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paul wheaton
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I would like to take this opportunity to remind folks to "be nice".

We are all rather passionate about many of these issues, and sometimes we slip into a space where our words leave room for the interpretation that the people of this community are .... less than perfect. 

I am not suggesting that anyone here is perfect, but I am suggesting that implying anyone is less than perfect crosses the line of my comfort zone of "be nice". 

While some folks might feel that saying "You're a loony dumbass!" is verifiable fact and therefore, nobody should object to it - I choose to not publish it.

I think you will all find that the threads here tend to be ... well ... nice.  And on topic.  This is due to me doing a lot of deleting and moving posts.  It takes a lot of work to get it to be this way. 

I appreciate the efforts of others to help me keep this work load low.  Primarily via "be nice."

Thanks!

 
Jennifer Smith
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And here I thought this forum was just a nice group of people...shattered illusions
 
jeremiah bailey
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We are nice people. We just tend to be extremely passionate about what we believe in. Sometimes to excess.
 
                    
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paul, compared too one of the forums that i Mod with a cudgel, folks on this board are very nice! you should be proud of them!  now if someone wants to call me names for taking on HT's general chat i would have too agree! still, someone has to make it a civil place and a tough skinned old farmer with a pitch fork may just be what the posters need to straighten up!
 
paul wheaton
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I think that the folks here are very nice because I've run off about a dozen that aren't. 

I've been managing electronic forums for over 20 years.  And I know that most forums devolve into one of two states:

1)  six people wearing asbestos underwear ripping each other to shreds every 20 minutes or so.  The other 2000 would be participants moved on because they couldn't bear the hostility.  I would rather have the 2000 than the 6.

2)  500 people that have lots to say about nothing.  1500 left out of boredom - seeking meatier topics elsewhere.  I would rather have 2000 people hanging around talking about stuff of substance, so I try to minimize the chit chat stuff - or move it to "meaningless drivel".

HT ....  well ....  has some of 1 and 2.  HT just isn't as strict as I am.  I think HT's popularity is proof that that recipe works.  But it is something I cannot participate in daily.  I used to.  I think my recent experience there is proof that issue #1 is alive and well at HT. 

 
paul wheaton
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A discussion in another thread makes me want to share the following.

If somebody were to say "nobody  ________" and there was one case where that statement was not true, then that somebody has just presented false information as fact - thus throwing everything else they have ever said into the world of having a certain level of probability of also being wrong.  After three of these, it gets to where you just can't even read anything that person posts.

But the statement "I think nobody ________" is always true.  Others can think something different.  But if a second person says "That's not true", then the second person has just presented false information as fact.

Qualifying one's position can make a really big difference between a yammering nutjob and a reliable source sharing some excellent wisdom.


 
paul wheaton
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I want to add an idea to this thread. 

Be careful of the word "you".  If you write a post about, say, politics .... and your post says a lot of "I think" and "what if" and never has the word "you", chances are that you have rather cleanly stated your own position without bashing somebody else.  Often times, the word "you" in the middle of a passionate topic, ends up suggesting that another person participating in the thread might be less than perfect.  So I'm tempted to delete the whole post. 

Of course, there are uses of the word "you" that are peachy - but in a thread about a sensitive topic ....  that's pretty rare.

So as the guy that does the deleting, I usually scan for the word "you" and that's where I start doing my pruning.

Just a thought ....
 
                    
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When taking part in a discussion where things could be taken personally and in unintended fashion I try to use the word 'one'.

"One should be careful when talking about health insurance."

 
paul wheaton
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In the earlier days of managing forums, whenever a squabble arose, there would usually be an antagonist and a victim.  But it can be really hard to tell which is which from the squabble.  After attempting to sooth a few hundred squabbles, I detected a pattern that made it so that I could at least figure out which party was the antagonist. 

I have been really successful at banning the correct person based on figuring this out.

The antagonist will find the worst possible interpretation of the other post, and, through that, will attempt to make a bad situation worse. 

The victim will attempt to find the best possible interpretation of the other post, and, through that, will attempt to make a bad situation smoother.

 
                    
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Good insight. Thanks
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Here's an excellent blog post called a real person, a lot like you, that shows with touching stories how using a machine (the computer) might be part of how we "forget" common courtesy.
 
tel jetson
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paul wheaton wrote:
I have been really successful at banning the correct person based on figuring this out.


just out of curiosity, how do you know you have successfully banned the correct person?  I'm also curious how many folks you've banned from here.

