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Thread: Time to Grow: 7 Steps Towards Becoming a Better Poster

  1. #1
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    Time to Grow: 7 Steps Towards Becoming a Better Poster

    Foreword

    Participating on these Forums is a privilege and a responsibility. I have often resolved to not moderate with an iron hand but to trust participants to be on their best behavior. Unfortunately that's no longer always practical given our daily growth. People who become unruly, narcissistic, boastful and proud eventually challenge and villify the establishment and ruin the atmosphere for everyone, and we all suffer when contributors become turned off and do not participate.

    These are not rules but requests from me to all who participate. If you feel you have gained and have grown from your exposure and experience on SFI, you are the perfect candidate to put back into the community by becoming a shining example set forth in this post. You will have my appreciation and respect and I would be proud to consider you part of the greater SFI family.

    I would be honored to have you consider the Steps below.


    Seven Steps to Becoming a Better SFI Poster

    There are many who have been overwhelmed with joy finding a resource in SFI where sword collectors, historians and sword makers openly discuss their favorite topics. The quality of conversations on SFI are directly related to the good character of the individuals and the content they discuss.

    As SFI has grown over the years the posts of good contributors are often diluted among the number of posts we have daily. It also becomes a challenge when some people post more in quantity than quality and thereby draw a lot of attention to themselves and sound off their opinion on everything which unfortunately makes them appear as experts to those of lesser experience in swords, and this does our community a great injustice.

    There was a point where I had become very discouraged with the pseudo-experts out there. Some had participated on our site here, and some were rooted in other discussion websites elsewhere. Most of it was opinion with little fact, knowledge or support driving the opinion, but because these pseudo-experts were so vocal and authoratative, the "old timers" saw right through it but were unable to help these pseudo-experts tone things down without being attacked themselves, and SFI got very unfairly branded as fostering an "Old Boy's Club".

    It was around this time I was driving along and came across a billboard of a dot-com. I don't know if they're still in existence but they were a content website or knowledgebase, similar to my goals with SFI. In big bold letters it stated: "Experts have opinions, but not everyone who has an opinion is an expert."

    Now if my staff heard me over the cell phone, they would have heard me WHOOP-ing and shouting AMEN! louder than an old fashioned church revival! Those big bold words could not be more true. There were too many "expert" opinions by people who had no baseline of experience. "This is most outstanding quality I've ever handled" conveys one thing, but when the reviewer has only handled things from Pakistan or the only sword he had seen is in a mail order catalog, that greatly diminishes his authority.

    I'm not coming down on any individual in particular, though posts like this one will cause some people to ask "Did you mean me?" Well, if you had to ask, the answer's probably "Yes!" but fear not, because this is a growth and development we ALL require. As I shared with someone once, see this as a character test. If you pass, you'll do well I'll respect you all the more, but more importantly you'll respect yourself all the more, and then as a byproduct you will find you are a friend among many.

    So be encouraged: here are a few guidelines.

    Revelate, not Regurgitate - It's one thing to learn from SFI and to help others with that knowledge, but some have limited their communication to only regurgitating what others say, rather than explain to people how to get to such knowledge. If you repeat what pseudo-experts say without directly experiencing the subject matter, you'll be propagating misinformation. However, it helps if you go the path of discovery to this knowledge so that it's part of your life, and afterwards you can show others that path.

    Plan a Visit to a Museum - The arms and armor museums give the experience of books an immersive 3-D experience. You see swords as they truly were: they're right in front of you. You get the sense of scale, their construction, their dimensions and all the subtleties you cannot discern from two-dimensional photographs. Such an experience is irreplacable, both awesome and very humbling.

    Handle the Antiques Whenever Possible - (Of course do so with permission, always.) It is said that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Antiques form the very basis of the knowledge that good sword makers thrive on. Michael Bell, for example, who studied under a master polisher-bladesmith in Japan himself has good kantei (identification and appraisal) skills because he frequently studies period blades. It is an imperative skill for a polisher who restores antiques because each ancient school has its own nuances, and the intent of the smith centuries ago must be preserved in the blade polished today. Without such experience the sword is a reflection of the maker's or the customer's opinion only. See how many "anime" (Japanese animation) have big 8 lb. guards and almost no pommels? It would be nuts to have one made... it would be even more nuts for a custom sword maker to even consider such a beast!

