Discussion with helpful anonymous critic

Topic Summary: Address criticism brought up in the comments of Elliot’s post “Todo Lists Delegate Work Away From Your Conscious Mind”

Goal: come to a resolution of the issue

CF relevance: resolving disagreement

**Do you want unbounded criticism? yes

That’s a good distinction to point out, thank you.

My first post on this forum was written as a stand-alone and posted in the unbounded section. Elliot ended up moving my post into the comment section of the relevant article. This gave me the impression that if I want to post about an article that Elliot wrote, I should post about it in the comments of that article.

At the same time, Elliot recently had to move one of my replies to the “off topic” section. And now you’re telling me that my “todo lists are bad” post wasn’t on topic either. Seems like I’m repeatedly making an error on this issue.

I checked the site FAQ to see if it had some guidelines to explain when posts are considered on/off topic.

The guideline I saw in the FAQ was:

“Rather than taking an existing topic in a radically different direction, use Reply as a Linked Topic.”

I also noted that the original post was in a specific category of the forum:

Elliot Temple - Discuss Elliot Temple’s articles and ideas.

That sounds like there might be stricter guidelines regarding replies. And that the replies should exclusively discuss Elliot’s ideas. But there isn’t a lot of detail in the about section:

It’s not clear to me how to determine when a post will take a topic in a “radically different direction”.

For example, I think Elliot’s post was about the benefits of offloading mental work from your mind. And how todo lists are a tool you can use to offload mental work.

I wanted to point out a flaw in todo lists (as Elliot described them): they don’t take into account the time component of a task. I tried to provide an alternative that helps you remember tasks and lets you offload the time component of those tasks. So that you can achieve more of the benefits that Elliot talked about.

That seems like a related discussion to me.

Your original criticism said:

That doesn’t sound like taking the topic in a radically different direction, to me. The scope of the article was offloading mental work from your mind, and I was providing an alternative method for offloading mental work from your mind.

My point was that calendars are better for offloading work from your mind than todo lists.

Is criticizing and providing an alternative not “engaging with”? Or maybe you think I didn’t provide a decisive criticism? Or that the post wasn’t about todo lists, and that by criticizing todo lists I was engaging with the article in bad faith?

Could you explain more why you think my reply took the topic in a radically different direction?

I think the important part is allocating the time required to complete the task. You can call it a schedule, or a todo list with specific times and dates. The alternative is to keep the scheduling, time allocations, deadlines, etc. all in your mind, which I think adds a lot of additional mental work.

I’m sorry that I wasn’t clear. I did mean that people should stop using todo lists. Here’s the example I gave:

Collecting tasks to be scheduled at the end of the day is different than a todo list. First, you should never expect any of those tasks to get done while they’re on the list. You never actively check the list. You add tasks, but during the day it’s a black box that you don’t look inside. You can have a daily session booked in your calendar to schedule new tasks. That would be the only time you look inside the “black box” and move all the tasks into your schedule.

It is a list, but not really a traditional “todo” list. I could have made that more clear in my original post, sorry.

(I also notice I wrote the above in second person. Does it come off as pushy to you? I didn’t mean it to sound like I’m trying to lecture you and personally tell you what to do.)

That wasn’t the original issue you brought up though. I believe this was your original criticism:

So I shared some examples of how I thought the article was partly about todo lists:

I’m not sure how you saying the tips are relevant to both calendars and todo lists relates back to your original criticism.

What information do you think is missing from the schedule to make it complete? Once I’ve broken a task into components and scheduled them into my calendar I no longer have to think about the task at all (in my experience).

Thanks again for your feedback

I’m writing this as a moderator.

You’re breaking the forum rules, which say:

Don’t write vague references like “what I said earlier” or “the article’s argument about this issue”.

Give the link to the post you’re talking about.

Your post also breaks the forum rules for topic titles.

This is also a vague reference which violates the forum rules. Quote my description that you’re referring to.

Your post also reads as fairly hostile and tilted, and you aren’t trying to use any particular CF idea or method (such as trees, grammar analysis, decisive arguments, debate methodology, or breakpoints). It’d be better to be friendly and to try to explicitly use at least one CF idea; otherwise you’re basically just posting regular arguments like one would read at other forums, and aren’t making progress on learning to use CF ideas.

Use block quote formatting for block quotes (a paragraph or more that is entirely a quote). Don’t use inline quotes.

You were already warned about your quoting and I even explained how to quote to you:

For how to quote, type “>”, use the quote button, or see the quoting section at Forum Features Guide

You didn’t follow those instructions for this quote as you should have.

