A small vent: A problem with LumberJocks.com is..

A problem with LumberJocks.com is there is so darn much content is seems very difficult to extend any criticism without worrying about hurting someone's feelings. I've spent good time wring several thoughtful comments only to decide to erase them and say something nice. Evidently that's the norm, hundreds (thousands?) of "atta-boys" and "atta-girls" along with many projects that, IMHO, don't merit publication. Yet, the site seems to want to grow, grow, grow! On the other hand, some folks there publish some very fine projects too... ::: vent over!!! :::
Bill
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Well if you are an advanced amateur or professional, then sometimes the work does seem poor. Though think back to some of the first pieces that you have done and how much you have or haven't progressed in skills. If you didn't get good praise for even a poor piece, would you have continued on doing any woodworking? Probably not. I know that my first pieces are far from perfect but an encouraging word would help.
Allen
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wrote:

Well if you are an advanced amateur or professional, then sometimes the work does seem poor. Though think back to some of the first pieces that you have done and how much you have or haven't progressed in skills. If you didn't get good praise for even a poor piece, would you have continued on doing any woodworking? Probably not. I know that my first pieces are far from perfect but an encouraging word would help. Allen
Well, if all people are looking for a kind word, they can post their work there. Personally, I think I'd place a higher value on criticism that would make my next efforts that much more productive or make me a better designer. Criticism can still be doled out with a kind and encouraging word. The ratio of encouraging words to criticism is very very high--so high that in many cases they make for pointless reading, except perhaps for the single ego we wish to nurture. Your points are well-taken and I haven't had my last thought about this. I've learned a lot at that site too.
Bill
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On 01/31/2010 09:03 PM, allen476 wrote:

Personally I'd rather have some useful criticism along with the praise to help improve the next piece. Others may just be looking for kudos.
Chris
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I've seen little-to-no resistance to *constructive criticism* that was phrased in a courteous, civil, and helpful manner, on LJ.com.
I have, however, seen people forget that -- on the other side of the internet -- is a genuine human being. When that happens, and civility is lost, then -- like all media -- the conversation degrades.
Bill: my experience couldn't be more different than yours. I welcome constructive criticism, on my projects, from grown-ups.
And I get it.
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Neil Brooks wrote:

Neil,
Maybe you misunderstood my point. It is just that the kudos/criticism ratio is just high, high, high. I did not say no one knew what to do with constructive criticism or that none was offered. But it's monotonous to read 30 "nice job!" comments when there is evidently more that could be said. The other day, after reading about 25 nice job comments on an item, I inquired, "Well, what about putting a finish on it?". My comment was appropriately received, but what the hel*!
Bill
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Ah.
Okay.
That's a valid point, but ... LJ is a VERY active site.
It's tough to strike a balance between giving kudos where you feel kudos are deserved (a very quick proposition, in terms of time commitment), and taking the five or ten minutes (not everybody is a fast typist) to give a thoughtful and helpful critique.
If people spent more time on each project, then ... they'd either have to look at/comment on fewer projects OR increase the overall time on the site -- something lots of us are trying not to do ;-)
But ... I do take your point.
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wrote:

Bill
If you would you feel better I can give you the email address of my sister-in-law's husband. (-;
No matter what you make, do, buy, or find in a trash can. He will find something wrong with it, know how to build it better, knows somebody who has done it better, cheaper, less time, etc.
Larry C
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Larry C wrote:

