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Thread: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

  1. #36
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by john welsford View Post
    They are a mixed blessing for sure, too many who are prepared to put forward opinions that have little basis in fact but which they present as being from an authoritative source. The problem being that many novices come hat in hand hoping to learn, but there is a good chance that some of the advice they take will not be in their best interests.

    John Welsford
    Now that you mention it, I can not (not to say that it has never happened) remember reading here a note beginning with 'I guess you could try....' And this so everso goes for political and historical comments. I do not find fault with opinion and creative guesses, but when they are handed down as stone tablets, their value diminishes.

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by gilberj View Post
    I'd like to clarify something in my earlier post about abusive posts. This problem is seldom found in the Woodenboat Forum. I found it kind of general fair on the Boat Design Forum. I wonder what is the difference in the demographic, or did otherwise discerning people somehow become defensive when the whole forum was dedicated to something this close and personal.
    AMEN

    I rarely if ever go onto boatdesign.net, because of all the nasty people there. This forum is very nice, though I suspect it may have to do with the average age of its members :-)

    As far as the importance of these forums, without them I would not be building anything. For sure, no doubt about it. Books are great, but they are limited in their use and interpretation. The forum, with its question and answer format, is priceless for people like me who don't know anyone who builds boats. Then there are the more "radical" designs that don't even have books written about them (or didn't until recently). The fuselage method of SOF construction, for example. And before Gary Dierking's 2007 book, the concept of outrigger canoes had no significant exposure in the western world (besides Hawaii and to an extent coastal california) other than through the internet. These are both great, experimental ideas that only can flourish because of forums like these.

    One of my favorite quotes:
    ‘Do you know, my son, with what little understanding the world is ruled?" Pope Julius III
    “The difference between an adventurer and anybody else is that the youthful embrace of discovery, of self or of the world, is not muted by the responsibilities or the safety-catches of maturity.” Jonathan Borgais

  3. #38
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    This thread at least drew out MMD

  4. #39
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    I have looked at enough ships and boats, and many times more pix, from Currier & Ives prints to images scratched into glass overlooking the Bosphorus, to be sure that to my eye, ugly, hideous, poorly engineered, miserably constructed, Works of the Divine, floating pieces of furniture, water-bourne perfection, whatev, are not the sole property of the 21st century. Suggest that anyone who criticizes another persons work for the sake of making noise should find something better to do.

  5. #40
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    How many of the people who posted here on this topic actually read Eric Sponberg's article in Professional Boat Builder?

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by erster View Post
    Where is my really big grin and laughing obsessively creature when I need it?


    There y'go, bub.

  7. #42
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    I've watched many designs take off where the designer credited themselves as the inventor and instantly recognized the hull form, at least the working part, along with it's proportions, of it as being decades old, under several different brand names, with only the aesthetic, or adaptation to modern materials being somewhat creditable. I have worked with glass power boats since I was a boy and have seen many new companies claim to be on the cutting edge of things that had already been done many times over. I can think of three 'top' names in the industry now, who's shining star is a complete copy of an existing (the working part anyway) hull, splashed directly from such with perhaps just a higher degree of fit and finish, an altered sheer line and a double price tag.

    So outside of all out pedigreed racing machines, where 10ths of a second matter, what has really been ground breaking design wise, to where the differences are humanly detectable without having a direct and thorough side-by-side comparison, at least by the time it reaches the end user or the biased opinion of such?
    Last edited by pipefitter; 03-24-2011 at 11:47 AM.

  8. #43

    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Thats it with experts. There is the old saying "Put six experts round a table, you'll get eight opinions".

    My view is that a good professional will stay silent if they are unsure if the facts of an issue.
    A _really_ good professional might point out the good questions...... but only if he trusts the audience.

    One of the greatest things that we have in this world is the freedom to say "I don't know". It has huge power. Too many people in power are desperate to present an all knowing façade, and too many people want that. Knowing that there is a question to answer is often half the battle.

