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Thread: Am I too kind or am I too mean?

  1. #1
    Daihonmei
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    Am I too kind or am I too mean?

    No, this post is not about me. But it is about how we approach sharing info with the start up koi keeper.
    Now my saintly ( but firm) Grand mother would always say you can catch more flies with a spoon full of sugar than with a barrel of Vinegar.
    And that is pretty good advice for any teacher who wants the attention and cooperation for the students. And in koi, the natural teachers ( koi judges) stress that when talking to the public about their ' pond children' that all comments should be set in an emphasis on the positive. And only a lamenting of the short comings of the fish is suggested as a way to introduce the 'bad news'.
    I've also noted that dealers ( sales people) and some judges are willing to be syrupy in their reviews in an effort to gain the attention and approval of the budding student or customer. And that's fine and normal. No reason to be too blunt when Grandma's words echo in your head!

    But where is the line between 'encouragement' and ' deceit'? And when is an encouraging word given as a kindness, actually echoed by the proud owner to fellow hobbyists, turned into an actual leveraged misteaching of the facts?

    I've heard, via general conversation with beginner judges and avid exhibitors, misinformation that was passed on to them by an advanced keeper or judge. And you can actually read between the lines and understand what the moment of 'weakness' was on the 'teacher's part' when the misinformation was given. A kind answer can easily lead to a misunderstanding in the listener.

    We all tend to repeat what we hear as a 'truth' when stated by a credible authority figure. Until we have enough information to become aware of the bigger picture. But what damage, in the way of regression of our general body of knowledge, has been done in the interim?
    And I do get that we need to introduce a beginner level of any idea or point of view and then build on that by removing the first lesson and replacing it with a more sophisticated one. That is the difference between Grammar school and college in the koi culture. But to please people by dumbing down the information and responses too much is not the same as bringing along a motivated beginner. There is a way to teach fundamental orientation of koi appreciation that does not have to then be torn down and replaced with the actual truth. One builds on the other. That is the best course of all lessons.
    Just my fishy thoughts on the subject--- JR

  2. #2
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    I find that I alter what I say based on the person asking, at least on most topics. A newbie excited over their $50 tosai will get a very different comment than the experienced hobbyist with a $5,000 sansai. It's a guess whether comments will cause more hurt than benefit. It's kind of difficult to hurt my feelings about koi. There's not much anyone could say that I've not said to myself about dumb things I still find myself doing. Sometimes it takes a sledgehammer to get through.

  3. #3
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
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    A recurring theme I've noticed is the way people want to approach the new hobbyist.

    Most of us grew up being told "If you don't have something nice to say don't say anything".
    On some forums that results in two things. A photo of a pond mutt is offered for critique. Nobody who knows beans from buttermilk says a word while the "instant internet experts" gush with unmerited praise for mediocrity. Nobody learns anything and ignorance grows having passed itself off as wisdom.
    The same is true when critiquing ponds, filters, rocks, plants, fins, etc... Too much of the "Rodney King, why can't we all just get along" fluff and no substance to give it any value.

    On the other hand some take the approach of a "Kill Bill" type of Kung Fu Master. "Speak disrespectfully to me and I'll pluck your eye out!" is taking the "vinegar for bait" approach a bit too far.

    Honesty that is consistent and offering sincere guidance is the difficult balance we hope for. Educating people on the "Art Appreciation" aspects of Koi and Koi husbandry offers both harsh reality and deeper understanding. It makes people better and wiser customers, better Koi Keepers in terms of healthy environments, and more appreciative of the culture from which the hobby derives its roots.

    The truth of the matter is, drawing flies is better done with rotting flesh than either honey or vinegar. Who the hell want's flies? I'd rather have bait that draws songbirds...
    Larry Iles
    Oklahoma

  4. #4
    Sansai tranquility's Avatar
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    My first rule of thumb is I only give advice when asked and to tell them I don't know it all--I learn something new every day--but, I try to surround myself with knowledgeable people willing to share their knowledge--and JR you are one of those people I love to learn from-sometimes its a bit over my head and it takes me reading it a few times to understand but, your threads always teach me something.....

    I had this come up twice yesterday...first customer had pea gravel in the bottom of their pond because a friend had told them they were supposed to...so I told them the why NOT to gravel in the bottom and showed them the retro bd and filtration in one of my water gardens....
    the second gentlemen is putting in a deeper type water garden and a regular customer...He is going thru a local pond company for his set up...the problem with this pond company is that they build- rocked, shallow, and over stocked ponds and the system only consisted of a skimmer and a water fall filter ....He has had 14 back surgeries and last year had a heart attack...first question I asked is where's the bottom drain--He seemed to get offensive a few times telling me--these guys have been doing this for years and I think they know what they are doing...I simply told him that I'm sure he had prefer to keep the system up and going and never have to climb into the pond for total clean outs every year because all of the muck that was going to accumulate every year....I did hit on the health of the koi but, I tried to keep it on the ease of maintenance with a bd rather than preach at him over the health of the fish...also advised him to take it slow on the adding of the fish--again I got the ol' these guys are experts I'm sure they are going to know what I need....
    Lawanna

  5. #5
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    yesterday a hobby group went on a bus tour of 4 different dealers. i was asked to go along and give direction to some of their purchases. I asked a few questions before making comments. how long they'd been in koi, how big was their pond and were these for show or just for their own enjoyment. three of the four dealers were carrying Japanese koi and the other was a backyard breeder of living koi with color. So not only were my answers adjusted to the experience and desires of the koi keeper but also to the future based on genetics of thier selections.