I see the occasional reference to a post that doesn't exist anymore and assume that's because a user has been removed.
 
paul wheaton
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If you count spammers:  I've banned thousands.

If you don't count spammers:  I've banned maybe five or six. 

I think most of the posts you see where the name no longer has a link is due to my accidentally deleting those accounts when I was deleting about 20,000 spam accounts.  Oops!

If you ban the wrong person, the same sorts of problems keep cropping up.  If you ban the right person, the problems go away and the forums thrive.

 
                    
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Paul, in the past four years the one banned the other day on countryplans was number 6 if my memory is any good at all.  I'm just counting those exhibiting bad behavior towards others.  Thousands of spammers too.

Almost always it has has been painfully obvious who is at fault.
 
paul wheaton
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I would like to add a little more to this thread ....

Sometimes a body fight feel mighty passionate about something and somebody else might seem ..... uh .... loudmouthed and ignorant. 

If you set about bashing them with the baseball bat of truth, I'm gonna delete that.  And then you'll be mad at me.

I would like to suggest that you embrace their opinion and then present your opinion.  You could even present all sorts of research done with you believe supports your opinion.  Rather than "any fool can plainly see" how about "so this is why I think ..."

Thanks!

 
paul wheaton
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I want to express that these forums are about topics that are in my comfort zone.  Further, these forums are for those people that are into the same sort of thing. 

I gave five presentations last weekend.  I had about 20 people approach me to say that they really like my style and my topics.  I would have to say that these forums are for them too.

Sometimes I read stuff from folks that say what is or is not allowable in these forums, or what is or is not allowed to be called "permaculture".  I think it is fair for somebody to stand up and say what they think permaculture means.  But when somebody stands up and points to another and says "what you say is wrong" then that makes me uncomfortable.

Once you have taken a PDC, you can put gum on the end of a stick and call it permaculture.  That's the deal.  It bothers me a lot, but there is really nothing I can do about that. 

At the same time, there are people that are excited about permaculture and want to learn more about it.  And I think some folks are misleading others.  And that bothers me.

sepp holzer switched from calling his stuff "permaculture" to calling it "holzer permaculture".  I recently heard that he now won't use the word "permaculture" at all - which is a reall drag because I think what he is doing is the best worldwide example.

I hate to see the word "permaculture" end up being a word that is feared and the general understanding of what it means ends up something radically different from what I want it to mean because a few people ran around beating others with sticks if they didn't sign up for their interpretation.

I think the word "permaculture" covers a huge space - and there are a lot of folks more interested in one part or another.  And I think that is all good. 

There are some aspects of permaculture that I don't want in these forums.  The topics are too volatile, and, frankly, they are not the aspects of permaculture I want to discuss very much.  These aspects would include social justice and the ethics.  These topics dive too much into politics and religion, which then stirs up huge debates and people start to pull out the pitch forks and torches.  So i want to leave those discussions for other places on the internet.

And finally:  sometimes somebody wants to take the work of somebody else and post it on the internet for free.  They then say that this is good because of the third ethic: the information is too important to be made freely available.  Well, in my opinion, this is just stealing.  If the information is that important, then that person should write it themselves and make it freely available on the internet, rather than stealing somebody else's stuff.

I have to admit that I have not been keeping up with the forums as much as I would like.  If any of you ever see something that might be outside of my comfort zone, I hope you will email me right away.  paul at richsoil dot com.

Thanks!
 
Brice Moss
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this looks like a good place to toss in an apology about me making some extra work for you a bit ago by propagating a discussion of religion I am trying to be a good low maintenance member on this board.
 
                        
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When I came here and saw the sum total of your "how to get along" requirements .. be nice won me over. Even I can understand that.

Thanks for being tolerant .. people that are not passionate are usually not worth reading and the good ones .. will sometimes "jump the curb."
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I'd also like to state that I mean well, and definitely try to share information rather than induce people to hold my opinions.

That said, it's good to know that social justice & ethics are to be handled indirectly here, if at all. That policy makes practical sense.

Could I ask for some clarification, though?

We do talk about social (inentional community) and economic (farm income) organization here, often without incident. There are pragmatic reasons to organize in a particular way, and I've noticed that the design choices permaculturists tend to advocate have practical considerations align with ethical concerns, in the way that cheap & lazy lawn care aligns with environmentalism.

