Gracious Professionalism > Ungracious Unprofessionalism

timidly climbs on to soapbox

Hi everyone, I just wanted to post and make a point here, you can either read it, or ignore it, but I think this needs to be said. As you can see from my profile I first registered on these forums in October of 2002, and I’m coming up on 3 years on these forums. And in those three years I regret to say I’ve seen it slowly slide from a highly respected forum to a moderately respected forum with a lot of hostility and ‘maliciousness’ for lack of a better word in the eyes of many of my peers. I admit I’ve said some things like that myself, the site just isn’t the same. When I first came here it seemed to be a great place, everyone was nice, there were many willing to share knowledge and help others. Now it seems more and more like a training ground for verbal snipers. Waiting for an opportunity to attack someone, and I’m seeing what appears to me the apparant breakdown of the principles of FIRST.

On my team, GP was always hammered in to us, and explained when asked and CD used to be the example we always used. It saddens me that GP is less and less prevalent around here. I’ve seen CD go through two upgrades, a few format changes and a lot of personality changes. The site no longer seems friendly and welcoming, and when I sent newer team members to the site to ask questions I was horrified when they came back saying “I don’t think they’ll be much help, they’re just squabbling.” So I’m coming out of my hole to make this point, and if it’s Forum Suicide, so be it.

The hostility levels need to come down, and fast. Let’s bring CD back to the proud peak it once had, we have the awesome Brandon Martus maintaining the site like crazy and we have all of your brilliant minds just waiting to work together, and I know the spirit of FIRST and GP is still around, so let’s not hide it.

I admit I am scared to post here, often because I’m worried I’m going to get torched for disagreeing with somebody. I was even afraid to post this until a few more well known CDers told me to give it a try. I shouldn’t be scared, it’s silly, but there shouldn’t be any reason for me to be scared either. I hope my point isn’t coming off as too brash, as there are many helpful discussions and posts abound still, I don’t mean to say CD is a doomsday remnant. My goal is to try to stem the flow of anger and hostility and Ungracious Unprofessionalism.

GP > UU.


steps off soapbox have your way with it, that’s my two cents. I’d really like to see the return of the old CD. You’re all so special, and if we work together, and make this site great(er) again, we can spread FIRST even faster and with even more open arms to new people.

Thank you.

Cheers! Very well made point Matt. I’ve noticed something similar as well, but in FIRST in general. It seems that for some reason, or at least what I see, GP has become a superficial item in much of FIRST, just some phrase that is hammered into everyone’s head without explanation as to why. I’ve seen this on teams as well, competitive levels have risen and taken the place of GP. Of course, many teams still show the value of GP, but perhaps as a result of such quick expansion GP has gotten lost in the overall FIRST experience.

Very good post Matt… you are making a good point there in your post.

… one thing I definitely have to agree with you is we are not welcoming the new members the way we used to. All of us (no offense to anyone) need to face the fact that they are new, they don’t know the forum rules by heart or as well as most of the veterans do on the forum. I admit, when I was a new member on the forum, I didn’t know half of the things, took me a while to get used to it. For example, it took me a while to get used to the search feature on the forum.

Thats my opinion.

Last Season (2004) that was brought up at the NJ Team Forum, and one of the things we have discussed was FIRST is getting big, word is out, the fever is spreading, and that means more and more regionals, and one person said (names changed cause i forgot how to spell them) It used to be Woodie Flowers and Dean Kamen went to every regional, or nearly every regional, and well hearing Woodie and Dean talk about gracious professionalism, is somthing completly differnt, comming from, Jeff Seaton, and Paul Copi-oil, or Dan Green, it just doesnt have the same impact as when i used to hear it from Dean and Woodie, durning their speeches.

and acctully, as can be expected on any web based forum we have our goods and bads, but i think the moderator team does an excellent, job, not to take away from “Brandon’s Mystical Thunder” (patent pending) but he isnt at the computer 24/7, well maybe he is, but he has other stuff to do, so the mod team increases in size with the membership and such, but to be honest, the good outweights the bad anyday, i mean we have our share of spam and people who seem to think CD means Complaint Department, but all in all i give it a 7 out of 10 on the GP-o-Meter

But all in all Matt, your right, if FIRST can find away to bring back the impact of Dean and Woodie’s Old GP speeches, then i think FIRST will only get more exciting

I really think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I know I’ve tried to convince my friends to join the site and they come back to me TERRIFIED. That’s a real shame because I honestly feel this community has so much to offer. Chiefdelphi is where I really got to see GP in action, and I got to make a ton of friends. CD is almost like my second home because I really felt welcome and appreciated here. No one ever stepped on my toes or yelled when I made small mistakes. I would love for everyone to experience that same feeling.

