One kind of CriticalStyle
means that our primary concern is with the facts and not the other person's ego. This is in contrast to CriticizeHelpfully
, and the PositiveDialog?
community, where the primary concern is the other person's ego.
Proponents of blunt criticism, suggest that if the person you are criticizing is smart, he/she will know that CriticsAreYourBestFriends
and will accept the criticism.
Although many people may not accept this style of criticism, some cultures may encourage this kind of brutal honesty to foster a CriticalSpirit
(edited by WikiGnome
Some may think that CriticizeBluntly
means yelling, screaming, and insulting your subject. However, this is a wishful and carcinogenic mutation of WilliamGlassner?
. An AntiPattern
(strict sense), in that case. ChoiceTheory?
is much more advanced than the conceited idea that, "No, really, I'm right, you're wrong, idiot
works two ways, so if you are going to criticize insultingly
, expect to be similarly whacked in the nuts.
can be summarized as "Don't bullshit." If you respect your subject, you won't be condescending and patronizing when criticizing them. You should expect adults to be able to hold their composure when you say, "This code is broken. You're deleting objects on the stack." But you should similarly be able to take it when they say, "No, it's not broken. I'm deleting objects in place
." You shouldn't respond, "You're an idiot. You can't delete objects on the stack. Learn some C++," because you're bullshitting. You're pretending you understood what deleting in place means when you didn't even hear it.
No bullshit is not just about bullshit; it's an attitude of honesty, clarity, respect, and care for your audience and yourself. You have to really respect your subject and listen
to what they say. Anything else is childish behaviour. So when you are the receiving end of anger because you "criticized bluntly", you can't cry foul. You have to ask, "Why is she so mad at me?" And then, after some blunt self-criticism, you realize that you weren't listening hard enough to hear the silence inside your head. When she said, "deleting objects in place
" your brain didn't process it. You had already lost so much respect for your subject, you were just standing there to bark orders at her.
Now go apologize. Good critics always apologize bluntly
when they are wrong.
- "I'm sorry. I was a complete idiot, and totally out of line. Let me buy you some beer to make up for it."
This is ChoiceTheory?
. The bluntest, harshest, frankest, most caring
theory there is.
P.S. Goddamn Java programmers don't know no goddamn nothin' about C++. Tell me how to goddamn delete my goddamn objects, will they.
Discussion moved from CriticalSpirit below
I first met a truly critical spirit in my chess mentor. I was a little kid, 12 years old. What first shocked me was the way he treated his students when he was analyzing their games. I guess you can't imagine a worse, harsher, more abrupt, and more caustically ironic style and language. He really made you look like you knew nothing about chess, even if you won, but especially if you lost. There was no room for excuses.
- You're basically describing a pretend tough guy who holds no real power beyond a little checkered square board. I would have sprinkled birdseed all over his car, poured concrete in the gas tank, scored his paint job with a trowel, and then slash his tires just to seal the deal. After he found his car an immobile, ugly, birdshit-encrusted wreck, he would notice a neatly folded note under the windshield wiper that said: "I may suck at chess, but you suck at life. This silly game is useless in the real world, and the so-named musical that exploited tired stereoptypes sucked and had sucky songs, too. Try to intimidate me after you master a hobby like British longbow archery or jujitsu. Bite me, TheerasakPhotha"
And a while later I realized how effective his style was. It often happened to me when on the verge of committing an error (and in chess you should know that there's almost no room for refactoring) I thought, "This must be something wrong that I'm doing, this move violates the basic principles that I've been taught. I can only imagine what Mr. Pavlov would have to say after the game."
And gradually I learnt the self-critical spirit; I didn't need Mr. Pavlov as a virtual critical reference anymore. Some children would leave the training room in tears, many would give up playing chess, but his style was the only style fitted for performance-oriented training. Especially in an intellectual sport like chess. Before he even tried to show us how to improve, he made us face the reality of our errors very bluntly.
Later it was my turn to teach a kid how to play chess, and I used almost
the same style very effectively. And what's more, because I was his teacher and colleague, I let him criticize me with as little respect and deference as possible, no matter that I was his teacher.
Maybe such a style would not be off limit on wiki. -- CostinCozianu
Something that I forgot to explain about my mentor, and this created a lot of confusion here ( somebody may already think of him as a Bobby Knight or something). By harshly criticizing our mistakes he effectively treated us as his peers, not his students. He put us in the position to defend our own ideas , most of the times we were in error, and we were helped to realize the full enormity of our errors so that we weren't likely to repeat them, other times something that looked like a bad idea turned out to have something good in it and we were in the position to defend our ideas , either good or bad.
Other times we were able to criticize him, imagine a 12 year kid being allowed to criticize his master, I don't like what you just taught me, it is bad because of these reason
. This training technique was not his patent. It is quite common in chess and in performance-oriented sports.
Chess, unlike most other sports, is a sport where teaching at a performance level is about new discovery , it's not a master that teaches his art to his students, is about a master who helps his students in discovering new ideas. This is one of the reasons why you'll see a 14 year old kid beating the hell out of famous masters, and why 20 years is an age where the player is desired to be at his full maturity. Sometimes full maturity happens at 16-17 years.
is not one who is negative, abrupt, harsh, or cynical. That would be absolutely the opposite, in fact. Critical people are those who apply critical analysis to determine truth. They are the least passionate and the least defensive. They are even handed. They are also careful, precise, and concise. Your mentor was far from critical because he couldn't even criticize himself
. He was a jerk. There's a difference.
Choose your mentors wisely. -- AnonymousDonor
You appraise a man you don't know. If those whom I criticize don't become my friends for this particular reason, then I wouldn't bother to have them as friends anyway. So choose your friends better, I should say. -- CostinCozianu
I choose not to take your word over any other WikiZen
's, and especially not over DaleCarnegie
's. -- AnonymousDonor
Don't use pretended authorities such as WikiZenism
[Miscommunication: Wiki Zen is not the same as Wikizen (think citizen or denizen) -- TheEditor
] or even DaleCarnegie. Prove your point in practice. Take ItsTimeToDumpCeeSyntax as a positive example.
