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Old 10-06-2006, 11:58 AM   #1
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Self-Evaluation Exercise

A forum member emailed me this self-evaluation exercise they'd encountered at work awhile back, with the suggestion that it might make for a good FYM exercise as well. (A few of you might recognize it from said member's journal, though I've altered the wording a bit.) Since things seem relatively quiet and slow in here at the moment, I thought this might be a good time to take them up on that suggestion.

As the intro to the exercise explains, the basic idea is to take an honest look at the spirit in which you typically read and post in FYM, "rank" yourself according to the point system suggested, then make a commitment to increase your rank by a point or two. It takes probably less than a minute. I gave myself a 0 and a +1, respectively--thoroughly examining the whole course of a discussion before jumping into it is something I fail at too often.

Feel free to post (or not) your results if you like, as well as anything else that comes to mind for you as you do the exercise (please *do not*, however, comment critically on anyone else's self-scoring). I think the exercise is a good one and, hopefully, a helpful reflection on personal accountability for getting discussions beyond factionalism and belaboring of points.
Quote:
In a self-evaluation mode, how do you generally participate in FYM? The idea is to rank yourself honestly, then make a commitment to increase your rank by a point or two.


Listening What is your approach to reading posts in FYM?

-2 Setting up your next point
-1 Skimming for opportunities to validate your point
0 Skimming for overall content
+1 Reading to thoroughly understand others' points of view
+2 Willingness to alter your own point of view


Contributing What is your approach to posting in FYM?

-2 Giving up or dominating
-1 Rebuking or outbursts
0 Maintaining a presence
+1 Contributing data
+2 Contributing for integration and productive discussion
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Old 10-06-2006, 07:34 PM   #2
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i'm not sure i agree with how the evaluation is presented.

looking at the first one, i'd say that i do both "-1" and "+1" at the same time -- i don't see why they have to be mutually exclusive, that by looking to validate your own point, you are better served by thoroughly understanding someone else's point of view, and in fact, that helps you clarify your own position. that's what usually happens, at least for me, and sometimes the result is a "+2" -- but i don't read looking to change my point of view, but i'm willing to do so should ample evidence be presented.

as for Contributing, i have the same problem -- i don't see why these things are mutually exclusive and/or you're only capable of doing one thing at a time. i would give myself a "0" if forced to choose, but know that i can devolve into a "-1" and sometimes rise to give a "+2," however the goal is always a "0" -- maintain a presence.

so i'm confused by this exercise -- perhaps Yolland or said contributor could expound and explain a bit more?

i do think, though, if i might venture a moment of speculation, that the intent of this thread is to point how much discussion appears to have devolved since mid-summer, and certainly since 2005 or so. i wonder if this has to do with fewer people visiting Interference due to a relative lack of U2 activity (the album is old, the tour is over), if (since this forum tends to be dominted by Americans) American politics has become so polarized and bitter over the past few years that it's virtually impossible to posit an opinion that can't be read as de facto support for one side or the other (neutrality is not an option), if the internet has gotten us to a point where we've heard all (or most) of the arguments before and have read (or been fed) the counter-argument to nearly any point we might encounter, or if we're all just getting lazier.

i see myself doing some of these things, and as someone who contributes a great deal (though you'll be seeing less of me as my new job heats up), i feel fully responsible for what i see as a downward spiral of dialogue. there's a sort of one-upsmanship that has taken over, to an extent, and i think we're all guilty of participating to the point where it becomes almost a competition, a place to do battle, a place to scream and possibly be heard by someone who might be receptive to a different opinion and perhaps we can change them and by doing so change everything.

i am totally guilty of taking things too seriously, of placing too much importance on the rebuttal of a line of thought, and i certainly know better. i can only say that some of it is due to the fact that i am angry, i am despondant at much of what's gong on in the world and in the US, and this sometimes feels like the only place where i can do battle with those who are against me since (as seems to be the case in an increasingly polarized America) everyone in my liberal urban environment and media/arts career agrees with me.

