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Old 31 March 2006, 11:38
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TPD1280 TPD1280 is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Walmart
Posts: 5,040
okay, here we go.

I plagiarized an awful lot of what the hacker forum provided. It was good.

I moved in, gave it a fresh coat of paint, put in our furniture, and hung some of our pictures on the wall, and here's what it looks like now.

Asking Questions: a primer.

I. Introduction

The first thing to understand is that Special Operations personnel actually like hard problems, and good thought-provoking questions about what we do. If you give us an interesting question to chew on we'll be grateful for it; good questions are a stimulus and a gift. Among serious people, “Good question!” is a strong and sincere compliment.

Despite this, we have a reputation for meeting simple questions with what looks like hostility or arrogance. It sometimes looks like we're reflexively rude to neophytes and the uninformed. But this isn't really true. Well…for those who choose to remain ignorant it is.

What we are is unapologetically hostile to people who seem to be unwilling to think or to do their own homework before asking questions. People like that are parasites — they take without giving back, they waste time we could have spent on something more interesting or with another person more worthy of an answer.

We are all here voluntarily. Our primary function here is to reconnect with old friends and team mates and meet new people who share a common background. We take time out of our busy lives to answer questions, and at times we're overwhelmed with them. So we filter ruthlessly. Despite what your high school teacher said, there IS such a thing as a stupid question.

If you find this attitude obnoxious, condescending, or arrogant, check your assumptions. We're not asking you to genuflect to us ... But it's simply not efficient for us to try to help people who are not willing to help themselves. It's OK to be uninformed; it's not OK to be ignorant. Besides, we really are not going to lose any sleep because you think we are "big meanies".

So, while it is not necessary for you to already be technically competent to get attention from us, it is necessary to demonstrate the kind of attitude that leads to competence — alert, thoughtful, observant, willing to be an attentive listener, and accepting of the answers provided from people who know what they are talking about. If you can't live with this sort of discrimination, we suggest you find somewhere else to play.

If you decide to come to us for help, you don't want to be deemed and oxygen thief. The best way to get a rapid and responsive answer is to ask questions like a person with smarts, confidence, and a clue in life, who just happens to need help on a particular problem. But don't come in trying to impress us with what you "know because your friend's neighbor's dog once pissed on the bush of a guy who knew a SEAL…" You don’t need to be "cool by association," just ask your question.


Write in clear, grammatically correct, correctly spelled English

We have found by experience that people who are careless and sloppy writers are usually also careless and sloppy at thinking, planning, and executing, and are generally unable to pay attention to detail and perform at the level demanded of SOF personnel. Answering questions for careless and sloppy thinkers is not rewarding; we'd rather spend our time elsewhere.

So expressing your question clearly and well is important. If you can't be bothered to do that, we can't be bothered to pay attention. Spend the extra effort to polish your language. It doesn't have to be stiff or formal — in fact, military culture values informal, slangy and humorous language used with precision. But it has to be precise; there has to be some indication that you're thinking and paying attention.

Military jargon is best left to people who know what they are talking about. MRE's don't require a P-38 so don't call them C-rats. Few things are as clumsy as a civilian trying to use MILSPEAK.

Spell, punctuate, and capitalize correctly. Don't confuse “could of” with “could've”, “loose” with “lose”, “there, their, and they're”, or "hear and here". We're not trying to be grammar nazis, it just demonstrates to us that you have an IQ beyond double digits, and paid attention in school. You will find that SOF personnel usually did very well in school and many, if not most have college degrees. This is not a career path for those who can correctly find their toes 2 out of 3 times.

Don't TYPE IN ALL CAPS as a matter of standard practice. This is read as emphatic or shouting. Messages written in all lower case letters are only slightly less annoying, as they are difficult to read. Furthermore, have an understanding of paragraphs. Nothing will stop us from even reading your question, faster than a single paragraph that is 47 sentences long.