    Quoting Instead of Gloating - There are many newcomers who are daunted by their first exopsure to SFI's discussion forums because many more vocal forumites sound off too quickly and tell them off how bad their swords are. This does nothing to edify newcomers and SFI gains the poor reputation displayed by others. "Your XYZ sword is crap." "Stainless steel is crap." That kind of gloating needs to stop. Deliver your viewpoints succinctly but quote good sources (not other forumites). Okay stainless steel is crap... why?? XYZ sword is crap because...? Because you heard someone denounce it or your experienced it yourself? It's one thing to say "Well it might be a armor piercing sword, I don't know but I'm pretty sure" which helps little, versus "Yes, that's an Oakeshott Type XII blade which was designed for the penetration of ring mail because of the acute tip and that it's rigid to allow such use, according to 'Records of the Medieval Sword' on page...."

    Reducing Forumite Farenheit - It is often said that the empty vessels make the most noise. I'm not asking people to be silent, but to challenge forumites to improve the signal to noise ratio. Often times those who are posting to attract attention to themselves will not be told by the polite public that they're being self-seeking (but for some reason I receive that feedback on others instead!) And there are some who share good signal - not noise - but again it draws attention to themselves. People desire to read more about the swords than seeing forumites post pictures of themselves or how they are holding a particular sword or how they are in a particular situation. If it's circumstantial, it's okay. But let's relocate all poses to the Pub!

    Defer to Refer - In another field of study, one expert told me that the most important words in my career are "I don't know." It does tickle me to see some people "Well, I don't know but..." and the next 5-7 paragraphs are pure opinion. It's okay to state observation and ask questions, but it might be good to defer and to refer the person to an article on SFI or to another known expert in that field of study.

    The Pen is Mightier than the Sword - This is far more profound than whoever came up with this phrase. Books are worth far more than swords. They contain the very photographs and knowledge of swords that experienced and seasoned sword enthusiasts study. You owe it to yourself to see what the period masterpieces were like. Your experience must exceed the mass-manufactured swords, or even the work of sword makers who haven't studied the antiques where the sword is a reflection of their art rather than an effort to capture the intrinsics of what made an ancient sword a great one. While it doesn't hurt to support Museum Store (and thereby SFI) I would personally much rather you invest in respected books to add to your knowledge of the antiques.


    If you've actually taken the time to read this without offense, then I am proud of you. This is part of being the greater Sword Forum family. It's the admission and self awareness of "I'm not where I want to be, but now I press on towards the mark of where I need to be." At the beginning of my journey of learning, I met with certain antique collector circles. I was very disappointed with their behavior, how they spoke down to people.

    I've challenged some rude, haughty, self-seeking and loud individuals once with these words: "All this talk about swords hasn't improved your character one bit... swords have just made you a bigger ass." About two years ago when I first stood in hearing an address by maestro Bob Charron of the Fiore De Libieri system of European swordsmanship, he mentioned (whether in paraphrase or quote, I do not know) that Fiore did not want his techniques to be transmitted to those who were not exhibiting excellent character. Fiore may or may not have been religious but as a great master instructor, he saw that greatness did not come from technique alone but the character and heart of the wielder of the sword.

    It comes down to this: are you satisfied with where you are in your path of development? I have found that Sword Forum has been a crucible of refinement, and I've grown much as an individual since the conception of SFI, but I am constantly aware of where I need to be and how to get there.

    We have a great future ahead of us. Many of you who will accept this challenge will become the bricks that form that foundation -- I dearly hope so. I want to see a generation of sword enthusiasts arise who are not violent but peaceful, armed with knowledge, good heart and character who can bring change, revelation and inspiration to those around them, that through the study of old swords that we can find a fuller life and a constantly growing community of others who feel the same.
    Adrian
    Maestro of the Bolognese School (Spaghetti sauce, not fencing!)

    Click HERE for the SFI comic strip "Bloodgroove"!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    California
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    Addendum

    I would like to add another two steps.

    Encourage and make feel great those who moderate - Moderators work very hard to maintain a good forum environment. Despite their efforts they have time and limitation. It is very difficult to consistently moderate as we tend to want to trust participants to use discretion. It is, after all, a volunteer effort above and beyond their day jobs and family responsibilities. Don't publicly harass or challenge a moderator; that will only upset us and you will get yourself banned (if you don't agree to a moderated environment, you shouldn't have clicked "I AGREE" before entering the forums). Be respectful. You don't know how close some careless posts could have gotten us sued. Moderators quietly protect as they are able to ensure SFI has the respect and prestige we've all worked for. We do our best to bring Moderators who are knowledgeable in their field of study so we can all benefit from their experience.