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by pipefitter View Post
    I've watched many designs take off where the designer credited themselves as the inventor and instantly recognized the hull form, at least the working part, along with it's proportions, of it as being decades old, under several different brand names, with only the aesthetic, or adaptation to modern materials being somewhat creditable.
    As got pointed out to me in a pm, there is nothing new under the sun...
    “The difference between an adventurer and anybody else is that the youthful embrace of discovery, of self or of the world, is not muted by the responsibilities or the safety-catches of maturity.” Jonathan Borgais

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    There's a lot I could say about this, but I'll confine my opinions to the issue of the NAs on the Boatdesign.net forum. I think the issue there is often that you have people like me, trying to find a good solution from people who will only give you a perfect solution. I think there is a failure of understanding between the two groups on that forum, which is why it can be an unpleasant place. I'm not looking for perfection, but for those NAs anything less is worthless at best.

  11. #46
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    The problem that I have found on most forums is that often the people who ask the questions a) don't know the proper question to ask which leads to a belief that they aren't getting their question answered, and b) think that there is a single answer to any question and that answer is not connected to other considerations, and c) are unwilling to grasp the concept that a boat is nothing but a bunch of opinions and compromises held together with faith in and of the builder, designer, and engineer.

    As I often have to say: " there is never a 'best' anything...hull, material, design, etc...there are only solutions that better meet the design and engineering requirements".

  12. #47
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    It is true that often people do not really ask the right question and often they come with preconcieved notions that may or may not relate to the problem at hand. I spend a lot of time with clients redefining their questions, before answering.
    The rudeness and abuse is still not ok. When someone comes to me with smoked up ideas that are not part of the known universe, I still try to treat him/her with respect as I try to get them to understand what I can do or cannot do. Generally I am successfull at both, but occasionally they leave less than completely satisfied. I'd loose business if I started calling them idiots and told them to shut up. The relative annonimity of a forum is still no excuse for the verbal abuse I have seen there.

  13. #48
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Wow! I am glad that my article has generated a lot of discussion. It is interesting, however, that this thread seems to revolve around arrogance and know-it-alls, when in fact I never addressed that at all in the article. The purpose of the piece was to point out that many people (and I do not necessarily mean most people) seem to be in search of only the simple answers, the magic formulas, and the golden rules of thumb to solve their design and construction problems. In reality, most solutions are usually more complicated than that. The watchwords were at the end: "only a little knowledge can be dangerous."

    I think one of the best lines up above was from Peerie Maa, #7, who said, "...a good professional will stay silent if they are unsure of [sic] the facts of an issue." AMEN. I practice that a lot.

    It is also worthwhile to note that in the first paragraph of my article, I stated that I like helping people with design and construction issues insofar as it is in my power on the internet to do so. I also stated that I learn a lot from others on the forums, and my contributions do generate inquiries that lead to paying work. I have also been known to voice my own mea culpas when it is pointed out that I am in error. We all make mistakes; that is why they put erasers on pencils. In general, everyone, all of us, benefit from the forums, and I would never suggest that they are otherwise.

    I would also like to point out that The WoodenBoat Forums are an exception, in general. I find the depth of knowledge here quite deep and the authors very respectful. I actually have little to contribute on this forum because most of the posters know a hell of a lot more than I do. I help when I can, and I learn what I must.

    Thanks for your discussion.

    Eric
    Last edited by ewsponberg; 03-25-2011 at 02:39 PM.
    Eric W. Sponberg
    Naval Architect (Retired)
    SY Corroboree
    Somewhere at sea
    Tel: 904-460-9494

  14. #49
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Thats it with experts. There is the old saying "Put six experts round a table, you'll get eight opinions".

    My view is that a good professional will stay silent if they are unsure if the facts of an issue.
    I would alter that just a bit. A good professional will ask thoughtful questions until they are sure of the facts of an issue.

    Cheers,

    Bobby

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    The problem with internet forums of all types is that I guess 50% of people ask a question which can easily be answered by doing some rudimentary searching, 45% want to be told what they are doing (or propose to do) incorrectly is right and 5% have genuine questions which need answering. Not that those figures really apply here, but in general it's pretty close.
    What I find most disturbing about the evolution of internet forums in general is seeing people with no practical experience in a subject hang around a forum for several years, start regurgitating the same half truths and lies, vehemently defend their position (along with a few cronies) and all of a sudden this is the new truth. I've seen this first hand in several automotive and motorcycling forums.
    The posters who have real knowledge rarely contribute for fear of being shot down incessantly.

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    So right, Typhoon. So right. Over the years, I've watched the technical accuracy level of this forum go from excellent to "C-." It's good that more people are becoming interested in wooden boats, but it seems the balance has tipped and too often the blind are leading the blind.

