"Have you taken a course in that?"

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Syntax
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"Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Syntax » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:35 pm UTC

A disturbing number of people I've met seem to think that educational institutions are the sole providers of knowledge. Upon discussing certain topics in depth with others, I often get the standard line "wow you know a lot about this. Did you take CSC234 with Prof. Egghead?". A "no" response begets confusion, as if I've started levitating right in front of them. I tell them I've read about it in my spare time and their expression transforms into either "WTF" or "wow, what a weirdo".

A related line is "this topic is pretty fascinating. I wanna take a course in it". This makes absolutely no sense. It is far more economical to visit the appropriate section of the university library and start randomly reading books on the topic instead of dropping $500 on a course that won't teach you 1/5 as much (see the thread titled "Why do students skip class?" for more reasons why this is a dumb idea).

Certainly not everyone is like this, but the number of undergraduate university students who harbour such opinions is truly frightening. This entire thread is just a test to see how many people will not read an entire post before replying. If you're reading this, don't reply. It amazes me that willful ignorance about topics distinct from one's field of study is paraded as a virtue even in post-secondary institutions.

How the hell has this come to be? Why do people not realize that they're blowing $50K on an education that could be had for $5 in late fees at the library?

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby You, sir, name? » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:41 pm UTC

I get this too. A couple of people I know told me they were taking a course in fluid dynamics, to which I commented that Navier-Stokes' equations are nasty, prompting them to ask "Navier-Stokes? How do you know about that? Have you already taken the class?". I explained that I hadn't, they asked me how I knew about it then, I said I had looked it up out of curiosity, prompting them to don the sort of expression of confusion and dismay I'd expect them to get if I told them I am actually an alien from Tau Ceti IV, and I only look human because of hologram technology.
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Sungura » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:15 am UTC

I am a very bad classroom person. I do poor on exams because I get confused on what the questions are asking and picking apart the multiple choice. And very few professors use essay because it takes too long to grade rather than sliding a scantron through.

I learn so much more from doing or talking or being curious and researching it for myself. Some things I can't really teach myself as I don't have the knowledge base but that doesn't stop me. Doogly helped teach me knot theory last year, working on differential geo of curves and surfaces right now.

And what about things there aren't courses for? I picked up crocheting last summer. And then I got some angora rabbits and now I pluck and spin my own yarn! You can't go to college for that, but it definitely has a learning curve and takes time and practice to get it. Or rabbit coat colour genetics? Or gerbil and hamster? When I was 9 I got hamsters and worked on developing black teddybear satins. I taught myself genetics so I could do that. Or when I saw a lightning ball on our driveway when I was 7 and went to the library with my mom and grandma to find out what it was I saw and how it formed, from that I started reading about Tesla. I'm sure most professors would let a 7 year old in their classroom to learn stuff about Tesla and his work (sarcastic).

Yeah...I don't learn that much in a classroom.
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:28 am UTC

Syntax wrote:This entire thread is just a test to see how many people will not read an entire post before replying. If you're reading this, don't reply.


Naughty, Naughty, Shame you picked this topic because its an interesting one, shame I can't take a class in it eh? :P
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby You, sir, name? » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:45 am UTC

Syntax wrote:This entire thread is just a test to see how many people will not read an entire post before replying. If you're reading this, don't reply.


The conventional structure of an OP looks like this:

1. Paragraph outlining the premise of the thread.

2. Personal anecdote / reply to premise. (Optional reading)

3. Optionally: Summary of personal anecdote/reply.


Your post looks like this:

1. Paragraph outlining the premise of the thread.

2. Personal anecdote / reply to premise. New premise of the thread.

3. Summary of personal anecdote/reply.


Clearly, people are going to be confused.
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby lulzfish » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:49 am UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:
Syntax wrote:This entire thread is just a test to see how many people will not read an entire post before replying. If you're reading this, don't reply.


Naughty, Naughty, Shame you picked this topic because its an interesting one, shame I can't take a class in it eh? :P

I stopped reading RIGHT before that line.

FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUuu-

But yeah, the response I usually get is something like "Wow, you need something to do with your free time such as WoW or a girlfriend."
I do play TF2, but when I get bored of it, I research things I won't learn in class, like Blender's Python API.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Snowflake » Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:16 am UTC

Well played :lol:
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Mokele » Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:26 am UTC

I read it, but I'm replying anyway, because I'm difficult.

Syntax wrote:A related line is "this topic is pretty fascinating. I wanna take a course in it". This makes absolutely no sense. It is far more economical to visit the appropriate section of the university library and start randomly reading books on the topic instead of dropping $500 on a course that won't teach you 1/5 as much (see the thread titled "Why do students skip class?" for more reasons why this is a dumb idea).


One word: lab.

This may not be the case with computer science, but there's a pretty big difference between reading a book or paper about snake muscles and actually doing the dissection yourself. Ditto for methods - I can hand you books about gel electrophoresis or electromyography or veterinary surgery, but until you're actually running a gel, analyzing your own EMG data or suturing an incision, you don't know squat. And you can't always do labs at home - finding particular dead things is harder than you think, and EMG setups cost a boatload.

Of course, there's plenty you *can* learn outside of class, and still more that there is no class in - to use one of my favorite skills as an example, there's no university that offers courses in catching snakes and alligators.
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:18 am UTC

I'm replying despite your request not to.
I can think of a few reasons why taking a class on something is superior to just learning from a book, as it relates to, say, Computer Science:
1. Greater incentive. I'm terrible at taking initiative and finishing things I've started, having a class holding me accountable helps.
2. Having someone else review your work. You could find this outside of the classroom, of course, but it's great to have a place where you're guaranteed to have your stuff evaluated and commented on. I don't doubt that you could develop good coding practices on your own, but having someone who knows a lot more about it than you do look over your code and say "this could be done this way, this doesn't do exactly what you want it to do, this isn't very well organized" helps a lot. It's hard to break bad habits when you don't notice them. Same with writing classes I've taken, I don't think I learned much from the lecture, but having my work evaluated in workshops by people who weren't afraid to say "you think this is good, but it isn't" has made me a much better writer.
3. (this applies more to a field, less a specific class) It's hard to always know, on your own, what to study. If left to my own devices, I doubt I would ever teach myself assembly language, deterministic and non-deterministic finite state machines, push-down automata, etc., but I'm quite grateful for what those things have taught me and how they've improved my skills as a programmer.
4. Books are great, but they can't compete with a great professor. This doesn't apply to all professors, of course.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby MrGee » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:35 am UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:
Syntax wrote:This entire thread is just a test to see how many people will not read an entire post before replying. If you're reading this, don't reply.


Naughty, Naughty, Shame you picked this topic because its an interesting one, shame I can't take a class in it eh? :P


I totally failed! I actually thought I read the whole thing.


As for taking classes, it makes plenty of sense. I would like to get my hands on a few rat bastard authors who love to leave out the most important facts from their books. They insist on wasting space solving logical problems (as if you just teach people how to be smart) instead of information like how to actually install the software--stuff that everyone should know UNLESS THEY'RE TRYING TO LEARN BY READING AN INTRODUCTORY BOOK ON THE SUBJECT.

If only there were some sort of solution...like a trained professional who could solve your problem exactly so you don't have to flip through a 2000 page book that turns out not to have the answer anyway.

Classes also help if you're just lazy.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Elvish Pillager » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:42 am UTC

Syntax wrote:This entire thread is just a test to see how many people will not read an entire post before replying.

That statement is clearly false and can be dismissed without further consideration.

Personally, I care whether someone reads the entire content of a post, not whether they read the entire text of a post. The quoted sentence and the one following it do not add to the main point expressed in the post, so while they are part of the text of the post, they are not part of the content, and therefore not only can, but should, be ignored.

