On being rude ...

Please be aware that the forum moderators have been paying attention to rude posts for the last few days. As always, we monitor threads that have the potential to blow up into flame wars - fortunately they are few and far between here.

As one mod mentioned, it’s not a violation of the forum rules to be insufferable (actually, he used a little stronger word).

That doesn’t mean we encourage inconsiderate behavior, be it of other users, sponsors or FIRST. But we will not automatically delete posts or ban users who are rude.

Thank you to everyone for your continued good efforts to keep CD a valuable resource for teams.

And we will continue to delete all those annoying sports streaming posts that somehow get past the forum filters … sigh.

Being someone that writes direct posts, and since I had one in the last 24 hours, I’m going to go on a slight rant here. I’m willing to trade 6 years and a big handfull of dots in for this.

I see CD posters in cycles.

Hi, I’m Elizabeth Jane from 8081 and as a freshman roboteer (my grandfather always uses that word) I’m excited to be on Chief Delphi.

– I seldom comment, I sometimes put a Hi, welcome to CD oh and this is how you search to find stuff you might find interesting.

I’m Colin and our team wants to know if when we mount the lasers on the sharks, do they need to point forward.
– I assume that they have read the rules so will put out a "Colin, when you skipped over reading rule R., you’ll see that it says, no sharks, only groupers and the lasers must point forward. (Clearly a water game year). My response is a little strong, and pushes the edge. But, if Colin had read the rules he wouldn’t be posting this.

I’m Richard and want to know if we can solder connectors. (Simple tech question)
– Yes you can, but there are about a dozen people that will say no. Use the search function to find out why.

As I look at all these, questions, I look at the year and their position. As “long time” CD members in “Teacher/Mentor” roles, I start assuming that they have been present for discussions. I also assume that Mentors are clueful and above average intelligence.

So I assume they know how FIRST works. How events are run, how finances work, where the money goes, etc. I assume that teams in the ~1000 range and less remember Dewalt Drill motors and Fisher Price Motors and Small Parts. And they explain now that we have Andy and Mark giving up lives to ship parts and how Paul uses cattle prods to get JVN and Aren to design parts in Texas and a guy with just initials for a name on the west coast is doing drives. And while I give time to this to spread to the #4000 teams and higher that this is the Golden Age", I expect the elders to know this and spread this.

So when I post:

It’s to pass this history on, making sure that people remember you really don’t get much for your $5K. You actually get zero, it all goes to FIRST.

This is an early message in the annual cycle. You can use the search function to see that I post this reminder on a regular basis.

But yet we see this from a 8 year mentor

Sigh, so much wrong here. So I responded

People have send me notes about this along with red dots and green dots.

Red dot’s have said I should be nicer. I was, the original note was much harsher, send me a pnote to see the exact text. I’m not trying to scare new roboteers off. But this isn’t RobotBook were you can post anything. It’s Chief Delphi where smart roboteers post questions that other smart roboteers and mentors take time to answer.

I got green dot’s and emails saying thanks. One said they’d like to see a spotlight of “do some research before you post and look like an idiot.” /sigh

TL;DR (Too long, didn’t read.) That. Is. A. Problem. We write posts, with details, thoughts and backgrounds. Necessary Nuances for Later. While the big transit bus running over you is an issue, the nuances are what makes your life run better.

Back to Gary’s post. Sorry that I was rude, but I’m not going to stop. I’ll still will be nice to people that are new, but people that know better will collect pointed remarks. (Actually people that know better never post stupid stuff to start).

Bottom line, if you are new, I’ll help you. If you ask something you should know, I’ll teach you. Sometimes the lesson is “Wax on / Wax off”. Other times it “Ouch, that ruler really stings”.

Yes and yes. I could not agree more

Is anyone concerned that rude, sarcastic, or otherwise off-putting responses may drive students away from CD? I know I’ve had students tell me they avoid CD because “everyone is mean” after they’ve lurked for a bit…

But Gary, the newest one is movie streaming posts. :rolleyes:

Foster, I agree that older mentors on older teams generally have a long history with FIRST. Though, I may remember the Fisher-Prices, but I don’t remember drill motors and Small Parts. (But heck, current team members barely recognize the name “Overdrive”)

There was a satirical video by Tom Scott (on YouTube) I liked that talked about “the speed of outrage”, and how the Internet makes it easy to become very passionate one way or the other very quickly. Maybe we should all relax a little on some things.