In that warning, I also wrote:

Quoting issues are one of the few things that are actively policed at this forum (and I don’t like having to waste time on them, but inaccurate or misleading quotes are worse). Please use the post preview feature since it should be pretty easy to see visually that it didn’t come out right.

Writing all this is a bunch of work. You’re wasting my time again. Next time you’ll receive a temporary ban. As you know, there is no moderator team here happy to micromanage you or keep giving you reminders. In order to protect my time, I wrote down information about how to use the forum; I don’t want to repeat myself; members need to take responsibility for posting correctly enough that I don’t need to intervene.

Also, using the post preview feature, as I mentioned, you would have probably have noticed this formatting error:

Thanks so much for this very helpful feedback Elliot. I’m sorry that my carelessness ended up requiring moderator action. I have a few clarifying comments and questions, if you don’t mind.

The original (standalone) post doesn’t exist anymore. I was going to quote this comment that you made:

When I tried to quote it from the original thread it gave me the warning shown here:

This gave me the impression that I shouldn’t quote your comment from the really old post. When I actually copy and pasted the quote into this comment, I didn’t get the warning. But no red circle shows up beside your name. I can’t tell without making the post, but I don’t think someone will be able to click the comment and be linked to the original thread.

(EDIT: no red circle shows up in the post preview, but it does show up in the actual post like a regular quote. Does that mean everyone in the comment chain got notified? Is that a bad thing we should avoid?)

I could have linked the article with the entire comment section, but that also seems like it would be a vague reference. This is the original article:

There are a decent number of comments here and it would be hard to find the specific line I was referencing.

In the future I will quote the comment (which was my initial instinct) and also link the thread, if necessary.

I chose the title “Discussion with helpful anonymous critic” because I wanted to tell readers it was a post about a person who (helpfully) criticized something I wrote. I avoided putting additional information about todo lists and calendars because I didn’t want that to be the focus of the thread. I wanted the focus to be on the critic and their criticism.

I considered putting some of the criticism into the title, but then I realized there were multiple issues brought up. “Criticism of using second person in a post reply” would leave out the issue about whether posts were on/off topic, etc.

Do you think it would have been better to make specific posts with clear titles for each separate issue? I tried to go with a single thread with a more generic title to make the discussion easier to follow.

Another title I considered was “Paths Forward practice with anonymous critic”. I liked this one more, but I realized I didn’t know enough about Paths Forward (and I’m sure it shows).

Would it have been okay if I wrote it this way? (I put it in a block quote for reading clarity)

It’s not clear to me how to determine when a post will take a topic in a “radically different direction”.

For example, I think Elliot’s post was about the benefits of offloading mental work from your mind. And how todo lists are a tool you can use to offload mental work.

I wanted to point out a flaw that I thought I saw in Elliot’s description of todo lists. I tried to provide an alternative to todo lists that addresses that flaw. So that you could achieve more of the benefits that Elliot talked about.

For reference, you can see Elliot’s post and my comment here: Todo Lists Delegate Work Away From Your Conscious Mind

The goal of this comment was only to show my thought process around whether the post was on/off topic. The way I phrased it originally was misleading and vague. It sounded like you didn’t talk at all about time allocation in your post, which wasn’t accurate.

Your post also reads as fairly hostile and tilted

I find this to be a vague criticism. Could you give some examples of hostile quotes? What exactly do you mean by tilted? I associate that term with losing in gambling (or maybe a video game) and then acting irrationally due to your loss.

Here are some examples of what I find to be friendly and polite comments from my post:

Here I apologize for the lack of clarity in my explanation:

Here I ask for advice because I value their opinion, and I don’t want to come across as pushy:

Even in the title of the post I made sure to note the critic was helpful.

I did want to use Paths Forward. But I also didn’t want to have to read a bunch before I could make a reply. I have been criticized in the past for leaving long gaps between my replies.

@anonymous90 would you be interested in practicing Paths Forward with me in this discussion? I think we’re covering a lot of criticisms at once, it might be more helpful to pick one and try to resolve it first?

To me this sounds like I should use block quotes when the text is a paragraph (or longer) and is entirely a quote. Since my quote was just one sentence, would this rule still apply?

Also, I don’t see anything about paragraphs mentioned in the FAQ:

Never misquote anyone. Due to risk of a typo, use copy/paste or the quote button instead of manually typing in quotes (unless it’s from paper or an audio recording, in which case you must state that it’s typed out by hand). Do not present a summary or paraphrase as a quote. There is zero lenience on this. A misquote is never close enough. This rule is enforced in an extremely picky, exacting, pedantic way. Expect moderator action if you violate this rule. You have been warned.

