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For true beginners

#1 User is offline   wyman 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 09:26

I'm extracting this from a discussion in a B/I thread where a newbie was disenchanted at the level of advice being offered, stemming from a complaint that posts were not really targeted at beginners and that maybe a beginner's forum would be appropriate, especially as we grow.

I think there's definitely room for a "total newbie" forum. The problem with B/I is that it's everything sub-A/E. Having seen what people chase out of A/E (which I think is fair, as there are some excellent posters and bridge players, and they should be able to talk seriously about difficult topics), I think that "not A/E" is way too broad of a range for one sub-forum.

A/E (and other) posters calibrate their responses in B/I to the level of whoever is posting, often. So when the B/I regs, who are far closer to I/A in many cases, comprise most of the questions, they get responses that lean toward that I/A boundary. Answers include "oh, that's why we play kickback or Gazilli or super muppet stayman or ...," and those are typically helpful to the OPs (and if not, hopefully the OPs pipe up or read up and do end up benefitting).

When we get people that don't know a lot about I/A bridge -- true beginners -- the I/A/E posters need to flip that switch on for their responses. For the most part, I think they succeed and are very good at this.

The real problem is when we get beginner lurkers -- that is, readers but non-posters -- in the B/I forum. It is a good idea in general to lurk for awhile before posting so that you understand the etiquette and overall community feel -- learn how we format hands, learn the jargon and abbreviations that tend to be used, etc. However, beginner lurkers are usually reading the B/I forums, where most posts are I/A questions and responses targeted toward I/A posters. These responses are far above the true beginner level.

While I think a true beginner forum would be best (with B/I then transitioning to a forum for those trying to earn their 'A' stripes), in the meantime I have the following recommendation for beginners: Post questions when you don't understand.

It's as simple as that. Please, if you see someone post a question that you're interested in, and if it gets a lot of responses that aren't helpful TO YOU, do keep in mind that those responses might have been helpful to someone, but post a new thread with a similar (or the same) question. Post what you understand from the last thread and what you don't. Post that you're a real beginner. Start your title with "(Beginner)", so that potential responders know how to gear their responses. I think this will be far more helpful to you than jumping in a thread with 10 I/A responses and having everyone try to break down their responses, while people are still trying to answer OP, and debating, and arguing about whether or not post #7 was appropriate for B/I, and ... Just make your own thread.

This is a wonderful community, and posters are almost always well-intentioned, even when they come across otherwise, so please be patient while we try to understand you, what you know, what you don't know, etc. You'll be answering those beginner questions and posting intermediate ones in no time.

Welcome to the forums.
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#2 User is offline   Phil 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 09:31

+1!!!

Time to split the B/I into separate B and I.
Where there's ink there's squid Phil.
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#3 User is offline   HighLow21 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 10:10

View PostPhil, on 2012-March-13, 09:31, said:

+1!!!

Time to split the B/I into separate B and I.

I agree with both of you fully and, in reference to some extremely ill-fated comments of my own from 2 weeks ago, wherein (among many other bad posting decisions by me) I introduced the idea of some posts by a world class player (WCP) as being "dangerous."

This is precisely what I was referring to.

Much of the advice that is applicable to a typical mid-intermediate is positively mind-boggling and dangerous as dynamite to a true beginner. Now, I have discussed this with said WCP and we have smoothed things over entirely, but the spirit of the comment still stands: some advice that is constructive for a mid-intermediate is hazardous to a beginner's bridge game, even with a full explanation and series of caveats.

Meanwhile, some advice that is constructive to a beginner is utterly insulting to a mid-intermediate.

Please separate the forums.
There is a big difference between a good decision and a good result. Let's keep our posts about good decisions rather than "gotcha" results!
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#4 User is offline   HighLow21 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 10:19

And actually I agree with wyman's proposed dissection of the forums. Something like:

(1) N/B (novice and beginners--> no fear of Gazilli or muppet Stayman monsters here, because they're inappropriate at this level)
(2) I (intermediates should have their own forum since the vast majority of BBO players are truly I, and this forum could be dedicated to the players who are trying to climb through the vasts internal ranks of intermediate-ness on the way to advanced)
(3) A/E (debatable whether further distillation here should occur. There are thousands of ideas that are helpful for me but uninformative for Phil or JLOGIC or a host of other Expert+ players; other posts are helpful for them and a bit over my head. But I have enough sense to know when a post is beyond what I'm ready for.)

