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Adam Lloyd




Location: Chicago, IL
Joined: 29 Jan 2004

Posts: 91

PostPosted: Sun 06 Feb, 2005 2:00 pm    Post subject: Questioning references and experience         Reply with quote

I recently ran into some trouble on SwordForum which resulted in me getting banned. It lead to some general questions for me and I thought I'd ask them here. I will share some of the experience about it for context but I dont want this to cause a flame war or anything. Let me be clear that I'm not really trying to criticize SFI or bring up their choices. That isn't important at all. But I do want to try to start a discussion about what types of things are condusive to an educated discusion and what are not. The ability to carry on educated discussions with reasonable people is one reason I find this forum to be very unique compared to many others I frequent on the internet. (cars, bikes, firearms, home theater, and other hobbies I have)

I'm 52 years old and I've been collecting arms and armor for the better part of 20 years. For most of this time, my interests have focused mostly on Civil War-era items and 18-19th century military sabers. I've had a passing interest in medieval swords for the last 10 years but it wasn't until I found the internet that I really started to purchase books and read about these early items. I've read SFI for 5 years now and really only lurked there without even registering. I registered on myArmoury because it didn't have some of the stumbling blocks I've seen on other sites on the net, including SFI. I became immediately aware that there wasn't flame wars and other petty things going on here and the discussions were generally of a more educated tone: even when people are posting who don't know much, they're obviously searching for new info and are open to it which is something I've seen absent on other forums I frequent. My good experience here caused me to be more comfortable with registering and sharing on SFI.

One thing that spurred me posting this thread is this discussion going on right now: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p=32068#32068 and also the exchange that started here: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p=31396#31396

I've always belived its o.k. to ask people questions: to ask them to cite references and explain one's opinions or statements with more info. Clearly in that first post linked above this was acceptable to all involved and nobody got offended. If anything, the people cited what references they had and then said clearly when they had no more to offer. As Nathan Robison points out also bove, "This is what reasonable people do. It's no big deal."

The post on SwordForum that got me in trouble was one where people were praising ATRIM swords. Many people were chiming in with comments not only about ATRIM products but also comparing them to other brands. While reading this, I suspected that many of these people had very little experience with other products in spite of them making the comparision. Now because I'm somewhat new to this specific hobby, I'm really trying to sort everything out for myself. I owned (recently sold) 3 ATRIM swords, and still own 2 Albion swords, a A& A sword, and now an MRL. I've owned some others and still don't really think that I have a clear picture of the landscape of reproductions. So I try to make sure that when I read peoples comments that I'm getting a good picture of what type of landscape that they painted so I can know how to interpret their comments.

This was my original post with a quote of the one I responded to:

Quote:
quote:
________________________________________
sorry to repeat what gus said...I was writting my own post when he posted. But Gary you must realize that ATrims really do out perform just about any other sword out there. There may be others that are better, but I've never held one.
________________________________________

I'm curious how many different makers you've used and cut with. Please let us know.

A&A? Albion? Armour Class? Museum Replicas? Lutel? ATRIM? Tinker? Odin? Armart? Cervenka? Del Tin? Pavel Moc? CASI? Castle Keep? Raven Armouries? Cold Steel? Peter Johnson? Vince Evans? EB Erickson? Others?

I'd also like to know how many swords you've seen or used from each and how new they were.

Just let us know so we can know where you're coming from and how much weight we can give your opinion.

I've been around a long time and frequent all the forums on this subject and also in cars, home theater, motocross, and other subjects and see the same thing over and over and over and over: people giving opinions on a diverse subject with only limited experience. To your credit you keep saying "That I've handled" or "but I've never held one" but you don't go and say what exactly that means. Others in this thread pipe in with their opinion and I suspect they've never had any experience with a large group to give an opinion but they do anwway. You wouldn't believe how common this is on the car forums. It makes me laugh, but also mad.

Sorry for the rant. I'm not attacking you. I just want to know where you are coming from thanks


I probably could have left out the last paragraph but I wanted people to know that I wasn't attacking him and that I understood that he added "that I've handled" to his statement but I still wanted more info.

