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Re: small town boards

Posted by Dr. Bob on February 12, 2004, at 1:42:15

In reply to Re: small town boards Dr. Bob, posted by fallsfall on February 11, 2004, at 14:31:42

> my concerns aren't for the changes there would be to me, but the changes there would be on the board. The changes that would happen if people felt they needed to retreat to their own enclave to feel safe.

> I don't live inside a walled community

But we all do live inside walls, don't we? Partly because we feel safer that way? And don't good walls make good neighbors?

> Admittedly I might mind the smell of the hot dogs coming over the fence during the fenced in community block party
> I might feel a bit stung... even if I knew these people weren't actually afraid of *me* and weren't trying to exclude themselves from *me*

Well, what about a block party? Even if there isn't a fence around it, it's still intended for the residents of a particular block. Others might envy the food or feel excluded, but are people opposed to block parties?

> it hurts when the mayor you always voted for, supported, and stuffed envelopes for appears to make light of your concerns and values.
> Dinah

Maybe I should be more explicit about it, but I only have these discussions because I understand that you all feel deeply about things, and care about this community, and I respect that, and value your input.

Still, sometimes I may disagree... And be wrong...


> > > When you answer a question with a question I feel very no validation at all, because I often feel that you are not understanding the point that the poster is trying to make.
> >
> > Well, sometimes it's true, I don't understand the point...
> It could be helpful to us if you could explain a little more about why you are confused.

When I'm confused I'll ask a question?

> I certainly agree that these aren't simple issues. I often find, though, that the counter-questions that you raise feel almost more like a defense to me than a conversation. Often I agree, saying "well, yes, Dr. Bob is right that it could be seen in a different way" but then there is no DISCUSSION that follows. So whereas before I was considering one possibility (and feeling a little control in the world), now there are two possibilities - but I have no way of comparing them or combining them. The two possibilities just sit there and never come together. I feel like I can't respond when you do that because I feel like you've told me (or whoever the poster was) that I'm wrong - the world isn't as simple as I think, and that I should get my facts straight the next time before I present something. But I can't do that because you don't give me enough information on your philosophies to construct a more durable proposition. Also, many of your counter-questions seem rhetorical to me. Or they indicate that the difference in opinion is like a religious battle - where there is no right or wrong - only opinions. In all of these cases, I end up with two ideas that don't come together, so I get frustrated and give up.

Yes, sometimes my questions are rhetorical. Sometimes the possibilities might not come together. Sometimes it isn't about facts, but opinions, values, etc. And it definitely can be frustrating.

Does this count as a discussion?

> 1. Logistical details - how do people sign up for the rooms, what happens if someone stops posting (and for how long) - does their spot get put up for grabs? How do people know there is a spot open and apply for it?

Those are good questions. What if the main page of each board listed its members and how many open spots there were? And included a simple sign-up form, fill in your name and click here... I was thinking it would be automatic as opposed to involving any "application".

Maybe someone would have to give up their spot if they didn't post for a month? I don't know, what do you think?

> 2. Why do you think the smaller rooms will make people feel safer? Is the only factor in safety the number of people who can respond? Isn't the number of people who can read also a factor in feeling safe?

I think the key may actually be predictability. Having fewer other posters means responses are more predictable.

Hmm, so maybe spots shouldn't just open up if people stop posting, since it's unpredictable who will fill them... That was an advantage of the invitation-only idea...

I agree, it might feel even safer if others couldn't even read, but reading helps others connect...

> 3. The biggest complaint that I hear from new people is that noone responds to their post. Do you think that smaller rooms will help this problem? There will be fewer people who CAN respond, but maybe those people will feel more responsible to respond? My feeling is that new posters will get fewer responses in a smaller room.

I don't know, it could go either way. And might depend on who else is there...

> 4. What problem are you trying to solve with this small town solution? Are you trying to have groups of posters feel closer to each other? More responsible for helping each other? Less likely to be uncivil to each other? Are you trying to start up a set of rooms where new posters could get their feet wet, or where old posters can go to relax? All of these things COULD be results of the small town solution - but my question is "What is it that YOU are hoping to accomplish? What prompted this?"

I'd just like more people to feel comfortable. And connected. Then there could be all kinds of secondary benefits like the above.

The big city vs. small town issue has come up before. You can see for yourself how this particular thread started...

> > > I must say that I, too, find it annoying when you respond to a question with a question and when you respond with an extremely brief answer that leaves many other questions and possible interpretations. That is a communication problem.
> >
> > Sorry about that. If you have other questions, just ask...
> Penny wasn't asking a question. She was stating an opinion. "Sorry about that." does not give her (or me) an indication of whether you understand her point, whether you agree or disagree with her point, or whether you have any intention of changing your communication style.

I understand that she feels annoyed when I respond to a question with a question. How can I not agree? That's one of the things about I-statements, they're hard to argue with. My style is my style, it's not so easy to change your style.

> If you do not intend to change, then it would be clearer for you to say "I can see why you might be frustrated by the additional questions, but this is the way I work." Then at least we would know that we should give up trying to point things out to you that we think would help the board.

I can see why you might be frustrated by the additional questions, but this is the way I work. But I do appreciate feedback and suggestions...

> Perhaps you could have put your 3 (much clearer) questions in your previous post to Jane so that it would be clear to Jane what your questions were.

1. I may just be in the habit of asking open-ended questions.

2. In general, I think it tends to be more effective for someone to explain what they mean than for someone else to guess...

> This is as much as I have time for right now. I'll try to get the rest of my questions into a post this evening. I do think that it is important for me to understand what this particular post of yours is trying to say.

OK, take your time, I'm not going anywhere. :-)





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