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# Azimuth Golden Rule

One rule I try to live my life by (and has served me well) is to try hard to never complain about something unless I at least attempt to offer an alternative.

I wish Azimuth could adopt this rule in some form or another.

If someone here comes up with an idea and another member wishes to criticize it, they must offer an alternative along with the criticism.

For example,

Member 1: Floating apartment are stupid. It will never work due to tidal effects, storms, etc. Instead, maybe we should try some kind of spring mechanism so that apartment remain anchored but can be raised or lower.

Member 2: No. That is a stupid idea because ... Instead, you should develop a system of hydraulics...

Etc etc

In this way, the conversation moves forward.

It would be hard to strictly enforce something like this, but if we could develop a culture here where that philosophy became ingrained, I think it could be a very powerful thing.

Just thinking out loud...

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1.

One thing that I've encountered on other sites is that there's sometimes people get attached to an idea, and then any attempt to quantify that idea that comes out below what the proposer "wants" or points out how much is still unknown in the context of that idea, is perceived as an attack to be obliterated. But given that we're likely to have lots of alternative ideas for a given problem and need to prioritise, I think quantifying things is very important.

So I would modify things a little: it's ok to try and (with honest intent) quantify some aspect of an idea, or clarify what aspects of a proposal are "understood" and which bits are "research projects", without needing an alternative idea yourself. Beyond that, I think your idea is a good principle.

Comment Source:One thing that I've encountered on other sites is that there's sometimes people get attached to an idea, and then any attempt to quantify that idea that comes out below what the proposer "wants" or points out how much is still unknown in the context of that idea, is perceived as an attack to be obliterated. But given that we're likely to have lots of alternative ideas for a given problem and need to prioritise, I think quantifying things is very important. So I would modify things a little: it's ok to try and (with honest intent) quantify some aspect of an idea, or clarify what aspects of a proposal are "understood" and which bits are "research projects", without needing an alternative idea yourself. Beyond that, I think your idea is a good principle.
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2.

So far I am happy with how people are behaving on the Azimuth Project. So, I don't feel the need to enforce rule. But I think it's fine for people to propound philosophies that will make our work more productive. And even more important than propounding philosophies is setting a good example. For instance, I like how David followed Eric's rule ("don't criticize unless you offer an improvement") in the very way he criticized Eric's rule.

Getting a good culture established now will make life a lot nicer when more people show up, since the "tone" of an organization is usually set quite soon.

One of my own philosophies is to cool down emotional disputes over what's best by getting people to focus on facts. For example: while the Azimuth Project shouldn't try to settle the heated argument over whether nuclear power is good or bad, it should provide a lot of reliable information about nuclear power and other alternatives.

Comment Source:So far I am happy with how people are behaving on the Azimuth Project. So, I don't feel the need to enforce rule. But I think it's fine for people to propound philosophies that will make our work more productive. And even more important than propounding philosophies is setting a good example. For instance, I like how David followed Eric's rule ("don't criticize unless you offer an improvement") in the very way he criticized Eric's rule. Getting a good culture established now will make life a lot nicer when more people show up, since the "tone" of an organization is usually set quite soon. One of my own philosophies is to cool down emotional disputes over what's best by getting people to focus on facts. For example: while the Azimuth Project shouldn't try to settle the heated argument over whether nuclear power is good or bad, it should provide a lot of reliable information about nuclear power and other alternatives.
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3.

Just bumping this up...

The goal is to stay productive. Criticisms are a natural component of progress. If there wasn't something to complain about, there wouldn't be any need to improve things.

But the idea is to always try to offer something in return for criticizing things. Empty criticisms are easy and cheap. Criticizing something with the intention to make it better is natural and I would say positive.

Comment Source:Just bumping this up... The goal is to stay productive. Criticisms are a natural component of progress. If there wasn't something to complain about, there wouldn't be any need to improve things. But the idea is to always try to offer something in return for criticizing things. Empty criticisms are easy and cheap. Criticizing something with the intention to make it better is natural and I would say positive.
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4.

Since it's come up, I'll clarify my position and why I won't be following the rule as perhaps some people envisage it. There's an unavoidable pressure to present the best interpretation of some work, whether it's in descriptions by the researchers/inventors/whatever themselves, the university/company PR people doing press releases, the general media, etc. Indeed, after several stages of this, what is initially a perfectly reasonable "piece of work", with its uncertainties and "these are all preliminary results" has become an iron-clad important breakthrough. To me, saying that things are more uncertain, or figures used are at the optimistic end of the range of "possible" values, or that more work will be needed to increase the support for the conclusions, etc, is simply attempting to counteract the inflation effect and get a more "middle of the spectrum" value that can be used when thinking about how this effects other things. In such cases, I don't consider this a criticism as such, and don't feel obliged to offer alternatives.

In cases where I am definitely stating that I think there's something actually wrong/misguided, rather than just overstated, I do try and stick with Eric's suggested rule.

Comment Source:Since it's come up, I'll clarify my position and why I won't be following the rule as perhaps some people envisage it. There's an unavoidable pressure to present the best interpretation of some work, whether it's in descriptions by the researchers/inventors/whatever themselves, the university/company PR people doing press releases, the general media, etc. Indeed, after several stages of this, what is initially a perfectly reasonable "piece of work", with its uncertainties and "these are all preliminary results" has become an iron-clad important breakthrough. To me, saying that things are more uncertain, or figures used are at the optimistic end of the range of "possible" values, or that more work will be needed to increase the support for the conclusions, etc, is simply attempting to counteract the inflation effect and get a more "middle of the spectrum" value that can be used when thinking about how this effects other things. In such cases, I don't consider this a criticism as such, and don't feel obliged to offer alternatives. In cases where I am definitely stating that I think there's something actually wrong/misguided, rather than just overstated, I do try and stick with Eric's suggested rule.