so, what i am going to try to do is calm down, step back, and try not to view it as so much of a competition at best, or a cosmic battle against evil at worst.

we might be giving ourselves too much credit -- no one here is going to solve the various global crisis that dominate our lives to a heretofore unprecedented extent (thanks to 24/7 media), and no one is necessarily going to change someone's vote or deeply held opinion. but, perhaps, we can all understand where we're coming from just a little bit better.
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Old 10-06-2006, 11:42 PM   #3
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As a longtime lurker and very, very rare poster... I gave myself a +1 on the first one, but I can't decide between -1 and +1 for the second one.
Usually I post in threads on subjects I feel I know a lot about, but sometimes it's in response to a bit of misinformation I can't just let slide.

In reality 99% of my FYM posts are written out over a half-hour or so and then never actually posted.

and I just spent 5 minutes sitting here debating whether to actually post this one or not
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Old 10-07-2006, 09:16 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kristie


In reality 99% of my FYM posts are written out over a half-hour or so and then never actually posted.

and I just spent 5 minutes sitting here debating whether to actually post this one or not
Well you should post, I'd like to read what you have to say Not to mention that we need some more females posting here

I skim often just because I don't have the time-but I read more intently if I do have the time, and I like to think I do all things in the last section at different times, so it's difficult to pick just one.

But self evaluation of how you post and how you conduct yourself on a message board in general is a good thing, and some people could really use it rather than their constant evaluation of others. Especially people who seem to pop in here once in a while just for that reason. Or who seem to post in general on Interference in that fashion.
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Old 10-07-2006, 09:17 AM   #5
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Based on your parameters-- + 1/2 for the first question, 2nd question probably used to be +1 1/2, now probably 0.

PS, I had problem noticing this thread. I usually skip reading the "Importants", lol.

I notice I've become slightly crankier in the responses I do post and have much more often reached the "Why bother?" stage. I used to use FYM sometimes as springboard for a discussion with my friend and now when she asks me what's happening on board, I say "nothing".

I think Irvine's Paragraph 5 nails it. When I've introduced topics, I've tried to find ones where I can't anticipate the responses, including my own. I've participated less because I don't think I have anything any more to contribute here in a way that interests me. It's not that the discussions go nowhere. It's just that they most often go to the same places. Been there. Seen that. The talking points on both sides are well established and when I start hearing myself repeating the talking points, I know I've got nothing more to bring to the table.

PS, Kristie--lol. Can't tell you how often I've drafted a post I've then deleted.
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Old 10-07-2006, 09:55 AM   #6
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I've never been able to make up mind about FYM. Between all the excessive bickering and ranting, there are occassionally some gems that I like to read and give some thought to.

I'd like to contribute more often in here, but the topics are normally heavily American focused. Nothing wrong with that but I'm often not close enough to the subject to contribute costructively.

And there are far too many people in NEGATIVE territory on the LISTENING side. I consider myself to be a +2 - honestly.
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Old 10-07-2006, 02:33 PM   #7
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Thanks for the feedback so far, guys. I stickied this thread because I didn't want it to vanish into the usual weekend posting dropoff, and also because I feel these concerns are ongoing. If someone doesn't notice it or feel like taking the time to think about for another two weeks that's OK, it will still be relevant.
Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
...so i'm confused by this exercise -- perhaps Yolland or said contributor could expound and explain a bit more?
Unfortunately, I'm not sure whether said contributor is still with us, as they haven't posted in awhile now, their last post was an angry one and they've since deleted most of their journal. Hopefully that will change but at any rate, while I can't speak to their intentions precisely, I think I can fill in a little bit.

