Posts Tagged ‘cockbite’
Say you’re working on someone else’s manuscript, either as an editor or as a peer reviewer, and you’re marking it up to give back to them. And let’s further say you’re using something like Track Changes in Word on InDesign, where your alterations & comments will be visible. Here are some things to consider when you’re doing so:
Establish yourself as the writer’s ally. You cannot predict the mood that the writer will be in, so don’t be a cockbite about your edits. Be clear, but also speak to the writer as if you were sitting right next to her. Make it clear you’re on their side.
When you point out confusion, try rephrasing. To highlight something and say “confusing” can work, especially if you have a working relationship where you expect that to start a conversation with the writer as she reads your comments. However, if you can, try to rephrase what’s being said. That makes the form of confuse more clear to the writer.
Point out the good stuff, too. This isn’t just to make the writer feel good (though that can help with the first point), but also to show your frame of mind and highlight things that you would like to see preserved during revision. Sometimes whole lines or paragraphs will get cut during revision because the writer is re-examining the text, and if you don’t call something that, that could get the axe.
Don’t be shy about changing text. Part of your gig, unless you’re just proofreading, is to rework things. It’s up to the writer to approve them, so don’t be shy. Maybe what you did is what the writer meant to say, or close enough and better enough to just need some tweaking. Maybe it’s off, but it shows where you were confused and didn’t realize it, pointing out a place where changes need to happen. And maybe it’ll be reverted — that’s part of why we use Track Changes.
Substantial changes should include comments. Did you move paragraphs around? Comment as to why. Are you adding in entire sentences? Comment as to why. Explain to the writer what was going on in your mind when you made these changes, and that helps show the writer where deficiencies lie, not just that something was clearly wrong to you.
Be open to dialogue. Edits are opportunities to learn & grow. Sometimes you’ll make a comment that confuses a writer because your understanding of the craft is different from hers.
Include high-level notes. At the end, at the very beginning, or separately in email, discuss the work as a whole. That’s a good place to talk about structure and things to consider throughout the entire process of revision (rather than just line-by-line processing).
These are some tips off the top of my head. If you have some to share, please comment!
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.
I’d like to share
two three tips on demoing board games to people:
#1: Play the most basic game possible
Perhaps the game you want to introduce your friends to has some expansions that make your experience better, or there’s a higher difficulty mode. That’s great for people who have the lingo & pacing of the game down, but don’t introduce that right away.
Yeah, I know some of you will respond with “but that makes the game better!” Sure, it does. But if learning it is overwhelming or extra-difficult, then the people you’re introducing the game to will likely end their first time playing with a negative emotional context. And if your goal is to bring people into the game so you can play with them again, don’t do that.
Here are some magic words: “Okay, if you thought that was fun, wait until you check out what we’ll add next time.” Think of it like being a dealer; the first hit’s easy to get.
#2: Don’t be competitive
There’s a guy I’m acquainted with. Let’s call him Bob. What Bob does is find people to try new games with, explain some of the rules, and then play hard and win because of some obscure rule or combo that he didn’t explain.
He’s notorious for that. And it’s like being a cougar looking for weak prey. There are people who don’t want to play those games now, and that’s lame. Don’t be a Bob.
I recall an experience at Gen Con many years ago, when the History Channel game Anachronism came out. The guy demoing it for me was a total ass, what we would today in this enlightened age call a “bro”. He seemed proud to beat me, a guy learning the game for the first time. I wrote him off as a cockbite, but I didn’t let it dissuade me from the game. (As gaming is research for me.) But others would. And that’s, again, lame.
Be open. Teach people the game throughout play, not just at the start. Get them closer to the same page as you, and then get competitive after that first game’s done.
#3: If you’re learning the game as well, be upfront about that
In the comments, Jesse pointed out a good thing that is worth editing this post from two to three tips! :D
If you don’t know the game you’re playing, be clear that this is a learning experience for you as well. Let people decide whether they want in on that or not before you sit down to try the game. (For more, read the comments.)
What are your tips?
Add in the comments!
 Take your pick.
 And since the URL doesn’t have the number in there, I’m thankful for that accidental foresight.
Speaking of Guests of Honor, @RyanMacklin gave a really good tip I’d love to share again. While cons ask some to be GoH, some ask the orgs.
There’s a perception that you need to wait until you’re invited in order to take advantage of something, like being a guest of honor or to work with a company you want to. And that sort of thinking will hold you back. It did me for years.
I grew up in a predominantly female household run by a Southern woman, and her influence firmly taught me to be in Guess Culture, where we didn’t ask outright but did ways of hinting that we wanted something in order to get the other person to offer it to us. Because that was how I was brought up, that’s how I lived my life for years, and today it’s no surprise that I stunted my professional and personal growth with that way of life.
The full realization happened at the first RinCon I went to, which I believe was the first time they got seriously regional. I was there, hanging out with Paul Tevis (a special guest), John Wick (a special guest), etc. I joked with friends that I flew there because they invited my friends, and I wanted to hangout with them.
One of the folks running the show came up to me and said, “Dude, what are you doing at our show?” He was surprised — in a good way (yes, shocked, I know) — that I flew in for their shindig. We talked briefly, and he ended with “Dude, if you asked we would have made you a guest.”
