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jdrakeh
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« on: June 25, 2004, 10:03:05 AM »

I just posted a thread relating to this in a different light over at RPGnet. See, I haven't witnessed any more negativity at The Forge over the last few years than I have at any other online community. The amount of ire that The Forge draws very much confuses and (to a lesser extent) rattles me. What concerns me isn't the reputation of The Forge itself, but the fact that despite not having done anything to overtly deserve it, people tend to identify Forge members as overly hostile elitists. Why is that?
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James D. Hargrove
xiombarg
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2004, 10:31:10 AM »

Quote from: jdrakeh
I just posted a thread relating to this in a different light over at RPGnet. See, I haven't witnessed any more negativity at The Forge over the last few years than I have at any other online community. The amount of ire that The Forge draws very much confuses and (to a lesser extent) rattles me. What concerns me isn't the reputation of The Forge itself, but the fact that despite not having done anything to overtly deserve it, people tend to identify Forge members as overly hostile elitists. Why is that?

I think you'll find a lot of reasons throughout this thread and the other threads on this subject, which really amount to people unfairly misinterpreting elements of Forge culture.

However, this thread is dead. Ron or Clinton, could you split this off please?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2004, 06:48:03 PM »

Hiya,

All split.

I'm not really seeing a thread topic, jdrakeh. It's pretty clear that people are going to react to whatever in whatever way, depending on the people and the two whatevers. I'm not sure there's much else to be said about it.

But I could be wrong, so if you can identify a specific topic that we can discuss, which isn't limited to speculating about what's going on in others' heads, then go for it.

And folks? C'mon: no speculating about what's going on in others' heads, please.

Best,
Ron
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Bankuei
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« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2004, 11:39:35 AM »

Hi folks,

People like or dislike things for whatever reasons, sometimes good, sometimes not.  But ultimately the hostility has very little to do with the Forge itself, and more to do with folks vying for ego dominance by showing how much "better" they are than someone else by parading their opinion and throwing out personal attacks.

And this happens on both sides, whether for or against the Forge.  

You'll find that this happens also for D20, Savage Worlds, White Wolf, metaplot, or anything else that happens to be in vogue as the hot button opinion topic of the day.

Chris
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jdrakeh
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« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2004, 05:31:09 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

C'mon: no speculating about what's going on in others' heads, please.


Sorry, Ron, that's not at all what I intended - I was more interested in what other Forge members saw as possible flaws in themselves that might inspire the kind of vitriol that The Forge frequently draws from people outside the community. A self-inventory, so to speak, not a mind-reading session ;)

Also, I meant to add to the thread that already existed (as it specifically addressed the issue of anger directed at The Forge by outsiders and what Forge members thought of it and could do to remedy it). Really, despite no recent posts being made to that thread, I don't think that my reply needed to be split off.

Anyhow, that's about it right now. I've had some really good, fair, feedback over at RPGnet and have drawn several conclusions thus far:

A. The negative feedback that The Forge generates isn't as widespread as I previously thought. It's very apparent that only a select few individuals actively crusade against The Forge (they merely do so quite loudly and frequently, projecting the illusion of being a large group of people).

B. Several of the behaviors that the more rational detractors complain of are tendencies that I've seen on any given number of message boards, not behaviors confined only to Forge members.

C. Several of the behaviors that the more rational detractors complain of
Forge posters exhibiting are, in fact, behaviors that I've noticed myself exhibitng to one degree or another (lately, I've been making an effort to curb those behaviors).

And... uhm... for now that's about all that I have to offer :)
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James D. Hargrove
Mark Johnson
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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2004, 07:08:38 PM »

Quote from: jdrakeh
Several of the behaviors that the more rational detractors complain of Forge posters exhibiting are, in fact, behaviors that I've noticed myself exhibitng to one degree or another (lately, I've been making an effort to curb those behaviors).


Such as?  I would read the original thread a bit more closely, but at 17 pages, it was a bit much to take in one sitting.
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jdrakeh
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2004, 08:27:55 PM »

Quote from: Mark Johnson

Such as?  I would read the original thread a bit more closely, but at 17 pages, it was a bit much to take in one sitting.


Oh, where to start...

