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Hello, I am new to the forum and have just had one of my comments cited as inappropriate. I have already edited it as requested, but am still in need of further understanding from the moderation. I need to know how to criticize without transgressing by the forums standards, and hopefully I can be helped here in respect to the order promoted by the website, which I, if do not abide to, should.

The comment cited was perceived by the moderation as an underrating or hurtful attitude towards the effort of the Original Poster of the pertinent thread, and further classified as inappropriately critical.

Through a rhetorical and logical discipline, I've come to learn that criticisms are always positively constructive, despite the moderation's judgement to render my criticism inappropriate. I understand, by all means, that the criticism might happen to be derailing to the central topic of the thread, but I do not understand, however, how the criticism would in anyway be disrespectful or injurious, or how, by effect, I wasn't being nice by the simplicity of the commonly accepted policy.

I've had conflicts in regard to that topic, but I've also had criticisms resolve those conflicts that many times have been repressed and forgotten but not altogether properly dismissed (still detrimental to even diligent, conscious development of the prospecting topic).

I apologize as it needs be, and retrieve from my insistent mistakes when made appropriately informed.


In pragmatic terms, if someone could use their budget of a week for the whole month, they would not only be wealthier but would have learned quite a bit. The hypothesis itself, or thought exercise, should not need to be taken authoritatively. but would be a gradual, progressing and cooperative thought for further clarification of those materials that subsist regardless of thought, but not regardless of continuing choice making (which can be exercised through critical thinking).
 
pollinator
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Hi Alex
Rather than try to answer all your questions which I suspect will lead to more questions  may I suggest you read about Permies be nice policy . You can find many answers and lots of further information and examples in the thread unsurprisingly titled " be nice "
I have bumped it up in the recent topics to assist you

David
 
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Welcome to permies.

This site is a bit different than much of the internet.  We take the Be Nice rule very seriously.  It could be something as small as a cultural misunderstanding.  There are people here from all over the world, and some of us have very different ways of living than others.   The Be Nice Thread is my favourite for understanding this kind of thing. 

I need to know how to criticize without transgressing by the forums standards



I don't know that you can.  Criticising isn't what we're about.  It implies that another person is less than perfect (see the be nice thread above).  There are other places on the internet that specialise in this kind of thing and it's my understanding that Paul's goals for permies is something entirely different.  His goal is to make (and keep) permies a safe place where gentle souls can talk about permaculture.


Through a rhetorical and logical discipline, I've come to learn that criticisms are always positively constructive, despite the moderation's judgement to render my criticism inappropriate.



In university, this was my speciality.  Neither rhetoric nor logic education included criticism.  Logic is a series of premises and conclusions and how the structure between these elements interacted.  I'm not sure why anyone would need rhetoric in a forum like permies.  Unless you wish to explore the political views on squash breeding projects?  But you would need to earn some apples to gain access to the cider press first.  Perhaps you are using a new vernacular meaning of these words?

One thing that Rhetoric does teach us (lesson one of first-year philosophy) is that there is a major flaw when one says 'never' and 'always'.  It's very easy to be proven wrong.  For example, for about two thousand years, it was given as a god given fact of the universe that are no black swans.  Swans are ALWAYS white.  Of course, it was proven wrong by some bloke looking out a window. 

That's one of the reasons why we encourage talking about opinions. 

"my opinion that there are no black swans" is always true, whereas the FACT that there are no black swans is easy to disprove.  It's another little tool that comes up in Rhetoric class.

Here's a useful introduction to learn more about how permies works.


Hope this helps to clarify a little how permies.com works. 
If you're interested in criticism, then this is probably not the forum for you.
If you are interested in permaculture and making a better world through learning good things rather than being angry at bad guys, then you're our kind of person. 
 
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Through a rhetorical and logical discipline, I've come to learn that criticisms are always positively constructive



And all over the world you are welcome to exercise what you have learned.  Except here.

Here, you are asked to present your position.  Not critique the folks sharing in the thread. 
 
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paul wheaton wrote:

Through a rhetorical and logical discipline, I've come to learn that criticisms are always positively constructive



And all over the world you are welcome to exercise what you have learned.  Except here.

Here, you are asked to present your position.  Not critique the folks sharing in the thread. 



I am a little confused about this, and as Paul suggested in his first post in this thread I would like to ask for clarity.

Does this mean that constructive criticism, of theories, ideas, etc, that may contradict scientifically tested, peer reviewed and proven facts is not welcome here?

For example:

"Post:  Early morning water flows uphill and thus can provide a stored energy battery for later use.