  17. #52
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by Typhoon View Post
    The problem with internet forums of all types is that I guess 50% of people ask a question which can easily be answered by doing some rudimentary searching, 45% want to be told what they are doing (or propose to do) incorrectly is right and 5% have genuine questions which need answering. Not that those figures really apply here, but in general it's pretty close.
    What I find most disturbing about the evolution of internet forums in general is seeing people with no practical experience in a subject hang around a forum for several years, start regurgitating the same half truths and lies, vehemently defend their position (along with a few cronies) and all of a sudden this is the new truth. I've seen this first hand in several automotive and motorcycling forums.
    The posters who have real knowledge rarely contribute for fear of being shot down incessantly.
    These new truths you mention. What is wrong with them, as they are, after all, truth?
    I find myself doing that. Repeating things I have learned here, but only after giving it considerable thought and/or research and cross examining the fact with other comments and then only if I honestly believe it right. And then it is, because I wrote it, only my opinion and I would expect everyone to treat it as such, as I treat their input. Or don't they? I find it hard to believe that anyone would take something they read here, regardless of source, and use it as fact. I have a lot of faith in humanity, and look for the good in people, but could not simply believe everything one person says, as like myself, they are affected by many things that can alter what is best in some situations. Many things indeed. Climate, sex, height, colour, strength,political viewpoint, who their next door neighbour is, their occupation, what they like or dislike for dinner, what they had for dinner. The differences between us are uncountable yet with the understanding of this, I reckon there is middle ground where we can settle on what is an appropriate and usable set of rules with which to build a boat. Through all the misunderstandings and lack of professional facts, there is a river of good clean help running through the minds and hearts to the fingertips of most folk here and I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone here, directly or otherwise responsible for making it possible for me to undertake a project such as the one I have, in a successful manner, with the faith it is done to the best one could expect one man to do given what is available to him, with nothing more than the internet watching over me. Thank you all very much. The power of communication is alive and well, here and now, on Earth.
    ..don't judge a man till you've walked a mile in his shoes..

  18. #53
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by floatingkiwi View Post
    These new truths you mention. What is wrong with them, as they are, after all, truth?

    Nothing wrong with repeating facts, but in a lot of cases they are incorrect, or the reasoning behind putting the "facts" forward is incorrect. So people don't get an understanding why something is as it is and therefore don't develop a broader picture of what they are doing, or are trying to do. Which is all very nice if you want an instant solution, but if you want to broaden your knowledge or learn how to think, it's pretty useless.
    I have nothing at all with new ideas, I try to have some myself from time to time, but I do have problems with people regurgitating things they don't clearly understand, because someone, somewhere said it worked for them once, in a vaguely familiar circumstance.
    Again, most all of what I have written above doesn't seem to apply to this particular forum, but it is very, very common in general and it does get a lot of neophytes into a lot of trouble.

  19. #54
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    SB is right [#15], those unshackled by training can improve the scheel keel of a thirty footer by making a 3 foot wide 2000# end plate and having the keel width at attachment to the hull a svelt 3".
    When I read this, a little light came on - dug around and found Nic Compton's article about Bona Fide (built in 1899) in WoodenBoat #180.

    About the keel: "Her 5,180-lb lead bulb keel is fitted to a galvanized steel plate forming the fin." Could the plate be 3" thick? The article doesn't say.

    Tom

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    Keep on talkin' about boats, but keep your words soft and sweet, 'cause you never know when you are going to have to eat them...
    I love that one, Michael!
    "Homme libre, toujours tu cheriras la mer" (Charles Baudelaire)

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    I just read Eric's article and I think it was well thought out and well said. I think he was to the point and very close to the mark. I would agree with most of what the said. But that won't stop me from participating in forums on those topics I feel I can give some knowledgeable contribution to. Yes some of the questions are pretty absurd but I think most of the long time contributors know this and usually say something to that affect. On some forums some of the contributors can be rather rude, but I generally avoid those threads and stick to questions that require factual answers rather than theoretical. That's where the controversies lie. And yes sometimes I feel like giving rude answers to absurd questions, but I restrain myself.
    "Don't tell me that I can't. Tell me how I can!"
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Famous koan about Marvin Minsky, professor at MIT. Surely similar moments occur on forums with a mix of experts and future experts.

