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Old 06-11-2004, 06:28 PM   #1
Mister Underhill
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Feedback and Suggestion Box

Greetings, Chapter-by-Chapter readers.

Since we're in this thing for the long haul, and now that we've all had a chance to test-drive the project with the Foreword thread, I thought I'd establish a place for feedback and suggestions.

Any suggestions on how to improve the read-through or the discussion structure we have set up are welcome (though of course we reserve all rights as to which ones will actually be implemented).

Things you might comment on are the pacing of the read-through, ways to focus or enrich the discussion, or ways to make this thing as friendly as possible to your fellow members.
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Old 06-11-2004, 07:03 PM   #2
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Some chapters in Lotr are longer than others, so I think it would be a good idea to break them up into smaller sections to make it easier for everyone to follow. Also, there hasn't been much posting by a wide variety of members- only a few people have contributed so far. I think posts should be more open and accessible to everyone in the Barrow-Downs, not just a few more 'learned' people.

That's my two cents on what's looking to be a promising new forum!
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Old 06-11-2004, 07:19 PM   #3
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Also, there hasn't been much posting by a wide variety of members- only a few people have contributed so far. I think posts should be more open and accessible to everyone in the Barrow-Downs, not just a few more 'learned' people.
My opinion on this is that in starting with the foreward there has been a lot of 'deep' discussions, and many of the posts have been made by some of the 'more-learned' BDers, many of whom frequently post in the Books section (Not that this is bad!). I can see why this might discourage some people from posting, especially if they do not feel they have nothing to contribute. What I hope is that in moving into the actual chapters more people will contribute to discussion.
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Old 06-11-2004, 07:29 PM   #4
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Firefoot's got it in one:
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What I hope is that in moving into the actual chapters more people will contribute to discussion.
Once we're into the book itself, or even the prologue, I plan on getting involved. I think once we hit "fun" chapters, more people will want to throw in their two cents. Not that the other stuff isn't worth a read... However, maybe some people, like me, just finished reading the books straight through and only want to comment on some things?
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Old 06-11-2004, 08:24 PM   #5
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I'd like to see a wider range of people too. All too often the presence of lengthly posts in academic language seems to deter others from sharing their thoughts, but that is not the intention of the members who write those posts. I don't have the answers, but I think it would deter certain members from the discussion if they were required somehow to tailor their posts to suit the needs of others.

Perhaps a more determined promotion of the idea that anyone with an insight to share should consider posting in the discussions would be more helpful. The 'learned' members are always eager to hear a fresh opinion, particularly from new members; and nobody who has participated so far is the sort of person to dismiss someone's views because they aren't written up like a university paper.

I agree that the foreword isn't the most interesting part of the book for a lot of readers. I'm sure that the Prologue and A Long-Expected Party will draw a lot more people into the discussion who are more interested in Hobbits than allegory versus applicability. In fact, the lighter tone of those sections may well be just what the doctor ordered (and that doctor is not necessarily a PhD).
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Old 06-11-2004, 09:37 PM   #6
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Some members might find it uncomfortable to post in such a thread that has had posts that are “like a university paper”. They could feel that there is nothing for them to contribute, as others have said. Or possibly find that whatever they say might make others 'judge' them as a member (considering, “many of the posts have been made by some of the 'more-learned' BDers, many of whom frequently post in the Books section”), if what they say is not as ‘high standard’ as everything else. It could simply be that this is not the most interesting section of the book for them. Yes, I hope others will post more in the next few sections and chapters.
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Old 06-12-2004, 10:30 AM   #7
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Like Squatter, I too wouldl like to see more people post in the discussion. I was pleased, however, to see such people as Orofaniel, Durelin, Firefoot, Saraphim, Arry, Fingolfin II, Kransha, and tar-ancalime post.

Yet, also like Squatter, I don't have the answer to Fingolfin II's statement.

Quote:
I think posts should be more open and accessible to everyone in the Barrow-Downs, not just a few more 'learned' people.
Fingolfin II, could you explain what you mean by 'more open and accessible'?

Do you mean we limit the discussion solely to LOTR and not bring in any other of Tolkien's writings or his Letters, since many might not have read the Letters or The Silm? (When I first arrived on the Downs, I had read some of Tolkien's essays and minor works, TH and LOTR, but not The Silm and was daunted by how others would off-handedly refer to passages and elements from the Legendarium.)