Response: It is well known that the flow of water is driven by gravity and as such it always goes downhill, with the exception of capillary action (wicking) in certain materials under certain circumstances. If you have contrary information to this I would really like to see it as I may have not considered every factor when I have formed my understanding of fluid dynamics."

I think that while the response is critical of the post, it is constructive in providing scientifically well established information, it is also nice, and leaves the door open to the possibility that the responder have missed some crucial information, and invites the poster to share it.

Is this an acceptable form of discourse, or not?

 
 
Erik Ven
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My other question is in regards to a quote that I have posted from a 12th century scientist. I will not paste it here because it has been removed by  "staff" as something that is in conflict with the forums police according to which this site's goal "is to promote discussion, not debate, and to discourage any member from claiming they have 'the truth'"

The quote in essence said that one should scrutinize everything that is presented by anyone as "the truth" with suspicion and criticism, in order to either disprove it, or to remove all potential flaws through strict scrutiny, and recognize that the original statement was correct.

So to me it seems like that the explanation as to why the quote was removed, is in contradiction with itself, unless I have missed something important.

Me posting it is not that important, but I want to make sure I understand the rules here, and don't post thing that are contrary to them.

Can someone please provide clarification on this?

Thank you
 
paul wheaton
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Erik Ven wrote:
"Post:  Early morning water flows uphill and thus can provide a stored energy battery for later use.

Response: It is well known that the flow of water is driven by gravity and as such it always goes downhill, with the exception of capillary action (wicking) in certain materials under certain circumstances. If you have contrary information to this I would really like to see it as I may have not considered every factor when I have formed my understanding of fluid dynamics."

I think that while the response is critical of the post, it is constructive in providing scientifically well established information, it is also nice, and leaves the door open to the possibility that the responder have missed some crucial information, and invites the poster to share it.

Is this an acceptable form of discourse, or not? 



I am confused by the example.  "Early morning water flows uphill"?  My response to that, without anything else, would be "I am trying to understand this, but I must have missed something.  Can you please tell me more?"

I refuse to say "constructive criticism is welcome" or "constructive criticism is unwelcome" because there will be thousands of interpretations of what "constructive criticism" criticism means, and then when somebody posts something nasty, which is removed, they will then feel the need to point out that I am obviously a lying sack of shit because I did not honor my position on "constructive criticism".  

If nothing else criticism can be "constructive" AND damn nasty.   From the first post in this thread:

I tend to delete anything that suggests that anybody on permies.com is less than perfect.



So, does the criticism suggest that the person being criticized might possibly be less than perfect?   That's the important part. 

Further, there are about 40 people that are reading everything and trying to moderated based on the rules we have now:  "be nice".   Rather that expanding that into a 50 page document of rules, I have, instead, made it clear that I will interpret what that means.  And that I have attempted to share my thoughts on what that means while avoiding commitment to things like "Is this an acceptable form of discourse, or not?" - the world is not so boolean. 

A lot of people find that they fit right in here and there is never a discussion about what "be nice" means.  And, a lot of people ask for clarity on "be nice" and find a way to get it to work.   And a few ....  leave. 


My other question is in regards to a quote that I have posted from a 12th century scientist. I will not paste it here because it has been removed by  "staff" as something that is in conflict with the forums police according to which this site's goal "is to promote discussion, not debate, and to discourage any member from claiming they have 'the truth'" 



Again, we have about 40 volunteers running this site, and we have had more than a hundred different people in the past, and there will surely be many more in the future. 

The english language is riddled with wiggle room for rule sets that are clear or confounding, simple or complex.   It will never be perfect and all we can do is muddle along day by day.

I am not familiar with the post you are talking about, nor am I familiar with the moderation that happened.  But, I do suspect that if you post something that suggests that the rule set for discussion on this forum is something other than what I advocate, then I can understand that somebody on the staff would remove it.  After all, the discussion format we follow is not that of a 12th century scientist.

From the second post in this thread:

Something that I have said several dozen times in the past which appears to not be covered here is: I prefer to see posts that offer "my position" rather than "the truth". I've deleted a lot of stuff with "the truth". The reason is that if somebody posts "the truth" and a second somebody has an alternative position, then posting the alternative feels a lot like entering into conflict - so it is less likely to get posted. And it is that alternative that I want to see shared on this site.





The summary to all this is:

- if you are aware of moderation, and somebody on the staff is writing to you, that shows that your stuff is considered generally quite good and the staff member wants your stuff to be published here and is giving you some tips. 

