Monday, May 17, 2010

Brutal honesty


"People who are brutally honest get more satisfaction out of the brutality than out of the honesty." - Richard J. Needham

Too often, the anonymity of the internet allows us to hide behind our jolly pirate nicknames. These faceless knaves look at lists posted on boards by underdeveloped hobbyists, and reply with savage intensity usually reserved for child molesters and line dancers.

But that's too easy. Tearing down someone serves no purpose. It's less than useful. Mentoring someone is hard, and it takes honesty and patience. The only reason I got into this hobby is because people took the time and the effort required to be mentors. The people who sheltered and nurtured my desire to participate were the ones who gave me honest appraisals of my lists (crap), my painting (still crap), and my generalship (better than it was). Without them, I might have missed out on 17 years of fun.

I'm not asking that people coddle anyone. What I'm asking for is a basic respect that you would give to any stranger on the street. Every list that gets attacked might push some 14 year-old kid out of the hobby, which hurts us all in the long run. Tell a kid honestly why you think his list is poor, -- that it lacks anti-tank, or that lacks mobility-- and advise him how you think he should change it. Ask him why he took that one subpar unit, and advise him to try subbing a different unit to test it out. Don't be surprised if he doesn't take the advice immediately, but over time, that stuff sinks in.

It takes more effort to be a mentor. It is more difficult than snapping off a snarky comeback. But it's worth the effort in the long run.


  1. Here here. In my younger days, I was brutally honest, and that quote describs my former self perfectly. While I'm still a harbinger of unsolicted advice, I try to temper it with compliments and constructive criticism. Sure, I still fail, but it's a constant effort to better myself.

    Here's to hoping that someone else out there stumbles upon this post and takes it to heart. It's got a great message...

  2. Criticism tempered with respect is usually the best way to go.

    On top of that, you have to be willing to accept that you may not always be right, and that some will disagree with you.

    At the end of the day, you can prove your point on the table with a smile and a joke or two.