Or would you prefer not to see outside critics and scholars quoted with their ideas about Tolkien? (I am thinking here of such things as davem's quote from the Proceedings of the Tolkien Society.) Perhaps we need to be more rigorous in focussing the discussion solely on the chapter in question?

Are there differences of style, as Squatter and Alatariel Telemnar have suggested, which you think would make the discussion more inviting? Perhaps when posters such as Fordim Hedgethistle (or myself on the Canonicity thread) use words such as readerly, we need to provide an explanation of the word or idea? Maybe we are using concepts about books which are unfamiliar and some posters would like us to explain them better?

Or is there something about this Chapter by Chapter forum which is different from other Books threads? Or is this rather the kind of difference which exists between Books and, say, Novices and Newcomers?

I don't think anyone who posted wanted to deter others from posting--certainly there is nothing here like the curt, short, sharp style the guys used when I came to BD. Others besides myself addressed posts to people who, for instance, did not post on the Canonicity thread, such as Orofaniel and Durelin (I hope I'm right about this--relying on my faulty memory!). I enjoyed Arry's post about old typewriters and ten-fingured so much that it inspired me to think about Tolkien's self-deprecatory wit. I was very pleased when tar-ancalime took a point about my post and expanded it to a defense of the work of art as art to speak for itself without outside explication.--something I had in fact been planning to do myself in a subsequent post! I still owe replies to Oro and Durelin (RL is placing a heavy limit on my time here these days) but in my delay I find that Son of Númenor has, quite better than I think I could have, provided an explanation of how real life events could be seen to have had a hand in the writing of LOTR without necessarily providing a one-to-one literal correspondence. In short, I think there has been a fair bit of cooperative discussion on the Foreword thread so far.

Fingolfin, I don't want to cut you off from answering, but these ideas have been running in head for some time. Please bear with me while I ponder some other ideas about internet communities.

What possibly is happening is, of course, common to all internet communities which grow and develop with 'new blood'. Some of us have been here for four years, some two years, others a little over or under a year. That creates some difficulties, for the "old timers" have memories of discussions which inform their ideas, memories which the 'newly arrived' don't share. One other unique aspect of the Downs is the age range of people here. We have teenagers to, well, not quite senior citizens, but people in their forties and even *gasp* fifties. This is I think an admirable effect of Tolkien's writing, that he can appeal to such an age range. But it can provide some difficulties when we 'speak' to each other.

Another aspect of internet communities is the sometimes rapid turnover of people. Some stay; others go, for a variety of reasons. I know that some of us, Child and myself particularly and I think Estelyn also and I am sure others, go to great effort to welcome 'newbies' and to encourage them to post. I have spent much delightful time corresponding via PM with posters. And many of them are now gone, at least from the site and some even from all email access. It is hard to be constantly making new acqaintances and then losing them. This is not the 'fault' of anyone, but perhaps it limits the responses of some of the 'old timers' who want to wait to see if the 'newbies' will in fact stay.

And some of us just have our own 'hobby horses' to ride as we challenge each other back and forth about our ideas. (What? Moi ride my own hobby horse?) Isn't this right, Mr. Underhill, Aiwendil, davem, Helen, Heren ? I guess this is part of how we know each other and the interest we take in each and we have to learn to make room for new people to find a place within this ebb and flow of talk.

Posting on discussion boards takes courage, because we see our ideas 'out there' and have little idea initially what might happen to them. Perhaps if we took more courage to contact posters when we didn't understand something, either via PM or even on a post, we might be able to create a 'common ground of understanding' so that, without necessarily demanding that we all think and write alike, we can feel comfortable listening to each other.


Fingolfin II, I guess I got a little carried away here with ideas. Please feel entirely free to tell me I have either answered my own questions or missed your point or the boat .

(Note, I got told I used too many smilies, so I have removed them. Now I rely on words alone to suggest my gentle touch of humour, at myself, I point out.)
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Old 06-12-2004, 11:23 AM   #8
Fordim Hedgethistle
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I think that much of the discussion's nature in the foreword thread is due to the nature of the foreword -- the misgivings of some here, myself included, that this chapter-by-chapter subforum will become dominated by a few "learned" people (read, perhaps, windbags such as myself) will probably be allayed when we get into the discussion of the story itself.

Those of us who are or who become more regular posters might be able to help this along by attempting to have our first posts for each chapter move toward asking questions and dangling provocative ideas rather than making set arguments. I find that's always the most useful way for me to proceed: I have learned a lot from reading other people's responses to my queries/ramblings/ponderings.

I shall also attempt to expunge from my posts all words derived from critical theory!

