IBC on helping newbies...

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IBC on helping newbies...

Post  Poink88 on Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:26 am

I am new here and do not really know the forum dynamics but in the few months I spent here I noticed that there seem to be a "clique" among the masters and the wannabe. If a master post anything, it gets a lot of traffic and responses. In contrast, a newbie comes along who desperately needs some guidance or critique and he would be lucky if a cricket sound is heard.

A lot of people join forums to learn and they do learn from comments and critiques on premium trees but honestly...most newbies have a mediocre "stick" or "stump" and nothing close to the premium pieces posted by Cram, Marija, Andrija, Erik, Walter, Pavel, Rob, Jun, Robert, etc. whose material and work I admire tremendously. They are to be admired and serve as inspiration but lets face it, the masters need less help. It is the newbies that need it the most.

Nothing wrong wanting to swim with the big fish but I hope the place be more welcoming to newbies as well. It is not uncommon to see hundreds of views on a post but no response...it is sad. Believe me...a short note/post to acknowledge their presence goes a long way.

Just an observation from a newbie who hopes that in a decade or so still remember that he too was once a newbie and still help poster and encourage the bonsai art.

NOTE: I thought hard before posting this and I know it can go several ways...it can be ignored, or taken as good and change happens, or taken as bad and I will be crucified. I hope it is not the later (but I am running and taking cover never the less Twisted Evil ).

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  Orion on Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:39 am

Don't be disheartened. I think you'll find that if you ask for advice 9 times out of 10 you'll get it. If you take a look in the "unanswered" part of the forum, just about everyone you mentioned has been left with a "goose egg" for responses. It can mean different things, some just have nothing to say either positive or negative, some may not like to post negative responses, many may not have the knowledge of the species you are refering to, language issues, and yeah, there are some that hang around in a clique...just like everywhere else.

Welcome to the forum. Just absorb as much as you can, ask questions when you feel like it and remember, just like all of us, you'll get ignored from time to time Cool

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  fiona on Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:08 am

Poink88, your comments have been raised several times before and like Orion says there can be many reasons why people do not respond and not all of them are negative. Generally what I have found is that where a tree may be at an early stage but has potential, then someone will respond sooner or later. But please can I cordially ask you to remember that although you personally sound like you are actively seeking feedback on your trees warts and all, there are many who go off in huff if anyone suggests their tree is anything less than a masterpiece when it clearly isn't. As a result, many people prefer to say nothing than be accused of elitism etc. There are also others (and please can I ask you again to accept that I am not levelling any of these accusations at you) who join the forum then demand (I'm using that word deliberately) that we do virtuals for them, just as there are others who will ask for opinions and advice and then write lengthy posts about how and why we are all wrong in what we said.

This makes it a difficult situation to change as many of the reasons why people don't respond are quite genuine. All I can ever suggest is that new posters make it quite clear on their own posts that they are open to critical comments that can help improve their skills. As an adjunct, I personally think that would also be very helpful if people could let us know their real names as that alone makes it more personal and possibly more likely to elicit a response. I don't mean change avatar names - just do like others do and put a name at the end of a post.

Fiona

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  JimLewis on Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:29 am

I don't recall where most of your messages have been posted, but I suspect you will get a quicker (and more frequent) response from the "Bonsai Questions" forum than from the "Bonsai" forum.

When I'm home (I don't have a laptop or a tablet or even a smartphone), I do my best to answer all questions that I have even a smidgen of knowledge about -- including, I sure, some where that is a VERY small smidgen and I should have kept my typing fingers securely in my lap.

I'm gonna be away for several hours -- starting now -- so reactions or disagreements with this will be delayed.

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  Poink88 on Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:37 am

Fiona,

I think nobody has the right to demand or expect any response from anyone. More so to spend time on lengthy or time consuming response or virtual.

This is more of a plea to maybe just say "hi" or "let it grow a few years" or whatever. I personally would take all comments...might sound off when I know it is not what I see but all will be taken constructively though I reserve the right to choose which to implement. I even prefer brutal truth like "trash it and get another" over silence. Of course constructive criticism is much more appreciated.