As to the real subject of the thread, those people you're interacting with are ridiculous; I'm glad I don't interact with ridiculous people so often. :|
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:47 am UTC

MrGee wrote:As for taking classes, it makes plenty of sense. I would like to get my hands on a few rat bastard authors who love to leave out the most important facts from their books. They insist on wasting space solving logical problems (as if you just teach people how to be smart) instead of information like how to actually install the software--stuff that everyone should know UNLESS THEY'RE TRYING TO LEARN BY READING AN INTRODUCTORY BOOK ON THE SUBJECT.
I find that textbooks rarely succeed at finding a good ratio between applications and theory. Either I'm stuck extrapolating a general case from their examples (which often are not complicated enough to showcase all the particulars), or else I'm left with a general case and no idea how to actually apply it to anything. For example, the Algorithms book I have for a class right now has a detailed explanation of the Fast Fourier Transform but never sufficiently shows how one would plug in the numbers and actually use it for anything. The hour I spent reading over it and trying to figure out how to assign each variable would have been rendered unnecessary if they had given a single concrete example.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby podbaydoor » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:51 am UTC

I read the whole post but I'm replying anyway because a statement like that is just begging for a "Hey, you know what? Fuck you!" response.

I agree that getting into a rigid mode of thinking where you start thinking that the only knowledge with value/legitimacy is what you've gone to class for is silly.

But suppose you're a journalism student and your degree is likely to make you slightly more favorable in the job market? In that case, I'm going to school. And if I don't go to class once I'm there, I don't have access to expensive cameras, HD videocameras, software suites, computers, Marantz recorders, and other top-dollar equipment. (This is specific to Mizzou, which has an emphasis on practical training.)

I think labs and equipment are pretty compelling reasons for why you'd go to class at university. Reading a book about dissection isn't the same as actually doing it with the proper equipment and instruction. Your university has more money than you = your university can get you stuff that you could never dream of owning.

The other reason why you'd go to class is because the shiny diploma you get at the end does generally lend you a degree of legitimacy on your resume. It says to the employer, "I went to school and got this degree and I probably know this stuff / am trainable in it." You don't have to say to them, "But I do know this! I read a book on it. Trust me on this."
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby lulzfish » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:59 am UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:For example, the Algorithms book I have for a class right now has a detailed explanation of the Fast Fourier Transform but never sufficiently shows how one would plug in the numbers and actually use it for anything. The hour I spent reading over it and trying to figure out how to assign each variable would have been rendered unnecessary if they had given a single concrete example.

Same here. I've read the Wikipedia article on FFTs a few times and still have no clue where to start understanding them.
I know they transform signals from time-space to frequency-space, but how do phase offsets fit into that? And what do all those fucking Greek letters mean?!
GIVE ME CODE DAMMIT.

And if you have to take a class just to force yourself to research a subject, you probably weren't too interested in it in the first place. Maybe it's my personality, but I only follow things I actually care about. That's how I got a C in History, I couldn't bring myself to care about it at all.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:28 am UTC

lulzfish wrote:And if you have to take a class just to force yourself to research a subject, you probably weren't too interested in it in the first place.
It's possible to have big aspirations, but also have trouble being motivated to do the intermediate steps to get there. It's easy, for example, to want to learn to program. I tried a bunch of times in high school. But working through books could get tedious and discouraging, especially when it felt like I wasn't making much progress. It's the principle that NaNoWriMo works on: even things you really want to do can be difficult, so it helps to have a deadline.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Syntax » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:11 am UTC

I guess I should explain myself, now that the "cat is out of the bag". I got the sneaking suspicion that some of my posts aren't thoroughly read, even when they contain information vital to the conversation(this particular post is not a good example...but then again, I didn't write it. it was a Copy/Paste from a different internet forum...with the exception of the "trick" that I threw in). Not so much on this forum, but I have noticed it in general. I knew I also had a tendency to "skim" posts and I wanted to know how prevalent this behavior was. This was not any kind of misguided attempt at passive ridicule, I assure you.

I knew someone would come along and ruin the experiment eventually(only two people "fell for it" since then...surprise surprise), but I was hoping it would be much later than the third post or at least done more surreptitiously. I asked him/her to delete his/her post but he/she refused on moral grounds. Shikata ga nai.

I believe it's important to read an entire post; while many posts fit a certain syntax(such as the one pointed out by "You, sir, name?"), many do not. Regardless, the thoughts of other people(no matter how subjective) cannot be assumed to be extraneous in regards to meaningful discussion. I believe it does not suffice to simply know what question is being asked and respond without consideration to these exterior views, as if your brain is somehow static. "Out of the box" thinking can be found in the darndest places. Too often we see posts with the prefix "I haven't read the whole thread, but..." followed by some statement/perspective that has already been brought up numerous times--usually on the first page of the discussion. This is the IRL-equivalent of covering your ears with your hands and singing "la la la I can't hear you!" and then jumping back into a conversation.