EDIT -- as a point of interest, the Foreword thread has had over 1200 views on only 75 posts: so I assume that there are a lot of people following the discussion who have yet to contribute. If we undertake to make the discussion more clearly focused on the story (beginning with the Prologue) that will perhaps draw some of them in(?).
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Old 06-12-2004, 11:32 AM   #9
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I have not read the foreword discussion but I plan on getting into this chapter by chapter thing relatively soon. In the meanwhile, I'm finding this suggestion box thread rather interesting.
Quote:
I think posts should be more open and accessible to everyone in the Barrow-Downs, not just a few more 'learned' people.
Quote:
Fingolfin II, could you explain what you mean by 'more open and accessible'?....Or would you prefer not to see outside critics and scholars quoted with their ideas about Tolkien?
I don't know if that's what he meant, but that certainly is an issue. For one thing, I want to hear what you guys think and I want you to hear what I think. Critics and scholars should take a back seat to us and only be quoted if someone thinks that a point the critic/scholar makes is good and can't possibly be put into better words. Also, when some critic or scholar is quoted they are nearly always speaking in "university paper" language, as Squatter so aptly put it. And I'm sure for many Downers, "university paper" posting equals less fun. This, of course, is not always the case, but it can be.

I haven't read the thread in question, but I can certainly recall viewing other threads that contained lengthy, academic posts that seemed to suck the oxygen right out of the room. The posts were full of words but there was very little meaning per word. This is what happens when a poster has a way to express himself that would use about one tenth the space but elects to take the long road.
Quote:
I don't think anyone who posted wanted to deter others from posting--certainly there is nothing here like the curt, short, sharp style the guys used when I came to BD.
I don't know what to say about that. It was in part the curt, short, sharp style I saw that made me join this forum. That sort of style gets across the same idea in less space and makes me smile at the same time.

For instance, let's say someone starts a new thread and asks "Why did Feanor want to chase Morgoth so bad?" I would prefer to see someone post something like this-

So, did you miss the parts where it said-
1) Feanor loved his dad
2)Morgoth killed his dad
3)Feanor loved his jewels
4)Morgoth stole his jewels


I'd rather see that than some super long post dripping with psychology terms that ends up saying no more than the previous post. The only way I'd want a long post is if it says a lot more. You know, begins to ponder why Feanor felt this way about this, and what he might've been thinking at this time, and what he might've said to so and so at this other time. But all too often it's just smart sounding posts taking up way too much space.

I love the curt, short, sharp style.

But of course this discussion isn't going to mean anything once we get past the foreword because I agree with these posts-
Quote:
What I hope is that in moving into the actual chapters more people will contribute to discussion.
Quote:
I think once we hit "fun" chapters, more people will want to throw in their two cents.
Quote:
I agree that the foreword isn't the most interesting part of the book for a lot of readers. I'm sure that the Prologue and A Long-Expected Party will draw a lot more people into the discussion who are more interested in Hobbits than allegory versus applicability.
I'm sure more people will be posting soon.
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Old 06-12-2004, 11:37 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bêthberry
And some of us just have our own 'hobby horses' to ride as we challenge each other back and forth about our ideas.
very true . Suppose I do not dare swim out into deep waters besides shallow pools of my interest, but I'm good at splashing in there where I can feel the ground under my toes

Not to stray off to personal self-analysis - to the benefit of the discussion to come, I remember in the past when it was done in the chat room, the preliminaries were made to find out how well (and in what way) the text itself was understood. Sharku was asking questions as to how well do we know meanings of rare words. Only after 15 minutes of such a warm-up the discussion proper took off. I can not tell the means of doing it on the board (as opposed to chatroom), but I liked idea at its time, maybe recalling it here may give someone an inspiration to come up with something

well...


edit: cross posted with the phantom here

The retelling of the plot is not a solution - it will make the initial posts a bit of a bore for those who do their homework well, and those who are lazy won't read it anyway
But that kind of quiz may work, you know. But only if combined with something more serious. You'd be drawing newbies in, but scaring old philosophy masticators away, for

Quote:
Originally Posted by the phantom
some super long post dripping with psychology terms that ends up saying no more than the previous post.
Always says the same thing in a subtly different way. It seems like bringing oxygen back for some

So, the solution probably will be something in between - starting with simple quiz, and than let everybody say it in a way they like. After all, you are bored by some post, you skip it and go on.
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Old 06-12-2004, 11:50 AM   #11
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I can only say that I was slightly disappointed that we started with the Forword, as I knew it could only lead to analysis of Tolkien the man & his motives. I went too far in such analysis, & possibly deterred some others from posting - if so I'm sorry.

