• So you hate groupthink?

    So you hate groupthink? So you think the forum has a specific bias? So you think that one opinion prevails overall?

    You couldnít be further from the truth. Just because there arenít a plethora of people posting here opposing a specific position on a building, project, parade, or any other event or project DOES NOT MEAN your opinion on the contrary side is not appreciated or welcomed. The reality of Internet forums is that only certain people will use them. The reality of Internet forums is that until somebody gets angry enough, or passionate enough, they will not post. Thatís just reality.

    This is the core of the problem here on Connect2Edmonton and many other forums. Donít think for one second that I donít frequent many other forums. Political forums, automotive forums, aviation forums, scientific and research forums, home renovation forums, and even those on Airshows. They all share a similar issue. They only have the content of those who wish to post. Connect2Edmonton has long been dominated by a pro-development, pro-downtown, pro-density crowd. This is not surprising given that its founding years were in the midst of a very depressed Edmonton economy, with absolutely no downtown development in years, with serious concerns about its place on the provincial stage let alone the world stage, and an overall civic lethargy and self-deprecation habit. Many of those posters are still very active today and are rather proud of the changes that have happened downtown. Thatís good and that is their right to be proud.

    The current agenda of many cities as a whole, not just Edmonton, is largely urbanist in nature. This does not mean that a suburban and rural agenda is somehow inferior or being shot down. Far more people live in suburban and rural areas than ever will live in a downtown dense core for the foreseeable future. Far more people will appreciate and enjoy the automobile than public transit for the foreseeable future.

    Recent comments saying that Connect2Edmonton really is nothing but groupthink is not a reflection of moderation but more reflection of those who choose to participate. The agenda of Edmonton as the city has been very focused on downtown since the days of Mayor Bill Smith. That momentum permeates the cityís administration and also permeates the planning and development proposals put forth to City Council for review. It really explains wholeheartedly the rabid desire for many unobtainable items in projects such as the Blatchford redevelopment concept. However, continuing to use the Blatchford redevelopment concept as an example, you will see many of the ďunobtaniumĒ contained within the original concept has been beaten into submission by reality. This will also hold true to many of the other ideas and/or concepts that are put forth for downtown and other areas.

    One cannot moderate away groupthink. Since this forum is open to all opinions, all opinions are welcomed. If one constituency wishes to overwhelm the forum of their opinion, that is their right. I cannot moderate that away any more than I can moderate away your own opinion. To ask me to do so would be disingenuous.

    That said, the only way Connect2Edmonton will get more diverse opinions is if more diverse opinions post. If youíre upset and believe that there is groupthink, then feel free to actively recruit others to post on Connect2Edmonton. If you think there is a hive mentality, invite another hive. From its inception, Connect2Edmonton was supposed to be an all-inclusive form. It is still open to everyone to post their opinion.

    If you need some survival tips on navigating an Internet form, check out the following

    • Most people posting on forums donít have direct control over the projects they seem to dislike,
    • an opinion is just that, an opinion,
    • be articulate in your replies. You do not need to in to your comments with a snarky little add-on no matter how much you dislike the previous post. You know thatís just going to inflame,
    • if you have a bias, do not be afraid to admit it. Embrace it. It is your opinion and your bias. Just be prepared for your bias to be challenged, and
    • relax. The world is not going to change with the post on Connect2Edmonton, but your opinion does have influence for the tens of thousands of readers who frequent the site. Most of the people who donated to the Connect2Edmonton fund were not posters. They were readers. They were lurkers. They were passionate and continue to be passionate consumers of your information. As I said before, just because they donít postÖ

    When it comes to moderation, weíve had a standing principle that if youíre an active participant in a thread that you should not moderate that thread. It is a core reason of why I donít actively participate in many threads anymore. Iím trying to keep some cognitive distance as many of the moderators are no longer here. Moderation takes a lot of patience, and on this forum, more patience than normal. I am reinforcing that rule effective immediately. Iíve also reduce the moderator count to just me and one other.

    A few years ago, due to the baiting of one poster, we put out there who the moderators were as far as the user names. That was a colossal mistake. Since that day, some posters have been doing nothing but baiting those who moderate into a position where they have to make a decision and then they turn around to decry being moderated. When I recruit new moderators, they will be moderator 1 through moderator 10. I will personally review all infractions to make sure a username who is using moderator one through 10 is not abusing this privilege. And yes, I will be recruiting new moderators.

