Monday, July 13, 2009

Why I've Stopped Offering Advice

It's tremendously difficult for me not to try to help when someone posts to an Internet forum yet another mindless oval with an unworkable yard or a spaghetti-filled blob that should be called the Ragu Northern. But I've had to stop.

As the old joke goes, "Never try to teach a dog to sing. The results are poor, and it seems to annoy the dog." My endless exhortations for folks to step away from the CAD, learn some layout design principles, and develop a concept and vision for their layout before designing a track plan generally fall on deaf ears. (OK, there was one success recently, but it's the exception that proves the rule).

Instead, people just keep cranking out the CAD revisions – each new plan as infested with flaws as the last. Although the flaws often do mutate from revision to revision.

And what's worse, these neophyte designers often become understandably defensive about their precious track plan, no matter how hackneyed, impractical, or inaccessible. And then the forum chorus starts chanting, "Just build it, it'll be fine – it's your plan, do what you like" … talk about the blind leading the partially-sighted!

Anyway, finally, it's enough. As my wife often reminds me about other matters, "Byron, it's only 'help' if the other person wants it." So true.

Oh, I'll probably make an occasional exception for comments about published plans – not so much pride-of-poster-ownership there. Or I might suggest some better-thought-out plans for the same space from which the help-seeker might hope to learn. That way, I can perhaps accommodate my desire to be helpful without aggravating the help-seekers (and myself) so much in the process. We'll see ...

Update 18 July: Based on notes from a couple of you, I guess the forgoing could have been clearer -- especially the title. I'm still posting occasionally on Internet forums and offering general layout design and operations suggestions. What I've decided to stop providing is comments on the specific details of a poster-provided plan. And I'm still offering custom layout design services to those who are interested, of course.

Thanks for reading!