I can see valid reasons for sticking to LotR, or at least to LotR, Hobbit - possibly with relevant references to the Sil, leaving aside Letters, Home, UT, Trying as far as possible to approach LotR as if its all we have.

The only danger is the thread decending into 'I think Aragorn is really cool' or I really liked it when the Ringwraiths attacked the Hobbits under Weathertop', etc. As long as it doesn't go that way I think it will be a very interesting experience.
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Old 06-12-2004, 03:15 PM   #12
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Davem, you said:

Quote:
The only danger is the thread decending into 'I think Aragorn is really cool' or I really liked it when the Ringwraiths attacked the Hobbits under Weathertop', etc.
I could not agree more that we don't want the thread(s) to be dominated by comments like this, but such comments -- when made -- are wonderful opportunities to open up the discussion. If (and when) we have a poster say "I think Aragorn is cool" we can (and should) ask that poster why Aragorn is cool? If the poster is particularly singling out the attack at Weathertop, we ask "Why is this attack the cool part about Aragorn, rather than his ability to heal Frodo after?"

Everyone's opinion springs from a response to something in the text, and every opinion is extremely useful to everyone else's understanding. This is not just a pose I adopt for the sake of discussion on the BD, it's a truth that I live by in both my personal and professional life!
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Old 06-12-2004, 07:02 PM   #13
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I think The Phantom is right when he/she says:

Quote:
Critics and scholars should take a back seat to us and only be quoted if someone thinks that a point the critic/scholar makes is good and can't possibly be put into better words.
I agree that the Foreword doesn't offer much scope for many people to post, as it is concerned largely with Tolkien's motives and thoughts. However, when we discuss the actual book I think more people will participate as they'll realise they don't need to write 2 or 3 pages on the events that occur. So by following The Phantom's advice (quoted above), hopefully less people will be put off by how long the posts are and the seemingly 'deep' discussion (i.e. about Theology and other myths, etc.) and will have something worthwhile to contribute, even if it's only two or three lines long. So, Bêthberry that's what I mean about making posts 'more open and accessible' to everyone, by not getting carried away with (sometimes obscure) aspects of the book that people may not have a knowledge of, but to stick to the point and something everyone can relate to (i.e. Aragorn's quest for King). I admit that making posts 'more open and accessible' was a rather vague statement though .

In answer to your comment on the age gap between some Barrow-Downs users I totally agree. I'm only fifteen, whereas others are much older and some are even younger. This does contribute to potential misunderstandings between people who have been on for a longer time, and those who have not.

However, I also believe that while more 'experienced' posters should aim to try and make their post so everyone can reply (I realise that this is not always possible, especially in debates about HoME and The Letters), the onis should also be on new posters to contribute to the discussion themselves.

Hope that all makes sense.

EDIT: What I should have said is that the discussions should be 'more open and accessible' to everyone.
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Old 06-12-2004, 09:15 PM   #14
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I agree that the foreword isn't the most interesting part of the book for a lot of readers.
Oh rats...I think then, that I will step back and let those who find the rest of the book more interesting post their brains out!

Quote:
the discussions should be 'more open and accessible' to everyone.
Are they really not accessible? I believe the accessibility of a discussion is entirely up to the individual poster. Forgive my horrid use of metaphors, but: 'the door is there, and they must open it.'

For my part, I think this 'Chapter-By-Chapter' discussion will get many new posters into the in-depth discussions, and hopefully help make them a permenant browser and poster of the Books forum. I know that this is what is has done for me, I hope. I truly have missed out for quite some time...

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Old 06-12-2004, 10:05 PM   #15
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Silmaril

As a new comer to LotR and to this site, I would like to comment as to why I wouldn't feel comfortable posting to this forum. It's not intentional of course but I'm very intimidated by most of you because most of you have read the books over and over again while the newbies have read them at least once. I myself am now reading LotR for the second time. All of that knowledge can be quite intimidating.

The only reason I checked out this forum was because I finally got the guts to do it. I wanted to see what you talked about to see if I could join in on the conversation. There are quite a lot of you that speak very eloquently and that can be intimidating also. For me personally I have always been intimidated by someone who speaks so eloquently because it makes me feel so common.

