An odd phenomena?

laag(z6CapeCod)June 7, 2010

One of the remarkable phenomena that I have noticed on these messageboards is the amount of people who ask for opinions and then cling to and defend the initial thing that they allegedly wanted an opinion about as if it was their own thing and just want to convince and get everyone to agree that that it is wondeful.

The more the project is described the worse it gets and the stronger it is defended. I'd say that is odd, but it actually seems pretty common on these messageboards. I'm not sure if it is that homeowners doing their own designs want to pretend that a "pro" is doing their design thinking more people will say that it is wonderful, or if there are actually "pro" designers and people actually defend it because they believe in it. Either way, it is puzzling.

Has anyone else made this observation?

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Yes to be blunt. The other thing I have noticed is no one is really being listened to. I think people are truly just trying to justify the designer. Or find some fault with the designer. Some of what I've seen is some borderline things that the designer is wrong. What I think is really going on is they don't know or like some of the designers suggestions. It is like no one can agree. Maybe blame it on the state of affairs with the economy. Or just that people don't trust thier own jugement. Or it could even be that they don't want to do the work to maintain the landscape.

I say trust the designer who has the experience to do the job right so the homeowner will get the best bang for thier buck. Oh ya and yes you will have to trim and maintain the plant material. And while I'm at it hardscapes do have thier place. The first hardscape is the home. Some people don't get that. However even though it seems like fishing I truly do believe most people just want to check out thier options and you can't fault them for that. It's called shopping and in this day in age I'm guily of this as well. LOL!!!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 4:21AM
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Interesting observations - people maybe fishing for compliments more than seeking any advice. There are other websites out there (I can't name them or else this won't be reply will be denied for posting, but LDs have moved there or they have been linked to before)that cater to the vain. It does seem odd that once advice is offered that there seem to be a slew of counterpoints... almost like a debate; perhaps that is just part of the conversation about the topic to help them understand or a threat to their own position.

For some postings, it is clear the OP is truely a novice/clueless and advice is what is truly wanted, but those postings often don't get that many replies.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 7:19AM
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Or fishing for votes...?

However, many people have an idea and they want it to be "peer" reviewed/validated as being okay. That seems to be case case when critique is sought.

I do remember one post where they said they liked to hear counterpoints to their idea as way of re-affirming their original position. In this way it's more like thinking out loud with us listening and wondering if we should even respond at all?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 9:49AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I think it's just part of human nature that we both look for advice/other opinions but also seek support for what we want to do/have done/are doing. It's evident in a lot more places (i.e. in 'real' life) than just on this forum! And, just because your advice might not be accepted enthusiastically or unquestioned does not mean it had no impact.

Certainly my encounters on this forum often fall in that sort of category. I have strong opinions about many things and certainly will 'defend' them if I feel that they are misunderstood or I need to better explain where I'm 'coming from' in order to get a better response. Unfortunately that is often misunderstood as me just being negative. I do like to discuss/debate issues rather than be expected to take the word of responders here as 'gospel'! I'm passionate aboust my garden and gardening in general and enjoy discussion with others that I assume might have similar passions but a higher level of expertise that I might benefit from. Sometimes the forum format can accomodate that sort of discussion but often not.

What you can't always see is that sometimes the advice that was initially rejected continues to float around in the OPs mind and does alter things - although it may take a few years to surface in concrete action! :-) I'm a case study for that one at the moment. A few years ago I posted about the new shed we had built. It was a blue-gray color. There were various reasons why we chose that color. Someone (I can't remember who...) commented that the shed stood out too much or words to that effect. We are currently in the process of painting it in shades of green to blend into the background better - and I am doing a lot of cursing these days because the paint chips and the paint on the shed do not match so I'm having trouble executing my vision on this one - and DH will probably get fed up soon with the painting (especially since he liked the original color!) You might still not agree with what that years-ago comment has produced in outcome, but it did have more of an impact than the responder probably assumed at the time.

One of my biggest issue with this forum at times was mentioned above - that sometimes it is assumed OPs are just looking for compliments and that is derided. But it seems to me that some responders expect their advice should be received with utter gratitude and not be subject the question. To me, those are mirror-image states!

On the whole, I think this forum reflects the range of behaviors/responses that would be seen in any reasonably-sized subset of a society. The issues under discussion may be landscape-related but the people discussing them are a diverse group and, accordingly,display a range of 'human nature' in the question and response. You can't really expect anything else.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 10:28AM
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I've certainly noticed this......and it doesn't seem to be anything new. It has been around on this forum ever since I joined GW about a decade ago :-) One of the many reasons I tend not to post very much any more -- a bit like pi**ing into the wind. Offering advice or opinions seems to be rather pointless when it is summarily ignored or adamantly refuted.

That and the fact that very few posts are really landscape design issues but more a question of what plant to plant where. Boring!!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 10:31AM
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To me, the most phenomenal aspect of some of these posts is the reluctance (doh! Why didn't I think of that?) to do due diligence. Sit at a computer for long stretches of time and never consider it a resource beyond asking others for assistance. With a few keystrokes all the banking, bill paying, stock trading, household goods ordering, etc. is done. Why should landscaping be any different?

Can you really live in an area and have no concept of local plantlife? Is your locale bereft of libraries, magazine racks, public parks, garden centers - good heavens, even other homes with landscaping?