    Some of the members had been to my seminars over the years and had selected some pretty competitive Koi. These were the fun ones for me, to be able to challenge with tougher comments their ultimate selection. Some of the newbees that selected speckltygoi because they were "cute" got answers not so much on quality, show pattern etc but strictly on seeing earlier healed injuries, proper pec size and head shapes. And the amazing decision upon purchasing, to the advantage to lifting the bag overhead and looking for "dings and dents" underneath.

    So while I try not to be either too harsh or too strict, I do try to in everycase to challenge the koi keeper to advance their learning.
    Dick Benbow

  6. #6
    Jumbo
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    Quote Originally Posted by dick benbow View Post
    yesterday a hobby group went on a bus tour of 4 different dealers. i was asked to go along and give direction to some of their purchases. I asked a few questions before making comments. how long they'd been in koi, how big was their pond and were these for show or just for their own enjoyment. three of the four dealers were carrying Japanese koi and the other was a backyard breeder of living koi with color. So not only were my answers adjusted to the experience and desires of the koi keeper but also to the future based on genetics of thier selections.

    Some of the members had been to my seminars over the years and had selected some pretty competitive Koi. These were the fun ones for me, to be able to challenge with tougher comments their ultimate selection. Some of the newbees that selected speckltygoi because they were "cute" got answers not so much on quality, show pattern etc but strictly on seeing earlier healed injuries, proper pec size and head shapes. And the amazing decision upon purchasing, to the advantage to lifting the bag overhead and looking for "dings and dents" underneath.

    So while I try not to be either too harsh or too strict, I do try to in everycase to challenge the koi keeper to advance their learning.


    Exactly. Too many want the answers and the best fish handed to them without thinking on their own. And when questioned as to the what, whys and whens they become defensive. Actual live events such as koi shows and seminars, mud pond harvests and club activities are great and will help a new person in the hobby decide if they want to continue the journey and learn or just "get by." I too went through the Ooohs and Awwws of folks talking about my fish. It was someone, who after a year, finally said they were all crap and I decided then that I must learn more. That was the best advice to this day...thanks Tim. It is still up to each individual to take the advice and to do what they feel they must do. The koi are really a marvalous thing. Thanks to all who have been honest and challenging in my journey and I look forward to walking the road over the next hill. So much to learn! Stay honest and passionate, my mentors!

  7. #7
    Daihonmei aquitori's Avatar
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    @ALL

    Hobbyist are different nowadays, especially the new ones. Thou some of us has the save the world mentality, how does it benefit to teach everyone when probably the half will dropoff?

    Tony

  8. #8
    Oyagoi
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    I kind of brought it up at Louisville show,how the talk during judges is much different from the judges walk around on sunday.
    i do understand on walk around that you have different levels of people listening and everything stays postive cause some people get offended.
    I am one that wants to hear the negatives also.i feel i have gotten to the point of where i need to hear the little things that is discussed from the judges so i know how to make future selections for showing.
    I have helped with bowling on saturday but as people know there is not much time to listen to the judges.I know my wife got the best expierence last year doing the recording for judges but no one would read my writing.

    so somehow there needs to be a heavy judges walk around or a follow where a couple people can just walk with the judges all day and listen.i was a person that would race around the outside of tanks during judges but will say some judges do not talk loud enough to hear 8ft away.
    Paul Korf

    member of:
    Midwest Pond and Koi Society
    Louisville Koi club
    IKONA

  9. #9
    Meg
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    Oyagoi Meg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dick benbow View Post
    yesterday a hobby group went on a bus tour of 4 different dealers. i was asked to go along and give direction to some of their purchases. I asked a few questions before making comments. how long they'd been in koi, how big was their pond and were these for show or just for their own enjoyment. three of the four dealers were carrying Japanese koi and the other was a backyard breeder of living koi with color. So not only were my answers adjusted to the experience and desires of the koi keeper but also to the future based on genetics of thier selections.

    Some of the members had been to my seminars over the years and had selected some pretty competitive Koi. These were the fun ones for me, to be able to challenge with tougher comments their ultimate selection. Some of the newbees that selected speckltygoi because they were "cute" got answers not so much on quality, show pattern etc but strictly on seeing earlier healed injuries, proper pec size and head shapes. And the amazing decision upon purchasing, to the advantage to lifting the bag overhead and looking for "dings and dents" underneath.

    So while I try not to be either too harsh or too strict, I do try to in everycase to challenge the koi keeper to advance their learning.
    Dick, your approach echos your Bonsia Master's. I loved the way he critiqued you alcove. He kept it possitive while teaching you to look.

  10. #10
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    Doesn't it really depend on the "experience" and/or "education" of the person asking the questions?

    Sometimes you have to "dumb down" your answer.

    When working a show and somebody asks a question about filtration it makes a difference to me if the person I am talking to has;
    - Already has a pond at home.
    - New to ponds, but has kept fish in an aquarium.
    - New to fish. No experience or only kept a goldfish in a bowl.

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