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Absence from BGO

Posted By: Timothy Chow
Date: Thursday, 13 March 2014, at 10:47 p.m.

Since I last posted at BGO, some people have asked me why I stopped posting, and have encouraged me to return. I'll say something about that in a moment, but first I feel that I should address something that Jason Lee recently said:

Tim Chow left in a sea of hypocrisy. Whilst complaining that people were acting like jerks, he was being a pretty big douchenozzle himself. I miss his backgammon posts -- I don't miss his holier-than-thou attitude that would spring up now and then.

I suppose that most people would try to defend themselves when accused in this way, but I am not going to do so because I believe that Jason is entirely correct about what he calls my "holier-than-thou" attitude. Jason didn't give examples, but off the top of my head I can think of several egregious examples of disrespectful behavior on my part, and undoubtedly there were many more that I was oblivious to or have forgotten. This is a character flaw that I am aware of and have worked hard to eradicate, and although my "error rate" has declined over the years, it is obviously far from zero. So I would like to begin by taking this opportunity to apologize to Dmitriy, to Joe, to Barry, and to others that I have disrespected or offended on this forum in the past. As for the particular thread that caused me to quit BGO, while I still feel that people were unreasonably criticizing certain personal decisions of mine without understanding the life circumstances that drove me to those decisions, it is certainly true that I should not have lost my patience, and for that I also apologize. I hold no grudge against anyone who posted in that thread, and I also thank those who provided useful answers to my question.

Now about my absence from BGO. Though the proximate cause was my frustration with the aforementioned thread, I got over that fairly quickly. The real reason for my continued decision to stay away was that I found that abstaining from BGO was doing wonders for my game. The hours that I would have spent on BGO were now being spent on more effective backgammon study. I was able to see more clearly than before that the value of BGO to me was very limited. The arguments about rules and Giants and cheating and so forth were a complete waste of time. The OLM was clearly a very good thing for many readers, but it was not interesting to me personally. The opening theory was excellent, but the opening is a very small part of backgammon. What I considered to be the real meat, namely the discussion of positions, comprised a very low proportion of the traffic on BGO. Furthermore, all too often someone would post something that they were interested in, and there would be a deafening silence. The general impression I got was that people were too afraid of looking like an idiot to engage in frank and open discussion. Now, it's true that sometimes some of the experts here would provide some insight that I might not have gotten by studying on my own. As I got better, however, these occasions grew fewer and farther between. Not that I was getting all the problems right, of course, but in most cases, studying the position myself with the computer was giving me more insight than reading the BGO posts. And if I posted a position that I didn't understand even after some study, often I would not get any meaningful response.

I've been poking my head into BGO lately to see if anything has changed since I left, and my impression is that not much has changed. I see that there is a BGO vs BGO OLM, which is engaging lots of people. That is wonderful, but again, I'm personally not interested in the OLM. And I still see people having to beg and plead for other readers to engage with the backgammon questions they pose. My feeling is still that for me to re-engage with BGO in any serious way is not going to be a net gain for me personally.

In light of what I've just said, some might wonder why I'm still posting away on rec.games.backgammon. Aside from smcrtorchs, whose skill level seems to be in the same ballpark as mine, and who not infrequently has excellent insights, I'm not getting a lot of useful feedback there either. However, I find that the discipline of posting analyses of my own positions on a regular basis somewhere is useful, whether or not anyone else gives me feedback. For a while I was doing this both on r.g.b. and BGO, but I've found that doing it on just one site is about the right rate for me. I could drop r.g.b. and migrate over to BGO, but I currently don't see any particular reason to do so. Murat is pretty much the only troll on r.g.b. now and he's not very active.

I did make one suggestion to Stick. I suggested that he do something like the "Peever whoppers" and post whoppers from his own games, say once a day. I said that I thought that this would be well-received. The owner of a discussion forum can set the tone of the forum, and by posting his own blunders, he encourages others to open up about their own blunders. This, I think, is the most promising way to change the atmosphere on this forum, at least with regard to the analysis and discussion of positions. I said that if he were to do this, then I would commit to engaging with these posts for a period of at least a month, to help it get traction (though I can't start doing this until a week or two from now because of other commitments I have). I think that Stick is still thinking over my suggestion, so if you like the idea, then you might want to post here to say so, and if you can, promise to try your hand at them (at whatever rate you feel you can commit to).

So in summary: 1. I apologize for my bad behavior in the past. 2. I doubt that I will return to BGO because I still don't see a satisfactory answer to the question of "what's in it for me?" 3. The possible exception is if Stick starts a "Stick whoppers" feature.

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