Constructive feedback please –

Episode 9 has generated some interesting comments and I found these two comments to be the most interesting:

Okay, some feedback on the Podcast (s). Firstly, I like it. The range of topics is wide enough and conversations informative enough as well. Secondly, you guys need to invest in better Audio recording systems. Early podcasts had an issue where Omar could barely be heard and this one has an issue with massive and unacceptable lag which leads to long moments of silence. This leads to listeners fatigue and also increases the podcast needlessly. It is irritating. Though Omar voice issue has improved in recent podcasts the volume intensity of different speakers is still not consistent, some are louder and some less so. This needs to be dealt with. Thirdly, regarding this particular Ep9. content was good listen so no qualms there but man the long “Aaaa” pauses in speech are just too irritating after a while. Razib is a more fluid speaker. Fourth. Zack also needs to go on less redundant windings. He says the same thing multiple times worded differently. It is unnecessary, esp on a platform of Podcasts. Stick to the point and be concise, respect the listening audience to have a certain level of contextual grasp. I hardly doubt you guys are making this podcast to be some sort of educational material for 10-14 year olds. Listeners already have a certain level of grasp, stick to a standard and move on rather than spending minutes on redundant things. You guys seem new to this Podcast game and hence seem to be having above issues. Podcasts is a platform which is very mature now hence the sort of feedback I listed above, these are basic stuff on this medium but I think you can improve overtime, it is just about rounding off the edges because the core(content) is solid so majority of the battle is done anyway. Best of luck. Looking forward for more from you guys.

This chap hasn’t donated to the Patron account (or if he has, hasn’t mentioned that) and spews opinions on the whole podcast. It’s discourteous because we haven’t actually asked for feedback and what gets my goat is unqualified opinions; either invest or shut up.

The amusing thing with Xir Var is that he presumes that we really care as to whether he liked the podcast or not.

This isn’t me being defensive; I dislike the lack of respect by anonymous commentators and I always will. My persona is somewhat public (though it’s rapidly paring back as I grow tired of the phone and online word) and I think it’s unfair to parry with opponents in the dark.

FWIW I had wanted to step out of the podcast with Slapstick because I thought that Razib and SS would have had a much more fruitful conversation but I stayed on simply to make the logistics work.

This was the first comment that I read that pricked my ears and I thought was out of line:

This was my first podcast, as the topic interested me. By the first 3 minutes upon hearing assertions of Vedic originating in BMAC and etymology of Atharvaveda is based on the root Athar = fire in Iranian I was extremely amused. That amusement pulled me through a few more minutes and it ended, when I heard Pashto and Persian are dervied seperately and directly from a proto language. At that point i decided to stop the cast at about 18 minutes in. To be fair to real scholars who have or may come on the podcast in future, you guys might want to seperate the streams into something like BrownPunditWannabe for amateur hobbyists and BrownPunditReal for guys who actually can back up their assertions with something concrete. Also this is nothing personal against slapstick, everyone has their personal views. Just my thoughts.

I understand there is such a thing as jealousy but to attack SS in such a manner was simply unwarranted.
My patience is growing thin and so is my libertarianism (I’m turning into an authoritarian in my old age) and I don’t see the point of such callous disrespect.
Both of these comments could have been couched in much more dignified ways (while retaining the feedback) without coming across as condescending or patronising.
The sad part is that I had wanted to write my post on Collette but instead I’m simply issuing a broader notice as to my moderation style. It’s a grey area, to be fair, but considering that this is an unpaid hobby I don’t expect gratuitous (and anonymous) condescension acceptable anymore. Especially to those of us who take the time and effort to make the blog what it is (I also notice it’s not the regular commentator handles that are falling foul of our standards).
Commentators may presume that they are doing a favour by reading BrownPundits, leaving a comment or hearing a podcast. The numbers are extraordinarily healthy and rising with or without individual commentators and BP has a life of it’s own hence why I’ve toned down the Masalification on my side.
Also finally for what it’s worth I do happily admit that I fluff a fair bit but then I’m kind of “learning on the job” and it’s going to take a few more podcasts for me to get it right and to understand the “rough knowledge” of the listener.

23 thoughts on “Constructive feedback please –”

  1. Zack this is fair feedback from the first commenter. Please don’t get defensive. A lot of things he pointed out (being more concise) don’t cost extra money to implement, so asking to donate before commenting is illogical. FWIW, I too have some of the same issues.

    Obviously, it goes without saying that we all appreciate the amazing content that is put out in the podcast. You guys are some of the best content out there. We wouldn’t bother to leave feedback if we didn’t care about the podcast. I’m going to donate to the podcast in a day or two too. But the point is that only interested listeners and fans will bother leaving feedback. So please don’t dismiss it by saying “we didn’t ask for feedback” etc. Here’s looking forward to more awesome content from one of the best podcasts around. Cheers.

