Post rarely or not at all?

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
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another_jim
Team HB

#1: Post by another_jim »

Split off from Intelligentsia Geekfest
Finally, I met a few people who read HB regularly, but were reluctant to post. The policy is that members can be critical of what people are saying, but must never indulge in personal attacks. But for some regular readers, this still results in exchanges heated enough to restrain them from joining in. I asked them to post about this, and hope they do. Coming up with the proper decorum for internet discussions is a work in progress, and it would be good if everyone had their say on this -- it's perhaps a lot more important a topic than coffee.
Dan thought it would be better to open this topic up to all who post only rarely, or not at all. Is there any way the discussions can be improved either in tone or content?
Jim Schulman

Endo

#2: Post by Endo »

Split it up like online gaming: Experts, Intermediate and Beginner topics.
"Disclaimer: All troll-like comments are my way of discussing"

zin1953

#3: Post by zin1953 » replying to Endo »

And who "classifies" either the topic or the participant? (And how many participants' toes get stepped on by those who make the decisions?)

Nah, doesn't work. (IMHO.)
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

zin1953

#4: Post by zin1953 »

another_jim wrote:Dan thought it would be better to open this topic up to all who post only rarely, or not at all. Is there any way the discussions can be improved either in tone or content?
This is one of the most civilized, even-tempered discussion groups in which I have ever participated online. Period.

As in every family (i.e.: among the regular participants), there may be an occasional tiff or disagreement, but it is rarely anything personal or serious. I'm not saying that never happens, merely that it is extremely rare.

When the problems do arise, it's most often due to what I call "tone of voice," or rather a misunderstanding of the responder's tone-of-voice. This is notoriously difficult to detect in an online bulletin board/discussion group. I am as guilty of this as anyone . . . for example, I use too much italics, boldface, and underlining in an attempt to convey more accurately a sense of my tone-of-voice than straight prose can convey. It is more emotional, but I can't recall the last time I was truly angry, upset, and/or intimidated by someone's response. OTOH, I have had to explain myself more than once when I thought I was perfectly clear the first time, so . . . what do I know?

The tone here is overwhelming civil, upbeat, and helpful most of the time (see below). The content is extremely informative. I've described myself as a knowledgeable newbie, and even though I have learned so much since coming to HB, what I know most is that I have so much more to learn.

* * * * *

There is another issue that arises in boards such as this from time-to-time. For lack of a better term, let me just call it "inbreeding." There can creep into some posts a certain degree of "impatience" or even "smug superiority" when responding to a "newbie." I think this is the more important issue, actually -- the tone used in addressing some "newbie" posts, rather than anything between "regular" participants. It isn't as blatant as "Jane, you ignorant slut!" (to quote from an old Saturday Night Live routine), but there can be a certain degree of hesitancy among newcomers to the site to post what may be a basic question for fear of appearing "stupid" (forgetting, of course, that the only truly stupid question is the one that is never asked). And if the response unfortunately, regrettably, inadvertently reinforces the OP's feelings/concerns, that poster may indeed be lost to this site forever.

And that is a true loss indeed.

Cheers,
Jason
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

Endo

#5: Post by Endo »

zin1953 wrote:And who "classifies" either the topic or the participant? (And how many participants' toes get stepped on by those who make the decisions?)

Nah, doesn't work. (IMHO.)
Well, at least the "Which Machine/Grinder should I buy?" questions would end up in the right place. People could post where ever they feel most comfortable without the fear of attack (or looking dumb...although that hasn't stopped me :lol: ).
"Disclaimer: All troll-like comments are my way of discussing"

zin1953

#6: Post by zin1953 »

Well, I certainly think the new "Buying Advice" forum is a great idea!
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

User avatar
Spironski

#7: Post by Spironski »

I think Jason has a point here. In the beginning I was a little intimidated to post on HB, not because of the fierce discussions, but because of the level of expertise available on this site (and of course because English is not my native tongue).
I must say that I have never been treated with condescension, and have always been helped in a polite way.

There is a difference though in the amount of money people are able/willing to spend on equipment, with from where I come. The apparent ease of some purchases is sometimes staggering to me. My set up is quite good in the Netherlands, but here it seems only mediocre. However, the current crisis might change something...

It is not tone of the discussions on HB that is daunting, it is the high level of expertise. And perhaps it is not at all wrong to have respect for that.

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HB
Admin

#8: Post by HB »

Spironski wrote:My set up is quite good in the Netherlands, but here it seems only mediocre.
Hmm-m, La Scala Butterfly, Gaggia Factory, Mazzer Major (!), Xpressivo Barista. Your setup is certainly far from "mediocre" in my book.
Dan Kehn

User avatar
Randy G.

#9: Post by Randy G. »

I met a few people who read HB regularly, but were reluctant to post.
Dan thought it would be better to open this topic up to all who post only rarely, or not at all. Is there any way the discussions can be improved either in tone or content?
Let's do the math. What is the actual ratio:
A "few" : those who do post

I think anyone who feels that this site has topics and discussions that are too "heated" should spend a month posting and participating on alt.coffee. Even coffeegeek has recently had a slight change in tone where some are allowed to push the envelope of social decency as well as CG's posting rules to the edge.

Should this site have all the grain sanded over and the edges removed for "a few"? I don't think so. Create any set of standards for an open forum and apply them to any given level of discussion and there will be some who will feel alienated and will choose to not participate.

The standards set here on HB are obviously working. Need proof? Do you know of any other web forums where the participants are motivated enough to examine ground coffee with an electron microscope? Set high standards and let those who can, follow along. The opposite choice, setting low standards (or having none enforced), results in alt.coffee.
Espresso! My Espresso! - http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
LMWDP #644

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ChadTheNomad

#10: Post by ChadTheNomad »

I participate in a lot of forums, some good and some bad, some that were good and became bad, etc.

My general thoughts are:

1) You can't do anything. You'll always have lurkers. Some might be intimidated, but this forum is the least hostile of any forum I've ever seen. People are almost too friendly at times, though admittedly there are some philosophical battles that do occur. This is normal, and to discourage it or find ways to allow others to participate would diminish this, imo.

This isn't my forum obviously, but one of the things I enjoy about HB is that we don't have to sift through "Do I really need a good grinder?" type posts. IMO, it's this type of conversation that tends to get heated, and once you have a general demographic of people educated about espresso the whole forum is heightened to a degree; then again, it's this that might leave others a little shy to post.

2) I agree that the Buying Advice forum was a good idea; however, too many separate forums and people begin to get analysis paralysis or start posting in the more visible forums because they think the others are ignored.

3) It would help to get a general demographic of these lurkers. Are they new to espresso or coffee in general? Are they shy of online forums in general?

I'm not a fan of the Expert/Intermediate/Beginner approach, though perhaps a general "New to espresso" forum is appropriate? This could give the lurkers, many of which are likely new to the whole world of espresso (previously having no idea that such a world like this even exists) access to answers.

I guess I'm not really helping with my reply. I'm asking more questions than I'm answering.