Well, first and foremost, I can be very arrogant without realizing it sometimes. In the recent past, I've made a concerted effort to think about what I post before I post it, choosing the most appropriate response to a given situation (as opposed to the response that first comes to mind). This arrogance has a lot to do with my upbringing, but upbringing is no excuse for unnecessary snootiness. That's something that I can change, and so have set about changing it.

Second, I tend to intellectualize a lot without good reason. While I'd like to consider myself an intellectual, the fact is that I have relatively little schooling past High School (due to some bad decisions on my part). I've tried to step that down a bit, as I think that it that it might be a coping mechanism that I use to deal with a deep-seeded sense of inferiority when surrounded by those whose schooling obviously exceeds my own.

And, of course, there are several other flaws that have been touched upon by posters in the thread (I still don't subscribe to the assertion that The Forge - or any single member of it - has a "cult-like" attitude, though).

The point is that there are some reasons that The Forge draws a lot of fire (as nice as it would be to say that these reasons were simply delusions cooked up by our detractors, it wouldn't be honest). The good news is that these flaws seem to belong to individuals, rather than The Forge as a whole, which means that they can be addressed by the individual (and with a little bit of effort, toned down a bit).

Of course, I could be way off-base here. I've had a fairly emotional past several months, and the mental wear and tear could just be taking its toll. I openly concede that this could be the case, though it wouldn't explain other people noticing these same thing ;)
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James D. Hargrove
Bankuei
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« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2004, 08:45:59 PM »

Hi folks,

Some major things to think about when posting anything(anywhere, not just rpg.net) are:

-Are you providing NEW(not previously posted in this thread) information to the discussion?
-Are you repeating yourself?
-Are you defending the Forge(or anything)?  If so, why?  Against whom?  What can they really do?

Where people usually get caught up is the folks who I call chameleon trolls.  They ask questions that are reasonable enough, or polite enough, but they never seem to acknowledge anything you've posted.  In fact, the pattern is that you stretch further and further to meet them halfway, and before you know it, you're way off balance and arguing about something that has nothing to do with the point of the thread.  

Eventually, frustration builds, because you keep thinking that the person is open or aware enough to actually have a discussion, when in fact, they have already made up their minds and no discussion is occuring.  After some point, someone, gets angry, and gets personal.  Then it goes to all hell.

Regarding these particular people, it is both true that they "don't get it" and are "being jerks"... but it has nothing to do with GNS, director stance, or whatever folks happen to be arguing about.  What it is that they don't get is the rules for reasonable conversation, that you have to acknowledge and respond to points, not simply moving the target or setting up strawmen arguments.

And of course, though those statements are true, each one posted adds up to a case of "evidence" that you(now collectively the Forge) believe that they(actually these couple of persons, but perceived as all of everyone who isn't the Forge) are stupid ignorant fools.  

So, the answer?  Confucious said, "If I show you one corner to a square and you can't find the other three, then I can't talk to you."   Say what you have to say, and do not argue.  Do not bother even acknowledging anyone who isn't giving reasonable discussion.  This isn't elitism, the goal isn't to win converts, but instead to provide clear information so that people can make educated decisions for themselves as to what they like, dislike, agree or disagree with.  

And if anyone says the message, "Look for yourself, decide for yourself, think for yourself" is elitist, then they're telling you something about themselves.

Chris
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Mark Johnson
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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2004, 11:01:13 PM »

Quote from: jdrakeh
Of course, I could be way off-base here. I've had a fairly emotional past several months, and the mental wear and tear could just be taking its toll. I openly concede that this could be the case, though it wouldn't explain other people noticing these same thing ;)


James, I have never, ever seen anything that you posted that seemed either arrogant or faux intellectual.  I am really surprised that you would think that of yourself.

Alas, the biggest problem that these misconceptions about the Forge has is that it could be depriving designers of a great resource and tool.
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jdrakeh
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« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2004, 11:46:21 PM »

Quote from: Mark Johnson

James, I have never, ever seen anything that you posted that seemed either arrogant or faux intellectual.  I am really surprised that you would think that of yourself.


First, thank you. That said, I don't think that I've had that problem so much here. I feel pretty at home when I visit The Forge, and haven't had anything but pleasant exchanges with other Forge posters. In short, it's a pretty low-stress environment for me, so I don't tend to snap into overly agressive posts here.

