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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Reading Room Culture
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Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 13 2009, 5:57pm

Post #1 of 178 (1504 views)
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Reading Room Culture Can't Post

I think we need a separate thread to discuss Reading Room culture. When a general complaint surfaced in "Feedback" about bullying, a number of people other than the original poster chimed in with, "That's the Reading Room!" It surprised me how many people felt driven away--people who love the books very much, people who want to discuss them, but who feel that their perspectives are not allowed. (Some also said that they don't participate any more out of time constraints, to be fair.) I had been feeling somewhat challenged, myself, but assumed that it was just me and sucked it up. Now I see that too many people feel the same way. And that's only counting those who've had the courage to step forward. Others have PM'd me privately. The Internet being what it is, one can safely assume still more who haven't dared to say anything at all, to anyone.

This is a problem.

From what I can gather, the gist seems to be that people feel that the Reading Room now only allows one style of discussion, and all who want to study the books in a different way feel told to shut up and sit down. All inquiries must be closed-ended; that is, have only one answer that can be definitively proven, after which the discussion stops.

Now, I don't want anything to stop. I enjoy factual discussions very much indeed! I would love to see those continue. I just don't see it as healthy when people start to get the impression that nothing else counts. We need the full spectrum, a balanced intellectual diet. Using Jung's four personality types as a model, I see us appealing strongly to the first one listed, yet to varying degrees stifling the others. Those four being:
  • Thinking: These inquiries explore facts that can be proven or disproven, such as details about the history of Middle Earth, the history of the writing of the books, and whatever objective content we can be or become certain of. This orientation primarily focuses on author's intent.
  • Feeling: Feeling inquiries explore how the books impacts the reader, how the characters develop as people, who and what readers like or dislike and why that is, and what philosophical social implications a book has, such as the nature of right and wrong, or social roles. This orientation primarily focuses on the reader's reaction.
  • Intuition: Intuitive inquiries explore art, beauty, lyricism, symbolism and archetypes, and the book's place in the larger human legendarium, as well as any mystical or spiritual leanings. This orientation primarily focuses on the collective aesthetic and how a particular book manifests the larger human picture.
  • Sensation: Sensation inquiries explore fun,, thrills, visceral reactions, the sensuality of descriptions (which does not automatically mean the sensuality of relationships, mind you) and how the book affects one moment by moment. This orientation primarily focuses on the book's impact on the body, in terms of adrenaline, endorphens, etc., usually without naming biochemistry overtly.

Thinking is great! I love it! I just think that we need a more balanced picture. We've had the other approaches come up, and everyone can cite examples, but they come up less and less, and more and more often people perceive that the Reading Room regards these approaches as inferior or unwanted outright.

Does anyone care to discuss this?

I do want people to keep right on with what they've been doing--but I think a lot of people would want to see more room made for other ways of reading the book, besides.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!

(This post was edited by Dreamdeer on Mar 13 2009, 6:00pm)


Curious
Half-elven


Mar 13 2009, 6:33pm

Post #2 of 178 (760 views)
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I would love to discuss it. [In reply to] Can't Post

I confess that I find it hard to discuss it with people who don't want to discuss it with me, though.


Tolkien Forever
Gondor

Mar 13 2009, 7:01pm

Post #3 of 178 (734 views)
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However [In reply to] Can't Post

Now, I don't want anything to stop. I enjoy factual discussions very much indeed!

I find that these types of discussions don't go on very long around here.
This is more of a "I believe...." type of place & that's about it.

I'm starting to learn - I can see through a brick wall in time. Wink

As far as 'intimidating', this place is milquetoast, really it is.....