- the rules are intentionally vague.   It seems to work out for nearly everybody in the end.   And for the few people where it doesn't work out - well ... the internet is a really big place.

 
master steward
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paul wheaton wrote: A lot of people find that they fit right in here and there is never a discussion about what "be nice" means.  And, a lot of people ask for clarity on "be nice" and find a way to get it to work.   And a few ....  leave. 


(It helps to be from Minnesota.  Or maybe Wisconsin.) 

The goal here (as I see it) is for many and diverse people to share their ideas and experiences and the rules are meant to facilitate that. We're not trying to come to agreement on what must be, or what should be, or even what actually is.  If somebody makes a bizarre statement, the typical response is . . . not much.  Moving on, did you see how well my plum tree did when I surrounded it with perennials?  I've also seen: that's interesting - I'd like to try your technique for rehabilitating soil, can you explain again what you did so I can try it?

Super confrontational or mean stuff is simply removed.  This has already been said, but I'll repeat: if you receive a request for editing something you wrote, it's because there's mostly good stuff there and we'd like to keep it, if we could just get it to be a bit "nicer."  (It's a complement, kinda.)
 
pollinator
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Erik,

I'm pretty new here. Probably like you (and MANY people on here) this is a different community than I have seen in other venues. This is an intentional decision by the host.

I think I got the picture by watching Paul Wheaton's PV lecture about 12:20. They have seen that there are people who will simply not be able to contribute without having a very gentle place to do so. I highly recommend just watching it, it really brings home how this is meant to allow a different group to contribute who would otherwise be unlikely to do so. This is less a place to be right than to be open.

There are many things I think (but do not know) are untrue on any forum. The difference here is that the preference is CLEARLY to allow for the proliferation of voices we wouldn't be likely to hear in the big bad internet. I think if you watch the video it will help you adapt to the rules, because you will understand why they are in place. It really helped me...   
 
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paul wheaton wrote:I think if it isn't OMRI approved then it doesn't belong on these forums.

And then the discussion can be how to move away from using these OMRI approved things to be MORE aligned with nature. 

There are other forums out there for talking about using conventional products vs. OMRI approved stuff.   This forum is dedicated to topics far beyond that.



bump
 
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I am STILL not able to access and edit the post you asked me to edit....
 
Mother Tree
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As I understand it, you were given time to edit and instead you posted a rant about how there was nothing wrong with the post so we gave up and removed it.

There is only so much time that the moderators will keep running around in circles.  Eventually we get fed up and put a stop to things. 
 
paul wheaton
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Jay Smithy wrote:I am STILL not able to access and edit the post you asked me to edit....



I think this thread is about the publishing standards in general.

If you wanna discuss a particular post, I think it would be wise to start a thread in the tinkering forum.  Make sure to include a link to the thread in question.
 
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It's a busy site (more than 200,000 user accounts, and more than a half million posts). The staff have lives outside of the Internet. It's hard to keep track of stuff from long ago... Best to let the past stay in the past. Write posts in the future that meet the publishing standards, and they will be published.

The publishing standards are simple:

Talk about things that Paul wants to talk about in ways that he wants to talk about them.
Be nice.
Allow others their belief systems.
 
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If you need more specific information on how to follow the rules, click on the link from Burra's signature https://permies.com/wiki/34193/permies-works-links-threads#267492 The only one I'd add to those post is the 'don't should on me' thread https://permies.com/t/36936

edit: fixed link url
 
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Hi Paul,

As a trainer of 40 years' experience, I understand the importance of not telling people that they are wrong (even when they are), so I'm on board with your "being nice" but I seem to use words that abrade the sensibilities of the gir bot.  Can you provide the trigger words that get the little dear of its/his/her oats so that I might avoid them.

That will save me precious hours trying to second guess it/him/her...particularly since I take an evidence-based approach to food production where facts are important.


Gary
 
Burra Maluca
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Gary Donaldson wrote:HCan you provide the trigger words that get the little dear of its/his/her oats so that I might avoid them.

That will save me precious hours trying to second guess it/him/her...particularly since I take an evidence-based approach to food production where facts are important.


Gary



"But" is one - check out this link - but but but

"Fact" and "truth" are others - leaving room for other people's opinions

And things like insisting that you are an expert and hence entitled to re-define words and imply that other people definitions are wrong or invalid or a scam aren't going to help either.  Especially on a user's first post when you appear to be trying to sell a book to them. 

 
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Gary Donaldson wrote:
...particularly since I take an evidence-based approach to food production where facts are important.