Now that said, not every place is as comfortable for me as The Forge is (take RPGnet for instance). It's in these less focused, more diverse arenas of public debate that I tend to slip into arrogance and intellectualism (particularly with certain individuals). But because I'm also a Forge member (and people at these other forums know as much), it ends up reflecting poorly on The Forge.

This is something that I regret, thus I've been trying to curb those tendencies (and hey, it can only make me a better person in general, anyhow).

Quote
Alas, the biggest problem that these misconceptions about the Forge has is that it could be depriving designers of a great resource and tool.


Well, and that bothers me to some extent, as well. I've just gone a few rounds over at RPGnet with somebody who refuses to look at The Window because he's heard that the author is a "dickhead". That is to say, whether or not the author actually is a dickhead doesn't matter to this individual, merely that this individual perceives the author as being such. And that's the bottom line.

Something that I learned while working for the Deaprtment of Defense in a physical security capacity is that, where the public is concerned, what is actually going on in a given situation does not matter - it's what the public perceives that ultimately shapes their opinion, thus it's the action that they perceive to be taking place which you have to take careful steps to control. ;)
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James D. Hargrove
Walt Freitag
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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2004, 06:18:08 PM »

Quote from: jdrakeh
Also, I meant to add to the thread that already existed (as it specifically addressed the issue of anger directed at The Forge by outsiders and what Forge members thought of it and could do to remedy it). Really, despite no recent posts being made to that thread, I don't think that my reply needed to be split off.


Just wanted to point out that such splits are standard Forge procedure when the rule against posting to old threads is inadvertently broken. If a thread has "no recent posts" (has fallen off the first page) and you wish to resume discussion on that topic, start a new thread and include a link to the old one. For more details see the Forge Etiquette thread. The splitting had nothing to do with the old thread's or the new thread's subject matter.

Perhaps having and enforcing such rules contribute to some people's perception of the Forge being hostile or elitist. But I don't know why it should. The rules at the Forge are applied and enforced more consistently than any other site I know. It appears to me (though based on limited information; I could be completely wrong) that those most vocal in denouncing the Forge as elitist have historically been those most likely to be treated and regarded as "elite" in other venues. It makes sense that if one were used to receiving preferential treatment due to ability to disguise one's jabs with clever wording, the  credentials and/or vocabulary to persuade without valid arguments, or deference to one's real-world fan following, the Forge could come as a bit of a shock.

- Walt
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jdrakeh
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« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2004, 07:46:06 PM »

Quote from: Walt Freitag

Just wanted to point out that such splits are standard Forge procedure when the rule against posting to old threads is inadvertently broken. If a thread has "no recent posts" (has fallen off the first page) and you wish to resume discussion on that topic, start a new thread and include a link to the old one. For more details see the Forge Etiquette thread. The splitting had nothing to do with the old thread's or the new thread's subject matter.


Sorry, as I don't often post on the forums anymore, that must have escaped my attention. Thanks for the heads up.
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James D. Hargrove
M. J. Young
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« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2004, 08:58:04 PM »

Quote from: Chris a.k.a. Bankuei
Confucious said, "If I show you one corner to a square and you can't find the other three, then I can't talk to you."
Forgive my ignorance, but did Confucious really say that, or is that one of those witticisms that people like to attribute to him because they sound like clever eastern philosophy? (I'm not saying that he didn't say it; I'm genuinely asking, because I've heard probably a hundred jokes that begin, "Confucious says" and a fair number of other proverbs which I'm sure he didn't say.)

The thread is supposed to be about taking stock of ourselves as individuals at the Forge, trying to determine whether we have faults that contribute to the perception of others that we are elitist or exclusionary. I'll name one.

I have been in conversations after which word reached me that the people with whom I was talking were completely lost, with no idea what I was saying at all. In fairness to me, I also get notes and comments from people who say they appreciate how clear I was able to express some idea, so I'm not always talking (or writing) over the heads of others. Yet since I sometimes talk over people's heads, I'm sure that when I am that much more focused on my words as I am when I write I must sometimes write over the heads of others as well.

That's not surprising, I suppose. After all, I do have a Juris Doctore, I have taught undergraduate theology, I often write about difficult subjects like http://www.mjyoung.net/time/">time travel, and I've a stack of test scores which strongly suggest that I'm smarter than the average bear. One think I appreciate about the Forge is that there are people here who challenge me, and who not only understand what I say but expand upon it in meaningful ways.