    Know thyself, not show thyself - One of the fastest ways to lose esteem is if you are perceived as narcissistic. A reputation is something you should always work on preserving. People who try to cultivate an audience to themselves, seeking recognition and respect may not always get it and people will not always send such people private messages to help them to see that they're causing their own bad P.R. Do your best not to post pictures of yourself (use the Family Pub forum) unless it is part of an edifying and educational post, demonstration of technique, etc. (a picture of yourself once might be okay, but if you do so frequently you're likely to lose respect). Try not to be self-promotional of your achievements, writings. Instead try to edify and build people up with a good heart and humble attitude. That will go far and you'll have friends for years to come.
    Adrian
    Maestro of the Bolognese School (Spaghetti sauce, not fencing!)

    Click HERE for the SFI comic strip "Bloodgroove"!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
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    California
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    Exploitation of SFI for promotion, and re: HEA Status

    I've seen a sudden increase in SFI being exploited as a free promotional tool during these past few weeks and I am not pleased one bit because the people who promote their business or that of their friends clicked "I AGREE" to the rules and then completely ignored them.

    Usually the pattern is this: someone either working for the company or indirectly related to it starts posting and includes a signature link. The more they post, they more exposure their signature link will have to drive traffic back to their website. (Please just be integrous and invest in advertising instead. Put back into SFI instead of just take from it.)

    Simply put, SFI is an effort of love that we've given to the community for free. We operate on the kind investment of supporting businesses who wish to link with us. So when businesses try to not put into the SFI community and exploit it for publicity, such an action is a sad one. Our readers have always looked more highly upon businesses that want to reinvest into the community of which they are a dedicated part.

    Once in a while those who break these rules claim "Well, so-and-so is doing the same thing." Hang on. Did you notice that the ones being accused are Honorary Educational Advisors? The Rules have stated that for years they've given of their knowledge and experience. Some discrete use of the forums for publicity is allowed by me as a way of honoring their generosity. They've given and given for years, so this is our way of giving back to them.

    Businesses trying to use SFI as a free publicity tool who suddenly appear, suddenly register a user account, and suddenly post "Come check out my website / my friend's website" have not been part of the sharing process.

    I've now updated the text on our Rules page to more explicitly explain the Honorary Educational Advisor (HEA) status of certain participants. Not every HEA is a Moderator, but we honor them nonetheless.

    There are certain sword makers and craftsmen who have been awarded as SFI Honorary Educational Advisors for their many years of unseflishly sharing their knowledge and their experience with the SFI community so that we can have a greater understanding and edification with respect to authentic swords and their manufacture. Because they give of their own time and expense and have asked for nothing in return, SFI honors them by allowing a certain degree of discrete use of the forums for business promotion as our way of giving back to them. Hence businesses trying to use SFI as a free promotional tool without first giving to the community will be frowned upon for breaking our Rules of Conduct. Further, certain HEAs serve also as Moderators. Politicizing or attacking their participation and moderation on our forums is deplorable and will not be looked upon favorably by the Moderation Team of SFI's forums.
    Please observe their title under the user IDs of their posts to determine if they are in fact HEAs or not before you use them in your e-mails/PM's to me as to why you think you should exploit SFI for free advertising.
    Adrian
    Maestro of the Bolognese School (Spaghetti sauce, not fencing!)

    Click HERE for the SFI comic strip "Bloodgroove"!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    California
    Posts
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    No Advertising in Posts or Signature Links

    Retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and business with 5 or more in their employ are not permitted to use the forums for business advertising or promotion.

    SFI was established to foster the growth of individual artists, craftsman and sword makers who do not have the marketing budgets of larger businesses. We therefore frown upon businesses taking advantage of SFI to promote themselves for free while the individual artists are often struggling to make ends meet.

    1. If you are an individual craftsman (be it a polisher, bladesmith, blacksmith, etc.) we invite you to contact a Moderator. We will rename your title to your profession so that you will be properly recognized as an individual artist.

    2. Retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and businesses are encouraged to become financial sponsors of SFI.

    Signature Link Policy

    Businesses who are not SFI sponsors are prohibited from using signature blocks to add links to their business/retail websites. Each post of a person in violation of our Signature Link Policy is basically free advertising circumventing this policy. You may post the name of your business. Depending on how long you've been a part of this online community and how much you've contributed to everyone's learning experience, we may at our discretion* allow non-live links. If your business is registered as a "dot-com" and has a ".com" in its name of incorporation, we will permit this as a business name.

    SFI's Honorary Educational Advisors (HEA) are exempt from this policy as SFI's way of giving back to the sacrifice of time and effort spent by HEAs to advance the community's knowledge of arms and armor.

    * Those who share selflessly stand out more than those who share out of an effort of business promotion. SFI wishes to acknowledge the former.

    For More Information

    For more information on these rules, please visit:

    http://swordforum.com/forums/
    Adrian
    Maestro of the Bolognese School (Spaghetti sauce, not fencing!)

    Click HERE for the SFI comic strip "Bloodgroove"!

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