These are just my feelings on the matter and I could be totally wrong about the whole thing. From what I've read you folks were hinting about it so I thought I would take the initiative and just say it point blank. Hopefully I have not offended anyone because that was not my intent.
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Old 06-12-2004, 10:16 PM   #16
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Alchisiel
Quote:
It's not intentional of course but I'm very intimidated by most of you because most of you have read the books over and over again while the newbies have read them at least once. I myself am now reading LotR for the second time. All of that knowledge can be quite intimidating.
I can see how it might be intimidating to jump in on discussions like those that went on in the Foreword thread, but when we read the book chapter-by-chapter, try to think of it as your first time reading it. Just write any observations you make, any feelings you feel towards characters and events, and any emotions you experience while reading. If you do that, then it does not matter how many times you have read the chapter in question before. It does not matter if the person who posts before you has read the book 3,087 times and you are reading it for the first time.

This endeavour seems simple to me: read the chapters, share what you think, and discuss your thoughts to gain a better understanding of your personal experience with The Lord of the Rings.
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Old 06-12-2004, 11:15 PM   #17
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Great advice, Son of Númenor.

Alchisiel, the people who write 'eloquently' with proper grammar and spelling do so to make it easier and more enjoyable for others to read. However, I can understand that the 'deep' discussions of those who have read the books several times can seem a bit daunting and discourage newbies from contributing, especially if they think their comments and opinions don't 'match up' or aren't good enough when compared to the posts of the more experienced BD-ers. That shouldn't be the case though; as Son of Númenor said, it doesn't matter how small or insignificant you think your post will be- just post it, get involved in the discussion and try and learn from other posters.

I'm no expert, but I try my best to add to a discussion and sometimes the points I raise are discussed even though I think that they are not well made. This adds to my confidence so I am able to make better and more worthwhile contributions in the future (better contributions does not necessarily mean longer posts). I think this will also work for you and any other shy Barrow-Downers.

Quote:
There are quite a lot of you that speak very eloquently and that can be intimidating also. For me personally I have always been intimidated by someone who speaks so eloquently because it makes me feel so common.
Writing eloquently, as I said before, is customary for most on the Barrow-Downs Forum as it is much more pleasant to understand and read. Language like 'r u thinking aragorn iz cool' doesn't seem as nice to read and can be quite hard to understand. By the way, I think you were pretty 'eloquent' yourself in that post .
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Old 06-13-2004, 06:57 AM   #18
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It's not intentional of course but I'm very intimidated by most of you because most of you have read the books over and over again while the newbies have read them at least once.
My confession is: I have only read The Lord of the Rings, cover to cover, once! There is not enough time in any life to read all the books that need reading! All those discussing the book in the Chapter-By-Chapter thread will need to read as they discuss. I know that most thoughts come as rather abrupt revelations, not after years of contemplation and study. Though I guess I might be accidently belittling some members of this forum right now...please forgive!

Alchisiel - Look! You've already written a three paragraph post, and on the suggestions thread! I think you'll do fine.
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Old 06-13-2004, 09:33 AM   #19
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Son of Numenor wrote

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This endeavour seems simple to me: read the chapters, share what you think, and discuss your thoughts to gain a better understanding of your personal experience with The Lord of the Rings.
Hear hear! *Fordim claps* Hear hear!
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Old 06-13-2004, 11:24 AM   #20
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First of all I would just say that the Chapter to Chapter forum is looking....awesome. =D I'm very positive towards the idea, and I plan on spending some time there when it starts for full.

I've noticed a lot of questions regarding whether the more "experienced" posters should make their posts easier to understand so that everyone can reply afterwards. Fingolfin wrote:
Quote:
However, I also believe that while more 'experienced' posters should aim to try and make their post so everyone can reply (I realise that this is not always possible, especially in debates about HoME and The Letters), the onis should also be on new posters to contribute to the discussion themselves.
I wouldn't say it is the "experienced" posters that make it difficult and hard for others to reply. When I read the really "old" ( ) BarrowDowner's posts I find their thoughts and ideas very interesting. This is mostly because I know they have more knowledge than myself. I don't feel the need to post to add my own views sometimes; I just want to read others opinions, and I like that. Every time I usually find a couple of posters with the same views as mine. However, if I wanted to add something I would. I don't think anyone should be afraid to post on the big discussions because your opinions are just as important as ever one else’s' opinions.

The main reason I don't usually post on the big discussions is that I'm too late to discover them! I start reading them when there are two pages and so on. The difficulty for me is simply to keep track with the posters.

