Online Insights with Steve Davis on FIVEaa, Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 17, 2009

It takes a village idiot

Sean ranting about burn outs
Sean ranting about burn outs

I stumbled upon this quirky article about the different types of people who annoy the rest of the population on online forums and thought I’d check to see how many of these “types” we encounter on talkback or at social gatherings – because online communities are just like face-to-face communities, only virtual!

The article is from PC World and I note in the comments to the article that a great many of the 12 archetypal undesirables had already commented, which was ironic. So, here they are:

1.       The first guy – these people just type “first” in a forum and disappear. Don’t really see this happening on talkback or real life.

2.       The self promoter – these people feign interest before launching into a sales spiel. You see a lot of these people at business networking events.

3.       The sermonator (see picture, looks just like Sean ranting about the rights to burn rubber in the streets of Adelaide ) – I guess talkback gives these people a pulpit and talkback hosts are among the greatest exponents of this genre.

4.       Mr credentials – this person pre-empts their offerings by such lines as “Having been an xyz for 20 years”, etc. These preambles are designed to pull the rug from under the feet of the other party and establish the speaker as the ultimate authority. The danger is, all experience can be tainted by narrow vision and made rosier or more severe through the lapsing of time. Beware.

5.       The antagonise – another one for talkshow hosts and those wonderful callers at 3am who breathe life back into the phone lines. You don’t get many face to face because we tend to be less extreme when we are immediately accountable.

6.       The moderator – these people become the unofficial rule keepers of a gathering. They let others know when they are behaving acceptably or not. That happened to me in a volleyball team I was in. It was only a social team but one person started agitating for a more competitive feel until ultimately I was asked to leave to help them become more serious about their social sport.

7.       The peacekeeper – this person will walk a million miles to make peace and agree with all parties. Politicians perhaps?

8.       Smarty pants – these people call in or intercept to make a big deal about little details. It is a great approach when you don’t have your own constructive material to share!

9.       Fanboy – these people will defend their brand or celebrity or political party in the face of any evidence. Appearing everywhere!

10.   The conspiracy theorist – these people are a wonder to watch. They give great credit to the planning and delayed-gratification abilities of just about any person or group on the planet.

The last two don’t really apply in the real world. The signature dork – has long email signature and The one word guy just adds one word to a forum such as “fail”.

A great list with excellent illustrations – visit It takes a village idiot at PC World.

City of skeptics

This is my Adelaide site for the show – it is the site of Skeptics SA, a non-profit organisation dedicated to “promoting rational investigation of the natural world”.

According to the site, the group has lively discussion at its meetings where it tries to derive sound references to help members deal with “much of the misinformation in the world … rather than just rely on faith from a third party”. One thing that does surprise me is that the site’s author seems to remain anonymous so for all the bluster of bold pronouncements about bravely seeking the truth, could it be that the skeptics fear being persecuted for their ideas? Or have I just missed the site credits?

The lead article at the moment is about swine flu and the best way to highlight the style and approach of the site is to quote a few passages on the topic.

“With about as much surprise as the sky being blue we find ourselves in the midst of a media whirlwind about the latest influenza outbreak.

“And then we find that various countries around the world are banning imports of pork products. I realise that in nearly all of these countries the level of science education is quite low but it really isn’t rocket science to know that influenza is transmitted by contact and people coughing. It is not the sort of disease transmitted by eating the creatures infected. And what’s more, last time I checked most people cook pork and don’t eat raw pig lungs.

“And then we get the dumness again. Here in Australia we have the thermal scanning at airports. Even after the experts point out it will not work because people carrying the virus don’t develop symptoms for 7 days we get stupid claims about “protecting Australia”.

“We have the various health ministers and experts commenting on how well prepared we are to handle this. As someone who has had a child with Influenza A in hospital in Adelaide ,I’ll call bullshit on that one. The concept of isolation was not used until my sick son had been sitting amongst non flu hospital patients for about 4 hours. And this was in the middle of the flu A outbreak when the hospitals ran out of ward space. This was the same year the hospital morgue ran out of room and the refrigerated shipping containers were used for overflow. Now I’m not saying that this isn’t coping but it isn’t coping in the way your average voting citizen expects. Why can’t they be upfront about what will happen if this is a pandemic? Be open with the fact that hospitals won’t have room, it’s simply too expensive to have that much spare capacity. Be open with the fact your morgue will overflow and you’ll be using shipping containers. Even if we had a measly 1% of very sick people there is no way in a pink fit 10,000 people turning up to hospitals in Adelaide is going to work. And if we had 10% sick and 1% fatalities just be open and realistic that the standard of health care is simply not going to be very good. Doctors and nurses don’t grow on trees. Neither do administration staff or people who drive medical supply trucks or ambulances. We live in such a safe society we simply can’t deal with small disasters and our expectations of health care and government support are incredibly high due to lack of major threats for many generations.”