    1. Thank you; it’s always great to get constructive comments from one of Pakistan’s greats..

      As for the validity of feedback and donation; feedback has to be weighed carefully.

      In my opinion I’m going to pay attention to commentators with a long track record, trackable profiles (so I can weigh who they are) or Funders. Simply because they are the ones with skin in the game.

      This is a past-time and considering that I have *some* profile I think there should be adequate respect as well.

    1. To be fair it would have been better had you and SS just tackles this since I was fairly superfluous but I just thought to raise that would have disrupted this podcast.

      1. I felt your interventions were good, at least for me since i was more interested in how the whole linguistic and genetics debate tie into the larger AMT-AIT (or Indus Valley–>Vedic ) story, rather than the whole technical aspect of the linguistics.

  2. So you just made a standalone post attacking me, again needlessly and claiming my comment was not proper or was somehow patronizing, condescending and disrespectful.

    I don’t know how you can claim that when after every 2 lines I was explicitly appreciative of you guys (and just to be clear here, it was genuine from my part, i have followed you guys for years now and thought highly of your team here), to which you claim the feedback wasn’t asked.

    Well consider me told then. I assumed, falsely, that a public platform would take feedback and going by the post history of these things you guys have been asking for feedback (asking for ratings on iTunes is exactly a part of that).

    I am a stickler (to quote you) for semantics and comment framing as well(so much so I can point you to a standalone post you made referencing it last year – The bit you were talking about was a comment I had made, Anonymous at that time as well) and my original comment was thus not haphazardly written on my part. It was genuine in appreciation, feedback(the audio issue isn’t even something I am the first to bring up, I just highlighted a specific like lag in Ep.9 this time around) and a bit of frustration regarding long-winded redundant setups.

    I don’t know how you leapt to take that as some some of attack worthy of this level of antagonistic retaliation. The proportion is over-the-top.

    Attacking an anonymous user in a manner which I could well term online harassment/bullying.
    What if I wasn’t anonymous, I could argue it could be worse for me since I am being attacked here by/on a website platform having a sizable public presence. So I am glad I am anonymous. Or maybe you are doing so precisely because I am anonymous so it is fair game it seems.

    And regarding your mention of Patreon. I just right now paid to be a member. So does that mean now I have some special right to critique you guys? Is this how it works around here?
    Yes this was sarcastic, because all of this was totally needless.

    My comment on the previous podcast post was fair and legitimate. You could have replied as I suggested in the follow-up earlier. Along the lines of, we are onto it and in the meantime here is a link to the Patreon page to speed things up .

    Instead you looked for a unnecessary confrontation and drama . To quote the previous exchange, Shame really, it does leave a sour taste given that the mindset I had when i wrote that comment was nothing of the sorts you construed it into.

    1. (1.) if u donate then apologies in advance since you are qualifying your feedback by showing skin in the game.

      (2.) Razib, Omar & myself all put time, money and effort into this so some sensitivity is always nice.

      (3.) anonymous profiles are one thing (Slapstick / numinous and a few others are pseudonyms) but their handles are known and validated. This isn’t a shot in the dark comment from a first time commentator, who deigns to share his opinions..

      (4.) in any enterprise what matters are the committed core not the drifters/floaters. I absolutely distinguish between the two and cut the wheat from the chaff.

      (5.) BP has been around for nigh on 9yrs (we celebrated that milestone late last month), albeit on and off. What has contributed to the blogs longevity each time has been those motivated parties who commit. If you were a handle I recognised I would have perked up and notice but otherwise who are you? As you point out your previous comment was titled “Anonymous.”

      (6.) don’t be silly there is no bullying or harassment but I do point publicly point out “faux pas” (how does one pluralise that) to prevent recurrence and provide precedent for commenting policies.

      (7.) perhaps it’s the Persian in me however I’m quite relaxed about “what is said” but not so much as “how it is said.”

  3. Thanks for the remarks Zack, but such too-clever-by-half trolling is par for the course when one’s online. Some people will latch on to some point which they think they’ve cleverly spotted and over-make their criticism – when actually their bug bear is something else. Maybe they are one of the OIT nuts, or pissed off about some remarks on Hinduism or triggered by something else said on Islam or just love being a curmudgeon online or whatever.

    As a rule I engage with a commentator only up to a point (and delete snarky BS from known trolls).

    PS: I think that the first remark you quoted was genuinely constructive.

  4. I think zack is conflating a public blog/podcast to something else altogether.

    When you discuss on a topic at large in public on matters that can be quantified or refuted with data, you will get negative feedback if you bungle up or put across incorrect narrative. And personally as a habit in real life or online my criticism is backed up with data.

    The solution to not receiving negative feedback is to have a private blog where only the guys you know who share your views and only congratulate and shower you with applause are allowed in.

    As far as anonymous goes, razib zack is as anonymous to me as numinous or anan or slapstick, all are online personalities, I do not know what is anyones motivation or drive or who they are in real life.