To read every post--and read every post in its entirety--is just common courtesy. Take a few minutes to read what other people have to say; the thread isn't going anywhere and neither are your ideas. It's something I've found myself working on(it's difficult at times, no?) and it's something I'd like to see other people put effort toward as well.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Zalzidrax » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:51 am UTC

Your post is not great literature. Few posts are. It could be summed up in a single sentence, e.g. "A ruse that appears to be rant about the advantages of autodidacticism, but actually expresses annoyance that people do not fully read posts." Why then should I spend more than a sentence's worth of time reading it?

EDIT: Figured a streamlining of my post would accentuate its message.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Syntax » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:01 am UTC

Zalzidrax wrote:Some things aren't worth the time to read them entirely. In fact I'm pretty sure I absorbed every major point in every sentence you made except the tricky bit, most likely because my brain is overly good at blocking out things that do not fit. There is simply such a large amount of data out on the internet, 90% of which is crap, that fully reading something is not a good use of time unless you know beforehand, or can tell from a brief skim, that particular bit of information is especially erudite or worth reading. Otherwise you waste your time with total crap.



Reductio ad absurdum. I'm not asking people to read the entire internet, just an entire thread. But I agree with your premise; a good deal of people on internet forums have nothing of value to add to discussion. But that's what I'm trying to fix....er....lessen.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby MrGee » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:25 am UTC

Syntax wrote:
Zalzidrax wrote:Some things aren't worth the time to read them entirely. In fact I'm pretty sure I absorbed every major point in every sentence you made except the tricky bit, most likely because my brain is overly good at blocking out things that do not fit. There is simply such a large amount of data out on the internet, 90% of which is crap, that fully reading something is not a good use of time unless you know beforehand, or can tell from a brief skim, that particular bit of information is especially erudite or worth reading. Otherwise you waste your time with total crap.



Reductio ad absurdum. I'm not asking people to read the entire internet, just an entire thread. But I agree with your premise; a good deal of people on internet forums have nothing of value to add to discussion. But that's what I'm trying to fix....er....lessen.


Then again, maybe we were banking on the assumption that you would present your information in a sensible way, with the most important stuff at the top and the least important at the bottom. Or, maybe you just took too long to make your point and we all got bored.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:35 am UTC

I believe this is appropriate here.

Also, I'll point out the idea of reading each and every post in it's entirety is absurd. There are threads on this board that are, literally, thousands of posts long. Asking someone to read all of that before posting is ridiculous - you ought to be able to get a good idea of what's going on by reading the first page or two, and the last page or two. Likewise, most posts are formatted that way - it's a widely accepted convention of writing. If we're not getting the thesis and basic supporting facts from a post by reading the title, first couple lines, and last couple lines, than the thesis is in the wrong place.
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby lulzfish » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:48 am UTC

Syntax wrote:I believe it's important to read an entire post; while many posts fit a certain syntax(such as the one pointed out by "You, sir, name?"), many do not. Regardless, the thoughts of other people(no matter how subjective) cannot be assumed to be extraneous in regards to meaningful discussion. I believe it does not suffice to simply know what question is being asked and respond without consideration to these exterior views, as if your brain is somehow static. "Out of the box" thinking can be found in the darndest places. Yes, I'm doing it again, you skipped over this sentence, didn't you? Too often we see posts with the prefix "I haven't read the whole thread, but..." followed by some statement/perspective that has already been brought up numerous times--usually on the first page of the discussion. This is the IRL-equivalent of covering your ears with your hands and singing "la la la I can't hear you!" and then jumping back into a conversation.

I almost missed this one because he said he wouldn't do it.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Syntax » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:56 am UTC

PhoenixEnigma wrote:I believe this is appropriate here.

