Critical and picky - here I go again.

OK, it’s time for uncle Andy to get on his soapbox and dish it out a bit.

takes deep breath

OK, there are some know-it-alls who are posting some critical crap about other people’s robots need to stop (I’ll give you the reason why below). When a team puts out a picture of their robot, there seems to be a growing group of people who say things like this:

“it looks good, but does it work?”
“that part looks too heavy, you need to lose weight”
“that ratio looks way off. you should try… (yada yada)”

Everyone has the right to post what they want, but you need to realize that what you write here may impact your team when it comes time to competition. I have seen many times where there is a person giving out criticism left and right, and then they are suprised that their whole team is ignored at a competition.

Plus… you are being downright rude. If you are trying to just knock someone’s design that they have worked on for the past 5 weeks, then you are just being mean. If you are honestly trying to point things out that you feel will help this team out, then save it for a PM. My guess is that many are doing this just to be clever and you think you are funny. You’re not.

Also, I am guessing that many of you who are being critical have not posted any pics of your 'bot yet. When you do, I don’t think that you would enjoy people asking “does that work?”.

So, think before you post. If you have constructive critiques for the image poster, they why don’t you PM them instead of trying to embarass them in front of the CD community? What is the point of trying to point out their mistakes? If you are truly trying to help them, just send a PM. If you just want to knock them down, save it for the playing field. Soon, you will realize that your critical opinions are a minority in FIRST. If you are not understanding what I am saying, wait a few weeks and experience a regional… I assume that it will be your first.

If you disagree with me, flame away… I can take it.

Andy B.

Too true.
However, I don’t think that all posts like this are meant to be critical. I know that when our team experiences a problem and I see another team that accomplished what we could not, I would like to know how. I’m not disagreeing with you, I just wanted to point out that not all of these posts are meant to bash robots. Sometimes people just need to be carefull how they word things.

This is not just true for rookies, but also for veteran teams. I myself know last year the majority of my team believed that the game would be all about stacking. But hey, look at what happened, stacking was minimal.

The robots that get bashed the most might be the most successful ones. I see it this way, you’re commenting on something when you don’t really know what the game is. Nobody knows what the game will be like until the first set of regionals actually starts.

Overall, I like what Andy is thinking… I sometimes am guilty of this, we all are, but we should either keep our negative thoughts to ourselves or find a ‘nicer’ way to express them…

:::Claps hands:::

Couldn’t agree with you more Andy.

No robot will ever be 100% perfect (no matter how great you think your bot is), so please commend the people that have posted pictures.

I think a lot of the problem is wording. Like Andy said, “think before you post”. Saying something like (using example from team 1067 awesome marble wheels) “Wow! That’s truly amazing, how’s it handle the carpet?” Is a heck of a lot better than saying “Those marble are not going to get any traction, you should use something else”. Note: I am just making a general example, and not actually commenting about 1067’s wheels at all (though they are really cool).

So please think before you post, it will give you, your team, and the FIRST community a much better reputation.

  • My 2.56487 cents.

It’s a pretty good post, Andy, but how much does that thing weigh?!

andy = 11 green boxes
you = 1

Oh so true. But I guess I can say I’m part of that group. I’d admit this, I can be a pain. I know. Sorry guys. But back onto the topic.

If you have the time and energy to critique another team’s robots parts and it’s weight, etc, then I think you might want to work with your bot now. Lets keep our little noses out of other teams till the ship-date, then we can have REAL fun. Tehehehe :cool:

Flame, flame, flame, flame, flame…

Seriously though.
Baker’s 200% right (a rare occurance, I know ;)).
This exact topic has been bugging me for the past few weeks.

It’s one thing to be inquisitive:
“Wow, how much does that weigh? How did you get that to work!?”

It’s another thing to be degrading:
“Too heavy. That’ll never work unless you blah blah…”

And something Andy left out, my favorite is always:
“We thought of that… but decided it was stupid/heavy/not for us…”
If you ever find yourself typing those words, or similar words… unless they are immediately followed with “But this is awesome! We couldn’t have done it this well!” just stop.