Is it OK to bring up social/political structures that were designed with the intent of promoting social justice or holding to some particular set of ethics? Would it help to focus on mechanistic/pragmatic aspects of such designs, and gloss over or omit discussion of their history/philosophy?
 
paul wheaton
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I dunno.

I think I want to leave it vague and say the only hard and fast thing is "be nice" - and then that will be my interpretation of what that means. 

I think it all comes down to what my comfort level is.  There are gobs of things to talk about that are well within my comfort level, and there are gobs of things that are not.  And there are times where things are outside of my comfort area and people want to say "but you said this was okay" - and I don't really want to get into that.

I think discussions about social justice and politics and religion could be done within my comfort zone, but in my experience, even good discussion in this space ends up being bait for not-so-good - so best to avoid it. 

Does this help answer your question?  I think I am trying to say:  talk about those things and just try to think about what I might delete.  I know that is really vague, but I think if I keep it vague, then things will actually end up much simpler. 

 
paul wheaton
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Recently, I heard something where permaculture folks are avoiding permies.com because I am a censor.  Or because people are only allowed to say things that I am comfortable with. 

Both of these things are absolutely true. 

There are millions of people that wish for me to do things their way.  And since there are so many different philosophies about so many different things, there is no way I can possibly please everybody.  So I am settling on living my life my way.  And I see so much crap all over the internet, I am putting in a lot of money and work to nurture a community of folks that enjoy this particular space that I make this very particular, very limited way. 

There are topics I don't care for, but I'll permit.  And there are topics I don't care for and I will not permit - those topics can be discussed somewhere else.

I am glad that there are folks offended by this approach - those folks are clearly not a fit for these forums and now they will stay away.

I will continue to try and drive traffic to this site - in search of that one person in ten thousand that is a fit for our little community.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Personally I like the standards on this messageboard. 
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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I think that what you keep out - spam, meanness, religion and politics (correct me if I'm wrong) - keeps these forums FAR more civil and peaceful.

And, I think there are a LOT more than one in ten thousand that would appreciate your approach and the tone here. 

It seems to me that people have a knee-jerk reaction that any "censorship" is bad. I think the word "censor" makes makes them cringe as if the government is censoring free speech.

What happens here is the opposite of bad. permies.com is a place where learning and differences of opinion are not only allowed, but encouraged and supported by removing the hostility that can suppress free speech in other places. So I guess I see your "censorship" as fostering more free speech. A welcome irony if you ask me.
 
                              
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Paul,

I read your post about wanting to remain vague as to the guidelines, but could you perhaps clarify a little? I have chosen not to post several replies on different threads for a variety of reasons, all because ultimately I could not begin to fathom whether or not they would offend you. Of course none of my posts were at all uncivil, rude, insulting, or any of the behavior which would be out of character and disruptive. None were off topic or on religion or politics, and I would like to think that they would have added to the discussion. But without having some notion of what the guidelines might be, it is impossible to respect them.

To give some perspective: You know that none of the posts I have actually made have been threatening, insulting, or in any way uncivil, though you removed an entire thread apparently because of my posts. I've read this thread and any which seemed to hint at the guidelines, to try to get a better grasp of the form they take, again so as to respect those guidelines. But it is all for naught..

Here is my impression, could you perhaps just correct any errors in it as a means of clarification?

Prohibited:
Rudeness, incivility, politics, religion

This are of course expected. But where I am unclear as to what you want is in the following apparently prohibited behaviors:

Civil, reasoned refutations of any idea or argument.
The use of reason or reference to it. (I noted that the use of "reasonable" was specifically addressed in a recent thread)
Any reference to fact other than what was first posted or that which is offered in agreement only.
Any citation or reference.
Any use or reference to logic/reason.

I am honestly trying to understand, and I hope that you take this in that spirit.

You have created a good forum here, full of wonderful and knowledgeable people from whom I have much I can learn. But I certainly won't have that opportunity or ability if I fear that literally anything I might post somehow violates these vague guidelines.
 
paul wheaton
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Storm,

I'm surprised you didn't want to do this via email.

Much of your post, above, is errant.  I want you to assume half of what you posted is wrong, and you won't know which half.  I know that sounds nutty, but based on what I know about your ability with logic, this actually works much faster.