    In the days when Sussman was a novice, Minsky once came to him as he sat hacking at the PDP-6.
    "What are you doing?" asked Minsky.
    "I am training a randomly wired neural net to play Tic-tac-toe," Sussman replied.
    "Why is the net wired randomly?", asked Minsky.
    "I do not want it to have any preconceptions of how to play," Sussman said.
    Minsky then shut his eyes.
    "Why do you close your eyes?" Sussman asked his teacher.
    "So that the room will be empty."
    At that moment, Sussman was enlightened.
    It will all be OK in the end...so if it's not OK, you're not at the end.

  23. #58
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    I didn't find much value in the editorial, it was one man's (negative) opinion.

    On one hand, why would a pro give away his knowledge if his livelihood is based on selling it? I can understand "giving away" enough to gain the confidence of a potential customer, but the forum is supposed to NOT be the place for "advertising".

    My approach is to listen/read multiple sources for any particular issue. I've been reading this forum for many many years under a different name and I use it mainly as a rough "pointer" where to start looking.

    I don't design boats, but I have a University Degree in design. The degree is also just a good foundation, a good discipline of how to approach a problem.
    I've given design advice on this forum, and it was no skin off my nose if it was rejected, accepted, or otherwise... I'm assuming that people will do their homework.

    In my view, the Naval Architect who gets riled up by forum users is spending too much of his valuable time online. He needs to be beating the woods for jobs, and cranking his tables and CAD.

  24. #59
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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Without the internet, and forums like this, I'd still be dreaming.

    I built a boat.
    As boats go, it's a pile of pooh.
    But I built it.

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    It seems to me that if what you want is , oh... maybe bigger than twenty feet long, or so... and it has to really take some weather, then you need to deal with a naval architect with some training and experience. It's folly to try to build a 40 foot powerboat without knowing what you are doing. It's folly to try to build a race-winning sailboat without knowing what you are doing.

    If you want a drop-dead gorgeous hand-crafted piece of furniture, then learn the skills or pay someone who has them already.

    But if what you want is a 9 foot putter around rowboat, then go get some plywood. I mean, really...come on. The PDR is a box with plastic sails and it moves in a forward direction when the wind blows, it doesn't tip over too easily and people have fun with it. A boat doesn't have to be so gorgeous that you're afraid to put it in the water, to have fun with it. I'm all for expertise, but apply it as it makes sense.

  26. #61

    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by Woxbox View Post
    In the long run, I believe the conversation is good, and these forums allow people to join in conversation (with experts and idiots alike) that would never happen otherwise. In the old days, when all you could do was read books and magazines, success was never assured, either.
    I agree!

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Roger Long. I liked his posts.

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    In the "old days" pre internet it was slow and hard to get information about all manner of things but I think it was a little easier to sort the wheat from the chaff.
    For those of you without a farm back round that means the real info from the bs, so to speak.

    People who received a letter from you and took the time to write back and spend money for a stamp were likely to be sincere even if they might be misguided.

    Now any doofus with a bottle in hand and an internet connection can claim to be anything he wants to be at no cost to him.

    I have to spend a lot more time sifting wheat from chaff but its still faster than hoping and waiting to get a reply from that guy who placed an ad in the back of Popular Mechanics offering boat plans for $2.00 and a first class stamp.

  29. #64

    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by gilberj View Post
    I hung around the Boat Design Forum for a bit. Actually I still visit regularly but frankly many of the the NA's are often abusive and rude. Some of these are not actually NA's but actually Boat Designers, which is different There is a self assessed superiority which is very tiresome, and frankly boring. One might wonder if there are personal confidence issues lurking behind the bullying. A lot of other folk have equivalent credentials, but as soon as you put the word design in the mix, these guys think their word is holy......If you don't submit they gang up on you.....
    I like the work of some of these people, but that abuse is really too much. I pretty much stopped posting, because so often there was a fight with some really unpleasant things being posted.
    By the way JW, since you are here, I have alway really appreciated the care and respect you have used on these forums.

    Of course NA's and designers have some superiority. They design and build boats for a living, and have a formal education on the subject to boot.. It's always easier to get someone to agree with you on forums like this.... after all, they just have to like you, or they have convinced a loyal few of their magnificence. This is the reason I don't bother to come here anymore. Twits who act authoritatively and don't really know shiit from shinola. I have finally determined arguing with people like this for the sake of good information or education is a waste of time. Woodenboat is interested in visits and advertising, they could care less.
    Wooden boats are like shingles, recurring, and often painful.