You can read more interesting, sceptical commentary at City of skeptics.

Not good enough

Not Good Enough (NGE) describes itself as “an Australian Customer Complaints and Opinions website … [and] is Australia’s largest and longest running online consumer advocacy website”. It began back in 2002 and now has more than 54,000 members.

And they really dig the boots in. You should see the range of companies brought to face the court of public opinion on the site. The companies with the most popular gripes as of today are, in descending order:

  • Tru Engery
  • Foxtel
  • Panasonic
  • Maytag
  • St George Bank
  • Harvey Norman Design and Renovations
  • Bankwest
  • Hyosung Australia
  • Australian Discount Holiday

What I enjoyed about this site is that members are encouraged to speak frankly and truthfully and companies are encouraged to sign up to get free alerts when they are mentioned. So this site could play a valuable role in customer service.

The top issues at the moment relate to the first home buyers grant, pest control, cost of an AFL outing and black spots.

On the AFL question, the site asked “The cost of a family outing to an AFL match today is now prohibitive for the average Mum, Dad and 2 kids. There are the Match Tickets, Reserved Seating, Footy Record, Food per person, Drink per person, Parking or Public Transport. The expense list goes on. Do we all feel the pain similarly across each state? How much do you spend?” And goss1175 from Adelaide answered “Exactly the reason we don’t go anymore. Even here in Adelaide although we have been told by the AFL that we have the cheapest ticket prices in the land you still don’t get much change out of $100 for a family of 4. It’s sad that the competition has gone this way for the average family. We now go back to the local league, $10.00 per adult,Kids free, carparking free & much much better style of footy.”

For me, I am thankful I found it because it helped me decided on what to do, or not to do, regarding Foxtel’s IQ2 recording device and Channel Seven’s Tivo system.

If you want the lowdown on just about any industry or company, you can find it at Not good enough – and you can even find compliments.

Don’t throw away old CDs

Here is a quirky web page from the “make ends meet” department. Someone has gathered a list of things you can do with old CDs. Here are the highlights:

  • Candle holders – when you don’t have a proper candle holder available use a short candle that can stand on its own with a flat bottom that is larger than the hole in a CD. Place the candle holder on a stable, heat-resistant surface and keep a watchful eye on it. Hmmm – not off to a great start in the safety stakes.
  • Bike Reflectors  – Tape them to your bicycle wheels and use them as reflectors.
  • Driveway Reflectors – Drill small holes in a CD and screw it onto your mailbox post or onto a wood stake and push it into the ground. Install several of them to light a nighttime path to your front door.
  • Paper Plate Weights – On outdoor picnics, solve the problem of paper plates blowing away! Place three drops of glue on the outside edge of a CD-ROM and put it on the bottom of a paper plate. This will also help to stiffen the paper plate. When you throw the paper plate out, just pull the CD-ROM off the bottom.
  • Room or Doorway Screen – String the CDs into a single strands with yarn then attach the long strings to the top of a doorway to make a high-tech 60’s door screen.
  • Hidden Plug Help – If you can’t see plug points behind computers and TVs, just attach a CD on the wall behind and use the mirror side to see what you are doing.
  • Carpet Protectors – Use them under your couch and chair legs to help protect your carpet from getting the dreaded furniture indent.
  • Scare off birds – Dangle them on a piece of string over newly planted seedlings to scare off birds – they look prettier than scarecrows when they glint in the sunshine too.
  • Make Artistic Bowls From Old CDs or DVDs – Place a CD in the oven on low heat over a metal bowl until the CD is soft. Wearing protective gloves, gently bend the CD into the shape desired. Seal the hole by gluing the bottom edge to another surface such as a flat dish using epoxy or PVC glue. Don’t use the bowl for food.
  • Make a CD Clock – Turn a disc into a funky clock face for clockwork sold by arts-and-crafts stores.
  • Make Invitations – If you’re having a party, you can use them as invitations. Write down locations, names, phone numbers, etc. on the shiny part with a permanent marker (might need a few layers of the color)
  • Paint Palette  – If you’re an artist, use the small circular discs as paint palettes. They’re easy to wash off and you can even use a few at a time.

That’s just a few of them you can read more at the squidoo site.

Sean’s Snapshot

This is Sean’s favourite number plate around town – best viewed through a rear vision mirror, hint!

Drats, Sean wanted this number plate
Drats, Sean wanted this number plate