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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Maybe Your Definition Of Constructive Differs From Mine

A Broowaha native laments the loss of constructive criticism and the rise of personal attacks on the site.

Please express criticism in courteous, temperate, and constructive terms.

Does that sentence look familiar? It should, for anyone who has ever left feedback on this site. I am hoping now that the election is over, we can go back to following that disclaimer. Or in the case of some writers, we can start following it.

Much political discussion has occurred on Broowaha in the past few months. I even involved myself in the discourse for a bit, which is quite unlike me. The trouble with discussing politics in a public forum is that far too frequently the discourse degenerates into sophomoric name-calling and mudslinging. A lot of the feedback on the political pieces on this site went something like this:

Respondant #1: lays out a thoughtful opinion that may or may not agree with the author of the piece.

Respondant #2: "These are all the ways you are wrong. This is what I think, and if you don't agree with me, you are stupid."

Respondant #1: "No, you're stupid!"

I'm sure you'll agree it's incredibly fascinating stuff.

This is why I normally abstain from discussing politics in a public forum. This is also why I haven't spent a lot of time on Broowaha recently, and why I choose to write about music.

I don't harbor any illusions that anyone has even noticed my absence from Broowaha. As a writer, you like to think that you will receive some helpful instruction about your writing, whether the reader agrees with you or not. Broowaha offered that when I started writing. In recent months, however, the discourse here has reached the same level as any message board anywhere on the Net. It's a shame, really. I'd like to think we are here to make each other better and not to shred each other's character. Personally, I would rather have comments about my writing than about me.

As for my other point about why I choose to write about music. I write about music, not only because I enjoy experiencing it, but also because it brings people together. People of all ages, races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and religious affiliations come together to listen to a favorite band.

At any given music show, we're not Democrats and Republicans. We're just fans. Politics, on the other hand, divides people. Don't believe me? Look at the red-blue map representing electoral votes. Or just go back and look at the political articles posted here in the last few months.

I know in writing this piece, I am opening myself up for some snide comments. After all, that has become fairly standard practice here. All I can do is extend my deepest thanks for proving my point.



About the Writer

Gary Schwind is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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12 comments on Maybe Your Definition Of Constructive Differs From Mine

Log In To Vote   Score: 12
By Gary Schwind on November 05, 2008 at 07:44 am

Very well said, Julian. I don't expect 100% agreement, but it's always nice when someone can say, "I disagree, but the piece was well written." Or even, "I disagree, and here is where your article could use a little more work."

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Log In To Vote   Score: 9
By Edward on November 05, 2008 at 07:02 pm

This story is well expressed.  Gary, your point here is exactly why I backed off from Broowaha.  From what I can tell, a few others have also backed off Broowaha for the same reasons you bring up here.  I've read where others have brought your points up, several times before.  I'm glad to see another Broowaha participant again point out this sad flaw in Broowaha.

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Log In To Vote   Score: 9
By AmyO on November 05, 2008 at 07:14 pm

I have noticed a lot of people have disappeared from here that used to contribute. I hope that now that this election is over, we can all "express criticism in courteous, temperate, and constructive terms."

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Log In To Vote   Score: 9
By Edward on November 05, 2008 at 07:16 pm

Spoken like a true gentlewoman Amy.

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By C.rus on November 05, 2008 at 07:53 pm

As a new "Contributer" here, I think this was a good piece to give some guidelines; even in they are not official. Thanks, Senor(a)

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Log In To Vote   Score: 12
By Gary Schwind on November 05, 2008 at 09:42 pm

I hope you're right, Amy. C.rus, welcome to Broo.

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Log In To Vote   Score: -6
By CCNY on November 06, 2008 at 12:30 am

Well, Edward, I took your advice in that other thread and read this article by Gary.  A few notes:

"Personally, I would rather have comments about my writing than about me."  Cool, then you should know that respondent is spelled with an 'e' not an 'a.'

Seriously, most of the stuff I read here on Broo is agree-to-disagree, back-n-forth discourse but with a serious biting edge to it; as you say, like a lot of internet forums.  When I first got on the site and got a stiff arm and nasty word from a lot of people who didn't agree with me, I thought of bailing on it, but thought better of it.  Why curl up and cry about disagreements when it's so much more fun to keep standing up and expressing your opinion and keeping the dialogue going, however uncivil you believe it to be?

This thread is a little too dainty, a little too "No, my friend, YOU are the nicest guy," countered with "No, how can that BE when YOU are the most courteous and temperate person on the site."  Where's the fun in that?

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Log In To Vote   Score: -6
By CCNY on November 06, 2008 at 08:28 am

The absurd speech codes that exist at some American universities define offensive speech as "anything that hurts someone's feelings, makes someone feel impotent or angry..."

That's foolishness to me, as it's hard to predict what will set off one person, let alone all the people who might attend the university.  Same thing here... I've had bad reviews here, and been hit over the head by other's comments.  But at the end of the day, I still wanna be on here (thanks Julian for talking me off the ledge that time) because the debate is very interesting and thought-provoking.

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Log In To Vote   Score: 12
By Lady D on November 06, 2008 at 06:16 pm

Sometimes it is hard to separate ourselves from speaking from our emotions (especially when we disagree with content) so thanks for making us more thoughtful.

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Log In To Vote   Score: 12
By Gary Schwind on November 07, 2008 at 08:32 am

CC, I have no trouble with dissenting opinions. However, I have no use for them when they merely become vehicles to hurl insults at the person with whom you disagree. When a writer goes straight to the juvenile insults, he (or she) has given everyone else a very good reason to ignore him (or her).

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Log In To Vote   Score: -6
By CCNY on November 07, 2008 at 11:30 am

But I've actually learned things or seen a different side to an issue as a result of posts that have also insulted me.  Of course, nobody should look forward to or routinely expect something like that, but we're all grown up here, I think, and election times bring out a lot of fervor and passion in folks, so maybe that accounts for some of the vitriol.  But overall, I think that since this is a public forum, thick skin should also be in order.

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Log In To Vote   Score: 8
By Edward on November 08, 2008 at 07:43 pm

C.rus, you wrote, “some guidelines; even in they are not official.”  But they ARE official.  They’re posted on this board just under Add A Comment.  As Gary wrote, the posted official rule/guideline is, Please express criticism in courteous, temperate, and constructive terms.

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