I know it is difficult to constantly gauge other people when responding but with enough respect and civility I think most response should be fine. I also believe that by posting, you are opening yourself to everyone and be prepared to take all response...good and bad. As they said, "if you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

I know some may become defensive when their loved plant is attacked or belittled but how will we learn if we are sheltered? To those folks, I say it is their loss.

Newbies (or me) get excited easily...it might be just a stick or stump to most but it is my baby and I will try to learn how to improve it...even if I get laughed at (or ridiculed) in the process.

Thank you,
Dario Wink


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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  drgonzo on Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:38 am

I'm often surprised sometimes by the volume of responses that new commers receive, I received tremendous help with a Beech nutrient deficiency last summer when I was new. I think there are a lot of folks that are just as happy to comment on a stick in a pot as they are to a masterpiece (sometimes the stick gets MORE responses)....A young man from TX just had a thread up concerning his young maple and he got pages worth of help from many of us. Usually if I don't know anything about a species I wont answer, but if I do have experience I'm often ebullient with my participation. I like the word ebullient, I'm trying to use it more in daily conversation Very Happy
-Jay

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  Poink88 on Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:41 am

drgonzo wrote:I like the word ebullient, I'm trying to use it more in daily conversation Very Happy
-Jay

Jay, I had to Google that (I am from Asia) Wink

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  Poink88 on Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:46 am

JimLewis wrote:When I'm home (I don't have a laptop or a tablet or even a smartphone), I do my best to answer all questions that I have even a smidgen of knowledge about -- including, I sure, some where that is a VERY small smidgen and I should have kept my typing fingers securely in my lap.

drgonzo wrote:A young man from TX just had a thread up concerning his young maple and he got pages worth of help from many of us.
I guess that too. If I want some response, talk about regular items like; soil mix, maple, elm, ficus, etc. It is sad since most answer to those can be found with a little search here or Google.

Catch 22 ain't it?

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  EdMerc on Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:03 pm

I'm just hurt my name wasn't listed as one of the "masters". Crying or Very sad

Clique is the wrong word I think. Fact is many of these people have known each other for a long time, both online and in person. You can't expect to get the same response.

However, I understand your concerns. They are valid. This site is not the most user friendly for complete newbies. That doesn't mean that you are not welcome. I think most folks feel like a certain amount of legwork should be required of newbies. Notice that posts that include evidence of some initial effort get more responses than flat out "do it for me" type posts. Right, wrong, or indifferent, it seems to be the way it goes.

Don't get discouraged.

Take care,
Ed

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  fiona on Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:12 pm

I think we're all saying the same thing here, and Dario I wish all newcomers had the same attitude as you. It doesn't do us any harm from time to time for a newcomer to voice a concern though - it can shake us out of any complacency.

Yours ebulliently.

Fiona

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  Poink88 on Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:30 pm

EdMerc wrote:I'm just hurt my name wasn't listed as one of the "masters". Crying or Very sad
LOL Ed (and all teh other "masters"), please note that I picked the names that popped in my mind as they are the ones whose work I saw recently. The list was far from complete. You are among the "etc."....are we good? Very Happy

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  fiona on Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:35 pm

Poink88 wrote: ...are we good? Very Happy
Nah. I'm away in the huff! Wink Very Happy Like Ed, I speak tongue in cheek as I have no illusions whatsoever as to my meriting the title master".

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  coh on Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:37 pm

This is pretty typical of internet forums. People tend to lavish praise on the beautiful trees (or whatever the subject is)...it's a lot easier to post "Beautiful tree! I love it" then to think about how to improve a tree, then write it all down. A lot of times the photos provided are not very useful - too dark, bad angle, etc. I'm not saying this is the case with the OP, just in general.

Also, people do tend to respond to "friends" more often. It works both ways - there are people who only post in their own threads and never take the time to comment on things posted by others. It should be give and take...

As for not taking criticism well...I believe if you post something, you should be prepared to accept both good and bad comments, as long as they are constructive. I was a member of an art forum for a while, and people became so defensive about criticism that a rule was implemented that you couldn't critique a painting unless the poster specifically requested it in the post. While I can see some merit to that, the forum basically disintegrated into a love-fest where every painting was "beautiful, wonderful, etc".