I really hope that the Chapters by Chapters discussions will go slower, although I doubt it. It would, however, be fun to see more posters. As a matter of fact, I would like to post more on those really good book discussions; I'm only hoping it doesn't move too fast. =P (Don’t get me wrong though; I still want good, long book discussions…..)

Cheers,
Oro
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Old 06-13-2004, 03:57 PM   #21
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I agree very much with what Orofaniel wrote! I read much, much more than I post myself.
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The main reason I don't usually post on the big discussions is that I'm too late to discover them! I start reading them when there are two pages and so on. The difficulty for me is simply to keep track with the posters.
Well, I sit and read for hours these fascinating threads (yes! I've read the whole "Canonicity" thread!), silently shaking my head or nodding enthusiastic approval, and thinking up all sorts of replies, but when I've come to the end of the thread, it is usually so that everything I think and wanted to say has already been expressed by others who at that wrote it much better than I would be able to. And I think the BarrowWight doesn't approve of posts that merely say: "Great post! You said the very thing that was in my mind! "etc. So I usually daren't reply, even if I would like to express my approval and admiration.
Also I'm a bit in awe of all those erudite and eloquent Downers as well But this is by no means meant as a reproach!! I don't want anything different! I'm enjoying reading all those big discussions and I have learnt incredibly much that way.

I think this "chapter by chapter"reading is a good opportunity for me to reread the books once more from beginning to end and not merely in random bits like in the past year.
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Old 06-13-2004, 05:45 PM   #22
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There's a lot of great advice here.

I certainly am aware of how difficult it is for a new person to carve out a niche on an established board. Getting a curt, dismissive reply can be discouraging, but having your post be completely overlooked and ignored can be just about as dispiriting.

Here's a couple of tips on ways for less established members to successfully join a discussion:
  • Try to engage other members when you post. You can build a reputation just by making good posts and waiting to eventually get noticed, but it can be a slow process on an older, faster-paced board like the Downs. One thing that can help you along is to actively engage the other participants in the discussion. Read others' discussion points, then challenge them, ask questions about them, give your reactions to them, expand on them.
  • Give reputation -- and sign your comments. We all like to get positive feedback, and few things will get someone to stop and check out your posts more than remembering that they got positive comments from you. Naturally, I don't mean that you should run around handing out fake reputation just to get people to like you. Be genuine. If you liked something, say so. Don't blow smoke, just be sincere.
If the established members really want to see more new faces actively participating, then we need to encourage them when they appear. It's easy to forget that if you're an established member, you can post just about anything and feel confident that at least a few people will read and respond to what you've said.

These same two tips can be used by more experienced and established members to help others out.
  • Engage other members. If you notice that someone has posted and that no one has reacted to it, throw the person a lifeline and engage their post.
  • Give reputation; sign it. You know the drill; if you see something you like, reward it! Think about how cool it feels to get positive comments, then take the time to give some of that back to others who deserve it. It will embolden them to post more often.
To wind up an overlong post, I think Son of Númenor's advice in post #16 is right on the money.

Read, share, discuss.

It's that simple.
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Old 06-14-2004, 10:23 AM   #23
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I do realise that this is probably a 'nothing' post, soon to be deleted by a mod if not by the BW himself, but. . .

I just had a peek at the Who's Online (I admit: I am a stalker -- bad Fordim!) and saw that at the moment there are no fewer than six people viewing the 12 hour old Prologue Thread.

I think that this bodes well for getting people involved!
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Old 06-14-2004, 11:07 AM   #24
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About the attractiveness of short posts, the phantom, I concur. There was a reason why Diamond18 called this place the burra-Downs.

And about the number of times that the more senior (older?) (arthritic?) members of the Downs have read the books: not all of us have read them annually over decades.

I first read LOTR as a furtive, 'guilty pleasure' read for fun to balance my 'required' reading for my studies. Then later as I was slogging my way through translating the Old English works I came to know Tolkien's academic stuff and learnt how much of his writing gives new breath and life to the old language and culture. Four years ago, I reread The Hobbit as preparation for escorting a school class to a live theatre production of The Hobbit (brilliant performance from the actor/gymnast who played Gollem!). Three years ago, at the bedside of an ill relative undergoing painful and extensive medical tests, I reread LOTR and became aware for the first time of how prevalent are the themes of loss and death. Thus, this Chapter by Chapter reading will be only my third reading.

I post in perpetual fear that the "annual readers" will always find some obscure line that will undo me.
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Old 06-16-2004, 02:08 PM   #25
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I'm sure more people will begin posting as we go into the actual chapters. I only lately saw that this was happening, and have spent the evening reading the entire thread on the Prologue (not an easy task...) after a long and regretted departure from the forum. (I will try and stay back here, this time!)