-Tate
There is a big difference between a good decision and a good result. Let's keep our posts about good decisions rather than "gotcha" results!
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#5 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 10:20

I have said it before but I think the real problem is simply that the definition of Intermediate is simply too wide on BBO. It covers the vast majority of players if they were being honest about their self-ratings. The B/I forum would be fine if the top of Intermediate was reduced and a further category added below what is currently Advanced. My suggestion would be to rename the lower Intermediate group "Improvers" but I am sure there are other possibilities.
(-: Zel :-)
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#6 User is offline   HighLow21 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 10:44

View PostZelandakh, on 2012-March-13, 10:20, said:

I have said it before but I think the real problem is simply that the definition of Intermediate is simply too wide on BBO. It covers the vast majority of players if they were being honest about their self-ratings. The B/I forum would be fine if the top of Intermediate was reduced and a further category added below what is currently Advanced. My suggestion would be to rename the lower Intermediate group "Improvers" but I am sure there are other possibilities.

100% agreed. The gulf between "1 year of bridge experience" and "enjoying consistent success at clubs and minor tournaments" is gigantic. Particularly given that those two criteria are measuring totally different things.

That said, changing the self-rating system is a massive undertaking, and it would take weeks/months/years before the majority of the BBO population would understand and broadly reflect the changed system. Thus under the assumption that the self-rating system is not changing but the forum breakdown can be changed, the change I recommended above, or something similar to it, would get my vote.
There is a big difference between a good decision and a good result. Let's keep our posts about good decisions rather than "gotcha" results!
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#7 User is offline   mgoetze 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 11:03

I have recommended several times splitting the forums into B, I/A and E. Noone ever listened.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
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#8 User is offline   SimonFa 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 11:59

I haven't had a chance to think this through but I think a complete change of tack is needed. Rather than base the forums on players' self rated ability they should be rated by type of question along the lines of the Laws Forum ie simple bidding questions, simple play questions, advanced bidding etc.

Rushing out to play and will post more thoughts later.

Regards,


Simon

PS anyone got a link to super muppet Stayman and should it be discussed here ;)
Still looking for a regular real world partner to play 2/1 or SAYC in Dorset area, willing to travel.
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#9 User is offline   HighLow21 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 12:02

View PostSimonFa, on 2012-March-13, 11:59, said:

PS anyone got a link to super muppet Stayman and should it be discussed here ;)

I'm in the process of completing a writeup of my Muppets Take Manhattan system; notes to be available soon. B-)
There is a big difference between a good decision and a good result. Let's keep our posts about good decisions rather than "gotcha" results!
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#10 User is offline   nigel_k 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 12:44

An alternative could be that people try to be a bit more polite if somebody posts an intermediate level question in the A/E forum. Then some of the better B/I posters would feel more comfortable posting there.
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#11 User is offline   wyman 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 13:32

Just to be clear, my post, which happened to express the opinion that we could do with a "total newbie" forum, was primarily intended to encourage beginner lurkers (who might be offput by the level of advice in B/I) to go ahead and post anyway. I was not intending to start a "let's split up the forums" wagon, even if I'd support such an endeavor.
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#12 User is offline   mgoetze 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 14:52

View PostSimonFa, on 2012-March-13, 11:59, said:

I haven't had a chance to think this through but I think a complete change of tack is needed. Rather than base the forums on players' self rated ability they should be rated by type of question along the lines of the Laws Forum ie simple bidding questions, simple play questions, advanced bidding etc.


Funny, I never really thought that the forums are based on players' self-rated ability (and certainly not on BBO standards of self-rating). Personally I have started threads in both the B/I and the A/E, the former when I think I have a deficit on something basic, and the latter when I think I truly had a difficult problem. The only problem is that when I think I had a truly difficult problem, some posters who think I had a deficit on something basic can be less than kind in communicating their disagreement.
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#13 User is offline   ggwhiz 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 15:17

View PostHighLow21, on 2012-March-13, 12:02, said:

I'm in the process of completing a writeup of my Muppets Take Manhattan system; notes to be available soon. B-)


When they take Berlin? :o

I'm not so sure that splitting the forum is the way to go. Perhaps true beginners are more likely to be readers instead of posters? If that premise is true just look at the (lack of) activity in the Youth Bridge area.

A primer for them at the top as to what they might find here and how to approach it might do the trick and by all means, ASK QUESTIONS! I agree with wyman and anything that removes intimidation towards participation is the way to go.

When you take that big step to admit your experience level, you are going to get an appropriate response here.

C'mon, join the fun.
The race may not go to the swift nor the battle to the strong. But that's the way to bet it.
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#14 User is offline   inquiry 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 15:40

My view is that there are two types of original post in this forum.

Type one, is where a beginner (or novice) or intermediate player can ask questions, without fear of being yelled at for asking such a basic question (assuming it is one).

