Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Blogging VS Forums

Writing a WeBlog, I discover, is a lot of work. You have to do it every day (although I've been slacking off lately, having to do with Having A Life), and you're essentially writing in a vacuum.

(Father forgive me, it has been four days since I have posted to my Blog.)

Oh, sure, I get to say whatever I want to and the really good thing is that nobody is going to beat me up because I say something that they don't agree with.

The down side is ... nobody is going to beat me up because I say something that they don't agree with.

On occasion, I've been known to Have An Opinion. This is cold meat, however, if there is no response to point out my errors of logic, opposing point of view, or that I'm being a jerk.

Thankfully, the Wonder of the Web is that I can always find a Forum which provides me with this needful dialogue.

When I really want to talk about IPSC competation related subjects, there are two forums which I visit regularly.

One is Brian Enos's Forum.

The other is the USPSA Forum.

(Membership in both is required to post; the USPSA forum is accessible through the USPSA Member's Page, which requires that you are a USPSA member and have the appropriate userid and password.)

Both are valuable resources for someone who competes in IPSC and wants to read, or offer, what might be called "Divergent Views". (Usually, I'm the "Divergent" person.)

I have to say, I've learned a lot about competitive shooting, techniques, firearms and 'other shooting sports' from these forums.

[And while I'm at it, another useful firearms-related forum is The High Road. This website features discussions on the social aspects of firearms ownership as well.]

But back to the original two forums:

The Brian Enos Forum is moderated, which means that if your dialogue becomes too acerbic you are subject to being 'bumped' by the Moderator. Well, you can still retain your membership (unless you are an habitual intransigent), but your comments are likely to be deleted and the topic may be 'closed'. Yes, I know this because it has happened to me. In fact, The High Road is also moderated, and member contributions are similarly subject to subjective review. That's not a problem ... the forums belong to the good folks who established them, and they can operate their forum however they please. Generally speaking, moderation tends to make for a more ... er ... 'moderate' tone of discussion.

However, the USPSA forum is not moderated. That means that you are responsible for self-censoring, and if you are inclined to making outrageous statements you may be seen by the whole world as seeming to be a fatuous jerk.

Or perhaps not. I guess the condition of jerkiness depends on your point of view.

There are a couple of threads in the USPSA forum in which I have presented what might be considered to be extreme opinions. Both of these are in regards to the 2005 USPSA Rule Book, the way it was reviewed by the USPSA Board of Directors, and the effect of the new rules on IPSC competition in the USA Region.

One of them had to do with the review process specifically, and whether a bold statement I made on May 24, 2004 (after the 'draft' of the USPSA rules was published) is subject to a public apology on my part.

The statement is in two parts: first, that the USPSA version of the rule book was not available for USPSA member review until WELL after member contributions were officially accepted by the Board of Directors:

We didn't HAVE a USPSA "proposed rules ... published ..." until last week. The FIRST word that a version of the USPSA rules was from Gary Stephens, on this list, at 5/18/04 5:47:55 AM Pacific Daylight Time. At least, this was the first notice I received, on The Unofficial IPSC list. And since the rules in that PDF file was, in part, time-stamped 5/17/2004, I sincerely doubt that any rules were provided to the general membership much before that date.
The second statement was, in support of the first, an offer to apoligise if I was proved to be wrong:
..., if I am wrong and the rules were presented in ANY forum accepted to the general membership, please let me know and I will publicly apologize ... on whatever venue (available to the general USPSA membership) it was published.
I had attempted (later in the dialogue) to accept supposition and unsupported opinion as 'proof', but since I haven't yet received any proof in the form of a URL, I'm still not convinced. So it's difficult for me to present a sincere apology.

Do you see where I'm going here?

Well, never mind the details. The consequence of this is that I ended up looking like a dork, but (my intrinsic dorkiness aside) the original premise has yet to be proven to be unfounded. Being right isn't much, but sometimes that's all you get.

The other thread had also to do with the way the USPSA rules were reviewed before acceptance, but this time it referred to the way that the proposed were evaluated by the USPSA Board of Directors.

The original contributor suggested that "wouldn't it be great" if the rules could be updated without all this bickering.
I replied that the USPSA rules evaluation process was flawed, and the reasons (see the thread, if it matters) indicated to me that we should have a better process in USPSA for changing the competitve rules.

As point and conterpoint, the cycle of accusation and rebuttal continues, I find myself wondering once again whether I am a Jerk or a Dork. I'm not sure what the difference is, but I do know that it doesn't really bother me very much.

I know the facts, and I have access to a place where I can present them and stand back while the vituperative rebuttal pours in. I like that. A 'forum' implies that more than one voice will be heard, and any statement is subject to being picked apart and being regurgitated in a form which I would never have imagined if I had just been talking to myself (as I am here.)

The really BEST part of it is that I happen to like the guy who gives me the most grief on the forum. He's smart, he's a bulldog when it comes to defending his position, and although I rarely agree with him I admire the way he presents a solid wall of ... whatever. Whatever it is he presents, he makes me THINK about what I've said, and the reasons why (1) I think that way, and (2) the way I said it.

And, although he's from the other side of the world, I happen to have met him in person and got to spend several hours in his company. We argued the issues over pizza and beer, which is a MUCH better way to argue than over the stinkin' internet. (Discussions through writing is like discussions over the phone: you don't get the body language that helps you understand what the other person really thinks, or feels, or is trying to say even though his words may not be as precise as he may think they are.)

Any verbal exchange is flawed without non-verbal clues. A lot of the vehemence displayed in the cited threads is due to a break-down in communications. I have no doubt that another pizza, and several more beers, would serve admirably to resolve the differences between us. Oh, the differences would remain. But I suspect that although we probably wouldn't end up with any kind of agreement, the rancor would have been avoided.

In the meantime, I will continue to post my thoughts here because ... well, because I can, even though it seems somehow mastubatory.

I will continue to post my thoughts on forums, because at least then I'm the recipient of some feedback, it allows me to reconsider my position in the light of feedback which is (perhaps, and hopefully) not "null-value".

However, it would be nice if my friend would understand that I am always right, and he is always wrong.

Or is it the other way around?

Stay tuned.

UPDATE 22-DEC-2004
My friend has replied with great indignation and in what I belief is sometimes known as "a state of high dudgeon"

Personally curious, I looked up the word in GuruNet:

dudg·eon1 (dŭj'ən) pronunciation

A sullen, angry, or indignant humor: “Slamming the door in Meg's face, Aunt March drove off in high dudgeon” (Louisa May Alcott).

[Origin unknown.]

dudg·eon2 (dŭj'ən) pronunciation
  1. Obsolete. A kind of wood used in making knife handles.
  2. Archaic.
    1. A dagger with a hilt made of this wood.
    2. The hilt of a dagger.

[Middle English dogeon, possibly from Anglo-Norman.]

Well, I'm not quite sure what to make of that, or even which definition should be implied. But I digress.

The friendly-but-indignant response to my original post ended with the wish:

In closing, may your turkey be tender, your eggnog exhilarating and your moments under the mistletoe mushy.
I suppose it would be funny Bad Just Plain Wrong insensitive for me to suggest:
"Here's a Bounty, clean it up."

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