I thought, and might have said, “Oh, you can do that?” That’s when it started to sink in.
How to ask
Let’s say you’ve done some writing or art or whatever, and have been published. You think it’d be fun to be on the some panels at a regional convention you attend to every year. You have two options:
- Wait until you catch just the right person’s attention, at just the right time when he or she is thinking about panelists for a show… (And if you meet a eventcoordinator at the show, they’re (a) busy and (b) probably have several months of forgetting your impression unless it’s especially good or especially bad.)
- Find out who to ask and, well, ask.
The “finding out” part is the hardest bit. Do you know someone who has been a panelist? (Or whatever it is that you’re looking to do.) Ask them how they got in. Ask them who they should know. Ask them to make an introduction.
If you don’t have that in, you might want to spend some time making friends first. Hotel bars are fantastic for that.
Once you know, see if you can get an introduction. Because it’s one thing to email out of the blue — you’re a strange name in an inbox list. It’s another for that to be started by a name then know and respect.
Whether you have that, the next step is, well, asking. Often, we’re shit at selling ourselves, so if you find you can’t come up with a decent email to send, write something and have some friends look at it. Fix it up based on their comments, no matter how boastful it might seem to you, and fire it off.
And that’s it! You might hear back. You might not. And you might get turned down — especially if you’re late coming to this and they’re full up for the year already. With every response, but respectful and gracious — you’re playing the long game here, and a no this year could be a yes next if you aren’t a raging cockbite about it.
(Also, event coordinators are like everyone else: they talk. If you’re a cockbite, others who are in a position to grab you for a convention will know. Ours is a world rather small.)
Why This Works
There are two main reasons why this works: event coordinators are too busy to randomly vet people who may or may not be interested, and asking speaks of professional character.
Let’s say a convention has a budget for ten special guests, because they comp hotel rooms and only have so much space & event bandwidth for guests. (When the guest/event coordinator ratio is out of whack, that spells doom for a convention.) Four of the guests are regulars, so they’re invited back and say yes. A couple suggest an up-and-coming colleague, so that’s six total. There are three people who wrote in asking to be guests, and seem like a good fit for the show. That’s nine out of ten. For that last one, the coordinator asks some folks he knows who would be a good match, and that one person is invited.
Incidentally, you might notice that this is not based necessarily on merit, but on who you know and whose positive attention you’ve gained (which is often at least partly based on merit, as like attracts like).
Now, being a guest is a gig, not a free ride. They’re looking for people to speak at panels or do meetups or run special event games, etc. People who stand up and ask communicate that they’ll Be able to fill this role. Is that inaccurate? Totally. But that doesn’t make the perception less a factor.
If you’re like me, you’re fighting against Guess Culture here. And since Guess feels natural, you’ll grit your teeth at doing this. I used to. Now, I live Guess Culture more in my personal life and Ask in my professional. (Though, the more I live Ask professionally, the more I appreciate it and the less alien it feels, so I’m starting to live it personally.) we Guessers aren’t doing ourselves any favors by waiting, because the larger successful world is full of Askers.
So stand up and ask for what you want. You might just get it.
I saw this on a mailing list recently, and it bothered the fuck out of me. Edited to, well, not detract from my damned point to be quite honest:
>>> Original poster wrote:
>>> A question for you more experienced people: [Question that was recently discussed]
>> Reply wrote:
>> Didn’t we just have this conversation recently? [A curt summation of some points]
> Useless Reply wrote:
> Yes. Yes, we did. [End of message]
Way to be a cockbite to the poster, guys.
Yes, you had that conversation recently. Did the original poster? Maybe they just joined the mailing list/forum/whatever. Maybe their lives were busy enough to where they didn’t notice the thread before. I sure as hell didn’t–as far as I’m concerned, that was the first time in a bit this conversation happened. Or, and this might be a shock to you all, sometimes people ask questions in different ways because their brains are wired differently.
Your experiences in a community are not universal.
Your context in a community is not universal.
Your history, both distant and recent, is not universal.
Your brain’s wiring & information processing is very much not universal.
Stop acting like it is. Stop shaming people for not sharing your brain. Stop being cockbites.
Here’s how the reply should have happened:
>> Original poster wrote:
>> A question for you more experienced people: [Question that was recently discussed]
> Reply wrote:
> Hey! We recently tackled this. You should check out the discussion here [link], but in short here’s the answer: [answer]
It’s interactions like these that turn people off of communities and hobbies. I almost said “it’s people like these…” but that’s unfair–nice people have off-days, and I don’t have the experiences, context, history or brain wiring that those people have to know if this is something they regularly do.
Oh, and if your reply is to just dog-pile on someone, like Useless Reply did above, just walk away. You Don’t Need That Third Taco.
Still, bad interaction. Bad form. I feel bad for the original poster because it was just an innocent question from someone who lacked mastery of a topic that could have been treated with a little more respect. After all, each and every one of us started out lacking mastery of the things we love today.
A final point: politeness in replies is like putting a little english on the shot that’s your point–it helps you get the point across.
 Maybe not the best metaphor, but I do like the phrase “put a little english on it.”