This is the Message Centre for Gnomon - time to move on

The 90% Solution

Post 1

Gnomon - time to move on

I'm writing this journal for me, to get things straight in my own head, but you're welcome to read, discuss or criticise.

I have a problem with trying to make everything perfect. If I'm working on something, I like to get it just right. I've learnt how to resist this temptation - I know now when things are good enough. They don't have to be perfect.

But when I'm working with someone else, I find it hard to accept that I'm happy with my part of the work, but I'm not fully happy with their part, even though it is also good enough.

I wrote an entry on the Gregorian calendar which I considered fairly mediocre, but I was encouraged to put it in Peer Review and sure enough it was accepted. Somebody thought it a worthwhile addition to the Guide.

When the artists provided a picture for the entry, I thought it was a nice piece of art but misleading, so I suggested a change to it. This annoyed the artist concerned so much that he packed it in and left the site.

I'm not apologising for having requested a change. I would have phrased it more courteously if it had been intended for the artist himself, who I only knew from a few exchanges where I've always been very admiring of his work. Instead it was addressed to the Editors, who are used to my direct requests.

What I do apologise for is getting stroppy when the artist concerned insulted me, and when various Researchers and Volunteers proceeded to call me names behind my back (both on site and on Facebook) to try and persuade the artist to return. In response to this I stated that I would rather have the entry without a picture at all than with the picture provided.

This was wrong. If the picture wasn't 100% right by my reckoning, it was still a good picture, so I should have just kept my mouth shut. It's better to have something than nothing, even if the something isn't exactly what I wanted.

I need to adopt the 90% Solution, where I'll be happy if I'm 90% of the way to perfection. I'll work hard on this over the coming months and see can I get back into the mood for contributing to this site.

The 90% Solution

Post 2

Icy North

I understand your dilemma. It's difficult working with other people if you don't share creative ideas. Artists have always done their own thing and like to reveal it as a surprise when they publish the entry. There's no concept of Peer Review for artwork (except maybe within their closed community). There's always the risk it isn't going to correlate with the author's vision.

Yes, 90% sounds like a pretty good satisfaction level to aim at.

The 90% Solution

Post 3


"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" is one of my favourite sayings.

The 90% Solution

Post 4

Baron Grim

The article I'm writing is going to require at least one technical graphic. I'm considering attempting to do my own graphic. If nothing else, it could serve as a guide for the community artists. But like Gnomon was, if the graphic had an error, I'd be disappointed.

I think there should be some more feedback between artists and writers to avoid such confusion and minimize the possibility of errors. I'm not suggesting that the writers should have creative control, but they should at least should be able to provide some input. The issue at hand was mostly one of communication breakdown.

The 90% Solution

Post 5

paulh. the world is a circus, but why d I have to work without a net?

I hope you will do more entries, Gnomon. I hope I will do more entries, too, and that they will fill holes in the site's coverage. being far from perfect myself, I'm not here to judge anyone else smiley - blush.

I wish I could do art, mostly because other family members have the artistic gene in abundance. I'm just plain envious! smiley - envy I even worry that the Good Taste Police might look through my window at home and issue a citation smiley - winkeye.

As for the editors writing most of the new guide articles, I have to fall back on what little I know of social dynamics within any organization. I've read apparently well-researched articles claiming that in any sizable company, most of the work is done by a relatively small percentage of the personnel. In the trailer park where I live, there are maybe 15% of the residents who keep the place going.

One of my former bosses had an adage that went "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." Since I have no talent at getting out of the way smiley - blush, I have to choice between the first two smiley - tongueout.

The 90% Solution

Post 6


Aiming for 100% is just what I would like in a programmer.

I work in the arts where there is no 100%. All the same, this site has encouraged and enabled me to hone my article-writing to much finer tolerances than I ever used to attempt before.

(This site also introduced me to where every jot and tittle is analysed to the last atom ... and I still survive there.)

Your annoyance is completely understandable, in an Entry on calendars, where dates are graven in stone. Your contrition is engaging.

There has to be sympathy for all sides in the towers.

The 90% Solution

Post 7

Malabarista - now with added pony

I once was an artist here, and I agree that technical accuracy needs to come before artistic merit on technical entries.

That said, the reason I'm not an artist anymore is in part because people tend to get ridiculously whiny if something doesn't look exactly like they imagined it looking, even if there's nothing actually *wrong* with it - especially with smileys - but they're not willing or able to help. Editing a drawing or photograph isn't as easy as editing text, unfortunately, because we don't really have the tools.

smiley - shrug

The 90% Solution

Post 8

Sho - gainfully employed again

I don't think it's too much to ask that if you put your heart and soul into an entry, that if you feel the picture doesn't relflect or depect the entry, that you say something.

and I also don't think that it's too much to ask for lot of collaboration between artist and writer.