Also, I'll point out the idea of reading each and every post in it's entirety is absurd. There are threads on this board that are, literally, thousands of posts long. Asking someone to read all of that before posting is ridiculous - you ought to be able to get a good idea of what's going on by reading the first page or two, and the last page or two. Likewise, most posts are formatted that way - it's a widely accepted convention of writing. If we're not getting the thesis and basic supporting facts from a post by reading the title, first couple lines, and last couple lines, than the thesis is in the wrong place.



Only if you first assume that the input of others is less important than what you have to say. In the majority of cases involving thousands of posts, most new posts(no matter how logical/factual/"original") are simply redundant. But those cases are a minority, are they not? How many threads have more than 1,000 posts on the xkcd forums? Any intelligent person knows that they have more to learn than they know. Reading is almost always better than typing.
Last edited by Syntax on Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:02 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Syntax » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:00 am UTC

lulzfish wrote:
Syntax wrote:I believe it's important to read an entire post; while many posts fit a certain syntax(such as the one pointed out by "You, sir, name?"), many do not. Regardless, the thoughts of other people(no matter how subjective) cannot be assumed to be extraneous in regards to meaningful discussion. I believe it does not suffice to simply know what question is being asked and respond without consideration to these exterior views, as if your brain is somehow static. "Out of the box" thinking can be found in the darndest places. Yes, I'm doing it again, you skipped over this sentence, didn't you? Too often we see posts with the prefix "I haven't read the whole thread, but..." followed by some statement/perspective that has already been brought up numerous times--usually on the first page of the discussion. This is the IRL-equivalent of covering your ears with your hands and singing "la la la I can't hear you!" and then jumping back into a conversation.

I almost missed this one because he said he wouldn't do it.



I was SOOOO tempted. But then I thought, "no, syntax, the joke is trite and a lot of people are displeased with you right now and they don't want to hear you make a joke..."


...I'm glad someone else thought of it though. +1 coolness.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby chridd » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:08 am UTC

Syntax wrote:How many threads have more than 1,000 posts on the xkcd forums?

Making the world a weirder place. 1645 posts.
Woman Thread. 20975 posts.
What were your dreams last night. 1418 posts.
Confessional Shed. 36297 posts.
Fleeting/Random/Thoughts. 45500 posts.
Plus 10 more on the first page of the General forum at the time I'm writing this.

Syntax wrote:Too often we see posts with the prefix "I haven't read the whole thread, but..." followed by some statement/perspective that has already been brought up numerous times--usually on the first page of the discussion. This is the IRL-equivalent of covering your ears with your hands and singing "la la la I can't hear you!" and then jumping back into a conversation.
I would think this would be more akin to walking into the room where people are having a conversation and trying to join said conversation.
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:15 am UTC

Syntax wrote:
PhoenixEnigma wrote:I believe this is appropriate here.

Also, I'll point out the idea of reading each and every post in it's entirety is absurd. There are threads on this board that are, literally, thousands of posts long. Asking someone to read all of that before posting is ridiculous - you ought to be able to get a good idea of what's going on by reading the first page or two, and the last page or two. Likewise, most posts are formatted that way - it's a widely accepted convention of writing. If we're not getting the thesis and basic supporting facts from a post by reading the title, first couple lines, and last couple lines, than the thesis is in the wrong place.



Only if you first assume that the input of others is less important than what you have to say. In the majority of cases involving thousands of posts, most new posts(no matter how logical/factual/"original") are simply redundant. But those cases are a minority, are they not? How many threads have more than 1,000 posts on the xkcd forums? Any intelligent person knows that they have more to learn than they know. Reading is almost always better than typing.


You assume everyone here is simply dispensing facts. That's hardly true. If we were looking for a place to simply read factual information, we'd be in a library. This is a forum, where people discuss their perspectives and interpretations of things (and make witty jokes). A key part of that is asking for clarification and challenging people on their arguments, and I'd argue that's a far better way to learn and discover new things then simply reading them.

With regards to long threads being full of redundant information - I'd disagree. The longest threads here have a tendency to wander. The actual topic of discussion is almost certainly completely removed from the topic 6 months ago. Why should someone have to read that before joining in?
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Syntax » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:20 am UTC

chridd wrote:
Syntax wrote:How many threads have more than 1,000 posts on the xkcd forums?