You’re gearbox will never work. We thought of a ball drive, but decided it was impractical. Techno-wang? we can do it better. :wink:


FYI, Joel told a joke. It was pretty funny too.


Things have been so negative on these forums lately… your grandmothers would all CRINGE. Can you believe what we’ve heard so far?

Comes down to this:

-Please follow the guidelines of ‘constructive criticism’ if you have criticism at all.
-Say what you would only say to your own team. If you are going to question someone else’s ethics or team skills, you should be able to question your own.
-If you have something particularly biting to say that you think NEEDS to be said publicly, feel free to confront a team at a regional. If you would have trouble saying it to their face, don’t say it here.
-THINK before you SPEAK. Don’t overreact. Come back to the forums an hour or two after you read a thread, and make sure you consider all arguments or comments when posting.
-It’ll never hurt to say something privately to a team first before saying it publicly.

and last but not least: STAY POSITIVE!

We’re all in this for the long haul! We like this program, we like what it’s doing. We like helping. We like inspiring. We like playing with power tools, stripping wire, or just stripping for alliance partners… We’re all students, mentors, parents, peers, people. We all have things in common. If you wouldn’t like it said to you, don’t say it.

/edit: I didn’t say I was the one stripping for an alliance partner! That all came from what I read in this thread … before my time. :rolleyes:

I highly agree with you Andy. Besides being downright mean, a lot of things are said here just to boost ther poster’s ego by hurting others it seems. That is definatly not the way to go. I mean if you dont have something postive or useful to contribute, then why waste you energy to post it?

That last part is intruiging… :yikes:

I personally think that some of the critical statements are over taken or taken the wrong way and or blown way out of poportion. i am not in any way shape or forum dissagreeing with the big man andy on his post, i agree with it =D, but ithink that someof it some of what is said can be just taken the wrong way. i still do think though some people can tone down the way they come out from thier posts…

and i completely agree with zach p… that last part is VERY very intriguing =D

edit also… by the way… i do not want to sound mean, or arguative or anything… but why does one individual impact a team? i mean it could be some freshman trying to make a joke and trying to act cool, and most of the time a team does not agree with one another also… so… can someone clairify this for me please…

just learned about it in psychology (knew that class was good for somethin), and its really just about having the support of your peers means more to most people than anything else. Having one person on these forums say something bad about their robot can be very demoralizing and the opposite is true.

Not that much on topic but in a study when canadian college students were asked what was the most tramautic event in their childhoold only 9% mentioned their parents while 37% mentioned something peer related. (from the psych book lol)


Actually, I’ve seen less negativity this year than last year. (maybe I have not been reading enough…)
I felt last year was the worst. I remember it got really ugly at some moments…

Even KenL had to criticize some of the CD members for virtual mud slinging.

OK, I’m taking the opposing view (how stupid can I be to oppose Andy Baker) - I value Andy’s opinion more than my own but I need to chime in on this.

If it’s a question of the tone or the manner the criticism is presented, I agree - need to be careful in word selection. Unfortunately one of the limits of written critique is you can’t tell what’s a positive comment and what’s negative since there’s no voice inflection or facial expression.

However - I have been a design engineer for over twenty years and lead engineer for the past several. There is one point I hammer home to young engineers when we go into our design reviews both at work and on the team - don’t become emotionally attached to your design. The intent of a design review is to improve the design, not to tell you what a great job you did. Sometimes that’s a tweak; sometimes it means start over.

You should look at this as an opportunity to defend your design in a positive manner (without getting defensive), but don’t be afraid or embarrassed to say you don’t know or you didn’t consider something. Here’s some ways to respond:

“it looks good, but does it work?”

We built a prototype and it moved (pulled, turned, etc.) better than we expected.
It was a little slow but we changed the bearings and it’s running very well now.