If you want to refer to ItsTimeToDumpCeeSyntax
, yes you can take that as a critique towards the CeeLanguage
. It is the natural right of those defending a position or idea to be critical in turn, especially if the criticisms have no substance and are intentionally mean or deceitful. And as a practical consequence you can see what happened to ItsTimeToDumpCeeSyntax
, where I never deleted a single thing
but influenced the ones at fault or maybe others to remove almost all the ridiculous things that were in there.
Since you criticized my attitude on that page I considered that a favor you did to me, in the spirit of CriticsAreYourBestFriends
, and maybe someday I'll return you the favor and take time to criticize your attitude both on ItsTimeToDumpCeeSyntax
, and on other subjects. -- CostinCozianu
Even if CriticsAreYourBestFriends
not all critics deserve a response.
The interesting question to be debated however, is what's really happening with people that are loosing their fun when being criticized either personally or with regards to their idea. For me, being criticized is part of the fun, because it helps me when validating or invalidating my ideas. And I always consider my interlocutor at least as smart as I might be, so it would be a terrible impoliteness on my part to assume
that he or she will be bothered or will be loosing fun if being criticized. -- CostinCozianu
I find it ironic that your mentor's name was Pavlov.
Your mentor was an asshole. I have have worked with people like him and as you notice I have used the verb in the past tense. If I find that I am working with somebody like your mentor then I will quit my job and find a place where my opinion is respected
and listened to
. Wiki as I understand it is about communication. -- IainLowe
The judgement he was an asshole would only make my mentor laugh if I tell him this story.
and not someone
stupid is inherent to the CriticalSpirit
, after all stupidity is the very nature of some things, and I also committed plenty of stupid things. I'm grateful to my true friends who exposed to me the true nature of what I occasionally did (yes it was stupidity and they spelled it out to me as such). -- CostinCozianu
You miss an important point. Your intention seems to be to act as someone's best friend by criticizing them (if this is not the case, then why do you so often say that people should accept criticism because CriticsAreYourBestFriends
?). However, it is human nature that people will get offended when you say that their actions are stupid, regardless of whether or not you actually called them
stupid. If I were using your strategy, I would say something like, "This is not effective criticism because these people are not going to respond to you the way you seem to think they are. Your actions are stupid." But when you read that, does it make you want to change your ways? No. In fact you may become even more
set in your ways because you may perceive it as an undeserved attack against yourself. (In fact, on CriticalSpiritOriginal?
, this is the exact response you had.) It does not matter whether you technically call something
stupid, people will still
perceive it as an attack against them and they will not benefit from your criticism. Therefore, CriticizeHarshly?
is most definitely an AntiPattern
, and CriticsAreYourBestFriends
is less likely to be true than NobodyLikesaCritic?
. This is supported by the work of DaleCarnegie
, and just about every other expert on human nature and communication. AnonymousDonor
Sure, you can call my action stupid. If the intended result would be to teach or coach all kinds of people, yes the results are not good to say the least. And speaking of undeserved attacks, I take them very lightly, people have the rights to question anything about me and I have the right not to respond to all kinds of considerations.
is not less likely to be true than NobodyLikesaCritic?
, IT IS true. It doesn't matter if the persons themselves are your personal enemies, are indifferent to you or any other motivation they have. Just by exercising their critic (fair or unfair) they DO HELP YOU. -- CostinCozianu
I have had many sensei. Some were like Costin's chess tutor, grimly authoritarian. Some were more like the little guy in The Karate Kid, organically shaping the student. I prefer the latter. Care for the student is important. This corresponds to an attitude that winning is not winning. The master does not fight. In a peer group, an aggressive action creates noise and prevents agreement, no-one has the title master and therefore no-one has the master's dubious excuse to behave without respect. So the use of a harsh approach must be considered poor style, inefficient. It misses the point. I wish I could learn this lesson properly. -- RichardHenderson
Except that your making the flawed inference that a master who spells it out bluntly for you when you are in mistake and who make you face the reality of an error of yours is not respecting
you. On the contrary, I find that only people who are able to spell it out in my face, are respecting me with their honesty and their trust. Whereas people that already decide that I don't have enough brains to defend my own position, and already decide it would be better for me if they CriticizeHelpfully
and influence me
to their superior ways much in the spirit that I saw in the subtitles at HowToWinFriendsAndInfluencePeople
, well, for me those are the real jerks, and have no excuse for treating me that way even if they are masters.
Now who is really able to confound a polemic with a fight (a la Karate Kid), and who is really trying to equate the results of a polemic with his own ego? A harsh, confrontational style is sometimes what is required, and IT IS used as a proven and effective technique for training in chess. You have a new bright idea, very well, bring it to the table and accept that others are trying to beat the hell out of your idea, to prove it worthless. You should be able to defend you own idea in front of your pears, and the last thing that you expect from your peers is to adopt a condescending attitude and try to lead you to the good ways of thinking
, or, even worse, to encourage you even if they think you are in mistake. Not to mention that if a colleague beats the hell out of you at training and even in the official games, the last thing you want to do is take it to your ego. -- CostinCozianu
I think there is something I am missing here. I think I have missed what Richard pointed out saying "no-one has the title master and therefore no-one has the master's dubious excuse to behave without respect". I have taken it upon myself to inform you of my displeasure at your actions. I apologize for my harshness in prior postings. I thank you for making me mad enough to post like that (see CriticalSpiritOriginal? for some first-class abuse). I think that you have proven (to me anyway) beyond a shadow of a doubt that the type of abusive criticism that your mentor used does not work on anybody who has an amount of self-respect and a firm opinion on something. I have abused you (and so has Sunir and to a lesser extent RandyStafford) and it has changed nothing. Now I can see that there is no point in being angry at you. I don't need to defend myself or the community from you. A harsh and confrontational style is only needed to force people to do things. CriticizeHarshly? is the worst AntiPattern I can think of when people are willing to learn. When I have a discussion with other critical minds I want to have to explain and defend my idea. I don't want to be told that it is worthless. I still think you confound value judgements and criticism. I get very upset and angry when I see you making value judgements about peoples' opinions. It is reminiscent of usenet trolls. I feel however that you are not trolling but merely misguided. I hope I am right. I also hope I am not criticizing so harshly that you will once again choose to disregard what I am saying. If that is the case then please DeleteMe. -- IainLowe
Iain, there's no need to delete that, but value judgements is what you just did:he was a jerk
, remember? ItsTimeToDumpCeeSyntax
was full of value judgements with regards to someone else's work of a lifetime, and it didn't bother anybody around wiki, except me. And it bothered me because the value judgements were not correct, and worse they were sustained with false arguments. We always make value judgements, we only have to have arguments behind them. Criticism is also about making value judgements, you can respond to critics and prove that value judgements are wrong.