This was the response I got from their moderator, Angus Trim:

Quote:
I'm not attacking you either Adam, but this isn't the place or thread to challenge someone. This thread has stayed flame free so far, and I don't want to see it go that way.

For everyone, lets not take this personal, nor address personal issues any further. We've gone far enough down that road, considering the original questioner's post was a question about a couple of different swords.

The thread has been thouroughly hijacked, and that's fine, but lets not make things personal any further...


And this is what the person I asked the question private messaged me:
Quote:
Dear adam,
I will not post this on the open forum, and I am hesitant to even PM you given that Gus is having the thread put in for Admin. review. But you had a valid question that I will answer. I have held/used several production swords of varying quality including a few Atrims, an Albion 1st gen, a few CASIberia, a few Museum Replicas/Atlanta cutlery, and a Lutel blunt. I admit that I have never had any experience with any custom makers. Although I do intend to change that as soon as I have a little more money . My statement was meant to cover mainly production swords. Even though I have not held any of his work I know enough about John Lundemo's stuff to say with confidence that it will cut well. I just haven't held one. Please understand this message was meant ONLY to answer the question that you asked me. It is in NO WAY meant to be confrontational. I hope that I have ckeared up an questions that you had



It's the moderator rseponse that makes me want to post this question here:

** Do you members here on this site think it's okay to ask people to cite references or give more information or is that something that most people would find offensive?

There was a topic on myArmoury that Nathan posted about a piece of armor and somebody disagreed with him and asked him to cite a reference and he did it without thinking he was attacked. In fact I think he even found that his source was old and data changed and then thanked the person. This is the sysop of the site and people are still allowed to question him here. Thats really a good sign I think and should be taken as a good example for us all.

Another question related:

** How important do other members find it is that people have a good mix of experience with various makers of swords? How about when you consider giving suggestions or advice to others? Does this change the importance? How about when you then add a "comparison" to the comments? Is it more important to have a good mix of hand's on experience when comparing items than otherwise?


This is all potentially very interesting please respect this forum and don't degenerate into a mess. My old heart can't take it again. Laughing Out Loud
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Andy Bain




Location: Surrey, BC, Canada
Joined: 24 Aug 2003

Posts: 119

PostPosted: Sun 06 Feb, 2005 3:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think that as long as the request for references, experience, etc. is done politely there shouldn't be a problem. I don't have a problem telling you if my opinion is backed up by a lot of personal knowledge or not.

With regards to the second question I think it is up to each person to decide how important it is for them to be familiar with a wide range of makers and types of sword. Some people find a niche they really love and don't really care for much else. That's fine. For myself, I wish my wallet was deep enough for me to be able to see and hold everything. Happy

However, when it comes to giving advice or making comparisons I think it's very important to know what you're talking about. I own an Albion Duke. I don't own, nor have I ever handled an A&A German Bastard Sword. Now if I write up a comparison between the two how much value can you give my opinion? Not a whole lot. You can get a better idea if I clearly state where my info on the GBS is coming from. Is from word of mouth off the internet? Have I spoken with someone who has handled both swords? Or have I just talked to someone who owns the GBS and then compared our opinions? If I do give you my opinion I had better tell you exactly how I've arrived at my conclusions so you can decide how much weight you wish to give them.
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Steve Maly




Location: OKC, OK
Joined: 23 Aug 2003
Reading list: 23 books

Posts: 257

PostPosted: Sun 06 Feb, 2005 4:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam,

I happen to agree that someone should back up factual statements with references and/or qualifiers. Unfortunately, one of the more undesirable effects of the "Information Age" is that the uninformed opinion is given as much weight as the informed one. For better or worse, there are no "entrance requirements" on the internet--the professor and the village idiot both have the same right to post. As does the seasoned collector and the "newbie". It kinda reminds me of the peril of buying used textbooks at college--you don't know if the person that highlighted the book before you was a genius or an idiot, so proceed with care and ask questions. As a relative "newbie" compared to some, I've learned a lot and still have a lot to learn.