I’m only hostile toward a few things. The first one is lack of searching. I like to come on here partly and answer as many questions as I can to help as many people as I can. Especially during the build season, the number of posts just explodes. I am probably one of the most frequent visitors to this site and even still it gets difficult for me to keep up with it all with over 100 new posts per day during that time period. It is even more difficult when many of the threads are duplicates. I can’t find the posts I need if there are a bunch of duplicates that some simple searches could have prevented.

Also, posts in wrong forums really annoy me. If you can’t take the time to get that right then you shouldn’t be here.

Another thing is when people ask something that is clearly spelled out in the rules, like “how many CIM motors can we use?” The key to the success of electronic media is having good searching skills. Get some.

ANothEr thng tat ReeLY ghets ME is WhEn all the pEEps come in her WiD al dis FunKy righting ANd spelkling abnd GrammER misTakEs. It took you twice as long to read that sentence as it would have taken had it been written properly. And run on sentences that never use punctuation it gets really annoying when you have to sift through a whole paragraph of babble that has no pauses it just keeps going and never ends.

So mainly, I’m just against things that decrease the efficiency of these forums. Keeping the efficiency is the key.

The bottom line is if you come in here with a little Gracious Professionalism, you will most likely get a lot back. But if you are lacking the GP on your first few visits, be prepared for a slamming of Malicious Amateurism. Is that the way it should be, probably not. But that’s the way it is, and most likely will stay.

Dudes and Dudettes,
I think one of the things we really need to concentrate on is that it takes a lot of courage to write something here. Doing it the first time takes a while to mustard up the intestinal fortitude to open your mouth (figuratively). Believe it or not, it was a couple of months before I started to get the feel of the boards and actually write something. (I think it started as an retort of a clearly wrong statement but that is a story for another day.) A new poster whether they are asking an obvious question or something that was put to bed on a previous post, needs to feel comfortable here. It may be the only way they can think of to get started. If they walked up to your pit and asked that question, you wouldn’t send them away to go look somewhere else. You wouldn’t berate them for their lack of knowledge of the English language or use of local colloquialisms. The point is, we need to make people feel comfortable and use this board for info and friendship. Let’s welcome them in and when they are seasoned users, remind them that there are features like search. Encourage them to make their posts in a manner that everyone can understand and respect. Show them by your example that punctuation is your friend, spell checker should not be an option, and reading your post before submission is a must for self preservation. If they then choose to ignore the gentle hints…

As a mod on these forums it is tough to get through them all. It is even tougher to find ways to decide what is and is not a good or allowable post. We do our best and kudos for all of the other mods who usually beat me to the problems.

To start with, I believe that the only bad question is one that is not asked. Sure it seems wrong that someone ask what a CIM motor is or how many they can use but that is in my eye not the askers. We need to train them on how to find things and where. To teach a child to speak , do you get mad at them when they can’t say DaDa or do we keep repeating, in loving ways, to encourage the learning curve. We need to be more sensitive on how other people see things because they always don’t have the same perspective or insight that you/we do.

The bigger issue is the constant slamming and put downs that I have been seeing. The FIRST bashing that goes on (I am guilty sometimes, I know) really needs to stop. We/I need to find other ways to get to FIRST and have them listen. Sometimes I think that if we push hard enough here that FIRST will do our bidding when in truth, they are probably not even listening. This is not their board and they do not have to read here even though some do.What would be the impact on CD if we implemented a NO FIRST Bashing policy. That does not mean that we cannot discuss problems but that we just don’t bash FIRST (or others).

It is the responsibility of every member of CD to help make the boards better. If you see someone making a bad post or needing help with the search engine, then we should be PMing them with helpful suggestions and not slamming them with neg reps. We all need to pitch in and it wouldn’t take much to improve the best robotics site in the world.