Speaking from experience and observation here at Permies, I think the painless approach is to talk about your experiences (e.g., "I did this..." or "I read something that argued...") and opinions ("In my view, it may be that...") rather than laying out "facts."
 
Gary Donaldson
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Thanks for the response.

Talk about things that Paul wants to talk about in ways that he wants to talk about them.



I get that...when you're the big Kahuna you get to make the rules.  And the membership numbers suggest that many people are happy with that.

And things like insisting that you are an expert and hence entitled to re-define words and imply that other people definitions are wrong or invalid or a scam aren't going to help either.  Especially on a user's first post when you appear to be trying to sell a book to them.



I don't believe that I insisted that I was an expert.  I was, however, guilty of asserting facts.  I blame this on science and engineering where facts carry greater weight than opinions.

I also concede that I may have stumbled into the murky world of other peoples' 'feelings'.

It requires a little mental gymnastics to be able to work within the behavioural construct of someone who admits that the process is still evolving...and to address misconceptions without be able to avail oneself of the usual words.  Having said that, I accept the challenge...to the point where not one 'but' appears in this response.

BTW..the Urban Aquaponics Manual is (and has been for the past three years) available to interested parties...with my compliments...Free!
 
paul wheaton
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The first post of this thread touches on presenting "the truth" vs. "my position". 

Here is my position on science and engineering.
 
Gary Donaldson
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I agree with much of what you've said but (Geez...there I go again) people will often make statements which are factually incorrect.  These opinions/beliefs fly in the face of established knowledge....empirical facts established by the scientific method, investigated, published and peer reviewed.

For example, I might say that the sun is a god (a popular belief in bygone days) but, in truth (or as a matter of 'fact') that ain't so.  Such nonsense is of little consequence and one might say something like "My experience suggests otherwise."  But what happens where the statement has prospectively harmful implications?

What if I said something like "Drinking hemlock is good for your health."  How might others react to this dangerous advice...which is the not the truth, is totally incorrect and completely lacking in fact...so that they don't piss off the bot.

Please understand that I'm not challenging the rules...just trying to get a handle on how to work within the framework.  I've owned a forum....and I've just started another one...and there are aspects of permies.com forum management that I find attractive...so this is a learning exercise for me on both counts.
 
Burra Maluca
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Gary Donaldson wrote:For example, I might say that the sun is a god (a popular belief in bygone days) but, in truth (or as a matter of 'fact') that ain't so. 



I guess that would depend on how an individual interprets the word 'god', but then discussion of religion is not allowed here, except in the restricted area of the cider press, so it's not likely to happen.

What if I said something like "Drinking hemlock is good for your health."  How might others react to this dangerous advice...which is the not the truth, is totally incorrect and completely lacking in fact...



Well firstly, that would be expressing an opinion as fact, so we'd likely ask them to re-word it, and maybe qualify it a little.  So maybe it would end up something like 'It was recommended to me that I drink hemlock to cure my incurable lurgy which went away so I figured it must be good for my health' 

A good response to that might be to share information and links about the known health effects of drinking hemlock and how it is very likely to kill you, attempt to identify said 'lurgy' and figure out if it just went away on its own, share information about identifying hemlock and how easy it is to confuse with other plants of the same family (maybe they tried drinking carrot leaf tea?).  That kind of thing.

If anyone out there really is drinking hemlock, or believes they are, assuming they are still alive to read this then telling they are wrong and stupid is likely to just make them stop reading.  If, however, you can keep them reading and help open their eyes to other possibilities ('that's funny, hemlock usually kills you - maybe it was this plant instead - see how similar they are')

Almost everyone reading here is doing it for their own pleasure - it's not a captive audience like you'd have in an educational establishment.  As soon as phrases like 'peer reviewed research' start to appear, the readership plummets as they find something less intimidating to browse.  In a thread about hemlock I'd probably start to post pretty images like this one.



Or links to books such as this, which are amazingly educational and totally non-intimidating - Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids Ages 9-99 by Thomas Elpel which has a wonderful page about meeting the totally untrustworthy parsley guardian who might feed you or might poison you, so you must only collect plants from his island if you have an adult with you who can tell the good plants from the bad.   

In other words, get the information out in non-intimidating ways. Ways that open up minds rather than slam them shut.  Ways that make people want to research further, even if 'research' is an alien concept to them.  Give them tasters of what there is to be known, and lay trails for them to follow.  The author of Shanleya's Quest, for instance, also has a more advanced page on his website - patterns of the parsley family including the following image, and the following advice "When you recognize the compound umbels of the Parsley family then you know you have to be careful. You must be 100% certain of what these plants are before you harvest them for food or medicine. More than that, you must be right! People die just about every year thinking they have discovered some kind of wild carrot."