Making the world a weirder place. 1645 posts.
Woman Thread. 20975 posts.
What were your dreams last night. 1418 posts.
Confessional Shed. 36297 posts.
Fleeting/Random/Thoughts. 45500 posts.
Plus 10 more on the first page of the General forum at the time I'm writing this.

Syntax wrote:Too often we see posts with the prefix "I haven't read the whole thread, but..." followed by some statement/perspective that has already been brought up numerous times--usually on the first page of the discussion. This is the IRL-equivalent of covering your ears with your hands and singing "la la la I can't hear you!" and then jumping back into a conversation.
I would think this would be more akin to walking into the room where people are having a conversation and trying to join said conversation.



based upon five threads? yes. but is this not a biased selection, given the average number of posts in any given thread?


[edit] besides, that's a false metaphor. If you could read everything that has been said in the past in a room where people are having a conversation then the metaphor would hold.
Last edited by Syntax on Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:33 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Syntax » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:28 am UTC

PhoenixEnigma wrote:
Syntax wrote:
PhoenixEnigma wrote:I believe this is appropriate here.

Also, I'll point out the idea of reading each and every post in it's entirety is absurd. There are threads on this board that are, literally, thousands of posts long. Asking someone to read all of that before posting is ridiculous - you ought to be able to get a good idea of what's going on by reading the first page or two, and the last page or two. Likewise, most posts are formatted that way - it's a widely accepted convention of writing. If we're not getting the thesis and basic supporting facts from a post by reading the title, first couple lines, and last couple lines, than the thesis is in the wrong place.



Only if you first assume that the input of others is less important than what you have to say. In the majority of cases involving thousands of posts, most new posts(no matter how logical/factual/"original") are simply redundant. But those cases are a minority, are they not? How many threads have more than 1,000 posts on the xkcd forums? Any intelligent person knows that they have more to learn than they know. Reading is almost always better than typing.


You assume everyone here is simply dispensing facts. That's hardly true. If we were looking for a place to simply read factual information, we'd be in a library. This is a forum, where people discuss their perspectives and interpretations of things (and make witty jokes). A key part of that is asking for clarification and challenging people on their arguments, and I'd argue that's a far better way to learn and discover new things then simply reading them.

With regards to long threads being full of redundant information - I'd disagree. The longest threads here have a tendency to wander. The actual topic of discussion is almost certainly completely removed from the topic 6 months ago. Why should someone have to read that before joining in?


Straw man. I do not assume that everyone here is dispensing facts(with the exception of the math forum...but mathematicians are awesome like that). We come here to gain insight from others(in most pertinent cases). I never said that we should not challenge others' opinions...but how can we do so without first reading said opinions?

Long threads here do tend to wander. I'm not entirely happy with this(though it does support your point of view, admittedly). Moderators here are quick to merge threads but slow to split them. Not true of forums outside of xkcd.com.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:38 am UTC

Syntax wrote:
Spoiler:
PhoenixEnigma wrote:
Syntax wrote:
PhoenixEnigma wrote:I believe this is appropriate here.

Also, I'll point out the idea of reading each and every post in it's entirety is absurd. There are threads on this board that are, literally, thousands of posts long. Asking someone to read all of that before posting is ridiculous - you ought to be able to get a good idea of what's going on by reading the first page or two, and the last page or two. Likewise, most posts are formatted that way - it's a widely accepted convention of writing. If we're not getting the thesis and basic supporting facts from a post by reading the title, first couple lines, and last couple lines, than the thesis is in the wrong place.



Only if you first assume that the input of others is less important than what you have to say. In the majority of cases involving thousands of posts, most new posts(no matter how logical/factual/"original") are simply redundant. But those cases are a minority, are they not? How many threads have more than 1,000 posts on the xkcd forums? Any intelligent person knows that they have more to learn than they know. Reading is almost always better than typing.


You assume everyone here is simply dispensing facts. That's hardly true. If we were looking for a place to simply read factual information, we'd be in a library. This is a forum, where people discuss their perspectives and interpretations of things (and make witty jokes). A key part of that is asking for clarification and challenging people on their arguments, and I'd argue that's a far better way to learn and discover new things then simply reading them.