The large growth of FIRST and CD is great but will also bring a larger demand on all of us as we try to educate and demonstrate what FIRST stands for. GP was not explained to me but shown. My first experience was at my first event as a spectator in Cleavland. What I saw in the pit area was all I needed to see in order to understand GP. It also sold me on FIRST. GP is best shown and lived and not talked about.

Last weekend I met Sabrina Varanelli, founder of team 1302, and I asked her what was the hardest part of starting her team up and she replied “getting the team to understand gracious professionalism”. It really is a foreign concept to most people, especially those new to FIRST. We live in such a competitive society, where it often seems that the majority are just in it for themselves, that the idea that you would help strangers - your competitors no less - seems almost blasphemous. Witness the popularity of TV shows like Survivor and The Apprentice.

Another factor which may contribute to the challenging nature of some CD posts is the “banter” (as my daughter calls it) in many of our normal conversations. To listen to her talk with her sister, you might think that they loathe each other, though they are really very close. This challenge-based communication is fun when used between friends and well-known co-workers, but it’s likely to intimidate, or even enrage others in a public forum like CD. Maybe we need a [BANTER] <your flame here> [/BANTER] tag!

So what to do? Think Tolerant. For example, rather than reply to an un-searched post with a flame, reply with some links to the posts they would have found if they searched, and a gentle reminder about “search is your friend” at the end. Remember that it is a really good thing that everyone thinks different and has different beliefs. What fun would life be if we did all think alike?

Great point, I’ve been a frequenter of ChiefDelphi for about 7 months now, and even in the short time that I’ve been here I’ve seen the forums go up and down, at times its Cutthroat (recently is an example) whereas other times it was the great thing since robots were thought of (such as just before the championship) But something I’ve definitely learned is to ask myself after i click the Spell Check button (spell correctly people!) Do I want to submit this? lets take a look at this people, this is a public forum where many of our peers read, a couple of aggravated posts can change what people think of you.

Here are a couple of tips that can always help when posting,
-Do you really want to post what you just typed? its OK to delete it or edit it!
-don’t take things too seriously, there is a tendency around here to for people to take a couple of remarks too seriously
-Search before creating a new topic, also make sure you search all forums, you may have missed a topic devoted to what you are looking for
-There never is a “best” its always opinion
-Spell Check!
-Try not to go political or religious in these forums, there are other sites for stuff like that
-Respect any Admin/Moderator decision
-keep a sense of humor, watchposting and you

Happy Postings!

I could write 3 pages about my outlook on this situation, but I decided to be concise.

I think some people just take all of this too seriously.

First of all: Excellent total post, Steve. You shared some great thoughts!

In response to the first paragraph quoted, you are absolutely correct. As you know, I sometimes work very closely with some FIRST people, and you are absolutely right in your supposition that they’re not listening to the Forums…many are unaware of what the forums do, or even of the existence of this site. Someone else, I don’t know who, made the suggestion to suggest to FIRST that they have someone scan the site, at least occasionally so that they have some idea of what’s being discussed.

As far as posts are concerned, it’s always much more gracious to make a suggestion privately, rather than make a public display! You both look better to each other and to the community at large. :wink:

Occasionally, the behavior of others does need a direct bit of assertiveness. It’s only lately, and perhaps more so this year, that I have personally seen or heard of less than gracious behavior from teams. I was really disappointed, because I’ve always thought that this was one activity where people were consistently nice to each other. And it wasn’t always the young people. We need to stress the idea that grandma’s watching everybody!

Now, what’s the best way to get these messages out and about???

I agree! This is especially true in the Rules/Strategy forum. Someone asks a question that could have been answered just by looking in the right part of the rule book (usually game rules or robot building rules). Then someone else looks it up and responds. And about ten more people do the same with their take on it. Takes up time needed to build a robot…

Memo to Brandon: here’s one for the Newbie button!

Thanks for sharing this - I still have a grin and giggle thing going.

