Forethought: A Must-Read Before Posting


The (not so) quiet before the storm. The beginning of a new season is very exciting for all of us. Being a veteran of these boards, I’ve seen patterns develop and I’d like to suggest a little forethought and share a little story.

In four days we will hear from Dean, Woodie, Paul Shay, John Abele, and others. We will hear of culture changing, gracious professionalism, and the true meaning of FIRST. We will spend a little time relearning, energizing, and focusing on why we all do this. Then the 2005 game will be unleashed and we will get a close look at the 2005 manual soon thereafter. Changes are sure to take place, it’s inevitable.

Here’s where I suggest the forethought. Six weeks is very little time. We all will have a lot to do. For some high school seniors, this six weeks is the culmination of four years of hard work, accomplishment, and inspiration. ChiefDelphi is an incredible resource and a home base for a huge network of help during that six weeks and into competition season. This home for help, support, and encouragement needs to move us all forward to a successful ship date and into competition. The portal does not need to be jammed up with threads and posts bemoaning the changes. Honestly, I’m numb to reading one more “Why did FIRST change xyz… Don’t they know 123…” thread. I’d much rather read a “Hey rule abc changed this year … how are we overcoming that obstacle…” thread. Now here’s my little story…

Fall 2002 prior to kickoff. FIRST announces changes in the Chairman’s Award submission format. Four pages of text and pictures. A huge change from where some of the FIRST community (including yours truly) thought these award entries were going. No more videos/multimedia in the submission itself. I remember sitting with another team advisor with my head in my hands. “Why did we just invest in that extra video equipment, software, and training for kids? Last year’s winner had this awesome video in their submission and … argh!” I spent about 20 minutes bemoaning the changes to a trusted friend. After that 20 minutes the problem solving started. The realization that it’s not about the format or difference from last year set in. It’s about doing our best to adapt and move forward in the real-time changing world. As I recall, 2003 turned out to be a pretty good year for my former team.

My point? Not one CD post venting my frustration was necessary. When the change that frustrates you the most sinks in I urge you to seek out your trusted friend and talk to, email, or pm them. Spend your 20 minutes bemoaning. Then, rejoin the game, use the FIRST Q&A, start those useful threads, and get to the problem solving as fast as you can.

Six weeks and a few competitions go by in the blink of an eye. For those seniors, their FIRST student careers go by with it. Honor their commitment and make their last student year the best it can be. We all owe them that. If there are issues (and there always are), seek opinions here AFTER the craziness, put your points and possible solutions down on paper, and attend the post-season forums to be heard.

Have fun in 2005, there’s no guarantee you’ll ever get to do this again.


Thank you so much for your gracious comments Mr. Rich Kressly. I am a High school senior and FIRST has taught me how to take on challanges and solved them. It is great to see that I am part of a group where I have mentors who are inspiring me constantly. All those words from a few people that comes to my ear (upsetting ones) goes away by all this inspiration.

There have been times for the past 3 years of my high school life where I came very close to quit robotics. Even my parents were against it until they realized how much I want to do this. But one thing I do want to point out, every single member on your team is valuable, every single one of them has talents that can come to use for the team. We are a team.

Now the 6 week build period… the past 3 season I went through, it felt like time was flying. Once you have a challenge that you have to solve, it gets critical and every one on the team has to be very calm in order to solve the problem correctly.

I want to thank all my friends who have been very supportive (you guys know who you are, most of you will read this post). Also I want to thank my parents and my little bro. How can I forget all the mentors. Mentors (college students, engineers) in FIRST has shown me what I can do with my life.

Now I am a senior and Thanks for making the best time of my life throughout my FIRST experience as a student.


  • Arefin. :slight_smile:


Thanks for the wise and very meaningful thoughts. I was going to post something similar on Thursday, but you beat me to it. I will add a couple more ideas to ponder though.
While posting on CD, I seldom do so of behave of our team (the host of this wonderful website) but on this occasion I will.
This website has evolved over the years to become many things to many people - we have accommodated just about every request that we could, thanks to Brandon and the leadership on the team that supported this website both financially and administratively. The website has been our pleasure to host - we have had enormous assistance from the many mentors and moderators that frequent the site.
Just after the kickoff, the website will be stressed by the enormous influx of posts and threads which will be 10 fold the normal use. Keep in mind that at last count we are over 6,000 registered users and usually there is 3 to 4 times more guests poking around at any time. We have recently experienced some glitches while doing routine maintenance - we hope the issues are resolved and do not cause any major problems.
So, I just would like to request each of you to consider what Rich has suggested, and to hold off on the meaningless posts that don’t add value to the discussion. Use some sense when posting as keeping up with the pages of “new threads and posts” often have the opposite affect from what we strive for - here at - when there are so many that one cannot keep up, people quit trying, quit sharing thoughts and ideas, quit helping each other. This year, lets use the following guideline, post in a helpful manner, "Does this thread or post assist or help anyone that might need the help? Be especially kind to rookies and newbies, its okay to inform them how things work here, just do it in a helpful way.
Thanks everyone that plays in our backyard, have fun - its our way of sharing with our FIRST family.