The exercise was originally intended for a contract negotiations setting, a rancorous dispute in which dialogue between the two parties had ground to a halt because neither side was willing to acknowledge that some cooperation and compromise would be necessary to advance the status quo beyond a hostile standoff. So strictly speaking, the analogy to a discussion forum is not precise--we're not in the business of drawing up contracts here, and so far as it goes it doesn't mean a discussion won't be productive if people stand by their original positions (i.e., decline to compromise). However, as anyone who's been a party to any sort of contract dispute can attest, most of the problems that arise don't hinge on unwillingness to compromise per se; rather they have to do with more general failures to listen constructively, to give the other side's concerns their due and a full airing rather than defensively batting them away, and to reconsider whether any potential common ground exists within one's own position from which to evolve the discussion by reframing parts of one's own argument in a way that constructively addresses the other side's concerns--which ideally will consist of both more focused critique, and attempts to acknowledge and address what seems worthwhile in those concerns.

So, as applied to the ranking system proposed here, I guess what it comes down to is attempting to evaluate the overall attitude one usually approaches discussions with--not so much trying to quantify how many of your responses might be argued to fit under one ranking category or another. Yes, you're right, of course any good debater will examine presentations of the opposing POV, if only to detect the cracks in their argument or show how they might even be argued to further prove one's own point. And debate is part of discussion, although not the whole of it; they're distinct words for a reason. But above and beyond all this, there's the question of attitude towards the general purpose of discussion to begin with--the social element, so to speak. Do I typically come to a discussion interested and curious to see and understand how other participants think, and to improve my own grasp of the array of possible perspectives on the topic, thus enriching my own thinking? or am I really more here to demonstrate my debating chops, line up my preferred talking points, and pound home the superiority of my own POV--"placing too much importance on the rebuttal of a line of thought," whether pre-emptively or in response, as you put it? I think the collective answers to this have major impact on how enjoyable and productive our discussions are, and on whether they illuminate in a useful way or an alienating one.

"Maintaining a presence" I interpreted to mean the sort of contributions that effectively say "Hi, I'm here" but little else--one-sentence comments which merely affirm something already expressed, things like that. As with any other category of response, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with this sort of post--in fact, I don't think I do it enough, specifically in the form of posting simply to say "Great post X, that was very well said"--but if it becomes a habitual pattern at the expense of more considered replies (which needn't necessarily be long), then it amounts to, well, simply "maintaining a presence."
Quote:
i do think, though, if i might venture a moment of speculation, that the intent of this thread is to point how much discussion appears to have devolved since mid-summer, and certainly since 2005 or so. i wonder if this has to do with fewer people visiting Interference due to a relative lack of U2 activity (the album is old, the tour is over), if (since this forum tends to be dominted by Americans) American politics has become so polarized and bitter over the past few years that it's virtually impossible to posit an opinion that can't be read as de facto support for one side or the other (neutrality is not an option), if the internet has gotten us to a point where we've heard all (or most) of the arguments before and have read (or been fed) the counter-argument to nearly any point we might encounter, or if we're all just getting lazier.

i see myself doing some of these things, and as someone who contributes a great deal (though you'll be seeing less of me as my new job heats up), i feel fully responsible for what i see as a downward spiral of dialogue. there's a sort of one-upsmanship that has taken over, to an extent, and i think we're all guilty of participating to the point where it becomes almost a competition, a place to do battle, a place to scream and possibly be heard by someone who might be receptive to a different opinion and perhaps we can change them and by doing so change everything.

i am totally guilty of taking things too seriously, of placing too much importance on the rebuttal of a line of thought, and i certainly know better. i can only say that some of it is due to the fact that i am angry, i am despondant at much of what's gong on in the world and in the US, and this sometimes feels like the only place where i can do battle with those who are against me since (as seems to be the case in an increasingly polarized America) everyone in my liberal urban environment and media/arts career agrees with me.

so, what i am going to try to do is calm down, step back, and try not to view it as so much of a competition at best, or a cosmic battle against evil at worst.

