Message #27 Posted by Howard Owen on 26 Aug 2007, 12:16 a.m.,
in response to message #21 by Vincze
One of the hardest things to translate between cultures is humor, since it often depends of specific cultural references. Take the proposal to ban discussion of mathematical topics. That is probably a humorous suggestion because:
- Mathematics is one of the three main topics you will see discussed around here, often at length and with great enjoyment
- The subject is pretty well inseparable from the discussions of the calculators themselves, since they are tools to do numeric and symbolic math.
If the suggestion wasn't intended to be humorous, it is funny anyway because of the reasons above. So some of the discussion you are reacting to is probably intended to be funny.
Second, this community, like every other voluntary community I've ever participated in or am aware of, periodically goes through spasms of debate about what really defines the community. For an online discussion group this usually, as here, takes the form of complaints about recent content of posts. Debates like this were apparently (before my time here) responsible for the ad section being split off from the main discussion threads, and in the ad forum being presented in two forms, one with auctions, and one without. More recently, we engaged in a long discussion over the topic of eBay. There is a large minority that dislike discussions of eBay and who would prefer to see them split off. We took an informal poll, and it turned out that the majority felt that these discussions were often relevant to collecting, so the curator did not create a separate area for those. These were both good, appropriate outcomes, that took into account the majority view on matters, despite what Dave Hicks says about this not being democracy. (I suspect he says that so that he can reserve his right, as the presenter of the museum content and this forum, to take actions he believes are right despite what a majority might feel at any given time.)
Unfortunately, this time around, you were the "lightning rod" for a particular complaint many people have had here over the years. Forum members are encouraged to do research before asking questions. Somehow, some folks apparently got the idea that you weren't doing enough of that kind of research. Personally, as I said in the original thread where you reported getting an email telling you to stop "dumbing down" the forum, I think that simple questions benefit me because I get to revisit stuff I learned a long time ago. At a minimum, this refreshes the knowledge, and since it's knowledge about topics I love, that's a pleasure. But sometimes I learn something unexpected in the process, or even find out that something I thought I knew was mistaken. I really value those sorts of experiences.
I also think that your questions weren't all that simple, most of the time. In fact, I suspect that it may be the way that they are conveyed that annoys some people. That is, your command of written English isn't up to the usual standard around here. That's not a problem for me - I can understand you just fine - but it may be for others. (Apologies if I'm misreading anyone's state of mind on this.)
In any case, I wouldn't worry too much about the opposition this has stirred up. As someone pointed out, you have quite a bit of support here. I think your best course would be to try to adopt some of the more helpful suggestions, and do as much research as you can. And then ignore the stuff that seems hateful or unfair to you. See how that works out. Perhaps that will be all it takes to mollify some of your critics.
As to the "socialist" nature of the discussions, that is a very loaded term coming from a Hungarian, of course. It has a different connotation in Western Europe, where quite a few democracies adopted socialist economic and social policies. In the US, the term is fraught with years of cold war rhetoric, and full of echoes from recent and ongoing political struggles. In all three cases, the term is likely to ring different bells in the minds of the reader. Exactly because of that, the term "socialist" in your second sentence tends to push buttons you probably didn't intend to. So let me offer my interpretation of what you meant. You think that some of the comments sound like they are coming from (soviet style) political commissars who want to control your behavior for the "good of the community?" Is that right?
In conclusion, I'm glad you are still hanging out here. If I were you, I'd go back to posting your questions and engaging in discussions like you were before all this flared up. You can try to be more aware of sensibilities that say you should do more leg work before you post, but I wouldn't take that to extremes. For example, even without a manual, pushing buttons on your 35s or other HP is a great way to figure out how it works. What you are aiming at is something I heard you remark on in an earlier thread: the ability to conceptualize what is going on inside the calculator. That will come with practice, and discussions on this board. It's worth trying for, in my opinion, and I support you in the effort.