It’s a Little Confusing…

On the one hand I am told I write a blog that is “balanced and sensible” and am thanked for being a “sensible voice in an ever spiralling whinge storm”. This was what I was trying for.

On the other hand I’m told my comments are “patronising”. That was not my intention at all.

Everyone’s clearly read the same comments, so it seems that we’re deep in “can’t please all of the people all of the time” territory, and no mistake. So what do I do?

Well, I carry on, that’s what I do. The internet and the written word are not the most subtle and effective means of communication, but it’s what I’ve got to hand. I can’t help the fact that the inflection of voice and expressiveness of body language are lost here. All I can do is assure you that I do not intend to patronise, but to inform, debate, and learn in turn. If you don’t like that then I’m afraid that’s tough.

I will, however, refrain from posting more pictures of the Orx as they are just causing argument rather than debate. I’ll let some other poor fool take the abuse and insults for putting up pictures of new toys.

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41 Responses to It’s a Little Confusing…

  1. Jake, like I said in the thread yesterday, if people don’t want others to disagree with their opinions its best to have none!!! I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with what I have to say, people have told me I’m too enthusiastic at times and overly pessimistic at others. I just write what comes out of my head but more often that not my heart. I try to respect everyone’s opinions and give them a fair hearing and I think you do too. Besides if you haven’t received death threats yet you’re not blogging right… I got into double figures on the old death threat count today. All over toy soldiers, that’s the internet for you, its chaos 😉

    • Minitrol says:

      Really?! That’s just sad. I keep meaning to drop a line at your blog BTW good stuff I will comment there soon!

      • Quirkworthy says:

        I find it sad too.

        BTW Minitrol, I think a comment of your has gone AWOL. Last night I was rescuing a couple of posts that had been put in the bin by WordPress’ filter (one of which was yours). I selected “Approve” and clicked “Apply” only for both of them to disappear. Not in the trash, not posted up. I’ve no idea where they’ve gone and my hope that they were just taking their time to propagate through the system has proven unfounded. If you know something’s missing then please repost if you can. I don’t delete comments, or even edit them – it’s not you being censored!

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks FG. You’re winning on the death threat count. Lucky you.

      • Honestly Jake the way most of them are written I’m guessing the average age of those making the death threats is 10. I don’t take them seriously especially when they email them to my blog email address from their actual email addresses where I can see their names and in one case their place of employment… idiots. I had an apology off of that particular dimwits line manager and told they’d been disciplined… as I said they’re hardly serious but I am now up to 11. I wander if I’ll be the first person in the world to get a GW fatwa? lol.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Well that would be a claim to fame. I thought The Satanic Verses was rather lacklustre, myself, but it’s made Salman famous for life 🙂

  2. Dogui says:

    I think someone might confuse patronicing with knowing what you´re talking about. I come to a game designer´s blog to read about game design (mainly) and I know he/she will have strong opinions and output on things based on experience and preferences. I might not agree with everything, but it´s clear I respect the point of view (and find it useful, the main reason I come here).

    In the internetz, saying “this is X, this is Y” sounds like that to some people, who are used to dwell in forums where every time you say anything you have to add “in my opinion”.

    In any case, keep doing what you´re doing. I´m finding it useful, and also knowing related bloggers thanks to the comments.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      That’s good to hear Dogui.

      Regarding “IMO” and “IMHO”: I personally find them redundant 99% of the time, though I do use IMO occasionally FAOD. It *should* be clear that it’s the writer’s opinion, or whether they are quoting something else from the rest of the sentence. I never use IMHO as the “humble” just sounds to me like pompous false modesty (IMO). Like LOL, it’s seldom meant literally. If other people want to use it and feel comfortable with the phrase then that’s fine by me. At least it’s not an abbreviation I need to look up 😛

      • Jake you have to remember, and please people don’t take this the wrong way, that many of our younger hobbyists now live on the internet and assume very different social norms to those of us who grew up thinking having TV in your bedroom and your own phone line extension was extravagant!!! I’ve noticed that many people seem to read things on the Internet as people trying to state fact!!! I had somebody take issue with the article I wrote about metaphors and the GW over at BoLS, they claimed I served it all up as fact… its a bloody metaphor!!! Plus all the way throughout I clearly stated it was my opinion. You’ll get that sometimes because some people only read what they want to read regardless of how you write it down, they even said I thought the GW should make computer games when in that article I actually said they shouldn’t do that. As I said Jake people will read into things very differenty on the internet and people become far more bolshy when its not face to face. I try to ‘speak’ to people on the internet with the same courtesy I would anyone in the ‘real world’ sadly there are a few who don’t.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Me and General Ludd, eh?