There’s one thing I’d like to add as a reminder to everyone and especially for those of you new to this site.

If you do post a new thread please, please do not use vague thread titles. They don’t help anyone out, actually make things more confusing, and very possibly defeat the search function (which hopefully you did BEFORE you posted the new thread).
As meaubry mentioned about an enourmous influx of posts/threads that will be happening soon, if people started posting threads that you had no idea what they were about before you read them it would be impossible to keep up with them. For example, if you came across a thread labeled “Help, Problem”, you’d have no idea what it was about than if they had labeled it “Help, problem with drill motor overheating”. Labeling threads clearly would also allow some of us that are pressed for time to ignore threads that we have no interest or expertise in and concentrate on the threads that we do.

Bottom line, there’s a wealth of information on this forum and a wealth of knowledge with the multitude of users and labeling your threads clearly allows the search function to work the way it should and will allow the right person to see your thread and get you an answer quicker.


Excellent post. I agree with you completely even though I know I’m guilty of the occasional thinks of appropriate phrasing heated disagreement with FIRST or the running of their events.

Can we make this a sticky or highlight it on the portal in some way to draw more attention. I’m not sure if the thread title will attaract enough people’s attention to this post.



Brandon can make that happen if enough people feel it’s worthy.


Very good and very true.


I would like to build on what Rich has said here.

Change is an inevitable part of life. Most people do not like change and have difficulty accepting differences in what was once familiar. This is human nature.
However, as FIRSTers, and as members of society, we must rise above this aspect of our nature. We must strive to fully understand change - before we reject it in an attempt to preserve what was once familiar or expected.


  1. Movement, as toward a goal; advance.
  2. Development or growth: students who show progress.
  3. Steady improvement, as of a society or civilization: a believer in human progress.

The definition of the word “progress” can mean many things within different contexts. But in all cases, the word “progress” means to build upon what we know and do in order to improve. Letting go of the past can be a very hard thing, but we must let go - and accept change in order to improve our lives, as well as improving FIRST.

Throughout history, most innovations of viewpoint have not been popular. The first time someone ever said, “Hey, why not put a man on the moon?” … do you think that most people ever envisioned that this would ever be possible? Most likely, someone thought that this was crazy, and replied, “No way! That’s impossible!”

The word “no” has probably been one of the most destructive words in the history of human civilization. The minute someone says “no” to a new idea, a realm of new possibilities has been suppressed. What would have happened if someone had said “no” to the idea of the telephone, and it never came to exist? What if someone had said “no” to the idea of the airplane, or the space shuttle, or the computer, and the people who came up with these ideas said, “Hey, you are right, it would be impossible.”?

Those who say “no” refuse to let go of what the past has told them about what is possible and impossible, what is beneficial or not beneficial, and what is ultimately good or bad. They prejudge based on what the conventions of their society, and their own mind, have pronounced as acceptable.

We, as FIRSTers, especially need to avoid getting stuck in our ways. After all, don’t we represent the future? Do we represent progress itself? FIRST, as an organization, represents the need to improve our society, by initiating change in the minds of the people of this world. Change – to inspire more young people to strive for creativity, instead of rejecting it. Change – for society to recognize the importance of science and technology (and ultimately innovation) in this world.

We need to face changes within FIRST graciously. We celebrate the ideals of gracious professionalism, yet we often have difficulty applying this philosophy to the most important aspects of our lives. Gracious professionalism does not just mean that teams are expected to be benevolent to one another. Gracious professionalism means that we should accept change as a new challenge, rather than fighting it, and find an innovative way to overcome it or even use it to our benefit - just as we do when we solve the problems of the game challenge.

Forethought means thinking ahead. Think ahead before you judge something new. Think ahead before you dismiss something as “crazy” or “impossible” or “bad”.
As my signature says, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.”

Take Rich Kressly’s message to heart.

– Jaine

[font=Verdana][size=2]P.S. This thread started by Ken Leung also ties into this. So does this post made by me, concerning progress. [/font][/size]


I would like to say something about this topic that is often overlooked. It happens a lot on the Chief Delphi forums, and I wonder if I’m the only person it bothers.

It’s not uncommon to see posts of people talking about things in FIRST they dislike or don’t agree with. I’m going to use a hypothetical example in this post. Imagine it’s after kickoff and the new game has just been announced. Many people like the game, many people do not.

Often times, there will be a post or a thread that says something like this:

I really hate this game this year. I can’t believe FIRST designed such a lousy game. It is absolutely terrible. I could design a better one.

After reading such a simple-minded, ignorant post, many people will respond to this post by telling the author to stop complaining and to grow up. This is perfectly justifiable, because this post makes no useful contribution to the discussion. It doesn’t provide any examples or offer an argument of any kind. It is a useless, waste-of-everyone’s-time type of post.

But now, imagine an author by the name of Person A posts something like this:

There are a few aspects of the game this year that I really dislike.

  1. Aspect #1 – because……
  2. Aspect #2 – because….
  3. Aspect #3 – because….

Imagine the above post is a well-informed, sensible, well supported post. It offers a strong argument and provides specific examples about why Person A dislikes parts of the game. You may disagree with the author. You may love the game. But the author has nonetheless made a convincing, well supported argument.