I have no problem with someone making positive statements regarding a particular maker as long as they make it clear it is their opinion. I don't have a problem with others making comparative statements between makers as long as they have experience with the makers in question and not just hearsay. Even then, I think the comparison should be qualified--which swords are being compared? Even swords by the same maker handle very differently. My A&A Highland Claymore has a lot of blade presence compared to my A&A Black Prince. If I am looking for a "responsive" sword like the Black Prince and all I handled was the Claymore, then statements such as "all A&A swords are too blade heavy" would be unjustified--even though I have experience with the maker. The handling characteristic may be appropriate for the sword in question.

I think your questions were justified, but some people may see that as a personal attack--particularly if they do not have the facts or information to back up their position. Some people will see any questioning as calling them a "liar", and then FLAME ON! The perception and personal prejudices of the person reading the post will color their response. I've been burned a couple of times due to the preconceived notions of other posters as well as myself. But that's how we learn. The private response of the "poster" that you posted seemed to be on track and sort of the thing encouraged on myArmoury.

"When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail." ~A. Maslow


Last edited by Steve Maly on Sun 06 Feb, 2005 8:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jason Dingledine
Industry Professional



Location: Tacoma, Wa. USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2003

Posts: 219

PostPosted: Sun 06 Feb, 2005 6:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very good discussion going on here guys, keep it coming.

One thing that I would like to add, is this: How old is the sample that you are comparing from "Maker X", compared to the age of the sample from "Maker Y"?

I can guarrantee that almost every maker I know if making their pieces differently than they were just 2 years ago. It may be drastic changes, or minor ones. We are all changing, modifying and attempting to improve our work, and often without putting out neon signs that point out the changes.

The best way to have a clear opinion is to also have the most up-to-date work example. Unfortunately, this is not always an option.

Jason Dingledine
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,489

PostPosted: Sun 06 Feb, 2005 6:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam,

While the post you made here makes your position seems very reasonable, I do not know the context of your post in the oringinal thread, nor do I know the reactions around it.

Thus I will only offer the following opinion...Yes I think its important to personally handle as much as possible and Yes I think it is very important to provide context regarding the authority implied in an opinion post.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 5,687

PostPosted: Sun 06 Feb, 2005 8:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First, thank you for your participation Adam. However, you could have asked the same question without belaboring us with the politics and dramatics of SFI. It would have saved you a lot of time typing. Big Grin Also, please don't share private messages that you've received from other people here on this forum. If they'd wanted their comments voiced in public they would have posted them in that venue.

Aside from these issues I find you basic question to be very valid. In fact, I consider this principle to be one of the cornerstones of good internet communication. Anyone can say anything on the internet. They can also put anything into print. This is why sources are routinely listed in any serious published work. This is a requirement if the work is to have credibility. The same principle applies to statements made on the internet. Quite often people get into the habit of repeating the opinions of others while having no experience in the topic at hand. Sometimes this is done in an attempt to make themselves seem more knowledgeable than they are. Other times it's done in an honest and enthusiastic attempt to share information. Either way if something is repeated often enough people start to believe it, whether it's true or not.

This is why we need to be willing to either list our sources, or share our own experiences that have brought us to a specific conclusion. If we truly have legitimate sources and/or real hands-on experience we shouldn't feel threatened or offended when someone asks for them. How many of us have purchased a car without asking any questions? When you buy a house do you take the realtors word or do you go inside? In my profession I deal with people every day. If I stop a motorist for a traffic violation should I be offended when they ask me why I stopped them?

This kind of question and answer process is part of learning. Knowing how to accept it is part of being an adult.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Keith Larman
Industry Professional



Location: Sunny Southern California
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 237

PostPosted: Mon 07 Feb, 2005 8:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Engage ramble mode...