Generally speaking, if you write like a semi-literate boob you will very likely be ignored. Writing like "u r a l33t script kiddie hax0r" is the absolute kiss of death and guarantees you will receive nothing but stony silence at best, or a heaping helping of scorn and sarcasm and a quick extract at worst.

Communicating in the written world is a very difficult and sometimes tricky art to master. Absent the benefits of seeing a facial expression or hearing tone of voice, misunderstandings are commonplace. If your sentence can be taken negatively, it likely will be. Think very carefully about what you are trying to say. Read your posts out loud to yourself before you hit send, sometimes your ear hears things that your brain misses. If you are trying to make a joke, use the smilies to let people know it was an attempt at humor. Better yet, don't try to be funny if you are still in the asking questions phase.

Remember, you are a guest here. If you want to make your own rules, make your own website.

Groveling is not a substitute for doing your homework

Some people who understand that they shouldn't come in here demanding an answer retreat to the opposite extreme of groveling. “I know I'm just a pathetic wannabe loser, but...” This is distracting and unhelpful. It's especially annoying when it's coupled with vagueness about the actual question.

Don't waste your time, or ours, on crude primate politics. We don’t need you to stroke our egos. Instead, present the background facts and your question as clearly as you can. That is a better way to position ones self, than by groveling.

III How To Interpret Answers

Google (STFW), Doogle, OPSEC and STFU: How To Tell You've Seriously Screwed Up

There is an ancient and hallowed tradition: intel prep of the battlefield. This means gathering ALL available information before the engagement begins and answering for yourself certain questions you may have. Often this leads to discovering new questions you hadn’t thought of before.

If you get a reply that reads “STFW”, the person who sent it thinks you should have Searched The Fucking Web. He is almost certainly right. Go search it. (The milder version of this is when you are told “Google is your friend!”)

Google has a younger relative: Doogle. In this, like many web forums, you may be told to search the forum archives. In fact, someone may even be so kind as to provide a link to the previous thread where your particular question was already answered. But do not rely on this consideration; do your own archive-searching before asking.

Often, the person telling you to do a search has the answer. These replies mean that he thinks (a) the information you need is easy to find, and (b) you will learn more if you seek out the information than if you have it spoon-fed to you.

You shouldn't be offended by this; by our standards, he is showing you a rough kind of respect simply by not ignoring you. You are being given a chance to prove yourself in some small way among people who value a meritocracy. You should instead thank him for his kindness.

OPSEC: Your questions about certain tactics, techniques, procedures and equipment may go unanswered if in OUR opinion it may compromise the security of people we know and love who are in harms way. That is the final word and you will let it go.

STFU. Shut the fuck up. 'nuff said.

If you don't understand...

If you don't understand the answer, do not immediately bounce back a demand for clarification. Use the same tools that you used to try and answer your original question to help you understand the answer. Then, if you still need to ask for clarification, exhibit what you have learned.

Dealing with rudeness

Much of what looks like rudeness in SOF circles is not intended to give offence. Rather, it's the product of the direct, cut-through-the-bullshit communications style that is natural to people who are more concerned about solving problems and staying alive than making others feel warm and fuzzy. Civilians generally have a very difficult time with this.

When you perceive rudeness, try to react calmly. If someone is really acting out, it is very likely that a BTDT or moderator/admin will call him or her on it.

If that doesn't happen and you lose your temper, it is likely that the person you lip off to was behaving within our accepted social norms and folkways (remember YOU are the outsider) and you will be considered at fault. This will hurt your chances of getting the information or help you want, and increase your chances of being shown the door.

On the other hand, you will occasionally run across rudeness and posturing that is quite gratuitous.

The flip-side of the above is that it is acceptable form to stand your ground. Focus on the behavior and don't get personal. Be very, very sure of your ground before you try this, however. The line between correcting an incivility and starting a pointless flamewar is thin enough that we ourselves sometimes blunder across it. If you are a newbie or an outsider, your chances of avoiding such a blunder are low.