It just seems to me, aside from those just wanting another set of eyes, many posters would be happiest to be handheld through the picking of trees, shrubs, perennials, flats of annuals, and skids of pavers as well as exactly where to plunk them in the ground. I know this goes gainst those of you who've studied, honed, and plied your craft over the years to produce a valuable product - it even goes against those of us (like me in the tenth year of my five year garden plan) who make mistakes on our own but aren't frightened by them.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 11:21AM
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It is not an odd phenomenon at all. It seems like human nature to defend yourself when you feel attacked.

What I find odd is snarky, spiteful, hateful habitual poster who has nothing constructive to offer. Would it be so difficult to link to a beginners book on the subject or a relevant website to help the person get started, or to simply NOT RESPOND to a question you find so offensive to your delicate sensibilities?

Would you actually speak to a human being that way if he or she walked up to you in public and asked your opinion about the same topic?

The internet is a primary source to many people these days. It makes perfect sense to start at the free, easy, electronic source you have at your fingertips at all times BEFORE you spend money on books or professional help or plants.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 12:56PM
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I think it's partly human nature. Partly self-confidence or lack thereof. Some are more easily influenced than others. I don't think it's quite as simplistic as angling for a compliment. But maybe there's a little of that in all of us.

Sometimes I've noticed a thread in this vein will take off and become interesting...and other times a similar thread will crash and burn.

I know I've said my fair share of things on forums that in retrospect, I shouldn't have. One of my big criticisms with gardenweb is the lack of the ability to edit a post. On other sites I can go back and edit. This is about the only site I can't do that.

We all bring to the table our own baggage. I get frustrated with the 'curb appeal' crowd. Also with those focused purely with the design and completely forget the maintenance. A lot of people seem to be out there who want a great looking yard but don't really want to expend the energy for upkeep.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 2:08PM
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A "remarkable phenomena" is certainly something we should look at and try to understand. For starters access to the internet and this site is free so any advice should be valued as such. Long time participants realise the benefits of long time participants but most are just in off the street. If I had offered my services to someone who then came here for a non academic critique I would drop that client like the proverbial hot potato.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 6:44PM
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Another place that I have seen the same phenomena is in reporting by local newspapers. It seems that a reporter will often take the side of the first person who gave them an opinion. I have had direct experience with this several times. The reporter will cling to the first opinion that he heard as being fact and everything else as a challege to that fact.

I've also seen it in regulatory boards when someone in the audience announces a minor aspect of a project being the main aspect and having every qualified professional virtually ignored while an unknown is propped up becomes the expert. It happens quite a lot.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 7:01PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

I think it's human nature. I run into it at the GC all the time...someone comes in and tells me what plant they want. I show them the plant...and then they ask me "will it grow in conditions XY and Z?" Well, often it WON'T. Too sunny, too shady, to I give them the truth. And then they argue with me. At length. If we didn't guarantee shrubs and trees (or if I didn't believe in education)I'd sell them what they wanted without a qualm. But We DO guarantee shrubs and trees...for a year. So I attempt to steer them to more appropriate (for their conditions) plants. Sometimes they accede...often they don't.

Ah well. Such is life. We can only do our best.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 8:45PM
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I can really relate to duluth's comments :-) The lack of any extremely basic research before asking here drives me nuts. Does anyone remember books or libraries?? Or if you have the computer resources, make use of them! And by that I mean something other than winding up on this board (or others) and just asking. As an example, on another forum someone asked about a particular plant's ability to bloom and they wanted proof that it does. It took me about 30 seconds to locate a Google image that clearly showed the plant in question in full bloom - if I can take the time to bother to do a simple search, couldn't they?

Same thing re: Mel's comments about garden center shoppers. I can't think of many other retail sales situations where the customer is so unprepared and unknowledgeable about their intended purchase to just go grab the first thing they see they like. Whether it works for the purpose or not. And then if they do ask the opinion of an experienced staff person, argue the point if the opinion does not match theirs. Why bother to ask if you disregard the answer?

Personally, I think it has a lot to do with laziness and the way current technology feeds us information, often without effort. Many people expect to be force-fed info without exerting the slightest bit of effort to dig it out themselves and then get 'snarky' when it is suggested they take a bit of personal initiative to hunt out the answer themselves. And it's not a phenomenon that is restricted to this forum - I see it all over GW. How many times have you seen the exact same question asked over and over, often just a post or two away from an identical question? How often do the questioners review the FAQ's to see if their question is addressed there before posting? Many times it is patently obvious the responders to the question have taken some time to research their answers -- why can't the OP's do the same?

Laziness, impatience, the need for instant gratification, whatever. I am most inclined to help those who have at least made a beginning attempt to help themselves first.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 10:07AM
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I am not sure I grasp your latest Andrew but a dynamic of this forum that has always existed is connected with the first person to respond to a query being who sets the tone. Michelle always used to hate those "Wow! what pretty flowers" responses that would mean any sensible discussion would be lost. I was aware of this phenomenon early on and would often attempt to open up the discussion by being that 'first responder', some called it manipulation or failed to see the subtlety and arguments (some nasty) ensued. emails and accusations lead to INKognito. What this means is that the messenger is an easier target than the message so one has to tread carefully and "Wow! what pretty flowers" makes you more friends than "The jarring mixture of elements in your landscape doesn't work".

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 5:35PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

What this means is that the messenger is an easier target than the message so one has to tread carefully and "Wow! what pretty flowers" makes you more friends than "The jarring mixture of elements in your landscape doesn't work".

And yet... I learned more from the latter.
June 2004:

June 2005: From OLD garden pics

May 2008:

June 2010:

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 7:47PM
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