There are loads of other things you could link to or share, but I suspect you've got the idea. 


 
paul wheaton
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Gary Donaldson wrote:I agree with much of what you've said but ...



I think you are pointing out that there are thousands of other websites on the web where you might be more comfortable.

 
Gary Donaldson
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paul wheaton wrote:

Gary Donaldson wrote:I agree with much of what you've said but ...



I think you are pointing out that there are thousands of other websites on the web where you might be more comfortable.



While I'm always interested to know what you think, another possibility is that I'm seeking understanding....as I suggested in my closing statement.

Please understand that I'm not challenging the rules...just trying to get a handle on how to work within the framework.  I've owned a forum....and I've just started another one...and there are aspects of permies.com forum management that I find attractive...so this is a learning exercise for me on both counts.



Burra, you've been extremely helpful.  I think I'm slowly getting a handle on this "being nice" thing.  I wonder if I might prevail upon you to provide a critique my performance in in this thread..  The bot got my initial response...so I reworded it - and it passed.  The poster came back and I responded again.

Am I on the right track...or am I without hope?

BTW Paul....it appears that there are no emoticons on this site.  I hated them initially but found that they often managed to bridge the communication gap in a medium where there are no non-verbal cues. I'd value your views on this matter.

On a completely unrelated matter, my fellow Macleay Islander Tim Barker should be in your neck of the woods about now.  The PDC and Appropriate Technology courses sound really good and I wish all involved a happy and fruitful experience.
 
Burra Maluca
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Gary Donaldson wrote:Burra, you've been extremely helpful.  I think I'm slowly getting a handle on this "being nice" thing.  I wonder if I might prevail upon you to provide a critique my performance in in this thread..  The bot got my initial response...so I reworded it - and it passed.  The poster came back and I responded again.

Am I on the right track...or am I without hope?



Hahaha - plenty of hope, don't you worry!

I'm kinda overwhelmed just at the moment - I'll respond by PM when I can get my head into gear again.  If I forget, PM me in a couple of days. 
 
Gary Donaldson
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I understand fully....at your convenience.
 
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I just deleted some junk from the gardening for beginners section. It was a long rant against Monsanto, a pesticide company. Discussion like that must be in The Cider press, and those without apples aren't allowed to post there.

Suppose someone is very new to gardening. Their time is much better spend learning how to do various useful things, that will help them in their garden. Being angry at Monsanto won't help them, and putting their time on permies, into reading a long diatribe, will not help them.

That's why we mop up slop like that. It detracts from the user experience, and no good ever comes of it. A dozen people might read it and reply, when they'd have been better off learning how to compost.
 
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I appreciate the fact you folks try and mitigate the heated topics. I got cursed out, by a high school teacher, in a public forum for expressing an opinion once. I pm'd him to ask why he would do such a thing and he challenged me to a fight! lmao..... I took the high road. Left the little fella alone. Thanks for your moderation!
 
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It is unfortunate that the apolitical aspirations of the forum have castrated its ability to prompt direct action and inform other members of ways they could help in matters of clear importance and pertinence to permaculture. I just wanted to help protect Wyoming grizzlies, including females with cubs, from newly approved trophy hunting, and got blocked. This is just sad.
 
r ranson
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You are welcome and encouraged to post about that in the Cider Press, when because you have earned enough apples.  The cider press is a troll free zone where people who have proven they know how to be nice can post about issues that have a history of causing conflict. 

On the main forums, we keep things clean and focus on SOLUTIONS.  It's assumed that people who come here are already aware that these problems exist so we don't need to keep bringing these problems up.  Instead, it is assumed that the members of this site are here to learn what solutions are possible for making the world a better place. 
 
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Wow, Ben. I wish there were clues to tell us why you might have been blocked.

Often an antagonistic approach that doesn't leave room for the opinions of others runs afoul of a few of the publication guidelines. Maybe if your opinion were expressed as such and invited discussion, it would be more presentable.

-CK
 
Ben Zumeta
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I thought posting where you could call to take direct action was an attempt to provide a route to solutions. I also would say that people that disagree with me should be welcome on these forums too and are welcome to critique my point of view on any post.
 
r ranson
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I see you have enough apples.  You are encouraged to post about it in the cider press.
 
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