Read the stuff above about "the baseball bat of truth" and the stuff about not suggesting that anyone here is less than perfect.  If you point out their fallacy, then that suggests that they use deceptive argument - which suggests that they are deceptive.  Less than perfect.

Understanding fallacy is good.  I would very much like to have regular discussions of fallacy in the MD forum.  Perhaps each time you encounter fallacy, you can start a thread about that type of fallacy (with no reference to the other thread).  Perhaps, in time, many of the folks here will become savvy to fallacy and you will see less fallacy used. 

I hope that you will agree that compared to other boards, there is very little fallacy here now. 

When you need to make a point, make your point stand on its own merit - without reference to anybody else or what anybody else is saying.

Even if your position has been proven true, I would like to ask you to present it as your position - thus giving room for all of the crazy people to state their crazy stuff. 

I have banned four people from these forums because they would not allow others to have an alternate opinion.  And sometimes that alternate opinion was mine. 

Does this sound like a path that will work for you?
 
                              
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I read the stuff about your "baseball bat of truth" which is in part what motivated the questions for clarification. After all it reads a though truth itself, as well as reason, are prohibited.

As for the argument you offer, at the risk of being banned for being reasonable and civil, it suffers from the fallacy of excluded middle, also known as false dichotomy. The argument offers only deception as the explanation for the existence of a fallacy, when in fact any number of other reasons, most of which are more likely, exist. Simple error comes to mind, as I know that I make no assumption of perfection on my part. Then too there is simply overlooking it, or not being aware that the fallacy is a fallacy at all. Obviously I could go on and on with counter-examples. So there is no assumption of anyone (except myself of course) is less than perfect.

The argument in essence:
If X then Y
X
therefore Y.

Yet we know from the examples provided and of course our own experiences, that -Y is in fact not only possibly but more likely, thus invalid argument form. Notice that no where am I even so much as hinting at any deception on your part, or intent to deceive, or any other trait of yours at all.

That said, I fall back onto what I had asked about, and now take to be accurate, that being that no use of reason and refutation will be tolerated.

Fallacies are at least as abundant here as any other forum. That said, the way you use the word "fallacy" is far broader than either common usage or the actual meaning of the term, so perhaps you could be referring to something else entirely (again, this is in part why I asked for clarification).  A fallacy is simply an invalid argument form which is common enough to have been named. Nothing more or less. I asked for clarification not to chastise you or comment on your nature, but only to rectify my own ignorance and inability to decypher what is considered acceptable.

How can any discussion be had when you cannot refer to what has been said? Take this discussion at hand. I can ONLY respond by addressing what has been said, for to do otherwise is to 1. Show you no respect and 2. Simply fail to communicate. In fact I cannot even answer your question about fallacies here without obviously referring to what you have asked, right?

I will try to state everything is mere opinion, though I'd sure prefer it myself to know that there is a difference between "opinions" on say the structural strength of timber, where one is from an experienced knowledgeable person who has and can refer to reality (as opposed to mere opinion) and the person who just feels that balsa is the strongest most dense wood in the world..

Nothing in that desire or in the actual practice of honest, civil, intellectual discussion ever prevents alternatives, and certainly nothing I have said could be interpreted along the lines of preventing anyone from holding any view.

But of course all of the above is merely opinion..
 
paul wheaton
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Fallacy is defined as "deceptive argument".  There are over 50 formal fallacies that are thoroughly documented. 

If you were to point out that I used a fallacy, an observer could deduce that I was being deceptive.  A less than perfect attribute among decent folk.

"it reads a though truth itself, as well as reason, are prohibited."

If that is what you read there, then these forums are definitely not for you. 

You have found the worst possible interpretation of what I said.  At no point did I say that all reason or truth is prohibited.  You can make your own opinions stand on reason or truth without making a reference to the words that others use in these forums.

"Fallacies are at least as abundant here as any other forum."

Well then, it sounds like these forums are especially not a fit for you.

When you signed up for these forums, you agreed to "be nice".  I am the sole judge of nice.  And frankly, suggesting that somebody is deceptive strikes me as less than nice.

If you cannot state your position on a topic without referencing the positions of others, then do not post your position. 

 
                    
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A fallacy is something that is false.
False things are not nice.
Sometimes the truth is not nice.