What I agree with, is that being angry at me serves no purpose.
Let's discuss this pattern a little, IainLowe
disagrees with AlwaysUseSelectDistinct
and thinks duplicates are sometimes
bad while I consider that DuplicatesAreBad always
bad. Now it would be fullish to manufacture consensus and keep all of these ideas valid, we either have to manufacture consensus by exposing someone's mistake, or we can agree to disagree. In things such as the thing is black versus the thing is white, agree to disagree is sometimes a proof that communication is ineffective.
Now considering that we have to confront our ideas about SELECT DISTINCT it would be a terrible error and infatuation on my part to think, 'I know better, let's bring Iain to the good ways, let's bring the lost sheep back to its herd'. Instead I am showing you the respect that I always showed to my chess peers at training, and I consider you are smart enough to defend your own ideas. So I spell it out: Iain you are wrong because of this
. Instead of a style like the one suggested in CriticizeHelpfully
: Yain I do see some value in your idea, but wouldn't it be better if we try to put it this way (my way)
. Doing so is condescending and condescending is the worse behavior that I can think of in a forum of peers. Saying Iain you are wrong because of this
, I might be in mistake and you might be able to proof that I was wrong, let's just bring facts to the table. -- CostinCozianu
- "IainLowe thinks SelectDistinctIsaCodeSmell while CostinCozianu thinks AlwaysUseSelectDistinct, RichardHenderson disagrees with AlwaysUseSelectDistinct and thinks duplicates are sometimes bad while I consider that DuplicatesAreBad always bad"
The difference here though is that IainLowe
both come to the table thinking what they think but willing to be convinced otherwise
. They understand that they are not possessed of omnipotence like god, that they don't believe they know
The Truth (with a capital T). Your attitude however doesn't reveal this at all
. If in fact this is not the case, then you are doing a very poor job of communicating that, and you do yourself a discredit and sabotage your own efforts at convincing others of the merits of your ideas.
Let us assume for the moment that you are correct in your various positions, as you apparently believe yourself to be ... this then means that you
are being incredibly condescending to even bother discussing your points with others, especially when you refuse to acknowledge that the other's idea may have merit.
Wow. I'm glad I never had a mentor like yours, and I'll make sure my kids never do either.-- AnonymousDonor
Let's discuss whether CriticizeBluntly
is counter productive for training and mentoring as several people suggested here. The alternate style would be CriticizeHelpfully
as illustrated by the gentle teacher in Karate Kid.
Now, I've only seen Karate Kid once and I can't guarantee it, but I don't believe there was any instance where the Karate Kid responded to his teacher: I think you are wrong
. There are activities where the accent needs to be put on fostering a CriticalSpirit
, and CriticizeHelpfully
is hardly a good technique for that.
Also in performance sports one has to form a very resistant character, the psychological pressure is just too tough for an impressive character to handle it. So a child that is not able to take his teacher's irony towards his own mistakes as they need to be taken, is already not well fitted for performance chess. You might have an emotional kid, that in the beginning will not be able to stand the irony and the blunt critics of the trainer (also the irony can have several forms). But if he has passion for chess and if he is a smart kid, he will easily get used to CriticizeBluntly
, especially when this style puts him in a position of equality with his teacher. -- CostinCozianu
I disagree with the characterization of Positive Dialog Community as having "primary concern is to one's interlocutor ego". Adjustment and Refinement of positions based on the offerings of those with CriticalSpirit
however, are of concern.
Well, you might be right, it is not the primary concern, but one of the concerns seems to be the care not to hurt anyone's potential ego. Or am I wrong again? -- CostinCozianu
[I just edited the introduction to reflect this.]
I didn't say you were wrong, I merely disagreed with the characterization. I just reread the page and find no references, direct or indirect that indicate or even seems to indicate ego protection. There are many instances that in fact suggest that that a persons ego should not stand in the way of the proper construction and development of an idea. The dialog which leads the idea to completion is a "joint" or "collaborative" effort and not the exclusive property of someone who is "right".
There are some people with whom CriticizeBluntly
will work. This often happens when the participants have a peer relationship and a long history of respect, or when the blunt criticizer also manages to show great respect at the same time. KentBeck
is really good at showing great personal respect while criticizing bluntly.
Some people, on the other hand, take everything personally. -- RonJeffries
I do not.
You can CriticizeBluntly
without being insulting or abusive. That's what makes it different to CriticizeHarshly?
. Criticize the subject, not the person, and all that. If you think an idea is stupid, feel free to say so, and back it up. However, you shouldn't make the leap to calling the person who proposed the idea stupid; one bad idea isn't evidence of that.
When using CriticizeBluntly
, it is the critic's responsibility to make sure that they don't cross the line and offend someone personally. When they do so accidentally, they should try to rectify the situation. If they don't take this responsibility to heart, then they are not being a blunt critic; they're being a jerk.
Taking the ChessMaster?
example: you can let people evaluate their ideas without tearing strips off their egos. Look at how the military run post-simulation debriefs, for example. It's done dispassionately, without malice, and very effectively. It also works.
KentBeck is really good at showing great personal respect while criticizing bluntly.
What does he do?
A discussion ensued on ThreeKindsOfCritics
page on the precise meaning of bluntly, as well as of the very words to criticize, criticism, etc.
