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"why?" vs. "why?"

 
steward
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When talking to somebody face-to-face there can be a challenge in trying to discern between a "why?" that is meant as an attempt to learn vs. a "why?" that is a demand for justification.  Over the internet is complicated a bit further.

Many times somebody new will be at my property and ask "why?" - and about half the time the attitude behind the question is quite wholesome and they are drinking in lots of new things and new ways of thinking about stuff.   Other times people say the exact same words and the sub-text is "prove it to me or else."  While I can't help but answer the first group, I am powerfully compelled to clam up for the second group.    The trick is that when somebody asks "why?" and you can't tell which type of question it is.  I try to assume the best until the proof rolls out to be anything else.

We run things here a bit different than most other sites on the internet.  I think it is healthy for people to try to gain an understanding of what we do.  Especially if they might bump into our boundaries. So in an attempt to better understand, they ask "why?"  -- good, healthy, reasonable stuff.   And there are others that feel strongly that now that they are here, we need to change the way we do things - so when they bump into a boundary they command us to justify our obvious flaws, or else.  The weird thing is that their wording is exactly the same:  "why?"

I think everybody on the staff is glad to fall over themselves to answer the first question.   And for the second, they will either find something more pleasant to do or ask them to rephrase the question to something a bit more respectful:  from "why?" to "why?"

A bit of a communication quagmire.  

There are not a lot of really good solutions here.  The only thing I can think of, for making things easier on the staff, would be to preface the "why?" with something like "I wish to contribute in a way such that my posts are not removed."  A statement like that makes it clear that the position is not "i will explain to you, in detail, how your cheap justifications for removing my posts are utterly wrong."

 
pollinator
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Location: Boston, Massachusetts
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Maybe the problem isn't "why" vs. "why", but not enough whys .
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_whys
Which in this case would be an investment in trying to understand the problem oneself first, through examination/introspection, then asking for clarification/help.
 
pollinator
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This is  tough one for me because I often really want to know "why" but I understand that people often take this request for more information as an obnoxious challenge.  I don't know how to fix it.
 
pollinator
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Maybe the difference is that the wholesome question is a "why do you do this?" and the defensive question is a "why don't you do it my way?" A lot of people take any challenge to their worldview as an attack on their personal worth. I have the joy of living with one such person. Sometimes people want to learn, and sometimes people just want to stop you from calling their superficial/fragile ego into question by being different.
 
pollinator
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Is this coming specifically from the point of view of queries about moderation?

Asking "Why?" is an incredibly powerful technique for getting to the root cause of problems, and for helping people to consider their underlying reasons for a particular source of actions. Often the problem or solution being discussed is the wrong one. Going down the route of asking "why?" can push the problem to deeper levels, and more valuable solutions to problems.

A case in point - there was a thread a day or so ago where someone had setup a go-fund me to make their own garden. They saw the shortage of money as the stumbling block. Asking why a a few times revealed that they were focused on a particular gardening method that was expensive and needed lots of inputs. The "problem" wasn't shortage of cash, but an early decision to use a technique that required a lot of cash.
 
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