 
                              
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Nothing I have ever posted could be reasonably understood as implying anyone was being deceptive.

There are a number of *informal* fallacies, as formal logic does not name the fallacies.

I read what is written at face value and read the most generous but still consistent reading of it, as is the practice in all honest, civil, intellectual discussions.

"If [someone] cannot state your position on a topic without referencing the positions of others, then do not post [that] position.  "

I feared that would ultimately be the rule. I will do my best to cease all communication. I hope you won't take this quoting of your rule as referencing your position or post. I will simply become a lurker, because I know that there is much I can learn from the good people here.

I would as a friendly suggestion only, mention The Reasonable Woman: A Guide to Intellectual Survival by Wendy McElory. Wonderfully written and easily accessible explanations of some of these topics and issues. I read the book every now and again, despite a history of having taught logic and critical thought at one of the top three universities in the US. Though there is a tiny bit of formal sentential logic in it, most of the book deals with situations just as this here, including the informal fallacies. But that is just my opinion.

 
Tyler Ludens
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One can easily reference the position of someone else without criticizing the other's position.  People do it here all the time. 

One can have a contrary position and not state that the other person's position is wrong.  I once said someone here was wrong and was called on the carpet for it.  I've not had much trouble avoiding telling anyone they are wrong since then, yet I post here quite a bit.

It's just not that difficult, in my opinion. 

 
                    
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Ludi Ludi wrote:


I don't understand why that poses a problem or why one should have to tip toe around the position that is wrong. 
 
paul wheaton
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Nothing I have ever posted could be reasonably understood as implying anyone was being deceptive.


So I think you just suggested that I am unreasonable.  And all of the people that emailed me to complain about your posts - those people are also unreasonable? 

Yeah, I think if you don't post that would be best.

 
paul wheaton
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Mountain Don wrote:

I don't understand why that poses a problem or why one should have to tip toe around the position that is wrong. 



Wrong is often relative and subjective.

Sometimes a person will say "you are wrong" when what might be a better fit is "that does not fit into my understanding of everything."  We have a lot of stuff here that is radically different from conventional thinking.  And the people that come here to share it will be less than comfortable being told "you are wrong" but okay with "I don't understand your position."


 
Tyler Ludens
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If one wants to present factual information to help expand another person's understanding, one can post links to papers or other evidence of fact without saying to the other person "you are wrong."  At least that has been my experience so far.  I'm becoming a much better internet citizen learning how to communicate without criticizing other people or their ideas. 
 
                              
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Ludi, just for clarification, I never use the "you are wrong" approach. Instead, as in al honest, civil, intellectual discussions, I address the argument itself. Inferring something about the person from an error or problem with that argument would itself be an error. We can no more infer something about intent about a person from the existence of an error in the argument than we can infer something about their height.

And of course no mistaken inference can demonstrate that an implication existed.

I cannot recall whether it was in the threads deleted or not, but a number of us had a nice discussion about the difference between ideas and the person. Socrates even reminded us that ideas are not our children and so should never be treated as such. Essentially what he was saying was that pointing out a problem in an argument or idea is not suggesting any hint of anything about the person or persons who may have had or presented the idea. There is no more cause for taking offense from the pointing out of problems in an argument then there is in pointing out that a measurement for a window opening is incorrect. I'd sure rather have either pointed out to me earlier rather than later.

But that is just my experience and opinion.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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That's fine, Storm.  I wasn't referring to you.  I was talking about my own experience here on the forum. 

 
Matt Ferrall
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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I have found it very fun and challenging say what I want to say within these guidlines And stay on topic.I dont enjoy threads that devolve into hair splitting over some technicality.Life is relative and I believe truth to be somewhat as well.While Im not much of a fan of it,English Prime is of worthy study.In E-prime a person wouldnt use the word "is" but rather phrase it in away like "appears to me to be"thereby asserting the subjectivity inherent in the human experience.Of course its not too exciting and its sometimes fun to be alittle incite-full.
 
                              
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Ludi, I didn't for a  minute think that you were. I only offered the clarification because of the previous content which did focus largely upon the use of reason and logic in my posts.

BTW I've really enjoyed your posts in the various threads.

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Thank you, Storm.  And thanks for clarifying. 

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22593
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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I just don't have time to delete as many posts as I have been deleting lately.  I'm going to have to start banning people just to free up more of my own time.

 
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