Chris

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  Poink88 on Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:47 pm

I probably used the word loosely...nevertheless, master or not, I love the creations of the people I listed. Just my preference and very personal. Others might feel differently and that is fine too. I am literally drooling at some and I can only dream of creating one of similar magnificence.

Most pieces that I love are wonderful work of mother nature though. The foundation is already provided and just enhanced by the artist. I guess the true master will create a wonderful bonsai out of a stick huh?

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  EdMerc on Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:06 pm

fiona wrote:
Poink88 wrote: ...are we good? Very Happy
Nah. I'm away in the huff! Wink Very Happy Like Ed, I speak tongue in cheek as I have no illusions whatsoever as to my meriting the title master".

What she said. Wink

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  jgeanangel on Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:47 pm

Poink88 wrote:

Catch 22 ain't it?

Hey Dario,
It is difficult for a couple of reasons. First, what no one has mentioned yet is that once you have been on this and other Bonsai fora for a period a time, the questions and comments from posters new to bonsai become extremely predictable...and as you point out, most of the time could be very easy to answer with a minimal amount of searching. Personally, whether it is right or wrong, I find it offensive when someone does nothing on their own to answer a question but then expects others to take their time to answer it for them...perhaps my aversion to this behavior stems from my real job...providing tech support for teachers and students!...I almost always begin my responses with "...what have you tried?"

Another thing to consider is that members bring different skill sets and experience to the boards...For example, to Jim's credit, he really does make an effort to answer virtually any and every question posted, on several forums. I, on the other hand, rarely answer questions from new posters but occasionally provide content in the form of videos that could be very helpful to those new to our hobby...if they would just look for it.

Another thing that is rarely discussed is the realization that different bonsai forums tend to attract different types of users. The following are just my personal observations and the opinions of others I am sure will vary but... Wee Trees, Bonsai Chat and Bonsai Site(if they are still around) seem to cater more to beginner hobbyists. IBC for me has always represented the most advanced forum (whatever that means) and the most international. Over the years many of the top professionals from around the world have posted on IBC...recently I have seen a number of posts from apprentices in Japan sharing their work and the gardens they work in. BonsaiNut is self-explanatory...its the forum that gets me all riled up and pissed off so I say things that I normally wouldn't. Bonsai Study Group...has some good info and experienced users but there is far too much ego and tunnel vision for me to be interested in participating.

So, most likely the reality is more a matter of finding a "home" forum which suits you and your personal needs and experience level rather than thinking you are going to change the behavior or tendencies on any given forum.

John


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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  coh on Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:11 pm

Good summary of the various forums! Pretty accurate from what I've seen.

On the subject of searching...have others found that the search function doesn't work too well on this forum? For instance - say I want to "advanced" search for all threads or posts made by jgeanangel (as an example) with the word "workshop". I know he has made some posts that have the word workshop in them, but when I specify the user name and the word "workshop" it comes up with no hits. But if I just search for all the posts made by jgeanangel, I can find them - but not easily.

Or...if I want to find posts with the words "Valavanis" and "Workshop" in them - the search seems to return all the posts with either of those words...but not only the posts with both words. Even though I've been using internet forums for years, I can't seem to make the search function here work this way.

Is this a known problem, or am I just being dense? Is there a help page somewhere? I know I've run into difficulties searching this forum many times.

Chris

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  adam1234 on Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:18 pm

Hello,

I am a beginner and found this forum very helpful. I joined recently and have posted questions which I am thankful for the replies. I did not expect to get the excellent advice from the experienced members. I had no guidance for two years until now. I am grateful to them. I encourage anyone starting up to accept criticism in any form and take that advice seriously as a way to better their trees. Thank you to all who replied to me. This forum is an amazing knowledge resource.

Attwass

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  JimLewis on Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:42 pm

Good summary of the various forums! Pretty accurate from what I've seen.

John forgot to mention the people (and you know who you are) who post the exact same question on several different forums. These really annoy me. (I know, I'm often easily annoyed.)

The exact same people answer questions on most forums, and on some of the beginner-ish forums many of the answers that are different from people who post here are from newbies (I still hate that word!) who have read A Book and know everything -- NOT.

