On Understanding Problems
There is something that we do, as geeks in the community, that if sit-coms are to be trusted is stereotypically masculine: we present solutions to problems before we actually understand the problem.
Stop that. You’re helping no one.
Too often, fruitful discussion of problems is derailed by proposed solutions and then argument over the solution’s foreseen effects. Sometimes, that leads to further understanding of the problem, but just as often it turns into a pointless waste of energy in the form of a flame war.
It also creates a situation where “I see a problem and want to talk about it” is unhealthy, because the discussion desired is not the discussion created. And then those sorts of conversation seeds are less often planted, which hurts us all (if, like me, you believe that discourse is how we elevate our communities).
Next time someone presents a problem, take a moment to understand it. Set aside your assumptions as best you can — especially when those assumptions are counter to the problem. Like countering someone saying “I don’t like playing games like Burning Wheel because they’re too crunchy for me” with “Well, it isn’t for me” as though the human being you’re replying to is the problem. Ask questions. Get some sense of what is behind the problem.
I understand the desire to immediately problem solve, because that is for many of us its own reward cycle. And I understand the impulse to be the first to post a new solution online, because then maybe you look smart and that’s yet another form of reward. But slow your roll and take some time to understand problems, and you’ll get something even better out of it:
You’ll become one of the sharpest people in the room, for having come to understand so many viewpoints. And you’ll be one of the more appreciated people in the room, because instead of being an assuming cockbite with fast, vacant answers, yours are thoughtful and are themselves worthy conversation seeds.
So, if you cannot bring yourself to slowing down and understanding someone else for the good of others and the community overall, consider the rather selfish ones I just stated. :)
 If you say that, punch yourself in the face right now. That’s pretty damned insulting to immediately suggest the other person is him or herself the problem.