You should go to the Philzone if you want to be intimidated. Sly


Aunt Dora Baggins
Immortal


Mar 13 2009, 8:08pm

Post #4 of 178 (794 views)
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More is better. [In reply to] Can't Post

I never saw the intimidation factor in the Reading Room that other people saw, though maybe that's because I've never had the energy to lead a discussion. I love the kinds of discussions that have been going on here. But I would also love to see the kinds you bring up as well. It doesn't have to be either/or. More of everything sounds great to me!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Eowyn of Penns Woods
Valinor


Mar 13 2009, 8:10pm

Post #5 of 178 (779 views)
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That's an issue which probably should've been addressed long ago. [In reply to] Can't Post

I suspect that the intimidation that some people feel has to do with this difference in personality. While it *is* a discussion board, there are many folks that are more inclined to share an observation or two than to engage in deep debate about them. I'm sure that can be very frustrating to those who want to ask questions, but I think we need to be conscious of the fact that some people come here to see what others are saying, share a thought, then sit back and see if that thought touched anyone else...and maybe answer a question or two about it. They may or may not have much confidence in their ability to communicate, so questions can create a truly challenging situation. There's nothing wrong with either approach, and both are needed, I think.

In real life I'm usually somewhere in between, but can "go all Perry Mason on somebody" pretty quickly, too. ;) At TORn, I think I lean more towards "sharer" now.


Peredhil lover
Valinor

Mar 13 2009, 8:20pm

Post #6 of 178 (762 views)
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Admittedly [In reply to] Can't Post

I belong to the ones who don't post much here. Partly that's just a time problem; as it is, I do spend already too much time on TORn and still don't manage to read everything.

While I didn't follow the scheduled discussions enough to get the impression that bullying is going on, I felt always a bit intimidated nonetheless. Analyzing texts was never my strong point, and reading a few posts here gives me always the feeling that I don't know much about Tolkien at all. Some people just seem able to remember everything they have read, or where to find a detail or quote at once. And I feel the need to look all details up before posting anything, to make sure I don't embarass myself with any mistakes. To which I then never find the time before the discussion already has dropped from the page ... Unsure

So in the end, I've participated mainly in the few other threads. I just feel more comfortable with that sort of discussion, though I don't begrudge anyone the fun of the factual discussions, and would certainly welcome a few more of the spontaneous threads.

I do not suffer from LotR obsession - I enjoy every minute of it.


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 13 2009, 8:20pm

Post #7 of 178 (747 views)
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RE: "I would love to discuss it." [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I confess that I find it hard to discuss it with people who don't want to discuss it with me, though.



That's why I brought the discussion home to the Reading Room. In "Feedback" it couldn't help but turn into a discussion of "those people over there." Now it's, "You, me, and us." However, the "Feedback" thread did have the virtue of capturing the attention of people who hadn't ventured here awhile, and bringing up the issue in the first place.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


batik
Tol Eressea


Mar 13 2009, 9:00pm

Post #8 of 178 (734 views)
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keep on reading... [In reply to] Can't Post

I think I *lurked* in the RR for about a month before deciding to jump in and post. And that's kind of what it was like for me. Making a decision and then acting on it. Yes--indeedy!--some of the replies I had read were-- like--:
whoo! that's over my head or
somebody feels strongly about that or
hmm..that was a bit @$$-ish Wink...
But..I had that *conversation* with myself that went something like--
OK, self..you sure you want to get into this?--might be a little more than you can handle--all these *experts* and such!?!
Yes!--this LotR/Tolkien thing is really interesting... I want to experience more !
So...here I am..a few months later. Led a discussion, even-- Shocked If I was going to be put off/turned off/run off from the RR I guess that already would have happened, eh? Of course this is my 1st time through, so- for me -there is a low risk of being "bored" which may play a big role in this whole issue.
I do think the idea of mixing things up with a variety of types of threads is a good idea. As to whether the *tone* of the chapter discussions will change--sure it will. Hasn't it already--several times over in the past?


Darkstone
Immortal


Mar 13 2009, 9:27pm

Post #9 of 178 (754 views)
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It's all about cookies. [In reply to] Can't Post

I talked about this on the old boards years ago.

There was a rough and tumble political forum that I was once on.