Civility and politeness Versus Bluntness
Since most of us are cursed to struggle with our pride, society has evolved some mechanisms to help deal with it -- specifically, to avoid provoking prideful responses in others. Civility and politeness are these mechanisms. Striving for unvarnished truth and egoless evaluation is a high ideal; an even higher one is to pursue these
and a spirit and manner of expression which helps others to achieve it, too. Many critics (perhaps themselves blinded by pride in their own powers of objective criticism) seem to stop short of aspiring to this goal.
- When I read in the above "society", I take it to have a strong smell of AmericanCulturalAssumption. Otherwise, civility and politeness are self-understood to be part of CriticalSpirit, but some people extend those unreasonably to mean that a critic should be very concerned in finding a formula of criticism that allows the other party to "save face", but a dispassionate critic is considered rude, for not showing enough consideration for the emotional consequences of his criticism. In other cultures the situation is reversed to the point where CriticizeBluntly is the norm, and being pre-occupied with the "save face" issue is a sign of at least condescension if not arrogance. It also depends on the social circle where criticism happens. In places like within the corporate bureaucracy, DaleCarnegie style is chief, in some places even to the point where it is bothering. In performance oriented circles (from academia to professional sports, the dispassionate criticism (CriticizeBluntly) is strongly favored, and on the contrary the critic shows respect to the opposing party by choosing the blunt style.
- Perhaps a Western cultural assumption - polite Western European society, from my experience, also fits this model, in fact more so than U.S. society. Various other cultures around the world seem also to follow suit insofar as I can judge from indirect evidence. There may certainly be exceptions of which I am not aware.
- Can you substantiate this assertion ? On the contrary, it seems to me from a cursory knowledge of Western literature and culture that the ability to "tell it like it is", to speak frankly and bluntly is regarded as a positive trait.
- The English term "blunt" in this context has connotations of clumsiness, ungracefulness, even ineffectiveness -- like a blunt tool that does not cut rightly. (???) The English adverb bluntly used together with verbs about speech (speak, talk, tell, criticize, etc) means abrupt and often disconcertingly frank in speech (from dictionary.com), and just a brief google for any of these combination, will reveal to you that it has a positive connotations, even in the otherwise much softer American culture. For example one of Harry Truman's speeches contains " As you know, I speak plainly sometimes. In fact, I speak bluntly sometimes. I am going to speak plainly and bluntly today. ". Countless other examples abound where bluntly is used with a positive connotation, overwhelmingly more than the occasions in which it has a negative connotation, which makes me doubt your other assertion about Western cultures.
- I'm afraid that I can only ask you to grant me some authority on this, based on the fact that I have grown up immersed in U.S. culture and spent considerable time in at least one Western European country; I'm speaking from direct experience, and my command of English is well above average. A Google search won't provide the same understanding; if you think the following in error, you would probably have to survey other native English speakers to make a credible case against it.
- Maybe that's the problem because the American culture is notorious for it's imprecision and negligence with regards to cultivating the English language. That's how you've got your American English after all, haven't you ? And I also think you are the only civilized culture in the world where kids can graduate highschool without a formal study of English grammar. So much for the authority of the invocation "in everyday English". I used google just to confirm what I've long known from English literature, to speak bluntly is regarded as a positive trait, because it takes courage, responsibility and integrity. Here's a quote from a contemporary American text: "[he] was widely admired for his willingness to speak bluntly - no matter what the cost".
- It should be clear that you can find poor turns of phrase as easily as good ones. Speaking plainly and speaking bluntly do not mean exactly the same thing, despite the fact that dictionaries may use the latter to help define the former. (The criticism of American public high schools is valid, but irrelevant, since it applies to neither of us. The criticism of American culture in general is a completely inexplicable.)
- It should be clear, that when such "poor turns of phrase" are found in an overwhelming majority and they are deployed even in literary art, reputable magazines, etc, I'll rather set aside your appeal to your authority in mastering English. And it was never the case that speaking bluntly and speaking plainly are the same thing, you just have to read more carefully. As to the criticism of American culture, it is very relevant when some American has the pretension of reinventing the meaning of English words based on some alleged "everyday use". If you don't look at the highschool, just look at your president, a Yale graduate nevertheless, who has serious problem with his usage of English when he doesn't read statements written by others. So get off your high horses and please find the criticism of American culture on this subject entirely justified.
- The term "blunt" applied to speech often does have positive aspects, but it also has a negative nuance which, for instance, the phrase "to speak plainly" does not carry. In the quote you give, Truman is in effect apologizing for being blunt -- he is warning his listeners that he is going to be so emphatic as to perhaps appear rude. Otherwise he would have left it "speak plainly" - but that would not carry the same rhetorical emphasis that he was seeking. The other meanings of the word "blunt" give a clue to this; hence my reference to blunt (versus its opposite, sharp) tools. Such subtleties are often missing from dictionary definitions.
- No, in the quote I gave you, Truman is in fact not apologizing. he'd have had to use the consecrated formula "forgive me for speaking bluntly", or "I'm sorry that I have to put it bluntly to you", he does not do that and he's signaling by his choice of words and he's choice of grammar and tempo that he is in fact unapologetic. Even the formulae that I mentioned are rhetorical and are used in unusual circumstances.
- OK, then. How about if you explain what distinction that Truman is assuming between "plain" and "blunt"? Since he used both terms, do you think that he was simply repeating himself?
- Oh, boy. The distinction is elementary. Speaking plainly is just speaking without unnecessary complicated or ceremonious phrases. Avoiding the usage of dubious metaphors, neologism,s others figures of speech, etc, when simple words suffice. One can speak plainly without speaking bluntly. Speaking bluntly is speaking directly when the truth may hurt or the utterance of naked truth is somehow inconvenient to the other party, as opposed to, say, diplomatic language. I refer you to dictionary.com, since you hold it in high esteem: plain, definition 4, "Straightforward; frank or candid: plain talk". blunt, definition 2: Abrupt and often disconcertingly frank in speech. Both defined in terms of "frank", blunt being distinguished by "abrupt" (not a pleasant adjective) and "disconcerting" (even less so).
- I'm really not interested in arguing this point further. Natural languages abound in such subtleties, and I think that English has more than the usual share of such nuances - easy to learn, but difficult to master.
