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Old 03-14-2010, 08:26 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
I wonder if that perception has more to do with who was writing the words rather than what was actually written. I wonder if some of that frustration and anger was assumed in the reading of it before it was read.
Those posts were my first introduction to "who was writing the words" so I can safely say that no, that was not the reason. I believe it had more to do with a lack of common ground to start from. And then it all turned ugly and mean, which made it damn near impossible to glean any real meaning from any of it. Furthermore, there were some participants in that thread whose opinions I had, until that point, greatly respected and valued. But after the nastiness started, I started wondering if I had made a mistake in my initial judgement...

When you're an expert on something, it's easy to forget that your audience is not experts and may not understand your terminology, especially if they have definitions from "another field" in their mind. I felt like a lot of the posts in the prescriptions thread were being spoken to an audience that had a common vocabulary, with definitions being assumed. But if I were to look up those terms on 10 different sites, I would get 11 different (and contradicting) definitions.

My best professors start from the assumption that we're all amateurs who don't know a damn thing but have a genuine desire to learn, and they give us every piece of background and vocabulary that we could possibly need to understand the material. They do this even when there's a pre-requisite for the class, because you can't guarantee that the guy teaching the pre-req did an adequate job. My good professors at least ask us if we covered the material in the pre-req, and then do a mini-review of the important points. Sometimes, if I'm familiar with what they're teaching, this stage can be a little dry, but I always understand its value and never suggest that they skip it, because maybe my classmates have a different background and may need those basic definitions.

Even within this single forum, never mind the community at large, there are so many definitions for so many terms that it's worthwhile to dumb everything down to the lowest common denominator rather than assume your audience will understand things the way you do. If you're using poly terminology, it never hurts to explain what you mean by that term, and just saying "well I defined it in another thread" is not good enough because threads are independent. If you've clearly defined something in a previous post on another thread, take the 10 seconds to link that post so that we all know what you mean.
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Last edited by SchrodingersCat; 03-14-2010 at 08:30 AM.
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