I think these really need to be emphasized. We’ve developed the “Search before you post” mantra lately. Search is a great tool that everyone should learn how to use, but:

  1. I did a brief search for “search before you post” and the threads they refer to… on a few occasions, the original poster had negative reps with total post counts less than 10. Someone had it on their first post. To the rest of us that have seen the reputation debates and made up our mind that it’s not really so important, this may have little effect, but on the user’s first few posts?

  2. One of the great things I like about FIRST competitions is that I can go up to a really veteran team, ask a question (that may turn out to be very obvious and seemingly quite stupid), and get a courteous, helpful answer without getting a “stupid newbie” or “you should know better” feeling. I might be alone in this, but seeing everyone spout out “search before you post” doesn’t quite give the same effect. If someone is asking a simple question, perhaps “I found this answer to your question in this thread using search” or “{quick answer}. If you want more details, you might want to check out this thread I found using search.” If someone is making a discussion question, perhaps, “I saw some other people discussing the same topic here:”. The threads can then be closed/merged/etc. Text on the internet is very impersonal, and knowing FIRST’s target audience, there’s the possibility that a new user has never used the internet before. Some need a special welcome into the community, and the less impersonal our responses are, the better…

“I see you’re pretty new to these boards. Welcome to the ChiefDelphi community! You’ll find that there’s a lot of helpful people and resources here that can help answer your questions and share the FIRST experience. Regarding <topic>, there’s a lot of discussion about that topic <link>here</link> already. I found it using search function, which can help you find if someone else is wondering the same thing already. There’s a wonderful tutorial about how to use search here. Hope that helps, and welcome again!”

We don’t build robots because it’s easy, we do it because it’s hard. Maybe we can work on giving new members a warmer and gentler welcome, because it’s hard ;).

Good list! I would also like to add:

  • You don’t have to have perfect syntax and grammar, but if you want other posters to take you seriously, it helps to be able to form a coherent sentence. And let’s face it, it’s not really that hard, is it?
  • Use your English skills to find the nicest way to say whatever you want to say. If there isn’t a nice way to say something, you probably don’t need to say it, at least not on a public forum. For example, disagreeing is fine, but instead of saying, “You’re wrong!” you could just as easily say, “I disagree with you because…”
  • Easy on the smileys! Please?
  • If you’re in so much of a rush that you can’t type out entire words (“you” instead of “u”, etc), you probably don’t have time to be browsing an online forum.

I’d agree

I don’t post much (if you can’t tell), but i read alot. Sometimes i want to post and return the fact that they’re being a little short tempered there, and it kinda stops me. I’m not going to waste all my time doing that stuff.
It’s not nice. End of story

wow! I made the mistake of venturing into a thread a couple days ago on a political subject, and I got absolutely HAMMERED with assualts on my intelligence, comments on my grammer and punctuation (or lack there of)

I was accused of spreading half-truths and lies (with no rebuttal to the actual statements themselves, whatever they were)

and I was repeatedly hit with thinly vailed insults

To put it bluntly, Im appalled to see people on this forum think that insulting someone, name calling, labeling, or criticizing someone elses language, spelling, punctuation… is either appropriate, acceptable, or that this somehow makes your point for you

or that flinging a mulititude of insults and induendos is even better

If you know what someone is saying then they have communicated their message, there is no need for every post to have perfect spelling or grammer

logic and reasoning skills should be required in public schools. If you are in a passionate debate, insulting the other person and criticizing their language skills contributes nothing to your position.

I agree 100%. All too often people just reply with “Search before you post” with a link and it always sounds very harsh to me. Honestly, I find the “Search before you post” people to be way more annoying (and rude) than the newbies asking simple questions.

To those who love to slam people with “Search before you post”: maybe you should think twice before you reply too. If someone came up to you at a competition and asked you how many points a tetra on a goal was worth, would you snap back at them, “Read the manual!” I hope not.

Yeap, you two are 110% right. just saying, go Search it is rude at times. Its more constructive to teach them something as well as give them an answer.

How many points are tetra’s worth again? I seem to have forgotten…

Appropriate Answer: They are worth 3 points on top and 1 point if they are underneath the goals. If you have any more questions you may want to consult here if you have any more questions.

you guys get the idea, you should think of Chief Delphi as an extention of the pit area, everyone is really friendly, love robots, and you can always get your questions answered. not as a forum where people slam each other just for the heck of it.