With regards to long threads being full of redundant information - I'd disagree. The longest threads here have a tendency to wander. The actual topic of discussion is almost certainly completely removed from the topic 6 months ago. Why should someone have to read that before joining in?


Straw man. I do not assume that everyone here is dispensing facts(with the exception of the math forum...but mathematicians are awesome like that). We come here to gain insight from others(in most pertinent cases). I never said that we should not challenge others' opinions...but how can we do so without first reading said opinions?

Long threads here do tend to wander. I'm not entirely happy with this(though it does support your point of view, admittedly). Moderators here are quick to merge threads but slow to split them. Not true of forums outside of xkcd.com.

If we assume we're discussing your opinions on something, why should I need to read everyone's thoughts unless I'm interested in those as well? Read your post in some depth, skim the others (you know, the thesis that I'd find in the first couple lines) to see if my issue has been raised before, and post. If someone is bringing up another line of thought, I don't need to read all their supporting arguments - just enough to know that what they're saying isn't what I'm saying. The same holds true regardless of who's ideas I'm discussing (although it does get slightly messier/less efficient when multiple people hold very similar views.)

As for how other forums regard OT and duplicate threads - that's neither here nor there. You brought this up in the xkcd forum, with the xkcd forumites, using this forum as an example.
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby kcr » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:46 am UTC

Man, I actually wanted to talk about this topic of going to class. You could've made a post about reading posts...people might have responded better if you hadn't tried to be tricksy.

Back to the more interesting topic/the "fake" topic of this thread -
I LOVE SCHOOL.
I like being in class, I like teachers - learning from them and forming bonds with them, I like hearing other students' ideas even when they're inane and ridiculous, I love being surprised and really enlightened by what a classmate says. To me, the experience of being in a classroom is a great one. Obviously not everyone is like that, but even for the people who don't actually love the experience, they still may learn best in that setting (for any of the reasons outlined in an above post). There's nothing wrong with that. If you can learn things and educate yourself on your own, great. That is wonderful. If you don't like that process, so what? To me, the best part of education is the exchange of ideas, feedback from others. You don't get that just reading a textbook on your own.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby guyy » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:52 am UTC

Well, for my abnormal case, I'm not a very fast reader, and I just don't have time to read through mountains of discussion carefully. And in skimming through something that doesn't sound all that new or interesting, I'm bound to miss a freak nonsequitur like "this post is actually about something totally unrelated, don't reply."

If someone quotes something you wrote and responds to it, and they clearly didn't read it (which has happened to me a few times...), then that's a reasonable complaint; but you can't really expect everyone to read every word of every (often very long) post just so no one ever unknowingly says something that's out of place.

(This comic is also somewhat applicable here. I think.)

Anyway, I vote for converting this thread to its more apparent, but technically fake, topic.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby MiB24601 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:28 am UTC

Syntax wrote:How the hell has this come to be? Why do people not realize that they're blowing $50K on an education that could be had for $5 in late fees at the library?


Because sometimes structure is necessary in order to understand a topic. If you read up on a topic, you may have some knowledge of that topic but do you actually understand it? If someone asked you to explain something about the topic, whether it's constitutional law or the twin paradox, just how far back could you give a reasonable response to if you were constantly asked "why?" on parts of the topic. Did you already learn the background material in order to give the topic context?

Additionally, just how sure are you that you fully understand the topic? Yes, you read a book about it but if you were asked to apply material from the topic, could you? If you're sure you can make use of the topic material correctly, why not take an exam or write a paper on the topic and have it be checked by someone who has an expert understanding of the material?

Those are just a few reasons why someone would choose to take a course in something, rather than just read a book about it. Some other purposes can include learning as a social tool or topics that require a practical component, such as performing in a lab setting.

(Yes, the OP didn't actually want to talk about this topic but it's the thread title, it's the majority of the original post and it's an interesting topic so let's talk about it.)
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Syntax » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:34 am UTC

kcr wrote:Man, I actually wanted to talk about this topic of going to class. You could've made a post about reading posts...people might have responded better if you hadn't tried to be tricksy.


Would I have chosen a boring topic if I wanted to be tricksy? It's thought provoking.