- You're really not interested in proving your point (what point, by the way ?). I claimed that bluntly associated with speech verbs has generally a positive connotation, after which your "argumentation" made no sense whatsoever.
- How would I prove my point? You survey a smattering of references on the net, judge them from the context of your own understanding of the words (as I also would, of course), and declare my argument invalid. Apparently, the matter is more subjective than I thought. Short of a statistically significant survey of examples, individuals, and the response of the latter to the former, I doubt that either of our points could be proved. It's an unnecessarily extensive excursion into side issues that have less force than I initially though. I regret perpetuating this aspect of the discussion, and apologize. Feel free to elide as you wish.
- Finding a Balance
- It is possible, albeit somewhat harder, to find a balance, to criticize clearly, without fawning or obscuring the message. It is important to criticize informatively. The latter is key. I have often seen on wiki "criticism" that amounts to "you are wrong"; even when more information is requested by the person being "corrected", it is sometimes not forthcoming. This is frustrating for the target, and can often interpreted as rudeness; either because the critic won't condescend to explain the matter or at least point out additional information, or because the critic actually has no substantial basis for the criticism (in which case the rudeness was presenting the initial critique, and the following silence is perhaps blissfully polite compared to the alternatives).
- My point is that critics can choose to either help or hinder others in achieving that goal, while still criticizing honestly and plainly. This is my main point. It calls the critic to a higher standard.
- Inherent Pridefulness
- Note also that there is an inherent pridefulness (thus expression of ego) in providing criticism. One criticizes from the assumptions that one has superior knowledge, and that one has rightly and completely understood the person being criticized. This is why asking questions is often a good first alternative to outright criticism; especially on a wiki, where discourses are often incomplete and unpolished, you should first seek assurance that you are correctly understanding the position you are criticizing. Many pointless arguments arise out of innocent miscommunications, sometimes just subtle nuances of emphasis. This is especially a problem in computer science, where much of the terminology (and often even the concepts) are poorly or multiply defined.''
- You are absolutely mistaken on this one. Some may express an "inherent pridefulness" in criticism. There's no inherent pridefulness in expressing a criticism. The pointless arguments arise when egos are involved. Your assumptions that the critics implicitly presume to have superior knowledge is completely false, and comes from a misunderstanding of the role of criticism and critical spirit. In any criticism, and in any expression of idea there's an implicit "as far as I can understand" that we don't repeat pointlessly in every of our phrases, your idea/system/proposal/etc suffers from such and such drawbacks, shortcomings, etc. The opposite party is implicitly given the liberty to correct the misunderstanding of the critic - if any, to improve his ideas, to acknowledge the drawbacks, to withdraw the proposal altogether. There's absolutely nothing in this process that puts the critic above the person whose idea is criticized. Everybody knows and acknowledges (or at least is supposed to) that constructing a system/theory/proposal is much much harder than finding faults in one. There's nothing wrong, nothing demeaning, in being mistaken once in a blue while, and in recognizing the mistakes rather than covering them. In one phrase: CriticsAreYourBestFriends.
- Make the implicit explicit. It costs little, and changes the tone of a conversation dramatically. The addition of the occasional "as I understand it", "based on such-and-such", "don't you see?", or what have you, costs the critic little, invites debate, and does not put newcomers off.
- This discussion has not been about covering up mistakes, failing to point out mistakes, or feeling demeaned by making mistakes.
- Subtleties of language
- Ah, well, here is more subtlety in language. What you describe is fitted much better by the term "debate". "To criticize" implies, usually but not always, the intent of a one-way communication; obviously a criticism can result in, or be part of, a debate, but that is not an automatic assumption. Just look at how the word "critic" is most often used in everyday English; it evokes usually thoughts of "movie critics", "book critics", "art critics". These people write articles and papers finding fault with others' works, and don't expect to enter into debate with the artists over whether they are right or wrong. It's not that your use of the word is incorrect; but again, it carries subtle additional meanings. There is a distinct difference between "criticizing" and "questioning" or "debating" what someone says. In tone, it's the difference between saying "you're wrong" and saying "that's questionable", or "you're wrong according to this reasoning...". I'm not making this up; this subtlety gives rise to the common phrase "constructive criticism", because the English word criticism in modern usage needs the qualifier at times; "destructive" or "dismissive" criticism is often the assumption otherwise.
- There's no need for appealing to subtleties of language, the issue is as clear as can be. Criticism, critique, critical spirit, all this family of words have some millennia of usage (they do come from old Greek), they did not just pop up in the American prairie, and they do have an universally accepted meaning. It's just too bad that in some parts of American culture they have a misguidedly negative connotation as in Dale Carnegie's "don't criticize ...". And by the way, constructive criticism is not the only valuable form of criticism, and is often used as a rhetorical subterfuge by folks not entirely accustomed with CriticalSpirit.
- Well, regardless of what the ancient Greeks did with their words, this is not ancient Greek, but rather a living, current language. You can choose to refine your terms, or you can continue to use terms that mislead and evoke response that you (probably) don't want. Apparently you'd prefer to be bullheadedly stubborn about what words should mean, rather than use them to communicate well with actual living, breathing people. That's your prerogative. In any case, this line of discussion is obviously going nowhere - or perhaps would have to include some linguistic experts to make any sort of impression on you.
- Has it occurred to you that this family of words occurs in languages other than American English? Of course; would you like to hear them in German, French, or Swiss-German? I also don't assume that what I stated is peculiar to American English, neither do I assume or imply that it applies to related word groups in non-English languages. If I were writing in German or Swiss-German, which I know moderately well but not natively, I would not presume to know these nuances.
- For myself, what I'll take away from this discussion is that I need to "dumb down" my reading of English on the net in order to accurately understand what others are trying to convey. Given the international nature of the net, that may be a valuable lesson. Thanks.
- You need to get off your high horses and take words at their value, rather than the assumed American English value. When a word like critique or criticism, or bluntly , or whatever other "subtle" word, has more than one meaning enumerated in the dictionary, you need to judge the word in the proper context.