That is true.

One thing that I try to do–no matter how hot under the collar I’m getting–is to maintain a neutral tone, possibly a little bit “icy” if the situation actually warrants it. It’s possible to convey that you’re annoyed without sounding really angry–but it takes some thought and some careful word choice, which can calm you down.

That’s not to say that I’m always successful.

I’m a student, and I’ve found CD to be helpful and relatively nice compared to the rest of the internet :p. It’s a learning experience; If I’ve made a mistake, I want to know. If justified rudeness will make CD run more efficiently, I’m all for it. If people do happen to be mean, it’s also a learning experience to grow a thick skin and see beyond the rudeness to understand what they’re trying to convey.

Besides, what do you mean “everyone is mean”? I don’t see it.

On the one hand, Yes, definitely.
On the other hand, No, not so much.

Welcome to Earth.

Everyone on CD is not mean. It’s not even close.

Those students need to learn that they are mistaken; and need to learn how to use a resource like CD effectively and efficiently. When I get an opportunity to teach those skills, I try to use it. I’m guessing that you also do that.


I’m a student, and I’ve found CD to be pretty okay. But I think any comments you’ll get from students on here are going to be pretty biased… My general opinion is that I know I’m not perfect, and I’d rather people tell me to my face when I’ve messed up than try to pretend I didn’t.

For me, the intimidating thing about CD is not the tone of posters, but the fact that there are literally people here who’ve done FRC longer than I’ve been alive. For me, and I think for most of my friends, the main reason we don’t post or only semi-actively post is because we just don’t feel like we have that much to contribute.

I’d argue it’s not the pure language of “attackers”–there are many, many places on the internet where people have no qualms about blatantly insulting you, but CD isn’t once of them–but rather how personal attacks can seem. Here, members respond to you, not to some anonymous account. This can be great or terrible depending on your experience.

I try to post the same way I’d talk in person. It’s not that I don’t say how I feel; I just consider how I’m phrasing it. If I wouldn’t say it to your face, I’m not going to post it online. There are people who are way more direct than me, and their posts reflect that. That’s fine with me. Everyone is different.

I think it’s just important to remember that behind the text are people.

All that said, CD can still be a scary place to start posting in. While they might be “just dots,” your and your team’s reputation is affected by what you say on here. When I encourage rookies (and veterans) to read/post on CD, I accompany it with a list of things to watch out for. Then I tell them to learn as they go…as I’ve been doing.

The only problem as a student posting here is I find people are really quick to throw red dots at you if they disagree. I even had someone red me for a quote because they didn’t like it…

It does stop me from posting responses with the fear that it could hurt my reputation furthermore hurting my teams.

I find that people are quick to ignore red dots if you post constructive things.

In my experience, the Robotics Team tends to attract a … special kind of human. Both students and mentors tend to be outliers on the social spectrum, in many ways, myself certainly included.

In some posts I have seen over the years, the authors seem to be individuals who, shall we say, lack social grace.

Whether this is by nature or nurture, I am not qualified to comment.

But it seems to me these are the ones who are most often ‘attacked’.

If you as a reader feel somebody is being unnecessarily rude, it may be for different reasons. It may be because
1)the individual is, in fact, a jerk;
2)the individual is full of anonymous Internet bravado;
3)the individual is operating off faulty premise or bias;
4)the individual is very passionate about the subject;
5)the individual doesn’t realize s/he is being rude and does not know any better;
6)the individual doesn’t realize s/he is being rude and can’t help it.

While any of these six may be true, they all should be treated differently. And as it is difficult to tell through black text on a white background, I would counsel my colleagues to not jump directly to conclusion 1).

Ohh, it’s true. That being said, “they’re just dots”. I got a few for my story about 900 last season, not because they didn’t like me, nor because they had a problem with my post, but because they didn’t like how far we took the whole cheesecaking business. I mean, I guess that’s their prerogative but it was just silly to me.