        🙂

        Yes, I didn’t have a TV or a phone extension in my bedroom as a youngster, and I am not convinced that it would have been a good thing for me to have either. Last week the news was quoting a survey that said children in the UK were the least happy in Europe and that parents were “buying them off” with gadgets instead of spending quality time with them.

        It may be, in part, that I write long posts, and the internet generation seems to have trouble with that (he said, in a sweeping generalisation) as it’s been brought up on a media that delivers everything in small packages, punctuated with brash and distracting adverts. The other day I saw someone on another forum being complained at for writing “walls of text” when their comments were shorter than the one you just posted (and doubtless shorter than this one). Not everyone can speak in soundbites, and not all human knowledge or worthwhile discourse can be reduced to them either.

        I write as I speak, but with additional care and politeness as I can edit my words before they are published. If people don’t actually read what you, I or any other author writes then there is little you can do about it.

  3. osbad says:

    Troll, unfortunately, come with the territory. If you have *any* opinion at all, even about something as light hearted and inconsequential as toy soldiers, then someone in the world will take it all too seriously and not have a reasonable perspective on it. That’s the internet. If watching people get all bent out of shape over trivialities is a problem for you then don’t read the internet. It’s the only solution that works. For that reason I no longer post on Facebook, or Twitter, and have cut down my posting from “prolific” to “occasional” on the few forums I visit. The stupid aggro around in the world in general (or at least what appears to be stupid aggro) from bored tweenies with not enough to do in their lives, just makes the so much of the internet distasteful. As a rule of thumb I never read the “comments” section of blogs, or YouTube. Even on the BBC website. I refuse to waste my time reading the stupid opinions of ignorant, rude people, and sadly they are so prolific that the signal to noise ration in any blog comments section tends to make it worth ignoring.

    Which of course is ironic, given that I have just posted in the comments section of a blog!

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Many thanks osbad. Well put and entirely correct. Of course, if I’d said it then I would have been patronising, but that’s just me 😉

      Ironic, on the other hand, is entirely welcome; and ironic or not it’s nice to see your familiar avatar on my blog. I hope that Quirkworthy can be a more reasonable corner of the internet for you (and others) to have a friendly and sensible discussion about toys soldiers in.

  4. Well, game designers, translators, etc. don´t have a easy time on the internet, because there is always some blog-/forum-/etc-GeStaPo that is of the opinion that it has the right to decide what is good and what is not. And you won’t believe how some people can hate you just because of your job you know something more or better than them. And it is of now use to explain it to them… they don’t want to understand, just to put their anger somewhere.

    I always check again what I wrote when someone complains and sometimes the other side is right, but most of times it was just someone that does not how to behave among human beings.

  5. Laffe says:

    I think the problem is that some people confuse “balanced and sensible” with “shares my opinion”. Please keep up the good work. And please post any more pictures of miniatures that you find…

    • Laffe spot on!!! I have read many scientific Journal articles in my time that I thought have been balanced, sensible and rational and totally respected the authors opinions and work… and totally rejected every word of it. lol. People seem to take these disagreements personally on the internet and I don’t get it, I really don’t. I had a work colleague who I used to argue with all the time between 9 to 5, we hardly ever got on in terms of the direction the company should take, but between the two of us our ‘discussions’ normally found a sensible way forward for all. However people couldn’t understand that after 5 we’d both nip down the pub and chat about films and toy soldiers believe it or not, they couldn’t understand the disagreements weren’t personal, he was trying to do his job and I mine. Some people can separate that out others can’t.

      • Maybe We’re the last of a dying breed, but I prefer reading the well reasoned opinions of someone who disagrees with me to those who mindlessly agree with me without understanding my point of view. Reading the contrary argument always makes me question my own beliefs and helps me understand my own thoughts better, it can also educate and illuminate me and make me realise I might have been wrong or not understood the whole picture. Truth is I’m finding more and more now that people I meet whether virtually or in real life are less and less willing to be challenged and to take that challenge on board and run with it in a positive way. Sadly the human condition is developing a blisteringly high degree of arrogance.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Is it only arrogance? Could it be fear? Ignorance? Fear of discovery of one’s own (real or imagined) ignorance? A reaction to the sudden availability of unspeakably vast amounts of information (on the internet, etc) and a realisation of one’s own inadequacy to deal with it all? A failure of the education system to properly equip people with the mental tools to debate rationally, argue coherently and do either without taking it all personally?

        I could expand on all of those questions, but it’s a minor brain dump so I’ll just leave it there for a moment. As you can see, your comment sparked a thought or two 🙂

        Thank you.

