should be even easier to respond to repeated questions with a kind phrase and, if it would be helpful, a quote or link. (I do NOT mean to issue the equivalent of, "Read the FAQ, stupid.") In the same vein, I suggest that "amusing" tangents should follow rather than precede serious answers. I am by no means proposing that tangents be eliminated, only observing that persons receiving only frivolous answers tend to go away with hurt feelings.

You are right, serious questions do sometimes remain orphans. I suspect it's often because we don't know the answer or are waiting for someone else who knows more about the answer to post a reply. An interesting example was Jenny's question about whether there were any links between AR and the scouting movement. This lay unanswered for a bit. I then posted a "holding" post. Joe added a knowledgeable piece about the scouting movement in general, I then followed up one of his references, and so on.

Finally, I apologise for posting this a couple of days late. I feel like the Dutch boy with a finger in the dyke. But that's another story ;-)

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