- Your English would be rather improved if you considered that "criticize", "criticism, "critique" have by default no negative connotation, it's not as much a language issue at stake but rather a cultural issue. People with much ego and less appetite for CriticalSpirit will find criticism, critique, etc. as having a negative connotation, and they'll at best settle for "constructive criticism" if at all. Whereas other people are quite happy about critics, recognizing that criticism is just a natural part of evolution of ideas. Some people (not necessarily exclusively the category you identify) will indeed find them to have a negative connotation. Is that not reason enough to clarify intentions, if it costs you little?
- "Debate" is not the proper word to substitute for criticism, because they have different meaning and different usage. You can have criticism without having necessarily a debate. Quite true, of course. But what you were describing was a give-and-take, a back-and-forth exchange of ideas. That is debate, not criticism. Criticism can be a component of debate; I never said that criticism is always a bad thing. But "to criticize" definitely implies a one-way communication. Again turning to dictionary.com, you'll note that neither definition says "discuss faults with" or "discuss the merits and faults of". All of your implied acceptable responses to criticism are exactly that: implied and responses to. Make the implicit explicit, and more people will avoid an initial negative emotional response, less time will be wasted, and more people benefit from your knowledge.
- You can also have proper criticism without that criticism being necessarily a constructive criticism. I'm sure you read DbDebunk at least from time to time. What was the last "constructive criticism" you read there ? What was the last proper "debate" you followed there? There have been numerous debates there. By and large, criticism offered by DateAndDarwen is well explained and presented. Critiques offered by Pascal generally are not, and I've long thought that his argumentative and often dismissive style often does more harm than good.
- Destructive criticism is not necessarily bad or invalid criticism, whereas constructive criticism may be inappropriate at times. To make a long story short you can't assume that on the net everybody will subscribe to your particular use of words. A more precise use of English words will always be one that take the context into account. And this is exactly my suggestion to you; provide that context when criticizing, for the same reasons.
- In short, I think that we largely agree on principles, but subtleties of language obscure it.
- Both of you are right in some ways and wrong in some ways.
- The thing is, attitudes about being plain/frank/blunt etc vary with an individual's philosophy and the context, so you're not going to be able to find an absolute answer even just within a single culture/country and a single language.
- Some people pride themselves on being frank, and say so, and are not interested in what they would call "dishonesty" just to e.g. save someone's feelings.
- Some other people would say it's not "dishonesty", it's just an issue of being diplomatic, so being blunt isn't the best approach.
- Still others would say that it is context dependent; a close friend may need blunt honesty to assist with personal problem, but otherwise support and loyalty are more important, and that there is no reason to take the risk of blunt honesty with a total stranger who may not appreciate it. Etc.
- Also, I think CC, at least originally, was implicitly focusing on domains where a search for truth is widely considered nominally paramount, such as math, science, or factual (rather than opinion) writing in any domain. Even there, the issue is complicated by the fact that everyone has an ego, and may or may not appreciate honest criticism depending on their personality, beliefs, and relationship to the critic. -- dm
- Don't forget that language experts frequently differ on nuance (see e.g. the usage panels employed by unabridged dictionaries).
- Furthermore, native speakers sometimes master nuances better due to greater exposure, but not always, because their experience can be idiosyncratically highly imbalanced in the sense of statistical sampling.
- Foreign speakers of a language may sometimes master nuances better precisely because they needed to explicitly study the nuances, paralleling the often-joked about phenomenon where naturalized citizens know the U.S. Constitution and government far, far better than natural born citizens. But not always.
- So never mind who's the bigger expert; you both know a lot about English, but have differing views. Please just look again at my summary here of why there isn't an absolute answer anyway. -- dm
That's true, but there is an objective view on the issues, namely that criticism, to criticize, critique, et. all, have either a positive or negative sense depending on the context in which they are used. The same thing goes about "to speak/ to talk/ to put it/ bluntly". It's obvious that one can easily find countless example of usage with a positive connotation and DanM's implication that all those instances are improper usage is simply untenable. I didn't object to the obvious fact that the same words can also be used with a negative connotation. -- CC
I did not mean to imply that "all those instances are improper"; as noted above, one would have to examine "all those instances" in some objective
fashion to determine that. (I would not take your assertion that they're all positive at face value; I still disagree with your interpretation of Truman's meaning, for instance.) But my confidence on what an objective study would find has eroded in the course of this discussion, and I withdraw the assertion as being possibly wrong, and not important enough to warrant so much debate.
Let me put it this way: In a context where one draws a distinction between "blunt" and "frank", the latter should be preferred. Juxtaposed to one another, and given the discussions above, you can certainly understand the distinctions I intend, yes? I find it difficult to make a similar distinction between "criticize" and some other word, because I can think of no other word with a closely similar meaning, and "constructive criticism" seems to mean something more to you than it does to me. Perhaps "analysis"? In any case, it is the object of these words, rather than the words themselves, that is really worth talking about. The CriticalStyles
page is probably a better place to pursue this. -- DanM
To add to the evidence of criticism being a positive word in its proper usage, I'd note that most acknowledgements in academic paper follow the standard
"thank to X,Y,Z who provided valuable comments and criticism that improved this paper". So criticism in circles that are preoccupied with the advancement of knowledge and understanding is taken to be a positive thing until proven contrary (criticism like anything else can be abused, but it is presumed both legitimate and positive just like in other contexts the defendant is presumed innocent). The same goes about bluntly. ConstructiveCriticism
has a page on its own, but I think that many people confuse "constructive criticism" with "valid criticism" and furthermore with "valuable criticism".
In circles like sales, corporate bureaucracy, diplomacy, politics, etc, it's the other way around, and you frequently hear complaints that criticism is not constructive, or that it is destructive, or other such hogwash. My personal opinion (expressed rather strongly in the way I shape my discourse on wiki) is that WikiWiki
should approach the former case rather than the later, but I understand if other people feel differently. -- CostinCozianu
Re: CriticizeBluntly states that our only and primary concern is to the facts and not to the persons.