As for the discussion being more 'accessible', I really think that depends on the individual reader. While perhaps some members could use less shockingly big words (that, I confess, do daunt me sometimes) it won't kill some people to pick up a dictionary and look up a word. Like me.

Just give it a little bit more time, and some more people will drop by to see what's going on.
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Old 06-17-2004, 07:38 AM   #26
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perhaps some members could use less shockingly big words
Oh, but *Varda*, why go through all the effort of typing up a half dozen different words, when one does the trick so nicely?

Actually, to be more serious about the big word issue... I don't know if this holds true for anybody else, but when I'm speaking or writing, I use whatever word comes to mind, and it rarely occurs to me that somebody may not know what it means. I got accused a couple of weeks ago in class of "giving a definition that needs a definition." I believe I was asked to define 'ubiquitous' and I said 'omnipresent.' It didn't occur to me until I got yelled at by my friends that the teacher was the only person who knew what I meant. So although we can *try* to ease up on the university lingo, a lot of our Big Word Posters may not even realize that they're doing it.
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Old 06-19-2004, 11:41 PM   #27
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Dictionary.com- the great online dictionary ;-)

I don't see that using big words is really much of a problem. It's one thing to use a seemingly large word to better describe something, but it's another thing to be verbose and use 'university language' for the sake of using it. I agree with *Varda* that if people don't know the meaning of a word they should take two seconds to look it up in the dictionary.
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Old 06-20-2004, 12:52 AM   #28
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Feanor of the Peredhi

Very interesting, however, it is the writers job to make themselves understood not the readers job to do so.

Big words do not for intelligence make. Some of the most profound statements in human history are said in very few words and are totally understandable to those of higher and lesser intelligence than the writer
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Old 06-21-2004, 03:23 AM   #29
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Hmmm.....but what would Tolkien do?

Should his editor have told him "hey JRR, you can't come out with all this 'begone foul dwimmerlaik' stuff because it's alienating and elitist and in fifty years time a bunch of college kids won't know what the hell you're talking about. What's wrong with simple English - 'beat it you creepy monster'."

This is a forum devoted to the works of a professor of philology. Philology is the study of words but it literally means 'love of language.' If you come across a word you don't understand, in a book or on this forum or anywhere else, do Tolkien the honour of looking it up in a dictionary.
Ok you won't find dwimmerlaik in most dictionaries, I admit, but the advice holds good otherwise.
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Old 06-21-2004, 07:52 AM   #30
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I agree, Lalaith!
Btw, in the new German translation Wolfgang Krege actually [I]did[B] modernize Tolkien's language! *shudders* (If anymone is interested in details about that, see my old thread Tolkien Translations )
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Old 06-22-2004, 07:24 PM   #31
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White-Hand

I've been rather "out-of-the-loop" in the last two weeks, but I'm back now and hoping to resume participation once I have done my "homework" and caught up on all the posts.


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And about the number of times that the more senior (older?) (arthritic?) members of the Downs have read the books: not all of us have read them annually over decades.
Hehe. I'm with Bb on this one. This time round will probably be about the fifth or sixth time that I have read the book, and I have only read it once previously in the past 15 years or so (which is why I am so relishing the opportunity of reading it again). Much of my background knowledge (such as it is) has been gleaned from reading, and contributing to, the threads on this forum.

As for the style of posts, I think that everyone should post in the style with which they feel comfortable (txtspk excepted ). If you have something of substance to say, it doesn't really matter how you say it (provided that it is intelligible, of course, and I don't see that being a problem here). As for "academic" style posting, there are (as has been said) dictionaries available on-line. And if you still don't understand what someone is trying to say, then don't be afraid to question it. I am sure that no one here will take exception to being asked to clarify their point (and I can think of many, myself included, who would relish the opportunity ... ).
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Old 06-23-2004, 07:29 AM   #32
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Slightly off topic but pertinent to future discussion.....

Yes, I thought this would be an incentive to read the whole thing methodically which, to tell the truth, I have not done in years and years. RS and the others came out sosme fifteen to seventeen years ago, and that's the only time I sat down to read them through cover-to-cover! I do pick up the volumes quite frequently to look something up, but that is different than a concentrated reading. This seems like a good time to do that.

