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paul wheaton is impossible to work with

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15213
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Yesterday I learned "everybody thinks paul wheaton is impossible to work with".

It took some digging, but I found out that this is rooted in two things:

1) about a hundred people have come to the forums at permies.com and posted something like "you, bob smith, are obviously stupid" and then I would delete that. And the poster would then attempt to engage me in a conversation about "how is bob smith going to learn that he is stupid if somebody doesn't say something? Plus, you are violating my rights to free speech." I would then point out that this freedom of the press and I choose to not publish hate speech. The poster then goes on a censorship rant and then I hear bits back over the years about how this person is telling the world about what an asshole I am. Fair enough.

2) Several years ago I was involved in trying to help the washington state permaculture group transition into being a northwest permacutlure group. So I bought a couple of domain names: nwpermaculture.com and nwpermacutlure.org. I didn't have the time to do the full blown web page, but I set up something to tide us over until the real web folks showed up. Then I pointed the domain to their stuff. Two minutes. That was 2010. In 2011, it was, again, about two minutes of pointing the domain to their stuff. 2012: they want me to point the domain to my my registrar's stuff and then fiddle with the registrar's stuff. i explain why that won't work ... "just DO it!" okayfine. See, it doesn't work. After three more attempts to do weird things it has consumed four hours of my life and it is still broken as I predicted for each one. I hear through the grapevine that I am impossible to work with.

Why do I post this in a thread? Because I keep finding myself trying to help folks with this and similar stuff, and I keep finding all new people that are certain that I am an asshole or "impossible to work with" or whatever after some small experience with me. I intended to direct them to this thread before we start working together, and then direct them to this thread again after they have come to the conclusion that I am difficult.

I guess the formula is always the same "do as I say" "I'm not comfortable with that" "then you are impossible to work with".

I now choose to not help with most of these projects. I just don't need the hate.




sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
P Thickens


Joined: Jan 15, 2012
Posts: 177
Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
Hey, Paul. Seems you do a lot of extraordinarily cool stuff. How many posts about that stuff have you put up VS how many negative-themed posts? "Our minds are velcro to bad thoughts, and teflon to positive ones".
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15213
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Dunno.

I think a lot of it is the "hate in the name of love" crowd. The people I ban for bashing other people tend to be big advocates of "why can't we all just love each other?"

I think this smells a lot like "no good deed goes unpunished." And I suspect that people that have accomplished a lot have a lot of detractors. While people that have accomplished nothing have zero detractors. I suspect that there are people that have accomplished a lot and have zero detractors - mighty admirable. But I guess my personality doesn't get that package. So I am "impossible to work with" and, frankly, I am 100% okay with that.

And now I have a thread for those people that ask me to help with some project.
Amedean Messan
pollinator

Joined: Nov 11, 2010
Posts: 821
Location: Burlington, NC - Woodland, Clay - Zone 7
    
  26
I rather enjoy the reasonable moderation because there can be some polarized individuals out there.


Those who hammer their swords into plows will plow for those who don't!
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
As another person who takes issue with 'Don't give me any guff just do as I say' - I can completely understand, your in the public eye and so your going to get more of this kind of thing.

I like that you have standards for posts here at Permies, and that you do what you can when you can. I'm in the same boat. I don't want that to ever change.
As you know I don't see eye to eye with you on everything, but here at permies that's okay too. There is no censorship as long as a person is not slamming other people.

Funny how people choose to not see the freedom in this place. If they can't do whatever is right in their own eyes they scream censorship.... I just don't see it that way.
paul sanass


Joined: Mar 18, 2012
Posts: 16
Jami McBride wrote:
Funny how people choose to not see the freedom in this place.


No offence intended, but there's an old saying... 'Non so blind as those that can't see'
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I find Paul Wheaton extremely easy to work with in this format, though have had rather little direct communication with him. His rule is easy to follow, in my personal experience on this board.


Idle dreamer

Susan Noyes


Joined: Dec 06, 2011
Posts: 50
Location: Dallas TX
I don't post often as I am inexperienced in the permaculture realm and will be reading posts (and more books) for sometime to come. It interferes with my gardening but I'm always trying to balance my activities so I just do it.
I learn so much and am SO happy to have found this forum.
I think the one rule that we "be nice" makes it relatively easy to decide what to post.
Which is this:
I find Paul hugely entertaining and full of information that I want to learn, and send his stuff to family and friends at a rate that hopefully isn't overkill.
So thank you!
Eric Thompson


Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 238
Location: Bothell, WA - USA
    
    1
I'm with you Paul in being frustrated by this approach and attitude! Some of it is a sense of creeping "entitlement" that is like 'you've been helping me with this for years -- you OWE it to me to keep helping'. And there is a similar kind of entitlement of scope for the help - that is the one where I picture someone's attitude as 'Ok, I can accept your help, but only on MY TERMS' Kind of like lining up at the soup kitchen and saying 'I demand an organi-vegan alternative!'