Here's the original thread(my post is contained within)...

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Elvish Pillager » Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:00 pm UTC

Syntax wrote:I guess I should explain myself, now that the "cat is out of the bag". I got the sneaking suspicion that some of my posts aren't thoroughly read, even when they contain information vital to the conversation(this particular post is not a good example...but then again, I didn't write it. it was a Copy/Paste from a different internet forum...

So now you're also a plagiarist, as well as generally dishonest? :(
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Fat Zombie » Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:06 pm UTC

I wondered why I couldn't find that "why students skip class" thread. Cheers for linking to the original forum, anyway.
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Dream » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:36 pm UTC

Syntax wrote:
kcr wrote:Man, I actually wanted to talk about this topic of going to class. You could've made a post about reading posts...people might have responded better if you hadn't tried to be tricksy.


Would I have chosen a boring topic if I wanted to be tricksy? It's thought provoking.

You've proved definitively that your posts aren't worth reading. I certainly won't bother with them in future, and the OP here is the first time I've ever seen your username. It's easy to damage your reputation in a place like this. So it's less thought provoking than it is stupid and shortsighted. If I had to guess, I'd say you were expecting "I see what you did there" style approval, but you misunderstood this community's general aversion to smarmy "cleverness".

I'm willing to bet that the reason people don't read all of your posts is that you're bad at writing them to the degree that they lose interest and move on before you've made your point.
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Sungura » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:43 pm UTC

Also, speaking as one of those first two you refer to, I didn't "fall for" anything. Also yousirname quickly posted back again, I highly doubt s/he was "tricked" either. So I guess you almost make an anti-point? Because it seems we actually did catch that...which imo makes your complaints of your stuff not being read pretty durn silly.

I thought it was an interesting topic and chose to ignore that because I thought it was, frankly, a bit stupid to start a topic and then not actually care about the topic itself. And what Dream said. I almost didn't catch it. You wrote it a lot, it was clear the topic you were starting, I wished to contribute and have an interesting conversation. It's not a boring conversation that you seem to think it is. What you did might be more expected in FaiD or something, but I don't look for non-thread-threads in general.
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Hawknc » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:49 pm UTC

Indeed. It's easy to blame the general populace for not reading your post thoroughly enough, but the onus isn't on them to read it. If you want people to pay attention to what you're saying, the onus is on you to make it worth their while. The lack of attention paid to your posts is therefore your fault, not ours. This forum seems to attract a surprising number of people who come here in order to prove how clever they are, though most don't steal material from other people to do it.

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Cynical Idealist » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:00 pm UTC

Syntax wrote:Here's the original thread(my post is contained within)...

" Meanwhile my cousin(who was in the navy) can cook, weld, plumb, wire, fix cars, do carpentry of all sorts, he has an antique tractor collection(like...30 of them), he
To view links or images in this forum your post count must be 2 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
AND he has his own apiary(and gave me some of the best honey I've ever tasted a few months ago)."

...that is poorly thought out forum design. I can understand requiring users to register (and even to post) to see images, particularly ones hosted by the board. I don't understand requiring users to register to view links, and I especially don't understand hiding the link text instead of just scrambling the URL (make it link to a message about needing to register to see links) for that.
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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby Syntax » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:33 pm UTC

Hawknc wrote:Indeed. It's easy to blame the general populace for not reading your post thoroughly enough, but the onus isn't on them to read it. If you want people to pay attention to what you're saying, the onus is on you to make it worth their while. The lack of attention paid to your posts is therefore your fault, not ours. This forum seems to attract a surprising number of people who come here in order to prove how clever they are, though most don't steal material from other people to do it.


Was that what I was trying to do? Really?


And I disagree; my OPs are generally as succinct as they could possibly be. Post stalk me for proof. As for making a post "worth while"....no. The onus is on people to read. It's such a small courtesy to ask for, really...

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Re: "Have you taken a course in that?"

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:43 pm UTC

Syntax wrote:As for making a post "worth while"....no. The onus is on people to read. It's such a small courtesy to ask for, really...

No, it's not. People read because they think you have something interesting to say. If you don't have something interesting to say, they won't read. It's that simple.
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