    As for a topic that is the subject of much of the groupthink dilemmaÖ

    Edmontonís Metro area is over 1 million people. Do 1 million people live in the downtown core? Do 1 million people bother to visit the downtown core? The answer is no. While there are many people posting on this form who are very pro-density, very pro-downtown, very pro-historical preservation, and very pro-phallic shiny glass encrusted towers as a symbol of progress, there are many others who read this form who do not visit downtown, who do not think downtown is for everyone, who donít work downtown, who will never live downtown, and who donít ďappreciateĒ some of the directions that the city is taking. All one needs to see are the differing opinions being expressed in letters to the editor from everything photo radar, to parking, too many other issues.

    Even the author of this article has left downtown. I personally grew tired of the groupthink, of being told what a ďgood downtownĒ really is. I found downtown to be an absolute hell for a person with disabilities which should be the exact opposite if I were to listen to the downtown boosters. Iíve since moved to an area where I can control my environment more to help in my life as being a disabled person. Downtown, especially in the winter, became an absolute prison. That is just my opinion. I moved from my own reasons. I would not dare tell people to not live downtown because of my experience.

    On a personal note, Iíve always known that Edmonton is far more than is downtown core. While in the late 1990s, the downtown really was being a defining metaphor for many things ďwrongĒ with Edmontonís current position at the time. However, I knew (as well as many others who are no longer posting here) that Edmonton was the sum of its parts and eventually should not be defined by its core alone. In fact, the very design of the Connect2Edmonton regional plan reflects this reality. If you go back and read that plan, you will see that the core of the borough concept was to have downtown be its own district and planned as its own district so that other districts could plan the medium to low density developments that, via anecdotal evidence, the majority of purchasers in this part of North America prefer.

    I too have noticed and commented on some of the rather interesting examples of doublespeak when it comes to density, massing, and neighbourhood appropriateness. There is the double standard regardless of what certain area boosters will tell you. Itís like the old saying of one manís junk is another manís treasure, or one terrorist is anotherís freedom fighter. It all depends on what side of the fence youíre on the topic of the day. What gets me upset, is when the bias isnít admitted. The difference is that I will point it out, but will not let it permeate other threads as the new thread is about something else. To repeat, there are many people reading this form and they get the bias, they read the comment pointing out the bias, and theyíre good. There is no need to keep repeating it.

    To sum up, this community is only as good as those who post. Reading is fine and is welcomed. Using this as a repository for Edmonton is welcomed. However, if you donít like the tone or the direction of a conversation, login and post a very well rationed and reasoned response. Donít call names, donít bait, donít add the snippy taglines, and you should be just fine. If you donít like the lack of conversation on topics youíd like to see on Connect2Edmonton, login and start the topic. If you want more people to talk on here, invite them. If you have a bias, just admit it Ė itíll come out anyway.

    Thank you. Thank you to those who support the site, and thank you to those who supported us in the past.

    Sorry for the length of the article.
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. moahunter -
      Nice article.

      If you go back and read that plan, you will see that the core of the borough concept was to have downtown be its own district and planned as its own district so that other districts could plan the medium to low density developments that, via anecdotal evidence, the majority of purchasers in this part of North America prefer.
      I like that approach, concentrate the high rises / high density in the core, that way, you create a big city feel in the center, instead of a scattering of high rises all over the place, in locations where they just encourage people to drive.

      On the group think, I think the big thing is if someone is opposing the group think, it can become a bit overwhelming. You are basically going up against a bit of a virtual "mob". Its important the "mob" follow the rules, just because others have the same view, doesn't make the view right. All too often you see people starting to say, "that's a dumb idea", "that's stupid", etc., simply because its against the conventions so many on here believe (tall is always good, density is always good, stucco is always bad, YEG airport is always well managed / good, etc.). Dissent should be encouraged, otherwise its all a bit dull, just a club agreeing with itself.
    1. Gemini -
      I think in some threads there is a fair bit of groupthink. It's usually the civic/real estate/commercial/building threads. A lot of people who post on those threads do not venture to 'other' threads. Sometimes I find there could be several threads basically about the same topic. Or some threads end up being basically about the same topic. This can be somewhat confusing as you don't wan to be posting the same comment on several different threads. You've also got to learn to disregard bad manners or just learn to give back as good as you get.
      I know I've posted 'stuff' and got a real ornery response and wondered 'wow, want happened there'. Maybe I'm just to straight forward for some people. Any who, for people who want to post and are scared to take the plunge. Just post, plug away. Your opinion and stance is just as valid as the next person. Of course the next person is going to try to call you out on it but just stick to your guns. Get the conversation going.
    1. Spudly -
      Unfortunately, the behaviours we all see are not new, but accelerated by technology and low cost of entry. I came to C2E because it had information from people in various places I couldn't be. It took me 2 hours to have flashbacks to the early 1990s and UseNet and Eternal September (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_September), and I was only following a couple fora.