Wiki is social medium, for good or bad. It is created and managed by multiple humans (a social group). If your criticism approach is excessive, your message will be lost because the people issues will overwhelm the message one way or another if you grow too extreme. Thus, either you become an intellectual terrorist, or you have to learn to play the social games to some extent. Rather than machine-gunning down the line, learn to wait in line more productively. Wiki is not always fair, I know that from personal experience, but intellectual terrorism will not make it fair either. Unlike my case, you have been given specific tips on what not to do yet still be able to state your opinion. Use that small tool before that is gone also. -- top
What a social group considers as "excessive criticism" is specific to that group. In diplomacy, any criticism at all is sure to trigger negative reactions. However the capacity for, and the embracing of CriticalSpirit can be educated and evolves both personally and in group settings. Among geeks, there's a natural expectation to "be brave, dude" and suck it up. Examples of such embracing of CriticizeBluntly among geeks are countless, including the memorable email exchanges between Gnu Emacs, and Xemacs contributors (of course criticizing each others' design decision, motivations, etc. Also TheUnixHatersHandbook and many others, and it is naturally expected that the geek being under criticism does not take it personally and "sucks it up" for the benefit and progress of science (or substitute with your preferred syrupy slogan).
I don't mind criticism, just avoid altering or deleting existing content to suit your view. That is mostly what pisses people off.
Stuff here gets altered, edited, deleted, improved sent to the ash tray of history, etc. Get used to it. I do not alter to content just to "suit my point of view". The main responsibility is to wiki readers that they get a coherent point of view as to where things stand historically or at a moment in time. Get used to wiki. Wiki is not about "suiting one point of view", be that even TOP.
Bullsh8t! You don't delete to suit somebody else's point of view. -- top
That's the spirit, top.
That wiki is under no contractual obligation to suit top's point of view. If top's rambling pollute a page with irrelevant, repetitive and often boring material we'll do whatever necessary for the pleasure of the potential reader, but not necessarily for the pleasure of TOP. Because readers are many, top is one, and he'll suck it up. He'll learn to condense his views in pages of his own (like TableOrientedProgramming
), he'll learn that polluting with the same repetitive content everywhere is against the wiki spirit, and so on, so forth. The potential reader has much more to gain by learning about the state of the knowledge in TypeTheory
from the likes of JohnReynolds
, and the reader will also get a link to TopOnTypes
to see a "dissenting" point of view and he can make up his mind. But to see everybody's 2c put on equal footing, well, that may suit top's point of view and may as well be very personally titillating to TOP to see that his name appear with a credited contribution on every page related to everything under the sun about programming, well, all these are great for you, TOP, but a disservice to thousands of wiki readers
We can arrange that your point of view should not be crushed, that it should exist on interlinked pages of its own so that your potential fans may learn from your insights, that those pages be referenced from the relevant topic to which you have a dissenting opinion, but what you demand is way beyond what is reasonable. Look, you just couldn't help yourself but went off on a tangent that is totally OffTopic
for this page. Complaining about how your views are edited has nothing to do with CriticizeBluntly
RedHerring! Because I am an alleged evil or sloppy or rude wiki author does not buy you a pass to also be evil or sloppy or rude. (Btw, My defense of such claims already exists in the middle of the TopMind page, about 60% of the way down). I would also note that my alleged WikiSins? tend to be sins of addition, not sins of alteration and deletion. I consider addition-related to be a lower-ranking sin. And you STILL have not found a concise thorough definition of "types". You should at least do that before nuking the other definitions. Finish your own homework before feeding others' to the dogs.
Nobody alleged you are sloppy or rude, but you are definitely irritable and you are defensive. Stop seeing every critique of what you do as an attack directed against your person. And relax.
Please do tell, what is the purpose of writing "If top's rambling pollute a page with irrelevant..."? Does it provide a point? I took it as "an attack directed against [my] person". If it was meant to make a relevant point, it would have been nice to clearly state that point before writing something that has a high risk of being interpreted as a personal attack. In other words, warn everybody about a drill BEFORE dropping bombs.
You whine about ArgumentFromAuthority
and you demand for demonstrations d'a cappo al fine. Well, excuse us while we are reluctant and weary to reiterate on wiki the whole body of knowledge behind programming languages.
Most good definitions only take a few paragraphs at the most. If JohnReynolds's definition takes an entire book, then I criticize it bluntly.
(it doesn't begin and end with FoxPro
, you know), theory of types, and even something as simple as having to prove to you that higher order functions (functions that take parameter other functions) are a good feature that prevents code duplication and allow for a elegant expression of a great deal of many algorithms.
I asked for code demonstrations, and those provided mostly only seem relevant for systems software or assume a PerfectStorm of some kind and protected from NonDisclosureAgreements?. NDA prevents public scrutiny; ie 'science'. Why do most of my detractors only use examples from systems software? I think that is telling.
First, we do not have unlimited resources, second, it can be a wasteful duplication of efforts when we cited good books for reference that you can make the effort to read. At least on the various interminable OO versus TOP, OO weenies can cite MartinFowler
and the likes and not everybody recognizes them as authorities, and you can counter with DrCodd
, and a lot of real examples about OO shortcomings (while you do exaggerate them from time to time). However on things like higher order functions and TypeTheory
, things are very simple there's no much controversy at all, there's the DynamicTyping
way (which by the way you misdefined on TopOnTypes
and I'll help you to correct that) and there's the StaticTyping
gave up on types as classifiers of syntactic elements, while in StaticTyping
camp there's the unanimously accepted definition of JohnReynolds
, and really no controversy at all.
I am sorry, but I feel strongly about having a definition of types tied to "syntax". Like I said many times, syntax is just window-dressing for humans. Most compiler/interpreters eventually disregard that window dressing and turns a program into a data structure of some kind. One can technically write an equivalent program into the data structure directly and the usual type checking still happens. JohnReynolds may be popular, but that does not necessarily prevent him from making mistakes. I am bluntly criticizing JohnReynolds coupling "types" to syntax.