Mark 12_30 -

As I read the varying drafts of the chapters, I am planning to be on the lookout for certain things. One of these is the question we raised in a much earlier thread: whether the later revisions were the point that Tolkien added the "Christian and Catholic" elements we talk so much about. I'll be looking for hints of providence and the specific references that Tolkien discussed in his letters like lembas, Galadriel's characterization, etc. to see when these first came in. Of course, Tolkien is the one who said in his Letters that the "Christian and Catholic" elements were added in the later revisions. But sometimes what we remember and what we've actually done is different, even for Tolkien who was certainly trying to tell the truth. We shall see...
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Old 06-24-2004, 06:50 AM   #33
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Bingo, Odo, and.... [i]Marmaduke[/i]???

Child and Esty :

Would it be polite to open a thread(s) as needed for the HoLotR discussions? I'm a bit concerned that bringing Marmaduke, Odo and Bingo into the regular discussions could confuse some of the participants or discourage them, and get the discussions off track. That would hardly encourage broad participation in the LotR threads. And I'd like to be free to get as in-depth as we'd like regarding Bingo, Trotter, et al.

Since the participants will be fewer, we can do threads by groups of chapters, or by books, or what not. We could even put them in Books.

What think ye?
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Old 06-24-2004, 07:03 AM   #34
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Bingo is already there, I believe (or, even, I know), for I put him in myself

Well, I suppose it is all right to bring those gentlemen in as long as poster provides satisfactory explanation who they are (and, of course, who they become, if they did, that is)
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Old 06-24-2004, 07:53 AM   #35
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H-I-- I think your brief reference was fine; you were clear on who you were referring to and why, and the quick reference you made was not off-topic to Fordim's original intent in any way.

However, knowing Child (and me) we will be diving deeper than that, and it doesn't seem fair to burden Fordim's discussion with the detail I anticipate. Child has *already* played Trotter, and we are both certified (certifiable?) Frodophiles; Child states she will be looking for Catholic & Christan references; I will also be looking quite hard at Dreams and Visions (especially Frodo's-- er, sorry, Bingo's)... I'm uncertain what level of fanaticism Esty will bring to the mix. But it doesn't seem quite fair to put it on Fordim's thread.

If needed, we can certainly post links back and forth... Perhaps we should agree to, so that any who are interested may pursue. Nevertheless, I think discussing HoLotR won't take NEARLY as many threads as The Big Discussion will.

**second thought**

I suppose, if new threads were frowned upon, we could sort of "cordon off" our HoLotR discussions on the main thread with asterisks or titles or something. "Those not interested in Bingo may skip this section." But then our discussions will be fragmented and harder to follow.

...Child? Esty?
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Old 06-24-2004, 07:57 AM   #36
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For what it's worth I see no problem with bringing in material from HoME here -- that material is all relevant and interesting and illuminating of the text insofar as it is all really just drafts of the final product and not separate works of their own.

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Old 06-24-2004, 08:21 AM   #37
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I think we need to keep HoME stuff out of the Chapter-by-chapter discussions. The idea was to discuss the Lord of the Rings and not the entire span of JRRT's writings, right?
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Old 06-24-2004, 08:23 AM   #38
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Thumbs up

Although I'll probably be too busy to follow along in HoME, I think such discussion could have great general appeal and I'd hate to see it carried off into separate threads.

I think that as long as members who introduce HoME material are careful to annotate such contributions (and, I guess I should add, are careful not to let it dominate and overpower the "straight" discussion), I think we'll be fine.

EDIT: Whoops -- cross-posting with BW. Well, this is the Feedback and Suggestion Box. What do others think? Is there general interest?

If not, how can we accomodate the few who are interested? I don't think cluttering up this Chapter-by-Chapter section with "alternate draft" threads is the answer.
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Old 06-24-2004, 08:43 AM   #39
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In thinking further about having HoME in the discussion -- I have never read these volumes and doubt that I will have the time to do so at any point in the near future. If they crop up from time to time here then I could learn about them as we go without having to do the heavy lifting myself!

So long as those who want to refer to those works do so as they have been already, I think that material can only add to the discussion.
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Old 06-24-2004, 08:46 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Underhill
I don't think cluttering up this Chapter-by-Chapter section with "alternate draft" threads is the answer.
That was my real meaning, Mister Underhill. We've already had concerns about the Chapter-by-Chapter discussions being available to everyone, so we must be careful not to go roaming away from our true purpose - a Chapter by Chapter discussion of the Lord of the Rings. HoME is a wonderful resource for those who are interested in delving so deeply into the foundations of the story, but HoME is not LotR.
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