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by Typhoon View Post
    The problem with internet forums of all types is that I guess 50% of people ask a question which can easily be answered by doing some rudimentary searching, 45% want to be told what they are doing (or propose to do) incorrectly is right and 5% have genuine questions which need answering. Not that those figures really apply here, but in general it's pretty close.
    What I find most disturbing about the evolution of internet forums in general is seeing people with no practical experience in a subject hang around a forum for several years, start regurgitating the same half truths and lies, vehemently defend their position (along with a few cronies) and all of a sudden this is the new truth. I've seen this first hand in several automotive and motorcycling forums.
    The posters who have real knowledge rarely contribute for fear of being shot down incessantly.
    How to take care of trailer wheel bearings, what oil should I use in my engine, is penetrating epoxy good, what varnish is best?

    Danger, danger danger Will Robinson.

    Will go to several pages and a few fights. One will swear to leave never to return, one guy will claim victory.

    The same thread will happen next month with the same players including the one who swore never to return.

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Not looking for a fight
    Just wondered why there was 8 yrs between posts 60 & 61?
    A2

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew2 View Post
    Not looking for a fight
    Just wondered why there was 8 yrs between posts 60 & 61?
    A2
    Probably because George, who is trying to get his head about yacht design issues, did a search of the forum.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    The weakness of the web: Anyone can post anything on the web.

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Interesting that this thread was started by Eric Sponberg who is one of the bonified designers who have graced these pages. Of course, Eric left a couple years ago to sail and divested himself of all or most of his boat work. I did manage to compile some of Eric's advice in a notebook of his on Design Ratios before he departed. Don't think I could go so far as to get rid of all my boat books and trappings but did so with an earlier career at retirement.

    The Boat Design Forum does appear to have a larger percentage of real or imaginary experts who are wont to put down any thoughts that do not conform to their methods or approaches that they are not familiar with. I have suffered from their ill tempered slings and arrows on one occasion and decided that they can get along without my input. Seems to work for both parties.
    Tom L

  34. #69

    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Andrew2 and Peerie Maa, that is exactly what I did. I was curious about the individual who stated something to the effect of marine design not being "rocket science" "for most of us". This thread was probably the third thing that popped up. I read through some of the posts. It looks like other folks on here feel the same way I do about some of the comments by the "professionals" that have been posted on here, and some stated they no longer participate in the forum because of the negative comments by others. That's unfortunate.

    A lot of us could consider ourselves "professionals" in certain aspects. That's kind of natural in a economic society of specialized labor. Most of the real professionals I've met in my lifetime are the ones who are always striving to learn, including from participation in discussions by those who are new to the subject. I had an incident that occurred one day when I was younger where I was definitely out of line in a meeting that involved people with all levels of experience in the discussion we were having. I'd made comments that were condescending to another person who didn't have the formal "qualifications" I had. After that meeting, my boss, who was also a great mentor, filled me in on how such an attitude was a hindrance to the collaborative efforts of the group, and how it was a hindrance to my own personal growth in the field and others. He was someone I've held in high regard. Not because he was my boss, but because he'd earned my respect in a significant way, by example. I've never forgotten that discussion between he and I. My life has been better for it and I think I've had more of a positive impact on the world around me than I would have had if he not let me see things from that perspective. I will admit that I fail greatly sometimes in holding up to my standards of belief on the matter. I let Jim's comment get under my skin a little when I shouldn't have. But I also strongly feel that people should be able to include their input in conversations, whether it is right or wrong, or how "professional" they may be in the field.

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    Default Re: A naval architect's concerns about online forums

    Well - it's not rocket science. Nor is brain surgery, programming, architecture, cancer research, & a whole host of other fields that require a great deal of technical knowledge.

    I don't know who said that, but to me it shows ignorance. Can an amateur draw up a dinghy? Probably - but it most likely won't work as well as one designed by someone knowledgeable. For a bigger boat, it gets even more complex & gets into the realm of what's safe. I'm afraid there's a whole lot of "my ignorance is as valuable as your knowledge" going around these days.

    I really appreciate the comments here from professionals.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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