At the same time, there are sometimes posts here that are boggling to me. Part of that is that it's usually the end of the day for me by the time I get here, so I'm not always sharp; but certainly part of it is that we have a number of college professors and others with advanced degrees in numerous fields--as someone once said over at Gaming Outpost, some of the sharpest knives in the drawer. The discussion here does not slow down; it does not step down, or draw back from difficulty, even when it moves through materials unfamiliar to many of us. It's a place where even the best and the brightest are learning something. That means it's not always on the level of the ordinary board game rules set. You have to work to keep up with a lot of what's said here, even if you've been involved in the discussions for years and have a strong academic or intellectual background. For those who come later, or who are not accustomed to conversation being work, it must be daunting at times. That means that all of us have to believe participation here is worth an effort.

If you don't believe that it's worth any effort to participate here, then of course you're going to perceive the rest of us as elitist--because we're really not going to rapidly embrace the ideas and suggestions of someone who wanders in off the web and starts presenting "new" ideas which we discussed years ago, but if we say, "Oh, yeah, we talked about that back in '98, and this is what we learned," at least some of them are going to be offended that we're not impressed with their deep insights into gaming.

So maybe it is elitist to expect people to do a bit of work if they want to participate; but maybe it's only elitist to those who don't want to do the work.

--M. J. Young
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2004, 12:24:13 PM »

Quote
What concerns me isn't the reputation of The Forge itself, but the fact that despite not having done anything to overtly deserve it, people tend to identify Forge members as overly hostile elitists. Why is that?


Well, first, we're human, and make mistakes. At least, I do, in spades. This means that not every interaction is going to go well. That's just not possible. I'm an ass sometimes - whatchagonnadoaboudit? Just about everybody makes a jackass out of themselves once in a while.

Now, does that mean that the signal to noise ratio is low here? Quite the contrary. But it does mean that we don't make friends with everyone who comes here. For whatever reason. Since the community standards are high, then the person who feels that they've been rejected by our community will retaliate with claims of elitism.

Worse, if a person has been hurt by similar groups before, any groups that have high standards, then they don't even have to be hurt by us to dislike us. We just have to seem like those other groups that hurt them. Which we no doubt do in some ways. Further, there will be some with agendas that don't match ours, and who don't want to play nice to make their points as well. And other reasons no doubt.

So there's going to be some folks who don't like us. Like you say, however, they're actually not that numerous. Consider that far more numerous are the people who say, "The Forge who?" And a couple of thousand folks who are registered who seem to think that there are good things going on here.

Soooo....is there actually a problem that needs to be addressed? I mean, here'e Mike again to play ostritch, I suppose, but I'd rather see everyone in this post out there actually playing nice and getting things done, than wondering why it is that people think we don't play nice. Since, for the most part, we play nice.

Mike
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Clay
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« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2004, 12:29:38 PM »

One very likely reason why this site is perceived as elitist is that it sets itself up to be elitist. A lot of the discussions here, especially when delving into theory, sound like the sort of twaddle that you hear college professors spouting. In case anybody missed it, that was intended to be offensive, because I'm trying to get your attention.

Discussions here tend to use a lot of jargon.  Jargon is useful for lending precision to discussions among people who are well versed in a field.  It also creates a gigantic wall that separates those on the inside from those on the outside.  Every time you use the forge specific jargon in your discussions you are sending a message to newcomers that you're in insider and they aren't.  It says that they really aren't ready to participate in the discussion.  

Taking that into account, it's hardly suprising that people look at this board as a hive of elitist snobs.  With some of our discussions we're letting them know that we most definitely are.  It isn't necessarily bad.  One of the common threads around this site is that it's a good idea to read for a while before asking questions that have already been answered, and to get an idea of how to go about asking the question.  But that is definitely setting this site apart from most of the rest of the net, which is pretty much the definition of elitist.

If you want to tone it down, stop using jargon.  Smash your thumb with a hammer every time the phrase "Director Stance" comes out of your keyboard. Pull out a lock of hair every time the word "Gamism" comes up. If you can't do that, accept that fact that this place is elitist, and do your best to usher the newcomer into our midst as gracefully as possible.
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Clay Dowling
RPG-Campaign.com - Online Campaign Planning and Management
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