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Christopher "Tanoro" Gray is a web programmer and science advocate especially concerned with resource management technologies, biology, and artificial intelligence. He is a student of epistemology and philosophy as well as an Atheist competent in Christian theology.
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Responses to SAS Criticisms
Posted by: Tanoro - May 8, 2013 7:23PM

The following is a response to complaints I have received regarding my recent actions on Facebook. Lately, I have exercised my right to openly criticize the practices of the Shreveport Anime Society (SAC) from years past. The following response constitutes only my own personal opinions and perspectives as well as the guidelines by which I express general criticisms in public.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let's play ball. A new anime group has emerged in the Shreveport/Bossier area. Upon hearing about this, I was delighted. I had only recently begun participating in the SAS events again, after years of refusing to do so, but their activity has once again begun to decline. Predictably, many of the members of the SAS from years past have found their way into the new group -- the Bossier Anime Club (BAC).

Long story short, some of the members have begun suggesting ways of giving the BAC a more effective launch, but some of these suggestions amount to criticisms of the SAS. Having some members still loyal to the SAS, not every criticism has been received well. Below are quotes by members expressing disatisfaction with such criticisms. These are from a closed group, so I will not be naming names and will be amending some quotes to hide indications of who said them. Here goes.

I'm all about learning from some of the SAS's mistakes, but i see no reason for that to turn into bashing the SAS without both sides of the story and to no productive end.

I despise the term "bashing" as it is inappropriate and slightly dishonest as used in this way. People tend to use that word in place of "criticism" to make it sound more objectionable than it really is. Criticism is not objectionable so long as it is constructive. Criticism is a gift and the elusive productive end is the constant improvement of ideas, which is why free expression is important in the first place.

This is not constructive:
"Group ABC is stupid and I don't like it!"

This is constructive:
"Group ABC rejected Plan XYZ for reason N, but the solution is a type 1 widget."

People are posting negative comments about something I've dedicated so much time to and that I care about a lot.

And there is your problem! You're taking criticisms as inherently negative and regarding them as personal attacks when most of them (not all) are simply not personal attacks! I have pet projects too, some taking nearly a decade of my time. I am far from allergic to criticism or even negativity. I don't assume critics are simply trying to be mean. They are trying to help me. I hear them and thank them for their observations. The result is that my projects progress further than they would have had I sneared at their "negativity" instead.

As you're aware, I served at the SAS webmaster for some time. I gave the group hundreds of dollars in web software and weekends of my personal time setting it up, writing custom code, and attempting to redesign the site -- however poor my instructions were. Rather than receiving constructive criticism in an effort to further the project, officers of the club at that time actually hindered the project, provided an abundance of unconstructive criticism, and insulted me by accusing me of not contributing enough, which led to me resigning my position in disgust. Yes, I took it a wee bit personally, but I recognized that this was unprofessional and I got over it.

But when comments are made about things and the whole issue isn't presented or untrue things are said I can either ignore it and let untrue information spread or I can start possible drama by arguing my view of things.

As I stated before, nobody needs to be told that hearing one side of a story is only one side of the story. Repeating this concern won't make it any more relevant. Moreover, way back when the SAS was started, there was plenty of criticism floating around against previous groups who had attempted to organize in our local area and failed to do so. Should these criticisms have been left unsaid because no one was around to tell the other side of the story? Of course not! So long as the criticism was useful, it was worth expressing.

I want our experiences in the SAS to be beneficial to the BAC, and I want people to be able to express their views, but there's a difference between listing an opportunity for improvement and griping about past grudges that don't benefit anyone.

I agree. However, there is very little of the latter going on within the BAC Facebook group. I admit, one person mentioned your name. I would not have done so nor have I named any names. I am willing to leap out in protest if and when I see this behavior and I do so in any group in which I participate. I can only caution you against mistaking criticisms against old club practices as personal criticisms. They are not the same and shouldn't be taken as the same.

I'm not trying to be defensive, I'm just asking that people really think about whether what they're posting is constructive or not.

Congratulations. You're suggesting that we do exactly what most of us are doing.

I'm with [the person above] on this actually. [The BAC's intended purpose was not] to get rid of the SAS or make it better. I simply thought that it'd be nice to have another active anime club for times that the SAS isn't doing anything. So do not bash the SAS, it is still a great club and it brought most of us together.

I understand. It was never my intention to imply that the SAS was a bad organization. It did ok for several years. As was stated by the person above, mistakes were made. That is entirely fine and was quite expected. My position is simply that mistakes are always worth pointing out so long as they come with constructive solutions. The person above appears to be convinced that any and all criticisms against the SAS are necessarily unconstructive and amount to personal attacks because the SAS was his/her pet project. Wanting to take criticism personally is not a justified reason to keep silent. As for your final thought, I stand by what I said earlier about "bashing." It is not a real criticism and it doesn't matter how many people agree with it. I do not respond to groupthink.

In conclusion, I have many more criticisms of the SAS. I am not going out of my way to express them for the hell of it and I am certainly not doing so to be mean. I do so only as I recall them and as they feel useful. Moreover, my criticisms are finite. I will eventually exhaust them. Moreover still, assuming the BAC launches well, I and everyone else who participate will accumulate criticisms against it too. If we start off banning this valuable communication, we are already headed down the wrong path and both groups are of no use to anyone.

This blog is an editorial and contains only the opinions of the author. The author claims no expertise on most topics of discussion and this blog is not to be cited as an alternative for properly vetted journalism or scientific sources.

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