One day a relative newbie posted a long, well-thought out essay. It was quite excellent in fact.

No one responded.

After a few days he posted a rant wanting to know why everyone was ignoring him.

The most succinct reply was “What do you want? A cookie?”

Basically people there agreed with his post and thus saw no reason to say anything.

That’s mostly how it was, and still is, in the Reading Room. On the other TORn boards you tend to get given a cookie for an insightful post. In the Reading Room people just silently nod. Or else just pick out the one or two things that they disagree with and solely focus on them in a long and extended reply.

The Reading Room is basically a "no cookie" culture.

Which isn't bad or good, just different.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



Aunt Dora Baggins
Immortal


Mar 13 2009, 9:39pm

Post #10 of 178 (724 views)
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I dunno, I've eaten my share of cookies in here. [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember when I first posted my little fanfic about the child Aragorn in the RR (that was on the old boards, before there was a fanart board), and I got all kinds of supportive replies, as well as some very helpful criticism which was delivered in a kindly manner. (Thanks, curious!)

But I do see your point. I certainly don't worry when I post something here and no one replies. There's so much meat in here it's often as much as anyone can do to read, without actually replying.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



(This post was edited by Aunt Dora Baggins on Mar 13 2009, 9:41pm)


a.s.
Valinor


Mar 13 2009, 10:14pm

Post #11 of 178 (766 views)
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What she said, everyone read this! [In reply to] Can't Post

LOL. My subject line makes me feel nostalgic for the old USENET listserv days, sorry, been online too long.

Seriously, I don't want to intimidate people by the mere fact of being active in the RR. I don't know what else to do, though, than to tell people it's perfectly all right to post whatever book-related stuff you want to in here, lighthearted as you want it to be. Just be prepared for erudite and interesting and well composed replies in good grammar.

Cool

Just because the declining participation in general has meant the posts have lately been restricted to chapter discussions, doesn't mean that was ever the only kind of post that was intended. Heck, I post whatever I want. Ask them! I just haven't been here lately.

However, I don't want our resident scholars (you know who you are) to change. I depend on them to be scholarly. I depend on visualweasel to tell me about word origins. I expect dernwyn to be able to quote HOME at the drop of a hat. I want to rely on NEB to know exactly what magazine edition in which year published that one article about Tolkien and purple hibiscus (I made that up, NEB, don't go looking).

(I didn't single those three out for any special reason, there are lots of scholars here, I just used them for examples off the top of my head. Don't get swelled heads over it, guys...)

Not only don't I want them to change, I don't think they should have to change. Just like I want to post the way I want to post. I mean, I want to have FUN and part of the fun is being able to come here, to this well loved place, and post with as much or as little thought as I feel at that moment, in my own style. And to read the other intense discussions that I don't have time to comment on but still find time to read and ponder.



**a.s. gathers the RR into a group hug**

So while I want to be welcoming and really would value other Tornsibs becoming more active in the RR, I don't know how else to do this than just put out the welcome mat, say "please post", "I'd love to hear what you say".

I mean, I listen to you all on the other boards, why would I not listen here? I am the same a.s. on OT as I am in the RR. Well, OK, maybe I watch my spelling a bit more...

The other regulars are the same same. Or they are different same sames, but you know what I mean.

Better stop now.

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana


Call Her Emily


Darkstone
Immortal


Mar 13 2009, 10:56pm

Post #12 of 178 (717 views)
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Oh, yes! [In reply to] Can't Post

The regulars in the Reading Room are helpful almost to a fault. Ask for their opinion and they'll wax brilliantly and at length. Pose a question and they'll supply you with enough quotes, links, sources, and information to write a college thesis.

Come in here starving for Tolkien and they'll lay down a virtual feast and feed you till you're near bursting.

But they tend to be awfully stingy with their cookies.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



a.s.
Valinor


Mar 13 2009, 11:11pm

Post #13 of 178 (694 views)
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nonsense, I have cookies: [In reply to] Can't Post


SMILEY cookies, of course.