You will get your best info HERE. Any response on many of those other sites that conflicts with an answer you got on the IBC has at least a 60% chance of being wrong, dangerous to your tree, or both.

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  marcus watts on Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:17 pm

Hi,
In addition to the excelent and very valid points made I think it is easier to get quick responses with creative and interesting posts, for example you could say " hi, i'm new here, what do i do with my first bonsai tree please".....................or you could say" hi, i'm new to the hobby and really want my first trees to do well in Texas. I have an x, y and z species and was wondering if there are any special requirements I need to master first to keep them alive and healthy".

instantly you get people thinking about specifics, they will reply, and then the thread is running and you can get the basic advice in the resulting conversation. Personally i would avoid 'beginner forums' - they usually have one or two self promoting bonsai demigods who like nothing more than the sound of their own voice but often the advice is very very average, (there are teaching films on utube exactly the same Twisted Evil )

Regarding the nice trees that get put up.........I always look closely at a persons own personal work to decide if their advice is any good and worth listening to. all forums have the mystery hobbyist with tons to say but no trees are ever seen - talk the talk but cant walk the walk. When you see replys from people who are doing it for real and posting their work its time to really digest what they are saying. I think some of the talkers are frightened to put their trees up for us to see which says it all really..............

This is the best bonsai site I've found, and the wealth of worldwide experience is priceless.

cheers Marcus

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  Brett Summers on Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:08 pm

JimLewis wrote:
Good summary of the various forums! Pretty accurate from what I've seen.

John forgot to mention the people (and you know who you are) who post the exact same question on several different forums. These really annoy me. (I know, I'm often easily annoyed.)

The exact same people answer questions on most forums, and on some of the beginner-ish forums many of the answers that are different from people who post here are from newbies (I still hate that word!) who have read A Book and know everything -- NOT.

You will get your best info HERE. Any response on many of those other sites that conflicts with an answer you got on the IBC has at least a 60% chance of being wrong, dangerous to your tree, or both.

Jim, You are still burnt into the memory of my induction into bonsai forums over 6 years ago. I still remember how chuffed I was to be posting a stick of a hawthorn that I had shoved into a bonsai pot on returning from an actual bonsai nursery.
I was perplexed on how I could get every bit of advice on that tree except to the one question I asked which was could I get the thinner lower branches to thicken faster than the branches above.
Being the grumpy old bugger you are, you yourself could not understand why a newbie would not take the advice given to put the stick in the ground without question. Some time after I took to writing a similar thread as this one which I titled "Only a Bonsai'st Knows the Feeling"

In this thread I compared my experience of being able to take a friend who had started to surf to a spot that I knew would suit his surfing level. How I laughed inside when he could not understand why I had come in before the sun went down while he used every available ounce of light to get as many waves as he could. I thought the smile on his face was payment enough but was even more chuffed when years later he recalled this day and stated that he now realised I found those waves boring and was only there for his benefit.

As many would agree it is a pity that these threads and many others where lost when the Old IBC went down as I enjoyed going back and looking at the discussions I had with yourself and others in the beginning.
Although in time with the various forums I befriended some very patient people that where always willing to help with some advice. Maybe the best tool I had was Bonsai Talk Chat where I could log on at almost anytime of the day or night to get the simplest questions answered from people I had got to know quite well. Often in real time as I was working on the tree.
Being hours away from any club the bonsai forums have been an invaluable tool to my progression.
But with so many teachers I come to go by the statement "I even question my doctor"

After 6 years I have come to appreciate you as the grumpy old bastard and found a chuckle at reading your last post.
Am I to understand that you have now ventured out past the walls of the IBC forum and seen what else is happening in the world of Bonsai Forums Shocked
Only 60% chance that the IBC will be right in any conflict. Even I would have given it a higher percentage than that Razz


Dario,
As I still remember my frustration as a beginner and I have glanced over some of your threads in question the best advice I can give is there is often alot of pot luck in getting interest in beginner questions (especially on the IBC) But stick with it, Take interest ask questions and learn from the threads that are more active and in time you will befriend people that have the knowledge and time that you seek.
Good luck Very Happy