I will say that it’s not obvious how to report abusive behavior… granted, it’s not a secret either (warning button on the far right of most posts). I’m still not sure how to report a user for a PM though.

I just hope you never figure out how to report someone for bullying…

I’ll admit, I’m one to give neg rep for someone getting personal or pushing the acceptable limits. Sometimes things can come off harsher than they were intended and a reminder to check what we write can be helpful. I’ve edited many a post after clicking Submit Reply that I realized were a bit tougher than they should be.

While I would agree that usually someone on teams with numbers lower than 1000 would remember this stuff, we only have one mentor on the team who remembers Dewalts. Even though we have a relatively low number, most of our mentors have joined in the past few years and don’t know as much about the way FIRST works now or used to work. It is important to look at how long they have been around, not how long the team has been around. That being said, I completely agree with everything else you said.

The problem here is that ChiefDelphi is a valuable place for some information and sometimes people know more about ChiefDelphi than they know about FIRST’s own forums.

However with sheer traffic alone there comes risk. I have some Internet forums and whenever you run a forum you have to cut a careful path between: mild intolerance (not legal protected class intolerance), bad timing, misunderstood context, confusion and actual malicious intent.

There have been a number of times over my 20 or so years with FIRST when I think a very small number of posters on ChiefDelphi had malicious intent. They didn’t just want to shut down the idea - they wanted to shut a person down and sometimes were not very subtle about it.

I applaud the effort to try to stop rudeness but a good test for malicious intent is whether the goal is to massively humiliate and then isolate (as in discourage any future contribution to either ChiefDelphi or FIRST). If something becomes clearly about those 2 outcomes it’s gone too far. It is not a crime to be wrong, misunderstood, or out of context. We would all prefer it not happen but ineffective communication is actually a core part of the human experience. Like any part of the human experience you can work on the behavior in a positive way or you can hurt someone with it.

Oh and by the way - if you are reaching out to someone’s team suggesting they shut up or be removed from FIRST. You’re probably going way too far. I can forgive that because I am an adult - to a point.

Just because your rookie year was a ways back doesn’t mean that you know about everything. If a business side mentor were to ask about gear ratios, or a mechanical mentor asked about programming they should get good answers, even though they’ve been involved with FRC for many years. I"m presuming that the question would not be something like

and even if it is, the best response is to ask the basic questions needed to figure this out, and provide a link to the JVN calculator spreadsheet. And maybe report that you think an account was hacked.

Here’s a sixteen second movie clip to summarize.

This is by far the best advice you’ll find regarding online etiquette. It’s something everyone should be mindful when interacting with others online; this goes for message boards like this one, social media, and even texting/IM. It goes a long way towards effective and mature communication. Don’t use distance/anonymity as a shield.

As a student I can attest to the notion that chiefdelphi and be scary. With so many mentors that all seem to have been around “forever” it can be intimidating to ask question, even ones of a complex technical aspect, due to the fear that you will get negative rep because of your ignorance. Even after being in FRC for four years it is still a worry.

Some say that they are “just dots” and that is true from a pure factual perspective. However they are also a nice thing to have. For newer members of the community it is an affirmations going in the right direction with the green dots, but a slap in the face with red. Haven gotten both I can tell you that with red dots it would have been nice if they PMed me first and gave me a chance to fix something before dropping those dots.

People flat-out shouldn’t post answers or feedback to technical things rudely or give negative rep for ignorance… There’s just no need for it and it’s counter-productive to a great environment for learning and inspiring.

When other people make strongly-worded posts that insult or defame other teams, individuals, companies, etc., a response should productive and can be firm and direct, but still shouldn’t be demeaning or rude. A PM and perhaps some negative rep may be in order, but everything you do should be full of Gracious Professionalism. Sugar-coating and coddling is not GP, but on the other hand, demeaning someone for holding an opinion or being unaware/ignorant also is not GP…

Since I think it’s a good case study/benchmark…

I think Foster’s post here is right on the edge between an altogether great rebuke and something demeaning. I certainly wouldn’t give negative rep for it (as some very good information is given) and I probably wouldn’t give positive rep, as I do think the 3rd line and particularly the last line are crossing over into the realm of ‘demeaning’ when they’d probably be more productive if they were softened slightly.