One has only to ask.

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana


Call Her Emily


Aunt Dora Baggins
Immortal


Mar 13 2009, 11:27pm

Post #14 of 178 (653 views)
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Mmmmm! [In reply to] Can't Post

Don't mind if I do. Thanks!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 13 2009, 11:43pm

Post #15 of 178 (697 views)
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Cookie-rating [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe we should post cookie-ratings. Like an occasional, "My, but that's a five-cookie response!" Or, "I disagree, but you get two cookies for effort." Of course somebody might get snarky and say, "Bad mouse--no cookie!" or "Five crumbs for you!" but I think we're more polite than that. We might even get elaborate and say, "For that you get three Shire oatmeal cookies, but you'll have to work hard for the Elvish Honeybars." This has all sorts of imaginative possibilities!

Darkstone, you might have invented a new tradition!

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Aunt Dora Baggins
Immortal


Mar 13 2009, 11:50pm

Post #16 of 178 (775 views)
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Wish I had NEB's skillz at searching posts, [In reply to] Can't Post

but a quickish search turned up several very nice cookies I've had in here:

cookie

cookie

cookie

and so on. And it depends what you call cookies, too. If someone replies thoughtfully to a post of mine I consider that a cookie, even if it doesn't say "That's great!" etc.

For example:

cookie

A post that starts out "I think you're on to something" feels like a cookie to me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Darkstone
Immortal


Mar 13 2009, 11:59pm

Post #17 of 178 (687 views)
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Wow! [In reply to] Can't Post

They really like you in here!

I guess it's just me...

*sniff*...

(Or it may prove that many impressions of the Reading Room are actually wrong. )

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



(This post was edited by Darkstone on Mar 14 2009, 12:01am)


cloudland
Bree


Mar 14 2009, 12:04am

Post #18 of 178 (685 views)
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This is me... [In reply to] Can't Post

a little bit. But I don't think you need to change your ways. I am very new and realize you all have a long history together. It is difficult sometimes to know if a poster is joking or serious as you are all familiar with each others ways. This is not to say it is a bad thing, it is just how it is.

I lurk here and will jump in if I have anything worth while to post. I do feel 'dumb' at times when the discussions lead off to Jungian psychology or other scholarly topics. So I read and learn....

cloudland (kloud'land'), n. 1. the sky. 2. a region of daydreams, imaginations, etc.; dreamland.


Eowyn of Penns Woods
Valinor


Mar 14 2009, 12:15am

Post #19 of 178 (643 views)
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But...but... [In reply to] Can't Post

I had enough trouble just getting to Gondor, and now I have to worry about being denied membership in the Five Cookie Club?! TORn is mean! And classist! I'm leaving!

Be right back after scarfing down some Thin Mints and milk in the kitchen. =)

(This post was edited by Eowyn of Penns Woods on Mar 14 2009, 12:16am)


Tolkien Forever
Gondor

Mar 14 2009, 12:41am

Post #20 of 178 (626 views)
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Lost [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't even have a clue what a 'cookie' is - seriously. Crazy