“that part looks too heavy, you need to lose weight”

My budget for this part was 6.5 pounds and I’m under that.
We needed this part to be robust because it’s right in the front.

“that ratio looks way off. you should try… (yada yada)”

I checked my calculations again and we’re operating well down on the power curve.
I checked my calculations again and it was a little high but the next size wouldn’t fit in the envelope.

At the end of the process I frequently have changed the entire design because I liked someone elses ideas, and just as frequently I have considered all the critique and decided I was correct and pressed on. Either way, when you get to competition and something works well you can be proud of it.

“it looks good, but does it work?”
“that part looks too heavy, you need to lose weight”
“that ratio looks way off. you should try… (yada yada)”

Those were the same questions we were talking about our robot and yet you didn’t even see it yet.:slight_smile: Anyway I usually ask the first question when I don’t know how something works. Im not trying to be critical. Then I usually ask design questions just to see why those choose to go one way or another.

I see there being criticism and constructive criticism. Most comments I have seen are criticism, as they do not give very much thought or reason into a questin they are asking about a picture/robot.

It seems like everytime a robot picture or teaser gets up loaded it is the same 2 or 3 people asking questions about it too. If you wanna know information I see that PM’ing the uploader of the picture to be the best option that way you do not clog the portal page with threads says “Ohhh I like” or “Yeah, but i dont like…” etc etc etc…

I totally agree with Andy on this matter and feel PM’s should be used when responding to most images uploaded to this site.

I’ll be open and say that I’ve tried to help out some teams in the past few weeks by showing some quick math to help adjust some gear ratios.

Last year was VERY painful for us because our gear ratios were so poor. We were tripping breakers left and right, and we couldn’t figure out why. It was incredibly embarassing.

I wish somebody would have just pointed and said, “Hey Matt, that’s geared wrong! Switch those sprockets to 25 tooth and you’ll be all set. Here’s the math to support it.”

Figuring out the right gear ratio is something that’s so important, I try to help teams avoid the heartache we had last year- by saying something before the competition starts. I believe for many teams, the $60 or $70 in sprockets they’ll need to replace so they can compete at a reasonable level may be worth a little ego bruising. I try to show math that would help support other teams that may have the same trouble, so everyone can learn, and avoid this sort of engineering mistake.

Often, these teams are either student run, or engineer light, and I think it’s in the best interest of everyone if somebody napkin-sketches out a gear ratio corss check when it sounds funny.

However, maybe it is best left to a PM. I’d just hate to see teams go without this sort of information.


People have good points on this thread. Gary and Matt’s counter-points are excellent.

So… my plea to those of you who want to give advice or ask questions - follow the example that you see on these forums by having some tact and grace when you wonder if something works or if it is overweight.

It is tough to not put emotions into a design that you’ve worked hard on for the past 5 weeks. While being non-emotional about a deisgn is the correct thing to do, it is extremely difficult.

Andy B.

I’m going to go on record as agreeing with Andy (well, there’s a surprise). However, I think the problem is generally bigger than simply criticism of other team’s robots. For those who’ve been on Chief Delphi for many years (now I feel old), the same sorts of activities have been going on for those years (I seem to remember quite a number of fights in 2001).

In my opinion, a lot of these hard feelings and fights are related to misunderstandings. It’s much more difficult to convey a message in text than it is spoken. There’s a lack of voice inflection; a lack of body language. It’s much more difficult to tell a joke in text than it is out loud. This is doubly so when you’re attempting to tease someone.

In another direction, it’s important when giving criticism to give constructive criticism. Criticism is useless unless there’s somewhere to go with it. It’s not required that you have a solution for a problem but it is required that you phrase the criticism in such a way that the actual problem is targetted and not the person.

I think I have to disagree with Andy over the idea that all criticism should be sent through PM’s. I think we all can learn quite a bit from good criticism and there’s something that we can all contribute to it. The opportunity is lost if it’s not constructive criticism.