we might be giving ourselves too much credit -- no one here is going to solve the various global crisis that dominate our lives to a heretofore unprecedented extent (thanks to 24/7 media), and no one is necessarily going to change someone's vote or deeply held opinion. but, perhaps, we can all understand where we're coming from just a little bit better.
Exactly; you put the words in my mouth here, and these are indeed among the sorts of reflections I was hoping to elicit. (Although for perspective's sake, let me point out that your disappointments are neither unique to you nor to this last summer; this sort of collective weariness has cropped up repeatedly in FYM, from post-election 2004 (which, having only been a regular here since mid-2005, I can't remember) to early 2006. Alternating cycles of enthusiasm followed by burnout are probably inevitable to some extent (and, as you noted, typically correspond to prevailing social trends well beyond FYM); but the latter are always disspiriting and, worse, self-perpetuating, if they wind up getting pegged wholly on recalcitrance from the opposite side. As those of you who've interacted with me privately concerning your issues with particular posters know, my response is likely to include an appeal to you personally to help resolve the problem by (publically) expressing your disagreements with said posters constructively, unless perhaps your complaints pertain to something point-specific (e.g., one particular personal attack). Because these kinds of resentments are seldom truly one-sided, and very often they strike me as heightened by general anger about things which have nothing per se to do with FYM as a place to socialize and discuss. As you say, it's all too easy to succumb to the temptation to forget that this is neither an appropriate nor a logical place to pursue "a cosmic battle aginst evil" however we might individually define that. (I don't know that politics proper is really the place to pursue it either, for that matter, but that's a whole separate discussion.) At its worst, this can lead to too many dead-end, circular discussions characterized by aggressive one-upmanship, droning reiteration of talking points, and the pursuit of dominance at the expense of opportunities to learn, understand and more generally just enjoy the interaction. Why bother to browse, let alone post here, if one doesn't respect the potential of those of us who post regularly to offer contributions worth considering, and why not aim to participate in a way that conveys that?

Like you, I've a hefty file of "memorable FYM quotes" I don't want to forget stashed away on my hard drive, and they're just as likely to come from posters whose general POV I don't share as from those whose general POV I do; I've learned just as much over time from the former as the latter. Occasionally these quotes do come from threads which turned acrimonious and repetitive, but that's rare; usually they're from threads where the bulk of the contributors were making a concerted effort to seek clarifications, weigh opposing arguments into the balance in their replies, and engage other posters at something approaching a "+2" level. Collective commitment to aim for this standard is important, and not something I (or sula, or anyone else) can meaningfully effect as a mod, which more or less boils down simply to intervening when things turn grossly uncivil. Which is why I hoped this exercise might occasion some helpful self-reflection. FYM is only as productive and enjoyable as the sum total of contributions from those of us who read and post here, and ultimately the nature of that outcome begins and ends with our attitudes as individuals towards the process and each other.

Again, thanks to everyone for your insights and feedback.
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Old 10-08-2006, 07:27 AM   #8
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I am not consistent in either category. I would say it depends on the poster. I have been here for four years...know most regulars...and have developed for better or worse, an opinion about the deliverer of the message.

I find that after taking long breaks from this place, I am better at listening to everyone.
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Old 10-08-2006, 08:59 AM   #9
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A while ago, there was a thread on differences in postings--how for many posters it seemed that their position was so ingrained with sense of self that an opposing point of view almost seems like an attack on selfhood (wild paraphrase) It seems like validation of one point of view requires total invalidation of the other point of view.

There is also a reluctance (and I've felt it) to grant a point because there is often this gleeful celebration that you have "totally capitulated" or this kind of patronizing "you're finally starting to see it MY way." Or questions are set up as absolutely black and white and if someone refuses to take the bait, there are a hundred subsequent posts berating the opposition for not answering a setup question (or not answering it in the black and white way the questioner desired). There seems to be an assumption that all questions are required to be addressed. Sometimes defensiveness does not recognize humor in somebody's post. There is a place for humor here too, but I've noticed someone's attempt at humor (when I am choking on my coffee) escalates the situation because it is taken seriously..