Some assert that many military people have a mild form of antisocial personality disorder, and are actually missing some of the brain circuitry that lubricates 'normal' human social interaction. This may or may not be true. We like being whatever it is we are, and generally have a healthy skepticism about clinical labels, which is a polite was of saying so fucking what.

In the next section, we'll talk about a different issue; the kind of reaction you will see when you step on a landmine.

On Not Reacting Like A Loser

Odds are you'll screw up a few times on the boards — in ways detailed in this article, or similar. And you'll be told exactly how you screwed up, possibly with very colorful language, in public.

When this happens, the worst thing you can do is snivel and bitch about the experience, claim to have been verbally assaulted, demand apologies, scream, hold your breath, threaten lawsuits, complain to people's employers, leave the toilet seat up, etc. Instead, here's what you do:

Get over it. It's normal. In fact, it's healthy and appropriate. Pull the knot out of your panties.

Community standards do not maintain themselves: They're maintained by people actively applying them, visibly, in public. Don't whine that all criticism should have been conveyed via private message; that's not how it works. If you screw up in public, you will be corrected in public. Neither is it useful to insist you've been personally insulted when someone comments that one of your claims was full of shit, or that his views differ. Those are loser attitudes.

There have been other forums where, out of some misguided sense of hyper-political correctness, participants are barred from posting any fault-finding with another's posts, and told “Don't say anything if you're unwilling to help the user.” The resulting departure of contributing participants causes them to descend into meaningless babble and become "bless me clubs".

In the real world, those people are weak and contribute to the victim mentality that keeps others weak.

Remember: When a BTDT tells you that you've screwed up, and (no matter how gruffly) tells you not to do it again, he's acting out of concern for his community, and in some small way, you. It would be much easier for him to ignore you and filter you out of his life. If you can't manage to be grateful, at least have a little dignity, don't whine, and don't expect to be treated like a fragile doll just because you're a newcomer with a theatrically hypersensitive soul and delusions of entitlement.

You don't automatically get answers just because you asked, and you don't get respect just because you're breathing. Consideration is a gift, respect is earned. Other than that nobody owes you shit.

Sometimes people will attack you personally, flame without an apparent reason, etc., even if you don't screw up (or have only screwed up in their imagination). In this case, complaining will only make it worse.

Don't let yourself be drawn into a flame war. Most flames are best ignored — after you've checked whether they are really flames, and not pointers to the ways in which you have screwed up, nor cleverly ciphered answers to your real question (this happens as well).

Leave the moderating to the Moderators. It cannot be said enough, you are a guest in this house: act accordingly. If you act like an adult, you will be treated like an adult. Conversely, if you act like an assclown, we may spend a little time treating you like a pińata before we inevitably show you the door.

Take time every now and then to re-read the Rules of Engagement. Chances are you will pick up something on a second or subsequent reading that you missed the first time.

One of the great thinkers of our time once said:

You don't have to be "one of us" to gain our respect. Nobody knows better than us that SOF isn't for everyone. We also know that there are many guys out there in the regular units who would've shined in an SOF unit, had they decided to go that route. One of my best friends was a 12B. [He] never served in an SOF unit. But he did his job 100% and then some, and for that, I respect the hell outta him. He woulda been a great battboy, but he chose a different path and kicked ass the whole way. That's how you earn respect. There are many just like him on these boards who are well respected. Just go in, do your job to the best of your ability and take care of your people when the time comes. Respect will be there, regardless of MOS or branch of service.

Questions Not To Ask

Here are some classic stupid questions:

How can I skip all the training and service and get to the really good stuff like being a sniper?

Is it true that a SEAL/SF/RECON can beat up a SEAL/SF/RECON?

You guys need me, I am Gods gift to you, my coach says so. Who do I call?
Government is an unregulated industry.

The 4 Soldierly Values: Candor, Courage, Competence, Commitment

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