Just fwiw I don't see any problem with asking folk as to what they base their opinion. It's easy to parrot what you've read elsewhere. But a lot of what gets posted on-line is from the uninformed repeating what they've heard someone else say (who is often similarly uninformed him/her self). People often confuse information (neutral bits o-data) with knowledge and understanding. Bits of truth out of context makes for a serious mess. And those without actual experience are usually operating from those neutral bits-o-data from others who similarly don't have experience. So a self-reinforcing dynamic can be established with "enthusiasts" supporting each others' decisions on what to spend their money on and why. With very little actual experience with anything else beyond what they have. How can they possibly compare what they have with anything else if they don't have the experience with the other things? Then after long enough with what they have, it becomes "right" and "feels good" because it is what they've used and become accustomed to. Hand them the right thing and a very human reaction is to say "it doesn't feel right". But in reality it just doesn't feel like what they're used to. Years ago I had a friend who practiced iaido (a Japanese sword art) who had spend a decade training with only a training sword. Zinc alloy sword, well made, but not a real blade. And pretty much the exact same dimensions, weight, balance as every other training sword that was on the market at that time. I took him to a Japanese sword show and got him handling a bunch of swords. *All* the really nice swords (well, what I thought were nice Wink ) felt wrong to him. Very few felt "good, lively and balanced" in his hands as he put it. Until he got to this one blade that was tired, overpolished, worn out, and really close to worthless. That one felt great to him! Here was a masterpiece to him! But the reality was that it was just a worn out blade that felt like his stamped/molded/milled zinc alloy blade he'd trained with all those years. WIth the same curvature, same basic style of mounting, same length, etc. He was basing his understanding of a "good sword" on a training tool. Sort of the cart before the horse imo. But it *was* exactly what he was looking for and he was happy as a pig in warm mud...

If *that's* what he wants and he's not at all concerned with richness of the actual record of history, is he really wrong? His context is a bit different from mine. That's cool.

The problems really arise when people with different expectations, different context, etc. try to extend their understanding to the "global" scale. "Hey, this worn out, crappy blade that's just like my inexpensive training blade feels great to me -- this is what they all should feel like!!!!!" "This feels good in my hand therefore it is a better sword than that other one." "This was designed with this feature therefore it is a better sword than that one there because we all know this is better, right?!?!?!"

I've heard people complain about nice antique pieces I've shown them because they didn't feel like their WWII mass produced barstock sword. Or not like a really well mounted katana because it wasn't a flashy gold gaudy thing like the cheap swords they've seen in movies or in the local knife shop. Or because something cuts the stuff we cut today they assume it's better than what folk actually used back when their lives depended on it. Do we really understand what the old guys wanted and needed? Do we really know what happens on the muddy field when folk were paniced, blood was flying, and strong people were soiling themselves in terror?

What do we bring to the table as an assumed understanding of "correct".

Anyway, the point is that much of this *is* subjective. As such the question ultimately boils down to the person's experience upon which they form their opinion. There are lots of fancy terms, lots of nifty methods, lots of interesting reviews, but ultimately experience with these things is essential to understanding the historic beast. And depending on what you like, what you study, how you use, even then, that affects what seems good and right. If you're not worried with the reality of history of the weapon, well, then it just doesn't matter. When we start to talk about comparing things with differences, the comparison *requires* a context for conversation. Are we talking about pool noodle, water bottle, chunks-o-wood from the trash? Are we talking about approximation of historic blades? Are we talking about period use? Are we talking about whacking each other sword to sword in the backyard and having a blast? Give it context. And that context for conversation and learning needs to include some idea of the breadth of knowledge of each participant. Otherwise we're not all on the same page. And understanding and putting into context someone's subjective reaction to a particular piece is virtually impossible without some degree of shared experience.

One very difficult thing is to try to step outside your own experiences and accept that those who are best in their area may know better what is good in their context. And it may differ with other contexts. Why with my background in usage certain swords feel good to me but to accept that for guys studying some other style with different methods find something very different to be good and right. For my job I need to be able to step into their shoes and undersatnd where they're coming from to help them get the right sword. It ain't easy. And I don't always succeed. Subtle differences in understanding, goals, methods, etc. all create subtle differences in "right" and "wrong".

And it all comes back to experience. And matching up your understanding with the "proper" context, whatever that may be.


Ramble off... Time to take the kid to the park...

Keith Larman
http://www.summerchild.com
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Steve Grisetti




Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
Joined: 01 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Mon 07 Feb, 2005 5:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another important point - While asking questions and expressing opinions are ok, and, in fact, essential to the learning process, the tone of people's statements is very important.

We are dealing in a text medium. This means that the vast majority the cues that we rely on in discussions with others, e.g., body language, tone of voice, etc., are absent. This greatly increases the potential to make someone think that you don't respect them or their opinions, and thus ignite a flame war. So, we all need to be sensitive to the way we make our statements, always trying to show respect for the opinions and feelings of others. Of course, while I have frequently noticed a problem with this on other sites, this kind of issue is (thankfully!) extremely rare on myArmoury.com.