Type two, where someone post material aimed at a beginner or intermediate player. Remember, the BBO standard for intermediate is that almost everyone playing online is an intermediate. These post are meant to be informative and of a generally "basic" nature. For instance, I would not necessarily expect to see someone explaining the precision bidding system in the b/i forum, but it would be ok if they did. Only those interested that bidding system would read it. (most non-natural systems are posted in the non-natural system forum).

I have been told both publicly and privately that some of the material I post in the b/i forum is inappropriate for this forum (example, anything dealing with squeezes, on which I have posted a lot here, but also numerous of the play-the-hand problems I have posted). I don't see it that way. As long at the material is presented in a manner consistent with the posting guidelines and zero tolerance issues, such material would be ok. I try to post -- even the more advanced stuff -- with some educational point in mind.

For the record, back in the beginning of these forums, there was a gold-star forum. You had to be a bbo gold star to post or read that forum (sorry, have no idea what was posted there, for obvious reasons). That forum died, and at times it looked like the B/I forum was lagging behind in post (one of the reasons I posted a lot of stuff here in 2003 and 2004).

I think there is too much emphasis on the difference between intermediate and advanced, we can't define it well, and certainly can't tell people which they are. But I don't let that stop me from posting material I think someone might find useful in the b/i forum, if if that someone is an advanced player or a novice.
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#15 User is offline   bd71 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 18:04

I personally feel "stuck in the middle" between the A/E forum (never sure whether my typical problem will qualify for the low end of discussion there) and B/I forum. My practical solution is to post problems in the "Interesting Hands" forum and methods questions in the "SA and 2/1" forum. I strongly suspect others do the same.

I am satisfied with this arrangement, but would happily post many of these issues in an I/A forum should one be created.
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#16 User is offline   JustaDummy 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 19:09

View Postbd71, on 2012-March-13, 18:04, said:

I personally feel "stuck in the middle" between the A/E forum (never sure whether my typical problem will qualify for the low end of discussion there) and B/I forum. My practical solution is to post problems in the "Interesting Hands" forum and methods questions in the "SA and 2/1" forum. I strongly suspect others do the same.

I am satisfied with this arrangement, but would happily post many of these issues in an I/A forum should one be created.

How does that help the OP's worry about the B/I forum being too "I"? Are you suggesting that there should be separate forums for Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert?

I'm sure that this would work. I don't subscribe to the view that some posts would miss their targets at all. As far as I know, any bridge surfer will surf ALL the forums which are appropriate to their assumed level, so placing a discussion in the wrong forum won't hurt them.

It might annoy the residents of that forum, of course…
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#17 User is offline   Statto 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 20:00

View Postwyman, on 2012-March-13, 09:26, said:

Post questions when you don't understand.

Agree. If you don't understand, there are probably others who don't either. It just needs someone to ask the question, then all will benefit.
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#18 User is offline   JustaDummy 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 20:31

View PostStatto, on 2012-March-13, 20:00, said:

Agree. If you don't understand, there are probably others who don't either. It just needs someone to ask the question, then all will benefit.

Not sure about that. I'm crucially aware that there are lots of forum members here who would absolutely NOT benefit from answers to questions which I might ask, simply because they are way ahead of me in this environment, and already know the answer - and they also know the answer to the question which comes after the one I have asked, but which I don't know, yet, that I will need to ask. So SOME might benefit, but not ALL. How far down the list do you have to go before the answer becomes unhelpful to the general population?

It's about the expectations of the contributors to this forum. Who are those folks who are contributors here? If, as has been postulated, some of you are real experts, playing at a high level in National tournaments, then that's great. But if you are a less-than-beginner like me, I can just so easily get swamped. Remember the fireman's hose. All I need is a carefully applied sip of water, keeping me alive and able to function, but what I seem to get is a drowning here.

And I don't actually care if the guy who drowns me is a real expert or just a wannabe. It makes no difference to the outcome.
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#19 User is offline   Statto 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 20:43

View PostJustaDummy, on 2012-March-13, 20:31, said:

... So SOME might benefit, but not ALL. ...

I mean all of those who didn't understand something will benefit. Don't forget there will be readers of these forums, possibly beginners, who don't contribute at all, and who are not necessarily members (as it is a public forum), though I don't know how many.
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#20 User is offline   bd71 

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Posted 2012-March-13, 21:15

View PostJustaDummy, on 2012-March-13, 19:09, said:

How does that help the OP's worry about the B/I forum being too "I"? Are you suggesting that there should be separate forums for Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert?



It doesn't, and no.

True, I wasn't responding to wyman's OP, but rather to the evolving sub-topic of a new I/A forum. My point was that we have de facto non-beginner/non-expert fora, and they are called "Interesting Bridge Hands" and "SAYC and 2/1 Discussion." I think those are fine destinations for the mass middle without creating a new forum.
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