Obviously people like this are stupid! Err, insane.. wait, wait - don't censor this yet.... umm... people like this....may benefit from social cues on collaborative expectations where working toward common goals!
Josiah Wallingford
volunteer

Joined: Jan 08, 2012
Posts: 89
Location: Whitefish, MT
I am currently working with Paul. I have spoken with Paul about many different projects, have spent many hours on the phone with him and have a very long chain of email correspondence with him. I like to think I have a pretty good idea of what it is like to work with Paul Wheaton. Here is my conclusion so far:

1. Paul is very intelligent.
2. Paul is very patient as long as you are a person who listens to what he is saying, registers what he is telling you and then thinks about what he said. If you are the type of person that is not open minded, can't see things from another point of view, cannot listen to reason and honestly comprehend that what you are saying may be wrong than Paul does not have the time to waste talking with you.
3. Paul understands that people may know more than him and does listen if you make you point followed by an explanation as to why you have come to that conclusion. If after you have stated your reasons and they make sense he will listen. If you blatantly just tell someone the way it is or that what you are saying is the "end all be all", Paul does not have time to waste listening to you.
4. You must understand that Paul's time is precious to him and to this community. Please do not squander his time, other people need it and he is giving it to us without charge the best he can.
5. Don't be afraid to state you opinion or "facts" but please back them up with clear and concise reasons why you have come to that conclusion. This will benefit us all.
6. I think Paul understands that most people do have something we can all learn from. There is some bit of knowledge in each person that we can all benefit from. The problem is that some people do not know how to communicate this in a way that is not judgmental or childish.

This is all my personal opinion. It may be incorrect. I do however think that if you simply think out and fully explain your point you will do very well in this community. Paul is not "impossible to work with" if you are someone that contributes and is worth working with.


Josiah Wallingford - BrinkofFreedom.net
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6563
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
Freedom of the press belongs to anybody that owns a press.

My press; my rules. Your press; your rules. Actually quite a simple concept.

wayne stephen
steward

Joined: Mar 11, 2012
Posts: 1733
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
    
  92
I am glad someone is keeping it civil. I may be new to permaculture design , but I am not new to gardening , herbology , wildcrafting , alternative energy and on and on. I have learned so much from you people and Paul. Pauls videos of Skeeter have really helped me to visualize permaculture. I am happy to be able to ask a beginners question about berms and swales , and then share my knowledge of raising chickens to another . If Paul is refereeing this site it seems to stay positive and scholarly. Good Job . I am glad you all are here. The song attached to the Montana Buffalo video expresses how I feel about you all.


Permaculture is CPR for the planet !


Lloyd George


Joined: Jan 25, 2012
Posts: 159
spoken as a fellow asshole...I can certainly commiserate! I really get a kick out people who expect free speech when standing on a soapbox that someone else paid for.

I asked a junior grade LT a couple years ago if he could figure out how to violate the laws of physics...after he demanded that I do just that. (long story..but he wanted me to save a half million bucks by making five volts jump across an air gap and miraculously be 50 volts on the other side...) It is always something.
Joe Braxton


Joined: Mar 24, 2012
Posts: 239
Location: NC (northern piedmont)
    
    9


A really smart man once told me (about newspapers) "you can't win an argument with people who buy their ink in 55 gal. drums".
Kind'a applies here too.
Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 972
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
Joe Braxton wrote:

A really smart man once told me (about newspapers) "you can't win an argument with people who buy their ink in 55 gal. drums".
Kind'a applies here too.


The truth is, no one wins in arguments. Even if you cause the person to agree with you, they haven't changed their opinion. Only by helping people arrive at the truth themselves can you change things, winning arguments is only about pride. It takes a very mature person to accept correction from someone who is arguing with them.


Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica
Tim Flaus


Joined: Jun 17, 2011
Posts: 17
Location: Moss Vale, Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia
I've never really worked with Paul to any extent. I've read and watched plenty of his stuff and think he offers something really valuable. However, and I think he would agree, the fact that he runs this forum does not make him above any other or make what he has to say or his opinions any more valuable than any others. However the content of that opinion may be. Owning the means of production does not mean that you have a right to those providing the production. It may be that those with the ink have the means but should they have the right. Is that what free communication is.
What I like is that Paul seems to remove hate but leaves stupidity and contrary opinion. That way freedom and civility are preserved.
Craig Dobbelyu


Joined: Dec 22, 2011
Posts: 945
Location: Maine (zone 5)
    
  31
Disclaimer: I've never worked, talked to or communicated directly with Paul.

I get the impression that at least on the site, new-comers are under the impression that you can do/say whatever they want because that's just how the rest of the net works. When people get a little push-back from Paul or a Moderator it can be a bit of a gut-check. People aren't used to the " it's MY site and IF you can't get along... FUCK OFF. And if you don't leave, I'll kick you out." I'm pretty sure I saw something like that somewhere from Paul.

I've only been on here a little while and at first I wasn't sure how I felt about it. It had a very "dictatorial" feel but once I spent some time I realized that the reason Permies is such a great resource is because of the "NO BS" attitude of Paul and the moderators. I've come to appreciate the fact that I don't have to wade through tons of spam, trolls and junk to find what I'm looking for. And If there isn't an answer here, I know I can ask question without being bullied for being a "noob". I think that's why I've stuck around. I'm not a confrontational person but I'll hold my ground with civility as long as I can. If things get "ugly" I'll just walk away. "don't feed trolls or bullies" it's not worth it.

Some people are put off by that kind of "my way or the highway" attitude and they try to fight it. Paul has made it clear that no matter who you are or how long you've been around, that just ain't gunna fly.

I know that Paul has a " dirty mouth" and a booming voice backed up with physical size to match it. For some, that can be seen as intimidating. I wonder how much of that would change if he were a 5 foot tall, 100 pound woman? I wonder if he'd get the same "puch-back".

It may not be a case of " Paul is impossible to work with". It may be more of " I can't make Paul work the way I want him to."

I get the impression Paul knows what his time is worth and he doesn't mind telling people off if need be. I'm sure there is no shortage of work for him so he can set his own rules.

As I become more self sufficient I find myself leaning towards a similar attitude, simply because I don't need to stand there and take other people's shit. My next meal isn't dependent on kissing asses or maintaining a reputation. I can be me and I can be honest. If others don't like it... too damn bad.

Is that the same for you Paul?
Have you always been that way or has your attitude evolved over time as you've built the empire?

"You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result”

-Gandhi
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15213
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Have you always been that way or has your attitude evolved over time as you've built the empire?


Well,

I suppose "that way" is relative and subjective.

Further, I've built several empires. So I'm getting better at empire building each time.

My childhood was .... different from the norm. So that probably contributes.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about podcast 111 and how that applies to me: was I born this way, or am I made this way?

And then I spent a LOT of time with Sepp. And visited a lot with the interpreters that are part of "team sepp". And then get pounded with a whole bunch more stuff that this thread is about. And then watch the movie farmageddon. And I think: if there are 100 people capable of doing this stuff, there is a high probability that all 100 will go silent after suffering all the fools, haters, detractors and trolls. So this would suggest that the few that we hear from were born "that way." But I think there is also a lot to be said that they might have started off only a little "that way" and the ongoing hate parade shaped them to be much more "that way".

Here is my friend Kathy:



(source)

A very active blogger and speaker. A woman of strong character. A woman who was changing the world in a big way. But the hate and death threats got to be too much and she stopped. You can read a bit more about it here.

This video helps clarify a bit:




Back to the question:

Have you always been that way or has your attitude evolved over time as you've built the empire?


The short answer is: yes.

And for the topic that this thread is about: many of you have now made some really excellent points. Good stuff! One time, a few years ago I visiting some kin, and an uncle of mine asked me to pull out some old fence posts and move some wood around for him. No problem. Done. Anything else? He then wanted me to spray some weeds in a pasture. Well, I would be glad to smother them with hay, or do some chop and drop, or even pull some - but I won't spray. He got pissed and told me to leave. I think he would agree with other sentiment that I am impossible to work with. I embrace that most people will find me "impossible to work with" and that line is not persuasive to me to compromise my standards.