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  John Quinn on Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:34 pm

Dario, I can only echo the previous suggestions to keep on posting and inviting feedback. Mentioning what you have already read or reviewed on the topic in question will go a long way to show forum participants that you are willing to take proper initiative in learning and not rely solely on the good graces of the responders.
Since the restructuring of the IBC in Jan 2009, we have resisted duplicating the "Potensai" forum which was specifically designed for immature ('sticks in pots')material. There were several reasons, among them that many members with much experience spent little, if any, time reviewing threads posted there. And when the moderators moved, or failed to move, a thread regarding very basic questions and immature material to the 'Potensai' forum, feelings were often hurt.
I would also again encourage the use of the Search function, above, to seek out existing threads which may provide some immediate answers.
John

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  Poink88 on Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:06 pm

John Quinn wrote:Dario, I can only echo the previous suggestions to keep on posting and inviting feedback. Mentioning what you have already read or reviewed on the topic in question will go a long way to show forum participants that you are willing to take proper initiative in learning and not rely solely on the good graces of the responders.
Since the restructuring of the IBC in Jan 2009, we have resisted duplicating the "Potensai" forum which was specifically designed for immature ('sticks in pots')material. There were several reasons, among them that many members with much experience spent little, if any, time reviewing threads posted there. And when the moderators moved, or failed to move, a thread regarding very basic questions and immature material to the 'Potensai' forum, feelings were often hurt.
I would also again encourage the use of the Search function, above, to seek out existing threads which may provide some immediate answers.
John

John,

Before my first post, I've read hundreds of threads (possibly thousands of posts). That is the beauty of a forum. Thank you.

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  Poink88 on Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:24 pm

JimLewis wrote:You will get your best info HERE. Any response on many of those other sites that conflicts with an answer you got on the IBC has at least a 60% chance of being wrong, dangerous to your tree, or both.

Jim, I think everyone is in agreement and I do not doubt that. The big factor is "if you get an answer".

Case in point, I posted things here and some got one response or none. Posted the same in another forum site and I got a lot of good advise/guidance. I know some of them are also here and I wonder why they responded there and not here. Honestly, I do not know if I got the best advise but something is better than nothing (beggars cannot be choosers). Wink

At one point I deleted all my post and the ones w/o any response, I managed to delete entirely with intent to move on. Wrong and bad move and I regret it now but what I am trying to say is...if it happened to me...how many others felt the same way?

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

Post  marcus watts on Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:26 am

[quote="Poink88"]
John Quinn wrote:
Before my first post, I've read hundreds of threads (possibly thousands of posts). That is the beauty of a forum. Thank you.

Hi,
i totally agree that reading many of the posts is an excelent source of both entertainment and information. The search feature though is best used to see if a post exactly the same as the one you are about to write has been written before. The common questions we all need answering when new to the hobby have been asked and answered many times before, so using the forum achives like a book is the best way to go, then ask a question that hasnt been asked before, that is another sure way to get the initial interest going.

what do you find the most challenging aspect of keeping bonsai where you live?

If you recieve unkonwn advice from another forum and want to check it out before effecting your trees it is always better to double check it on here too.....once again its about how you present the question......something like "a friend of mine recommended that i repot my new tree in pure pumice and tie it into the pot with copper wire, with some added slow release fertilizer, has anyone got a better idea?"................people will probably say ignore your 'friends' advice and try this......then the thread is away.

Look at the multiple responses you have on this thread, all because it is presented in an interesting way.

cheers Marcus

One very interesting observation made earlier got me thinking - the individuals who will not write on other peoples threads but cant stop writing on their own............it sticks out so obviously once you start looking. Some of the high post count 'names' just cant find anything nice (or not), or useful, to say about other peoples work, even though they certainly read the posts and look at the pictures. Human nature i guess, the 'names' in the hobby and on the forum need to be mature and comfortable with themselves to give praise to their 'rivals' or customers. Its even funnier when the person who sold a tree heaps masses of praise on the thread where the purchaser posts a picture, even if the material is quite average. lol, human nature ?

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Re: IBC on helping newbies...

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