The people who post moderate threads or threads that are more theoretical or don't fit easily into the vanquish and conquer your opposition mold start to understand their topic is not going to get much airplay. I think a lot of posters (and probably a lot of previous posters) understand the gray in things--the plusses and minuses of different viewpoints (left leaning or right leaning or no leaning moderates) who choose not to post because they realize the dynamic in FYM is the two sides pitted against each other. While it often makes for amusing and energetic interchange, it begins to dominate what could be a deeper discussion. You can watch any number of threads that begin constructively and then devolve until the other posters just drop out of the discussion. I It is incredibly hard to bring back a give and take discussion once the minutia gets involved. The energy is just zapped out of the discussion. I think people try. Like Irvine noted, it is a place where we can try out a discussion that is hard to introduce in our real lives. But there are other outlets and people drift off to find them.

I've been guilty of starting a few agitating threads because I know the discussion will continue for more than ten posts. But by FYM agitation standards, I am a pathetic underachiever, lol. I've refereed (presumptious of me) and called "foul" when it looked like sombody was being bullied (whatever stripe). But I realized that wasn't my job and I didn't like my contribution here being almost entirely a form of social work.

I am guilty of jumping to conclusions about people (to be fair to myself I'm not being given much else to work with). I've been guilty of taking someone out of context and I've been guilty of
not asking for clarification before I move in. I'm not always sufficiently respectful of a person, at least in my head and I'm sure that dribbles into my posts even when I am making a conscious effort to be somewhat respectful.

One of the most constructive exchanges I had was with yolland last year on the "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas" war. We argued for some time, made assumptions about each other, then stopped and took the time to clarify and question until we understood we weren't so very far apart--that perhaps I wasn't saying something clearly or well enough.

I stay (so far) because I really like a lot of the posters.

Discussions are never productive unless you can find some point of agreement, however minor. I haven't always looked for the commonality. I don't often take the time or exhibit the patience that might clarify something. I walk away from discussions I shouldn't without doing that extra work. That being said, sometimes there is no commonality or no commonality anyone will admit to and then you might as well walk away.

So I will make an effort not to make snarky comments (well, not too many--sometimes you just have to) and look for some points agreement with some posters I vehemently disagree with. Can't promise I'll do it with everybody. But then I won't participate in those discussions, unless I feel an absolute need to.
And there is a shortage of women regular posters here. I miss that. We've lost a few. (Or maybe it's not so much a shortage of women posters as women's posts)
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Old 10-08-2006, 04:24 PM   #10
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+1 in the first category, +! in the second. I'm willing to read anyone's point of view and consider it, and sometimes I'll completely change my mind if someone's post is really good. It has to be really good, though, I generally stick to my guns on an issue. When I post, I try to be considerate of all points of view and interest. Some might be bored with my Turkish Daily News posts, but those posts generally have some interest for some of the posters, i.e, the Europeans in the European Union admission for Turkey controversy. I tell someone when I disagree with them, I've had some good debates with some on democracy in the Middle East.
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Old 10-09-2006, 05:40 PM   #11
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i scored a 4++



dbs
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Old 10-09-2006, 05:51 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by diamond
i scored a 4++
Yes, diamond, whatever you say.

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Old 10-10-2006, 12:38 PM   #13
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I gave myself a +1.

0 on the first one and +1 on the second.


Maybe my score would be higher in the summer when I don't have schoolwork taking up my time.
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Old 10-10-2006, 06:56 PM   #14
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I'm confused by the first part. I actually do all of those, just in a different order, before almost every post. Am I supposed to choose only one?

For the second part, I'd say I'm mostly 0. First, because I feel many of my posts don't really add anything important, I just like practice thinking about it and trying to articulate how I feel. Second, because it really depends on the issue and I cancel myself out. With discussions on war and politics, I'm like a -2 and often don't even open threads because they're just not interesting to me, whereas threads about religion or current events are more of a +1 or +2.
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Old 10-13-2006, 08:35 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
First, because I feel many of my posts don't really add anything important
Why do you feel that way? That's not true.
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