It’s not uncommon to see a person who disagrees with the author (I’ll call this person Person B) post something like this:

Your opinions are totally wrong. I think the game this year is great. I think FIRST did a brilliant job designing it. I’m getting sick of people like you complaining about when you don’t get your way. The people at FIRST do the best they can and you should be grateful for all the work they do for us. This is the way the game is. Don’t complain here. When I come to Chief Delphi, I don’t want to read people’s complaints. You’ve added nothing to the discussion. If you dislike this game, spread your feelings elsewhere.

This is what bothers me. Person A posted something that was negative, albeit it was well written, well supported, and intelligent. Person B automatically assumes any negative comment qualifies as whining. Person B goes on to tell Person A how he doesn’t like whining. Person B labels anyone who disagrees with him a whiner.

Now lets analyze the two posts to see which one made a better contribution.

Person A’s post was something many people disagree with. But he offers his opinions and ideas, and supports them with a solid argument and specific examples. This has the potential to stimulate some good discussion on Chief Delphi and help people out. First, people who may not have recognized or considered these aspects of the game before are now aware of them. Second, people can discuss ways to overcome these aspects of the game. Third, because of these ideas, future games can potentially avoid the same mistake/problem. Fourth, it gets people thinking harder.

Person B’s post on the other hand added absolutely nothing to the discussion (the very thing he criticizes Person A for). It will not do any of the four things mentioned above. It does not offer a convincing argument of any kind. It offers an opinion, and that’s it. There are no facts, examples, or arguments supporting this opinion. Person B is just mad that Person A disagrees with him. Person B is not intelligent enough to offer a thought-provoking argument back. Worse yet, he believes people who don’t share his opinions have no business posting on Chief Delphi.

Am I the only one who has a problem with this? Person B is so obsessed with cleansing Chief Delphi of the so called “complainers” that he doesn’t realize he’s become the very thing he hates. Person B assumes any complaining is automatically bad and must be gotten rid of. Meanwhile Person A is trying to have an intelligent debate/discussion, and Person B labels his opinions unfit for discussion. Person B’s post simply distracts from the issues Person A brought up. What should have been an intelligent debate turns into a flame war.

I’m not saying I want Chief Delphi to become ‘all whining all the time.’ What I am saying is that if we want this web site to be a true market place of ideas, and a valuable resource, we have to support the idea of having reasonable debates and discussions about all things FIRST related, that includes the good and the bad. There is nothing wrong about discussing something you disagree with, provided you can offer an intelligent argument to support your opinions. Debate is a healthy thing. This web site should support it. Whenever I see posts like Person B’s, they’re simply trying to kill the debate.

So after kickoff, when you see someone’s post about something they don’t like, please don’t post another “I’m sick of all this whining” type of post. If you disagree with them, try to offer an intelligent argument back. If you find you can’t refute their points, then the post has accomplishes its goal – it got you thinking. Yes that’s right, a “negative/complaining” post, made a true contribution to the discussion.

Other people have talked in detail about other aspects of writing quality posts. This is a topic that I felt that wasn’t discussed enough, so I brought it up. Hopefully we can have lots of intelligent, thought-provoking, informative discussion this year.

And as always, if you disagree with me, refute what I have said with an intelligent argument – don’t simply tell me how wrong you think I am. :wink:


Great messages everyone! With posts like this, I won’t have to be around for the next 4 years anymore ;-).


Phil 33

I don’t disagree with your point. There is a big difference between the two types of posts you describe. One is needless complaining that does nothing. The other and more appropriate is offer constructive criticism which I feel is very different from complaining. Well supported arguments offer insight that can be used in the future to make things better next time. Complaining is say you don’t like something just because or saying all the problems with out offering/asking for potential solutions.

Rich’s initial post was asking us not just vent aimlessly. If people wish to offer constructive comments that is fine. The problem therin lies with the people who see some one voice a insightful problem and decide add their two cents on what they disagree with in a not so insightful way and the next thing you know a thread that started out as intelligent goes down the toilet.

Those of us posting here are just asking that before you type and submit something ask yourself: “Is this a constructive comment or just me complaining and venting frustrration.”




Pete sums up my thoughts well. Healthy debate and varied opinions are always welcome, but venting about administrative changes/problems without offering solutions leads to whining. Also, my more practical point here is what Mike Aubrey is talking about. This server is under tremendous stress during the build period. ChiefDelphi, above all else, was always intended for gracious professionalism to grow through a network that fosters collaboration/sharing. If someone on Jan 15th is looking for an answer to a pneumatics problem and has a hard time logging onto CD, has to sift through a lot of aimless whining, or gives up on CD as a resource altogether because they conclude it’s not worth the hassle, then CD ceases to be what its creators envisioned. With more users seeking answers on CD, we need more mentors and experienced folks here to answer those questions. Anything that chases these valuable resources away is counterproductive. As a community we all have corresponding responsibilities that go along with our rights. That’s true of any democracy. I just want to ensure that we all remain focused on that so we do our part for the whole community.