He sounds thorough. ; )
I think there is an economic principle concerning "marginal value" at work in LJ's situation. I would simply guess that the marginal value from each user's perspective may be negative for each new member they pick up past 15,000. Wait until they approach 25,000 members and see (they went from about 7,000 to 15,000 last year).
Bill
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Sounds like an asshat.
LJ serves a specific audience, and it is a monitored, moderated forum to make sure it stays that way.
It is not an open-doored free for all replete with long sanctimonious political diatribes, screeching about the environment, or long copied/ pasted Google recitations on who screwed up the economy.
It is set up for the beginning to pretty talented wood worker, and seemingly to me, almost none are full time professionals.
They are there to enjoy the woodworking experience by sharing with one another their work and experiences. They support one another, and even if they are biting their respective tongues when they say it, they are supportive of one another.
So you can either enjoy that experience, or move to a guild site where they will criticize every tool you use, and every joint you make, and every design you render. Some folks there are nice, but IME most are arrogant know-it-alls that have the luxury of turning out one piece a year after their day job.
Our local "fine woodworking club" is like that. In a city that has a metropolitan area of almost 1.3 million people, they have about 6 - 7 attendees at their once a month meetings. They routinely run off everyone that wants to join and learn since they are are "experts".
They actually think that the reason some of the newbies bring in something for their show and tell is simply to get the group criticism burned into them. Worse... these guys aren't that good. The new guys would be willing to take a bit of advice and would gladly take it, but the "everyone is an expert" stuff gets old fast.
I personally don't like to pander, but as when we have our woodturner's club meeting, I can find something good in everything that comes my way. Most of the time, folks will ask ways to better their work, or they are relieved to know that you may have made the same mistakes at one time or another.
If someone tells me they want my unvarnished opinion, I will do my best to give it to them. Unless I can off something in a constructive way, I have found it best to keep my mouth shut. At some of the meetings and as well as with my friends I am asked different woodworking and finishing questions, and like so many, they guys that ask are just looking for a pat on the back.
They don't do professional quality work, they know it, and they also know that they may not ever want to put into their projects what it would take to turn out the "best" work. Thankfully I may be asked about things here and there from other woodworkers, but not much that would make me feel uncomfortable coming up with a comment or two, mostly presented as nothing more than an observation, not as a criticism.
No one knows everything, and no one had done everything, and no one is the best at all aspects of anything. I try to keep that in mind all the time, especially when I am asked to comment on someone else's work.
I read LJ on occasion but don't participate. I like the fact that they lift each other up with encouragement. It hauls in the members for that very reason, and that is it is a safe place to enjoy your hobby.
Enjoy LJ for what it is, just a happy place with some very creative and talented people on board. If you feel like you have outgrown it, it has no reason to change for you, so just move on.
Robert
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wrote:

I was being nice! : )

You made a very thoughtful reply, Robert. I appreciate everything you wrote. I've just been serious about LJ for about 5 or 6 weeks, up til then I visited only when someone posted a link. It is true that I expect it to be more than "a happy place", but it also admittedy true that I've already recieved more there than I have paid for in admission. They already have enough projects up to keep me thinking for months and months... and they must publish dozens of new ones every day!!! The whole matter seems to be a leading-edge lesson in sociology... Someday, someone will write a book about this stuff.
Actually, I have found some really good blogs at LJ related to various sort of projects. Those seem to be rich sources of info. The projects have the potential to be (too), but I have disappointedly found them to be mostly "kudos-fountains." But other times "a picture is worth a thousand words".
Bill
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So you can either enjoy that experience, or move to a guild site where they will criticize every tool you use, and every joint you make, and every design you render. Some folks there are nice,...
What sites are worth a visit? I go to sawmillcreek.org sometimes. This newsgroup is the only "forum" I have been regularly posting in. Somehow I've become a tool junkie...and a bit of a tool snob....and somehow this site has contributed to that! : )
Bill
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You can go to the woodweb.com and peruse their database. NO pictures of your projects or pictures of the grandkids holding their new woodworking gift, no atta-boys!, nothing of the sort. While an expression of gratitude is expressed from time to time when someone helps, that's all the sentiment there is on the site.
It is moderated, so no political stuff. Actually, unless you are relating a personal experience that pertains exactly on topic to the thread you are responding to.... it will get deleted by the mods. No anecdotes, no funny stories, etc. It is mostly professionals that use it as a searchable database.
Another site that looks interesting is woodworkingtalk.com. It seems they attract all kinds. In the finishing forum, I do wish they would quit calling TUNG oil tounge, toungue, or tunge oil. That aside, there seems to be all manner of skill levels there.
I don't know that you will find a "professional" site that will like to see a lot of projects since we all know what they look like. I enjoy seeing some of the pics I see here as they are different from the run of the mill things I make for clients.
As a comment on that, almost all of the "professionals" (that could just mean full time in some cases!) I know don't talk shop when we aren't at work. We talk about cooking (one of my favorites), gardening (our southern first season is getting ready to start) hunting, barbecuing, what the kids are up to, etc. We don't talk shop unless one of us has run into a problem and knows someone in the group has more expertise in a certain area than the others and he needs some help. No one wants to hear about routine construction stuff except to make sure we are all busy.
You will see that on woodweb.com. A question is asked, it is answered, and everyone goes away.
I think the forums are like shoes. You just try them on until you find a pair that fits.
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Robert,
Thank you for your suggestions. I'm sure I have visited some of those sites before, but I will go back systematically and reassess. I have had more time for this recently since so much of the current emphasis in this forum is political in nature. Maybe the phenomenon is analogous to the professionals you mentioned who prefer not to "talk shop" in their spare time? I think that one of the "secrets to success" is to be a part of several groups, like we are in "real life"--or is this one of those groups? : ) I think the answer is yes.
Bill
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