      • Jake its all of the above but the outward manifestation of all that internal cognition is in my humble opinion arrogance as a defense mechanism. Arrogance allows people to maintain face in front of a ‘challenge’ the likes of which you list they are ill equipped to deal with.

      • Sam Dale says:

        “Reading the contrary argument always makes me question my own beliefs and helps me understand my own thoughts better, it can also educate and illuminate me and make me realise I might have been wrong or not understood the whole picture.”

        This.

        My missus doesn’t get it though. She likes to know what my opinion is, but doesn’t like it when I change my opinion over time through experience or new knowledge, often wrought by hearing counter arguments to my original opinion.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        @FG a manager I once had used to say “the bigger the front, the bigger the back”, by which he meant that the more pushy, self-confident and, yes, arrogant someone was, the more uncertainty and doubt was lurking underneath. It was, as you say, all a front. Oddly enough, it was almost invariably applied to the same… person.

        @Sam I’ve had that too. If you change your opinion because you learn something new or understand a viewpoint better then you’re somehow mentally weak and your opinion no longer matters. Funny, I always thought the ability to admit you were mistaken was a sign of strength.

  6. DrBargle says:

    As an academic, I’m paid to argue. But there are a lot of people who can’t understand that an argument, even a passionate one, doesn’t have to involve screaming in someone’s face.

    I also like reading the opinions of people who know what they’re talking about.

  7. Varrak says:

    Come on Jake, I can’t imagine that you didn’t expect this :). The interwebs is a dark, shady place, especially for bloggers with an opinion.
    My advise is: be as wary of the yea sayers as the nae sayers. It is not because some people lack the social skills to get across their opinion in a civil way that there is no value in their message. Likewise, someone agreeing with you word for word doesn’t really add anything. It might be very soothing for one’s ego but that is not why I go onto the interwebs.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Excellent points Varrak, and puts me very much in mind of the old story of the Roman proconsuls. If they were awarded a Triumph after a military victory they would ride through the streets in a chariot with the whole city applauding them. However, behind them was a slave whose job it was to whisper in the general’s ear “remember – thou art mortal” and/or “all glory is fleeting”. Like you say, people agreeing with you doesn’t make you right. And vice versa.

      • Varrak says:

        Also: no the new generation isn’t worse then us in any way, just different. I’m willing to bet that older generations probably complained that in their days no-one had TV’s and the youth of their day were arrogant because they had it. My late grandmother used to say that the old days weren’t better, just different.

        It is just too easy to point to inexperienced youth and claim superiority. In the long run they’ll get us anyway 🙂 .

      • Quirkworthy says:

        I think different implies both better and worse, but better and worse both ways. Each generation has both strengths and weaknesses, as do ethnic groups, cultures and religions: basically any group of humans, however you choose to divide them up.

        Following on from the above is the idea that each has something to both pass on to, and to learn from, the other. It’s a lack of dialogue that is the real issue.

      • Minitrol says:

        I always wondered if that was just some legate increasing his positive press…

  8. Well, in one respect the folks out there have been become worse. Listening and personal contact are things that fewer and fewer really learn to appreciate.

    I always feel like an alien when being somewhere and everything is so occupied with his personal gadget and talking to people elswhere while there are so many interesting people around them..

    This generation partially has lost the ability to relate to others and that´s a process we better stop and make it go in the other direction.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      As I said above, I agree that the lack of proper dialogue is the biggest problem. Everyone being in their own little gadget-driven bubble is a concern, though how much worse is it than people sitting reading a paper on the bus? Still in a bubble and not interacting. I agree that there seems to be a disconnect somewhere, though I suspect that the gadgets are more of a symptom rather than a cause.

      If I had to guess, I’d say the root cause was more to do with the impression that seems to have appeared that the universe somehow *owes* people. During the recent riots (looting sprees) there were some very illuminating interview with the perps. In one of them, a young woman ranted on about the police not giving her respect, so she didn’t have to give them any. Respect is important, but it must be earned. Police, by virtue of doing an unpleasant and dangerous job (do you wear a stab vest to work?) earn my respect by default. If I interact with an individual officer and find them a fool then they lose it, but the fact that they are in the uniform makes me disposed to give them respect to start with as I can make some assumptions about them from that alone. Drunkards caught looting shops in the middle of a riot are a different kettle of fish. Even on a normal day, why would you respect a stranger? You should be polite and well-mannered of course, but that’s not the same thing (though perhaps we are just juggling different usages here). I think the root cause of many of these issues is this feeling that people have a right to this respect, and still deserve it regardless of how self-serving and lazy they are. The fact that the internet allows effectively anonymous ranting and abuse only exacerbates the issue.