      The next day I made my first Ignore List entry and have since added others. What used to take a couple days to see unfold over a 14.4k modem and a newsgroup reader now takes minutes or seconds through places like C2E, newspaper Comments sections, and now Twitter. Snipe, snipe, snipe. "Arguments" that are often a series of nerd monologues chasing their tales, yelling into an echo chamber aboutt how right they are and how the other guy isn't listening or needs to get educated.

      I suppose the only advice I could give is to use the Ignore List, and make sure you don't give others a reason to put you on theirs. Oh, and go take a pee, or have a smoke, or let the dog out, before pressing Send. There's no shame in venting into the little comment box and then Cancelling it once you've got your fix of indignation/lecturing. That's the only way I can make any use of C2E so I can see people's cool pix and insider info about this or that place or event and ignore the chatter that riles me.

      Perhaps some comic relief: http://www.google.ca/search?q=arguin...Hb1cCPIQsAQIEw
    1. Gemini -
      Over the years I had a couple of people on my ignore list but I just found it impossible to follow the flow of the conversation. Now I usually read all posts. If the are lengthy I skim over them. Some people will send long well thought out post with lots of web-sites to enforce their stance. Then you get the one line posts delivered at the right time that can be just as valid, funny and informative. My last piece of advice would be not to use the ignore list. Read all opinions. You don't have to agree with them.
    1. Spudly -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
      My last piece of advice would be not to use the ignore list. Read all opinions. You don't have to agree with them.
      Could be good advice, but over 2 decades of experience have taught me that those who merit Ignoring consistently have a very-low signal/noise ratio and their opinions are not worth the time it takes to read. And after all they're just opinions, mostly without facts to educate me, expressed for their benefit rather than mine. And rarely unique.
    1. Highlander II -
      I think it's important to notice that even among posters who may appear to be "group-thinkers" on one issue there can be significant diverging opinions on others. What may appear at first to be a gang of suburb-bashers is mostly (but not all) people who want better suburbs, and all have different ideas of what a better suburb will look like, different justifications and different ideas on how it can be achieved.

      And, like in any other setting, there are some people who have a harder time making their case civilly than others.
    1. Sonic Death Monkey -
      One of the reasons why I joined C2E many years ago was that it was an oasis from the shortsighted and unproductive media commentary in a world before the explosion of social media (twitter, Facebook, etc). Instead of some ideas on how to move Edmonton forward, the local media and media commentators were too preoccupied with complaining about potholes or about living in a frozen barren wasteland that nobody can find on a map. That was the prevailing groupthink of this city back then, and I wanted to get away from that. C2E was that refuge of great ideas.

      The city has taken great strides since then, and some of the C2E membership have played roles in those strides, but we cannot take the gas off the pedal. I find that Edmonton is in grave danger of falling back into the mindset of an irrelevant laughingstock status, thanks in no small part to inept management, short-sighted decisions and uninformed negative nellies. "Keep your eye on the prize", as one of my career mentors used to expound in me. If focusing on those strides and those ideals that compelled me to join C2E constitutes a groupthink, so be it.
    1. Gemini -
      ^^Yeah but now and again that person on your ignore list just might post something very enlightening or even intelligent. You could disagree with 99% of that persons opinions but there could be that one thread where your in perfect harmony with them. Scary, I know.
    1. Spudly -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
      ^Yeah but now and again that person on your ignore list just might post something very enlightening or even intelligent. You could disagree with 99% of that persons opinions but there could be that one thread where your in perfect harmony with them. Scary, I know.
      I'm afraid "now and again" multiplied by "just might" multiplied by "agree with 1%" is a very very small amount of signal. A near-zero return on my investment. Add in a dig about what's scary and that drops right to zero.
    1. Gemini -
      Oh well.
    1. dwells -
      Connect2Edmonton has long been dominated by a pro-development, pro-downtown, pro-density crowd.
      Add to that the ludicrous desire to copy in our climate certain facilities that were iconic in cities in tropical climates.

      That part I could deal with, but I was worn down by the "city administration is right" mantra and the "cost is no hindrance, we have lots of taxpayers" attitude of many of the pro-everything crowd coupled with the abuse they piled on those of us who were cost conscious.

      I am back after a prolonged hiatus - we'll see if anything has changed.