Anna Spangle


Joined: May 04, 2009
Posts: 19
Everyone benefits from people with strong ideas. I always appreciate Paul's ingenuity, humor and terrier-like persistence. Making change seems to require individualists who stand outside the system.
On the other hand I dearly hope that this Self vs. Others picture is a false dichotomy, or a story that could be told another way. But those of us who are original often HAVE TO CHOOSE between truth and friendship, a la "Do you want to be right or do you want this relationship?" That's a real and valid question--- it may really come down to that, in the end. But the question is also situational--- not about WHO YOU ARE in your core self, not about your integrity, loyalty and identity, but about specifics. The trick to getting out of this type of dilemma is to pick apart each difference as it arises and if possible, keep the problem within the realm of knowable things so it never becomes a question of trust, loyalty or allegiance. Most of us are out of their depth there.
The lesson I got from Diamond's book "Collapse" was that cultures rise and fall NOT on the basis of resources or even technology, but on ideas and relationships. The Vikings starved to death on Greenland because they wouldn't eat fish. The Easter Islanders because wood was their cultural identity. Ideas are like the engine that drives human activity. Its all in your head.
If Permaculture saves the human race from extinction, we can still be lost by the failure of HEART that comes from loneliness and solipsism. The "cultural technology" of Non- Violent CommunicationTM has helped me connect fruitfully with people I couldn't stand. It really is a viable solution to an ENERGY CRISIS of the psychological/sociological kind.
We need Paul to be Paul--- Tall Tinkerer Paul, Profanity Paul and All!
Luv Ya Man!
--- Anna from Olympia
Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 972
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
Spanglefeathe Hatfield wrote:
The lesson I got from Diamond's book "Collapse" was that cultures rise and fall NOT on the basis of resources or even technology, but on ideas and relationships. The Vikings starved to death on Greenland because they wouldn't eat fish. The Easter Islanders because wood was their cultural identity. Ideas are like the engine that drives human activity. Its all in your head.
If Permaculture saves the human race from extinction, we can still be lost by the failure of HEART that comes from loneliness and solipsism. The "cultural technology" of Non- Violent CommunicationTM has helped me connect fruitfully with people I couldn't stand. It really is a viable solution to an ENERGY CRISIS of the psychological/sociological kind.


I agree with you in principle, but Diamond did make a point that it being over extended on resources is the nail in the coffin. Sometimes this is due to everyone working together, to build monuments to ego, instead of living simply, so all can live - and also not controlling growth after capacity is reached.

An example, I can have the nicest group of sheep you ever saw, but I still can't get 100 on an acre. But you can't get two aggressive rams on one acre, either.

What is interesting to me is that people find Paul impossible to work with. Paul seems to me (and I am a Steward) to be very easy to work with - even seems to bend over backwards to try to work with people. But he isn't going to change his direction because people "disapprove". One has to have a clear vision going forward, and though you are open to input, that doesn't mean you are open to people who have nothing better to do with their time than critique what others are doing while doing nothing themselves.
Louise Knight


Joined: Aug 27, 2013
Posts: 3
Paul you rock!

We own 10 acres (ok bank lets us thing we own it) in New Zealand. We can't afford to buy every book out there to learn how to care for our property and planet. Your generosity in sharing information has been invaluable for us. And we thank you.

I bet you come under fire everyday for what you say and do... Big business I bet hates it when you talk.... I love it!

Keep up the good work please. We appreciate you and your dedication....

Just watching Permaculture Keynote S. California Great.

Again you rock!

L
Lyvia Dequincey


Joined: Aug 04, 2013
Posts: 45
    
    1
My grandmother had the personality of a steamroller. She was driven by internal vision. She only took input in very limited doses, on very limited subjects, on days when she was ill. It is because of women like her that I am able to work and vote and own property instead of being the property of some man.

Pioneers are always pulled in all directions, some forwards, some sideways, some backwards.

Paul's vision is a step away from poisoning the Earth, and a step towards health and good food. He must be obstinately passionate rather than meekly compliant or else his creativity would have been uselessly buried. The planet will be better for his contributions.

So I would totally expect that some people would find him impossible to work with. Comes with the territory. It's a compliment; it means you are out front past other people's comfort zone.

The other thing to remember is that some people's best response is delayed or even cumulative. For example, your refusal to spray may bear fruit years later, in addition to other comments, in ways you never learn. Keep the Faith. All our base are belong to you. Grok.

Jocelyn Campbell
steward

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 2655
Location: Missoula, MT
    
  71
paul wheaton wrote:Yesterday I learned "everybody thinks paul wheaton is impossible to work with".

It took some digging, but I found out that this is rooted in two things:

1) about a hundred people have come to the forums at permies.com and posted something like "you, bob smith, are obviously stupid" and then I would delete that. And the poster would then attempt to engage me in a conversation about "how is bob smith going to learn that he is stupid if somebody doesn't say something? Plus, you are violating my rights to free speech." I would then point out that this freedom of the press and I choose to not publish hate speech. The poster then goes on a censorship rant and then I hear bits back over the years about how this person is telling the world about what an asshole I am. Fair enough.

<snip>

At the risk of bringing up a topic best left alone, this xkcd comic explains the "free speech" issue perfectly (IMHO).


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