      • DrBargle says:

        “Police, by virtue of doing an unpleasant and dangerous job (do you wear a stab vest to work?) earn my respect by default. If I interact with an individual officer and find them a fool then they lose it, but the fact that they are in the uniform makes me disposed to give them respect to start with as I can make some assumptions about them from that alone.”

        But, if through your interactions with the police, you have found them to be a bunch of, at best, objectionable bullies, that default is turned on its head. Now, that might be the result of being a young black person who is stopped and searched and treated as a criminal. Or it might be the result, as turned my grandparents off the police, seeing the Met rampage through South Yorkshire as an occupying army in 1984.

        It should be easy for me, as a white academic, to see the police as people deserving of respect – but then, the police that I played rugby with would entertain the clubhouse with perfectly nasty stories about their conduct – from antagonising situations to start a fight only they could win, to picking up homeless people and driving them to the next city (stripping them of the fragile support networks they need), etc. But then, they all worked for a police force that, currently, is in the middle of a high profile trial of 10 police officers accused of fitting up three guys of murder, so those stories are all small beer.

        But I’ve gone off the point – except to say, that if you’re the person with the power, it is up to you to show respect to others, even if none is given back. The other way round, and that’s forelock tugging deference towards those with monopoly on legalised violence.

      • DrBargle says:

        Anyway – and again, sorry for the digression – when a troll behaves in an anti-social way on a blog or a forum, I don’t think it is about demanding respect, or feeling that they are owed anything. More, I think that it seems to be a fairly common idea that, on the internet, the rules (generally, but of social interaction in this case) no longer apply. Internet speech is seen as being without consequence.

        I don’t think I’d write anything on a blog that I wouldn’t say in person. Most people behave like this, but a substantial (or at least, highly visible) minority of people on blogs and fora behave in such a way that, if they behaved in a comparable way at say, a panel session at a convention, or down the pub, or at their gaming club, they would be thrown out, arrested, even sectioned.

        And the thing is, I don’t think that trolls do get themselves thrown out of places, arrested, or sectioned. Some might, but the internet didn’t make them that way. Even the nastiest trolls know the rules of social behaviour – they just assume that those rules don’t apply when ‘speaking’ on the internet.

        It’s just a laugh, yeah?

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Digress away DrBargle; I’ll digress back 🙂

        The police, just as every other group of humans, have some bad ones mixed in and your experience will modify your assumptions and expectations of the group as a whole. I have personally met a number of them that I have found to do an excellent and supportive, caring role. However, I am also aware of plenty of similar stories to the ones you relate.

        My wife is a probation officer (a profession that traditionally is at loggerheads with the police) so I have heard a great deal about the experiences of POs and prison officers as well. That, plus having been burgled repeatedly, assaulted in the street and so on have led me to the simple conclusion that the UK’s criminal justice system is broken. It puts far more effort into being careful to be nice to the criminals than it does to supporting the victims and punishing the guilty, despite the clear evidence that the majority of offenders do it for a living and have no intention to, or interest in, reforming. It is not just that the programmes that deal with reeducation and retraining of offenders are woefully underfunded and under-prioritised (which they are), it is that the bulk of the offending population is simply not interested in engaging with them except under duress; ie when it is made a condition of their sentence.

        I don’t think your argument about trolls thinking their behaviour is socially acceptable excuses them, even if it is correct. Those who attacked Jewish people in the street and smashed up or confiscated their businesses in Germany and Austria in the late 1930s were acting in a manner which was socially acceptable in that time and place. That did not make it right, nor would many people think it was reasonable now.

        To me, the behaviour of trolls online demonstrates a lack of respect, manners and general politeness which is far from uncommon not just online but also in the real world. I know quite a few teachers, and their stories of class behaviour (from a sample of schools all over the country) disgust me. As a child I attended a number of different schools as my parents split up and moved about, and though it makes me sound positively geriatric, this was not how it was in my youth. Kids were naughty at times, but there was a great deal more respect and you knew where the line was and when you crossed it. This no longer seems to be the case.

      • DrBargle says:

        Oh, I’m not excusing the trolls – that they think that online behaviour is without rules doesn’t make it so. They’re not the majority, just highly visible, and the very fact that they upset so many people – earlier this year a bunch of OSR RPG bloggers quit in response to the behaviour of a bunch of very nasty trolls who thought it was all such a laugh – shows that the majority think that trolls are breaking the rules.

        Quite a few of my family are teachers, including my wife, and I’m not sure that things have got that much worse – I too attended quite a lot of different schools as my parents moved about, but the last that school I attended was in a particularly deprived area of South Yorkshire where less than 20% of GCSEs were passed, so maybe that’s a low bar to base comparisons on.