What about other uses of quotation marks, like fictional or hypothetical dialog, grouping words into a phrase, or scare quotes? Make sure they’re labelled or introduced in clear ways. If you use quotation marks and a reasonable reader might think it’s an actual, exact or literal quote, then you’re misquoting. Any ambiguous uses of quotation marks, which could mislead a reasonable person, will be considered misquotes. If there is even one reasonable interpretation where you misquoted, then you’ve broken the rule, regardless of any other interpretations where you didn’t misquote.

I actually thought the ** was part of the template, sorry. I use the post preview every time I post =)

This is the original text from the template (asterisks were replaced with #):

##Do you want unbounded criticism? (A criticism is a reason that an idea decisively fails at a goal. Criticism can be about anything relevant to goal success, including methods, meta, context or tangents. If you think a line of discussion isn’t worth focusing attention on, that is a disagreement with the person who posted it, which can be discussed.)##

I selected all the text after the question mark and deleted it, accidentally deleting the last two asterisks.

Another option for the template could be:

##Do you want unbounded criticism?## (A criticism is a reason that an idea decisively fails at a goal. Criticism can be about anything relevant to goal success, including methods, meta, context or tangents. If you think a line of discussion isn’t worth focusing attention on, that is a disagreement with the person who posted it, which can be discussed.)

I think that would make it easier to notice the asterisks are there for formatting purposes. Also, I find it more readable when all the text in parentheses isn’t bolded:

Do you want unbounded criticism? (A criticism is a reason that an idea decisively fails at a goal. Criticism can be about anything relevant to goal success, including methods, meta, context or tangents. If you think a line of discussion isn’t worth focusing attention on, that is a disagreement with the person who posted it, which can be discussed.)

Thanks again for your feedback. I really appreciate the work and effort you put into providing this forum.

(bold added)

That wasn’t your first post on the forum. This kind of factually false statement isn’t OK at this forum.

I meant post as in an original topic that I posted myself. I would call my other comments replies, not their own posts. I can see how that would be confusing and ambiguous though. It would have been more clear if I said my first standalone post.

My plan moving forward is to compile a list of errors I’ve already made while posting here. And to refer to that list each time I’m writing a comment. I don’t want to waste your time with unnecessary moderator action. And I would consider getting a temporary ban to be a huge personal failure on my part.

Thanks again for being so awesome.

I realized I actually did use the word stand-alone in my comment:

That actually makes it more misleading than I remembered. It makes it sound like my first comment on this forum was a stand-alone post. At the time I wrote it, I knew that my first comment on this forum wasn’t a stand-alone post. I specifically went back and looked at my post history to check.

I’m not sure why I wrote it in such a misleading way. I could have easily said one of my first posts. I think I was assuming other people would use the same distinction between posts and replies that I was.

I will think more on how to add this error to my known common errors list.

Is English your first language?

I think the error I will add to my list is lying.

I think that I should have known my statement was ambiguous and misleading. I think I ignored the misleading wording because I understood the meaning I intended. I checked my post history to make sure the meaning that I understood was accurate. I assumed that people would ask me for clarification if they misunderstood my meaning. I think putting the burden on other people to clarify my ambiguous writing is dishonest and wrong.

I should have known that people could interpret the word post to mean comment. That would lead them to believe something untrue because of my communication. I didn’t put enough effort into my comment to make sure it wasn’t ambiguous. Although I didn’t have dishonest intentions, I think I was still lying.

I think this is another example of lying. My intention was to discuss whether my post was on or off topic. My intention wasn’t to make people believe something untrue about how Elliot described todo lists. Again though, I didn’t put enough effort into making sure my communication was clear and accurate. My intention wasn’t to deceive, but I was still lying.

I’m not going to answer that question.

My guess is that your question is related to my comment about posts and replies:

Is that correct? Or is there another reason that you asked the question?

I wrote a clarifying explanation on my misunderstanding:

The only other forum I have participated in was Reddit. When someone makes a new post on Reddit they are usually referred to as the OP (original poster) of that post. People can write a reply to the post in the comments. I always thought of writing a comment as replying to a post, not making a post.

When I wanted to make a new post on Reddit I would use this button:

Screenshot 2023-07-07 at 6.53.25 PM

Then I would see this disclaimer:

You are submitting a text-based post. Speak your mind. A title is required, but expanding further in the text field is not. Beginning your title with “vote up if” is violation of intergalactic law.

One of the options when creating a new post is to send replies to my inbox:

Reddit keeps track of your submissions (what I think of as posts) separately from your comments:

Screenshot 2023-07-07 at 7.00.50 PM

I hope that clears up why I was confused on the distinction between posts and replies.