I realise that everyone is a volunteer and that kind of collaboration can slow things down horribly - but it does seem to be a fairly small issue to me.

and if you then say - well, not with my name on, if you really feel the artwork doesn't enhance (or makes worse) the entry, I can understand how an artist might be miffed. But the artist's miffedness, for me, doesn't trump the writer's miffedness.

this is the internet

The 90% Solution

Post 9

paulh. the world is a circus, but why d I have to work without a net?

Art isn't easy

I have *enormous* respect for artists. Not just the tiny handful that have become insanely well-known, but the many who can barely make ends meet smiley - sadface. I think of a great-aunt who painted numerous delightful pictures and then went blind. When she was in a nursing home, they hung her pictures on the walls. Poor thing couldn't see her own work smiley - cry.

My cousin in Arizona is a gifted artist, but to make any kind of living she had to go back to school for a degree working with special-needs children.

Artistic talent sometimes seems like a cruel joke that Nature plays on some people. If they're lucky, they have other talents that they can use to make a living....

The 90% Solution

Post 10


Nothing cruel about that. Artistic talent makes a huge difference if you have chosen to make your living as an actor or musician or whatever, but no kind of talent on its own can be expected to land a job.

The 90% Solution

Post 11

paulh. the world is a circus, but why d I have to work without a net?

"Nothing cruel about that. Artistic talent makes a huge difference if you have chosen to make your living as an actor or musician or whatever, but no kind of talent on its own can be expected to land a job." [recumbentman]

smiley - blush In my impressionable late teens, I was exposed to a p[oem by the Renaissance writer Pierre Ronsard which referred to "vraiment maratre nature,' loosely translated as "truly cruel stepmother nature," because She allows such a beautiful rose to possess its beauty only from morning to sunset of a single day. This is, of course, Anthropomorphic thinking, a logical fallacy. smiley - blush

But it's poetic license that lets Ronsard get away with it. smiley - doh And, the idea of nature as cruel is germane to the work of *many* writers, including Douglas Adams -- the planet of ten billion people that gets swallowed by a black hole, for instance smiley - erm.

Except that we're supposed to acknowledge that the universe is just random. Somewhere in that randomness our planet got lucky for a while -- read "Lucky Planet," by David Waltham [Basic Books, 2014], for instance.

I really do think of nature as cruel sometimes, though. smiley - sadface Intellectually I know it's foolish to anthropomorphize the world, but there you have it. smiley - shrug

By the way, you're absolutely right about artistic talent not being enough by itself. Walt Disney had it, but he also had technological innovation and a knack for storytelling -- not to mention a brother who had business acumen in spades. Andy Warhol had talent plus a knack for self-promotion -- he often seemed to be everywhere. On the flip side, there's Lily Tomlin's character [in "The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe"] that had creativity but no talent. She played it for laughs, but there was a bittersweet quality in it, too. As for the likelihood of finding intelligence, "It's trickier than it sounds," according to Trudy the Bag lady, another Tomlin character....

The 90% Solution

Post 12

aka Bel - A87832164

I was disgusted with the name calling on fb, but not in the least surprised by who did it. They should be ashamed of themselves, but then this didn't seem to trouble the owner of the site (well, one of them), so I guess the commenter felt justified. smiley - erm

I think it is your right to point out if an image isn't correct and may mislead the unsuspecting reader. smiley - hug

The 90% Solution

Post 13


I kinda hate the way that disagreements get personal, and we lose the "what it is that needs changing" amongst the "who is saying this". And internet/ non-actual interaction exacerbates that.

The 90% Solution

Post 14

paulh. the world is a circus, but why d I have to work without a net?

We aren't a big site with much capital behind us. Fb is worth billions of dollars to its owners, and it can afford all sorts of bells and whistles that we can only dream of. I would like to see our site do well. Some days, I would be happy to see it survive smiley - shrug. Is there an answer anywhere to how we can smooth out disagreements before they go viral on big sites like Fb? What do the people on Fb know about our site anyway?

The 90% Solution

Post 15

Baron Grim

I understand that the discussion and name calling on facebook was amongst hootooers offsite. Not just some outside discussion about our site.

The 90% Solution

Post 16

paulh. the world is a circus, but why d I have to work without a net?

I understand that. I worry about Fb people not connected with our site, who might have read the comments and heard only one side of the argument. We don't have a public relations agent to go in and put the best possible spin on what happened here.

We're just volunteers who try to do what we think should be done.

The 90% Solution

Post 17

Malabarista - now with added pony

Well said, Beatrice...

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