        My uncle, meanwhile is a prison officer. He left to join the police, but quit in disgust and became a prison officer again. He said that the daily routine seemed to involve driving around deprived estates harassing and bullying people. But, then, he was a striking miner in 1984, so…

        But back to the point about online behaviour, while I agree that ideas about respect have changed – it isn’t all bad. People might have known where the lines were 20-30 years ago, but, for example, they also knew that sexist and racist behaviour was on the acceptable side of the line. And even if levels of decency and respect have deteriorated in that time, I’d lay a good bet that most trolls behave perfectly well, are perfectly decent and respectful, in their face-to-face offline interactions. I think that the distancing effect of internet interactions creates trolls. For example, I have no idea – except for the emoticon – of how our discussion is actually going – I can’t read your body language, I can’t read your tone of voice, I can’t read into hesitancy, fillers, etc. I think, for some people, this not only gives them licence to upset people, it actually encourages them to do so, to get a clear, distinctive reaction.

        Plus, for very little work, a troll gets talked about in ‘quantities’ that reasonable people do not. A kind of little fame.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        I think you make two particularly good points there:

        1) that upsetting people gets you a nice clear response in a medium which is rife with vagueness and is deprived of the bulk (supposedly) of what passes for communication (body language, inflection, etc).

        2) that sad people might find being reviled by the bulk of their audience as a good thing (fame – or infamy).

    • @Dr Bargle
      Hm. Sounds like a new episode of Life on Mars ;).

      Well, some of the behaviour of the police these days stems from being harrased from both sides. On the one side folks that think that attacking police is fun and on the other politicians that think that fewer police is the solution to all problems. A lot of frustration has build up during the last decades. And while criminals have the newest gadgets to organize their business police in quite some areas does not even have computers but still typewriters (no joke, though police stations without get fewer and fewer). This daoes not excuse the misbehaviour of some of them, but quite some feel like the butt of a joke by politicians/criminals and then vent their frustration.

      @Jake
      Whoa, never got burgled or anything, is it really that bad in UK?

      @respect
      What I don´t understand: There is so much talk about respect among the people, but often it just simmers down to “Everyone respect me!” and not paying respect to others or even the planet we are living on. Have we become so selfish? And yes, there was more respect in the past!

      But many of the problems stem from underfunding education and giving children the impression that they are an unwanted nuisance. In areas where the education system is still working there are way less problems. But our politicans only go for symptoms if at all, going for the root does not make such good headlines!

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Not been burgled for many years, but several times when I was younger, yes. I don’t think that it’s dramatically worse in the UK than elsewhere. There must be some stats somewhere online to check.

        The problem with needing a solution that will take many years to really work (whatever the issue) is that politicians are rarely interested in doing anything that takes more than their term of office to bear fruit.

  9. Minitrol says:

    AS others have stated disagreement should not necessarily be taken as “trolldom” (no matter how poorly we may consider it was expressed.

    Oh and for anyone who states don’t feed the trolls I present an alternate viewpoint:

    http://www.schmutzie.com/weblog/2011/7/1/armstrong-and-viele-trolls-our-silence-and-my-apology-where.html

    See you in the future ; )

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Oh no, disagreement doesn’t equal trolldom per se, though it could be couched in rude and insulting ways as much as the next sentence, and would, in that case, come under a similar heading. As should be obvious from reading the comments on Quirkworthy, I’m not upset by people disagreeing, and will sometimes argue my corner back and other times adjust my own view accordingly. As long as people can disagree politely (passionately, forcefully and in a heartfelt manner; but politely) that’s not an issue. We are very unlikely to all agree on every topic, and it would be very dull if we did.

      I briefly skimmed the article you linked (I will read it properly later). An interesting and well-argued view. I think her equating online trolls to bullies (just in a different medium) is a good one. They feel they can be rude and unpleasant and get away with it, demonstrating the cowardice so common in real life bullies.

      • Minitrol says:

        Now I have never seen you or Jonathan in the same room at the same time which I believe lends credence to this almost identical article on his also wordpress blog.

        http://jonathanpeace.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/warpath-weekend-a-review/

        Conspiracy!

        He makes the same fair points as you so I guess there are two rational gamers in the industry in England after all : ).

        In regard to rude and insulting sometimes unfortunately the authors are not , um, familiar with the nuances of writing and struggle to express themselves. Oh, the complaint letters I have received in the past range from the inexplicable to the driven by science (but somehow missed the point) to taking the time type a letter then adding a handwritten paragraph of expletives. People I have come to realise are just weird.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        I can neither confirm nor deny anything you say.

        😉

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