All these are very relevant points, and you are very stubborn to deal with them. If you still think it is about a personal attack, I'll raise my hands in despair. CriticsAreYourBestFriends
, more than that, what can I tell you ? If I criticize you or your contributions to some of the pages, I do it as a friend, to help you improve. like I said before this style of yours very much detracts from some very real and nice points you have to make about excesses on OO camp, because you like to rewrite on your own the whole theory about programming, you trust nothing that has already built before,and this thing is totally counterproductive. It can be counterproductive to you, but while you fail to get the message, it's also counterproductive to WikiReaders?
that every page at all about anything programming gets overloaded with a controversy from TOP and ends up in an unnecessary thread mess.
Why should I trust anybody? Science is not about trust, it is about demonstration.
There's your problem: "THE theory". There is no clear-cut cannon. There might be an "in style" body of knowledge, but I frankly don't give a shit about popularity. One must SHOW clear benefits or stand in the psychology line with the rest of the many GoldenHammers.
You are right. I do fail to see the "message". But it may be because there is no real message. If you cannot articulate it, then the fault may be on your side. Your definition of "types" is weak and long-winded. You should try to fix that if you want it to be on the top floor of the definition building. At least I don't delete to get my opinions on the top or move other's stuff to a personal page the only viewpoint on a page. Again, addition is a smaller WikiSin? than deletion, and you are going to intellectual-hell at the current rate.
And some of your "blunt criticism" is borderline schizophrenic. You once repeatedly criticized a toy example for being a toy example when it was intentionally meant to be a toy example because it was to illustrate a specific concept rather than intended to win a Nobel prize or be sold for money. I saw no point in repeatedly pointing out it was a toy example, and it was worded in an insulting way.
Good critics are one's best friends. Bad critics ruin all.
Now with the "concise" definition of types, you are asking for the proverbial Royal Road to Geometry. Be patient.
Well, I don't think the unfinished version deserves be barge into the top of the page. Finish your shit first, and THEN barge in rudely.
CriticizeBluntly Does Not Scale
If everyone was aggressive with their point of view, wiki would be nothing but endless EditWars
. Therefore, it fails the GoldenRule
Not at all, if everybody assumed CriticalSpirit
s would not be a problem. Failure to assume critical spirit is the problem.
Not the way it is being practiced here. I would estimate that about roughly 10 to 20 percent of WikiZens have very strong opinions on at least a few topics. The larger the group, the more likely the chance of such disagreements overlapping in such a way that two parties will have opposing viewpoints. If they practice deletion as their criticism technique for content they deem "wrong", endless EditWars will spring up. It is comparable to Christians fighting Islamists over land because both believe they have an inherit God-given right to the land because they are the TheOneTrueReligion. As somebody once said, "an eye-for-an-eye will leave everybody blind". If both sides have nukes, then they can take down the entire world.
When weapons were only sticks and stones, this was not a problem, because even the most extreme fanatic may be able to kill a village or two at the most. Now we have the likes of Anthrax and nukes, and their electronic versions in edit scripts and zombie PC attacks. A bunch of script-pumped EditWars can bring down the entire wiki in a fashion similar to a DOS attack. Civilized societies need rules to allow disagreements without continent-destroying wars breaking out. Such rules usually involve compromise. Some people would rather take down the entire thing than give any kind of compromise. If Bin Laden were given the choice of destroying the entire US in exchange for the loss of 3 Islamic nations, he just might say 'yes'. Excessive aggressiveness regarding wiki content, especially deletion of or mutilation of opposing opinion text, is in effect "e-terrorism" in my book. It is the unwillingness to live with people or opinions that do not fit one's dogma out of personal certaintude such that the risk of total armaggeddon is not seen as a deterrant.
- In some cases, I have strong opinions too. There is a definite limit to my arrogance in asserting them, though. I don't delete what other people say because I think it is obnoxious, spurious, and/or unbelievably stupid. I just let it sit there and stink into the exosphere on its own virtues. Also, my world philosophy restricts how strongly I can say "I am right"; the Universe could be running on a virtual machine, for all I know, and as you delve further into the logic I might use to support a claim, there is inevitably a point where the reasoning can stand only by fiat. If this essential uncertainty propagates upwards, everything I ever said could be completely ass-backwards wrong. -- TheerasakPhotha
- If there is a supernatural being or beings that transcend and govern the Universe (which I doubt), I think he/she/it/they would thank us for efficiently ridding them of our presence. -- TheerasakPhotha
- If a god wants an empty boring planet, there are already plenty out there.
The content of this page was deleted. It was nothing more then a poor attempt at an excuse for having bad manners by its author. It was also an attempt to make poor style legitimate. We have much better styles and manners for "constructive" rather then "destructive" criticism and don't need the likes of this page.
I try to AssumeGoodFaith, at least for the sake of argument, and wish to explore why some hold this view. I wish to know their mental logic. Similarly, I think Europe is making a big mistake by censoring racists. Censorship (deletion on wiki's) only gives the followers a sense of legitimacy and myrtardome. I personally think CriticizeBluntly is bad primarily because AnarchyDoesNotScale?. If both sides do it, then it only leads to mass war. I am still waiting for an argument that it does scale.
What evidence is there that CriticizeBluntly
actual works? I doubt it does. I admit I do it anyhow sometimes, but that's only because I give in to my reptilian genes, not because it is effective. Those who are experts at persuasion, such as sales experts, rarely use rudeness as part of their technique. Many may use manipulation, deception, and trickery even, but not rudeness. Thus, we look at those who get wealthy via persuasion, study their techniques, and note that rudeness is not a common theme. This is fairly good evidence that CriticizeBluntly
does not work. --top
Indeed those who use trickery, persuasion, and those who avoid criticizing and rigorous analysis do get far in life.. sometimes even further than honest people. Does that mean we should partake in trickery, hype, and sales tactics just because it works empirically at times?
Depends on your goals. But, that's a different issue. The bottom line is that if rudeness does not work, then it does not work.
Criticize bluntly does not mean pure rudeness or arrogance. This page is inflammatory - and possibly some should choose CriticizeHonestlyRigorouslyAndThoroughly? instead of the inflammatory word "blunt". Seems to have worked up a lot of steam from the responses we see on this page.
"Blunt" is not necessarily negative. And what is "honesty" is often a matter of debate also. perhaps case studies are in order.
See also: BeingRightNotExcuseForBeingRude