Just my 2 denarii worth.
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Adam Lloyd




Location: Chicago, IL
Joined: 29 Jan 2004

Posts: 91

PostPosted: Mon 07 Feb, 2005 9:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

thanks to all for keeping this so civil. Once again it shows what this site is made up of. I take my hat off to you all.

Sorry for giving out so much info in the first post. I was afraid that I would be attacked if I hadn't done that. Call me gun shy from recent experiences. Sorry Patrick (also, I didnt share private stuff and got permission and also left the guys name out for good measure)

its certainly worthy to talk about what makes this site's conversations so valuable and generally speaking the discussion of tolerance leads to tolerance in my experience

I think an important point above that was made is that everybody is welcome to give an opinion but its generally preferred to give an idea of where it's coming from. Without surrounding it with that information, we as listeners really have to add a grain of salt to the comments *or* ask more questions. I think I've been very guilty of assuming people won't be over-sensitive to this, but as somebody else pointed out above, if a person doesn't have answers to those questions, then they're likely to be defensive. I don't see a lot of this happening on this site and I really hope that us discussing it will keep it from ever going that route.

Good job guys!!!!!
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Arik Estus





Joined: 07 Dec 2003

Posts: 9

PostPosted: Mon 14 Feb, 2005 7:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Strange, Mr. Lloyd left out his personal attacks on Mr. Trims integrity and his takeing an active part in
the question and answer department. Interesting world Worried

Arik
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 5,687

PostPosted: Mon 14 Feb, 2005 9:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Arik Estus wrote:
Strange, Mr. Lloyd left out his personal attacks on Mr. Trims integrity and his takeing an active part in
the question and answer department. Interesting world Worried


The primary question regarding asking for references and experience is a valid one. Please stay on that topic and leave the other issues elsewhere.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Adam Lloyd




Location: Chicago, IL
Joined: 29 Jan 2004

Posts: 91

PostPosted: Mon 14 Feb, 2005 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Arik Estus wrote:
Strange, Mr. Lloyd left out his personal attacks on Mr. Trims integrity and his takeing an active part in
the question and answer department. Interesting world Worried

You either didn't read what I typed or didn't understand it. You won't be able to read it now because it was deleted by Mr. Trim. I didn't attack him. I did bring up that I felt it looked bad to see him moderating topics that discussed the quality of his products when there are other moderators on the site to do that. I suggested it might have the APPEARANCE of looking biased (and went so far as to mention I suspected there was NO bias) and had the POSSIBILITY of looking bad (and also went so far as to mention I didn't necessarily see it that way at the time). So even though I brought up the issue I said very clearly what my own opinion of the matter was. To repeat, I said I felt that there was no bias and I didn't personally think it looked bad. I now believe I was wrong on both accounts. I also maintain that it has the possibility of looking bad for any individual with commercial stakes in a topic to act as a moderator. He wasn't just answering questions but he was moderating. Baseball teams don't have umpires coming from the team rosters. Boxing judges are brought in from various locations of the country. Legal judges are not on corporate boards of the litigators. Even though a person has the possibility of being objective, its not generally accepted to put a person with a vested interest in that position especially when there are other resources (other moderators) available to take on that job. Bringing this up is not a personal attack, but a very reasonable point worth discussing. None of this was the point of this post though
b][/b]
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 5,687

PostPosted: Mon 14 Feb, 2005 1:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gentlemen,

Are we having a communication problem?

Keep this crap OFF OF THIS FORUM. myArmoury.com does not care who said what to whom, nor will we tolerate an overflow of politics from other websites.

This is the last warning you're going to receive.

STOP NOW.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Jeff Johnson





Joined: 05 Jan 2004

Posts: 116

PostPosted: Wed 16 Feb, 2005 11:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A person should be able to freely question the primary source for a statement. Far too many people on forums express opinions without facts to back them up. One of the signs of an experienced poster is that they do qualify their statements of cite the source (or lack thereof) for their information. What's interesting is that so many people who are demonstrated to be incorrect will not admit error and get outright hostile about it.
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