Please Remember: It's Okay to Disagree

I originally wrote this as a response to a thread that no longer exists, but thought I would post it anyway as a new thread because I felt I should still say this.

Although I agree with the opinions of the majority on Chief Delphi most of the time, I have found certain discussions to go out of hand and become scary places, especially to people not as comfortable here. While I am certain that it’s no one’s goal to drive away new members, or those that disagree in general, it does happen. I have friends who don’t post because they’re scared, and some of the recent threads have not helped. I read through hundreds of threads before I made my first post, and even then, it was scary. It’s still scary.

Discussing delicate or controversial topics is difficult in general. Posting online and staying professional is difficult in general. Doing both all the time is almost impossible.

It’s hard to remember that other points of view can be just as valid as yours when you’re frustrated. It’s hard to remember to be professional when people are criticizing you or your team. It’s hard to remember that it’s okay for people to disagree with you. Gracious professionalism is hard.

Have I said things here that, a few minutes later, I wish I hadn’t posted? Yes. Was I absolutely sure, at the time that I posted, that that was what I wanted to say even after reading through it again? Yes. Do I regret posting them now? Yes. Have others pointed out what I said wrongly? Yes.

That cycle of feedback/criticism and improvement is what sets Chief Delphi apart from other forums or discussions I’ve been on/in. It’s what I love about this place. It’s very, very difficult to improve if no one disagrees with you or points out what you’re doing wrongly. The openness and bluntness of many of the posters is what sets posters on Chief Delphi apart from some people I know. Hiding behind words makes it harder for everyone to learn and improve.

But both points can be taken too far. It happens in real life, but it’s even easier to do on an internet forum. It’s very easy to forget that other opinions are valid, and that you’re not the only one passionate about a topic. But it’s even easier to forget that when you also forget that these profile pictures and names have people behind them, that those people have feelings, and to respect those feelings. That’s the danger of the internet.

I’ve learned so much from being CD. It’s exposed me to other viewpoints, beyond what I’ve heard on my team. It’s taught me more than what I could figure out through my own testing, on a wider variety of topics than I knew existed. I wish everyone could know how much there is to be learned on CD. And being careful about how we phrase criticism is the easiest way to make sure we don’t turn away anyone.

I apologize in advance if I offended anyone with this post. This post was not intended to refer to any specific person, post, or thread but to a general trend that I’ve seen. The thoughts expressed here are entirely my own, and should not be used to represent my team’s. Feel free to disagree with me and tell me why I’m wrong. Like I said, we improve through criticism. :slight_smile:

Good post.

Healthy debate is a cornerstone of effective democracy. Also of effective management. The premise of debate is that people will disagree. Open and rational debate can lead to the synthesis of new, better solutions to the problems we face.

When we work as a team in our shop or at competition, we always debate. About big things and little. This debate never gets personal. We try to keep it non-emotional as well (harder to do with passionate personalities). The point is, the debate gets us to better answers, better devices, better systems and better strategies. We are stronger for it.

Rational debate is very different than emotion driven argument.

So you’re are entirely right. Not only is it okay to disagree; it is often very beneficial.

Part of the genius of FRC is that it’s appealing to adults (your mentors) as well as students. That’s what gets them hooked.

Mentors who have invested thousands of hours of time and energy in working with teams are going to be just as emotional as “emotional” teens are. I find I need to sometimes take a deep breath and reread a post to make sure it has an appropriate tone. You can be emotional and appropriate at the same time – primarily by focusing on your own feelings. If you go reread the threads on the Championsplit, there are a bunch of emotional posts by mentors that are perfectly appropriate, because they focus on their own feelings and don’t denigrate someone else.

If you feel that a post is inappropriate, you should downvote it via the reputation feature, or report it to the mods using the button on the post.

Thanks for posting this - it needed to be said.

I think that often, when something controversial/high profile happens in the FIRST community, Chief Delphi becomes a hive mind, and people who disagree don’t want to post. As many others have pointed out over the years, CD is a very vocal minority, and the discussion overall would benefit from less hive-mindiness and more balanced discourse. Take the thread reacting to the new Championship format - out of almost 750 responses, less than 20 (by my highly unscientific count, but it’s the idea that matters) supported the change, and many of them were quickly shot down by the hive mind.

In short, I think CD is a wonderful community, one that I’m happy to be a part of, but I think we’d benefit from a little less hive-mind and a little more balanced discourse.