    Another solution to not receiving negative feedback or any feedback altogether without going private is to have “chowk pe chai pee te pee te gappe lada rahe hain” type discussion. In other words just casual things like some philosophical stuff, or hypothetical scenarios bollywood etc, which you guys do other wise.

    1. “As far as anonymous goes, razib zack is as anonymous to me as numinous or anan or slapstick, all are online personalities, I do not know what is anyones motivation or drive or who they are in real life.”

      Not true. Both Razib and Zack are public personalities with their own careers, business interests, extended families, and extended social friends circles. They are directly risking their personal reputations, careers, business interests and safety in ways we (me, you, numinous, slapstik) are not. By directly taking on Islamism, they are risking their personal safety. I have enormous respect and reverence for their courage.

      For the record, I have never once found Zach or Razib anything other than appreciative for any criticism I have made of them and their ideas. This is generally true of most commentators on BP. And you better believe that collectively the readers at BP criticize Zach a lot.

      “I’m quite relaxed about “what is said” but not so much as “how it is said.””
      This is my observation of Zach.

      I have a slightly different perspective than Zach on this issue. I think that if I truly respect someone else, I respect their right to be disrespectful (racist, bigoted, prejudiced, sectarian, hegemonic, imperialist, colonialist, exploitative, oppressive) towards me. What someone else chooses to produce as art, speech, thought and deep intuition is their business. My business is to respect them and respect their right to do as they do. It is most important to love and respect those who harm us and harm those we love. If we don’t love and respect them, then we don’t love and respect period.

      This is my understanding of Sanathana Dharma and eastern philosophy. Here are 6 of my favorite quotes from Mahayana Buddhism:

      —Determined to obtain the greatest possible benefit from all sentient beings, who are more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel, I shall hold them most dear at all times.
      —When in the company of others, I shall always consider myself the lowest of all, and from the depths of my heart hold others dear and supreme.
      —Whenever I see beings who are wicked in nature and overwhelmed by violent negative actions and suffering, I shall hold such rare ones dear, as if I had found a precious treasure.
      —When, out of envy, others mistreat me with abuse, insults, or the like, I shall accept defeat and offer the victory to others.
      —When someone whom I have benefited and in whom I have great hopes gives me terrible harm, I shall regard that person as my holy guru.
      —In short, both directly and indirectly, do I offer every happiness and benefit to all my mothers. I shall secretly take upon myself all their harmful actions and suffering.

      1. Those favorite 6 were really good quotes.

        Except for this bolded part:

        It is most important to love and respect those who harm us and harm those we love.

    2. razib zack is as anonymous to me as numinous or anan or slapstick, all are online personalities, I do not know what is anyones motivation or drive or who they are in real life.

      shut up with your fucking bullshit. i’m not anonymous you fucking asshole. people in my real life can google me. can you google your anonymous fucking ass? you can go to zach’s store and buy shit and see him face to face.

      god some of you say some dumb shit. jackass.

      fuck you.

      1. razib zack is as anonymous to me as numinous or anan or slapstick, all are online personalities, I do not know what is anyones motivation or drive or who they are in real life.

        btw, i just banned this asshole on my other weblog. they were making arguments i disagreed with, but i was trying to engage. then i saw this tripe, and realized this person was a total dipshit.

        not banning here, cuz i’m pretty liberal in this space. but jesus christ, how comfortable do people feel showing they’re either idiots or total bad faith interlocuters?

  5. I am watching this circus with detached amusement. All this frothing at the mouth outrage, all this banning and summary axing of comments with righteous fury, this is so magnificent!

    Just a little curiosity. If the blog writers are going to delete all critical comments anyway, why even bother inviting comments. They can write some made up adulatory comments in the comments section themselves. They can really praise themselves to heaven. Much simpler.

  6. Well, I think there is no any serial issue here, it has been only misunderstanding and bad timing. Zack is every day on the line and he is doing a great job, including this as a rookie moderator. He is maybe (over)protective of their project. I think that Var had a positive intention, he praised BP work, maybe he overshoot for a couple inches. It would be probable a different thing if he did more commenting in the past.

    I suggest, let’s move on without further counterproductive wasting of everyone’s time. Not any apology is needed. This Zack is an ace should continue preparations for new podcast, Var to make more comments in the future, my impression is that he has something to say.

  7. Both Razib and Zack are very fine guys and I respect their punditry a lot?. But this time looks like Zack’s post was totally uncalled-for. Both the comments are indeed very constructive. And no need to loose the cool-Razib.
    One has to be very patient in public life. I am looking for more podcasts from you guys! They are really awesome ??. Thanks

  8. Both Razib and Zack are very fine guys and I respect their punditry a lot. But this time looks like Zack’s post was totally uncalled-for. Both the comments are indeed very constructive. And no need to loose the cool-Razib.
    One has to be very patient in public life. I am looking for more podcasts from you guys! They are really awesome. Thanks

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