Aunt Dora Baggins
Immortal


Mar 14 2009, 1:29am

Post #21 of 178 (641 views)
Shortcut
Well, [In reply to] Can't Post

cookie

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Farawyn
Rohan


Mar 14 2009, 1:43am

Post #22 of 178 (673 views)
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Lurker [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember posting once years ago that I was scared of Curious and Reverend when they used to go at it in the RR. Scared!
Then Curious started posting in the Arena and I saw he wasn't that scary. I've also had the pleasure of seeing other active RR posters let loose a bit (okay, a lot ) in other threads or on other boards. If I'm discussing books, I hunker down and concentrate a bit, it's more serious. If I'm discussing music, sports, current events, sex, socializing, etc. I'm a bit less constrained. Isn't everyone? This is the READING room, not the "dude, hang out and be mellow" room. I hope you are not implying that the RR is dry because it is academic. I lurk all the time and I often LOL.
And of course, I wasn't scared of Curious and the rest of the RR-it was my own insecurity about my writing and spelling and grammar. I speak better than I write, meaning I can get my point across better through verbalization. Yet, I feel more comfortable when writing in a casual conversational tone, which is not always appropriate here. I mean, we are discussing literature, wonderful literature. Don't we want it broken down and dissected and rebuilt by people who can and are willing to do that? I do.
How many times can I say, yea, that book is awesome. I have to be able to describe the "awesome".
Other people here do that way better than I do, so I lurk.

*************
Disclaimer: The author of this message does not guarantee correct grammar, spelling or English usage. No responsibility can be accepted for the use of this message as a guide to written English.
**************
Discuss:
Photobucket




entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 14 2009, 2:02am

Post #23 of 178 (668 views)
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Maybe it's just me [In reply to] Can't Post

It takes a lot to intimidate me, so I don't understand how people will avoid doing something they enjoy because they're afraid people will be mean to them. I also think that attitude is disprespectful of the admins here - as if they would allow such an atmosphere to prevail anywhere on TORN.

I also realize that some of the newer members of the message boards might not have seen me in the RR much, but there once was a time I was posting here every day and it remains my absolute favorite place on TORN. I do lurk several times a week, and keep hoping that my life allows me time to be a more regular participant. Evil

The message boards exist purely because of the participants. No one owns them, and the regulars have no more authority than the newbies to decide what happens on a particular forum. If anyone doesn't like what is happening in the RR, then change it. Make the kind of posts you want to make, respond in the way that you feel comfortable, volunteer for a chapter discussion and ask the kind of questions you want. As an old boss of mine once said, ask yourself if you're part of the problem or part of the solution?

As for other forums being more welcoming, I disagree. The Movie Board is very exclusive with all the unexplained acronyms and rigid adherence to structured threads. A new person could feel very intimidated breaking through the chatter with a random question. I remember when the announcements about The Hobbit movie arrived, and all the complaints about the disruptions of the regular threads with questions about The Hobbit from the newbies. How welcoming was that?

Can we all see, based on my previous paragraph, how perceptions can vary so much? There are many people who love the Movie board, but I rarely find anything to interest me. But that doesn't mean the Movie board has to change - instead I have the obligation to model my participation so that it's enjoyable to me. I don't think the Movie board regulars are deliberately making the forum unwelcome to non-regulars, but they've found a rhythm that's comfortable for them. That doesn't mean they aren't willing to change - but change has to come from the outside, from new regulars who bring their own perspective and posting patterns.

I also question why the Reading Room is the only party asked to change. Why can't it be a two-way street? I would feel more open to change in the RR if anyone who has felt intimidated or thought that posts other than the regular chapter discussions were discouraged, to resolve to overcome their reluctance and try to make the RR what they want it to be. It's nonsense to say that anyone is discouraged from posting in the RR. If anyone here ever told someone to "sit down and shut up", I'm sure lots of the RR regulars loudly and strenuously disagree (with perfect grammar and spellingWink!) So I challenge anyone who is reluctant to post here - what are YOU going to do about it? Then let's talk about how changes can be made on both sides.

Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 14 2009, 2:05am

Post #24 of 178 (617 views)
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Post #9 [In reply to] Can't Post

Darkstone's post #9 in this thread tells of the origin of the term, but it's basically slang for compliments and encouragement.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 14 2009, 2:13am

Post #25 of 178 (614 views)
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What I'm Doing [In reply to] Can't Post

What I'm doing in response:
  • Posting more threads.
  • Testing my assumptions by actually speaking up about them.
  • Challenging other people's assumptions.
  • Doing my homework more.
  • Thanking people for the gift of correction.
  • Moved this discussion from the Feedback forum to here.
  • Paying attention when my dreams tell me not to wimp out.


Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!

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