Clinic etiquette (attaboy, Marty!)

Over on his blog, my friend Marty McGuirk has written an excellent post about clinic etiquette. I too have witnessed this problem – not only in clinics and other physical gatherings of hobbyists, but even in virtual gatherings such as the bull sessions that take place on some hobby podcasts.

Marty’s post should be required reading for anybody attending a convention or other gathering where our fellow model railway enthusiasts put themselves in front of a crowd to share something about the hobby that they love. Attaboy, Marty!

(And if you haven’t checked out Marty’s blog… why not? You’ll find it listed on my home page, in the right-hand column. Or you can click on Marty’s blog header, below, to read more…)

Marty McGuirk - Blog Header photo MartyMcG-BlogHeader_zpsfd5dee82.jpg

8 thoughts on “Clinic etiquette (attaboy, Marty!)

  1. It certainly does – in fact, when it comes to forums it’s almost a given!

    That said, it’s particularly distressing when heckling or hijacking happens at a clinic, because at least bloggers and forum moderators have some tools at their disposal to deal with problem participants.

    I have been lucky that I haven’t had to ban any commenters from participating on this forum, although I’ve been tempted once or twice. That said, it would be a simple thing to do – a couple of clicks and the door is closed. And I know a number of forum owners and admins who have used the threat of “moderator jail” to diffuse emotional discussions that become uncivil. It usually works – and when it doesn’t, transgressors are slapped with time-outs – or shown the virtual door!

    It’s a whole lot more difficult to do that when the door is physical, and the heckler is in the room with you. As Marty suggests, clinics can be improved by active audience participation, and many presenters encourage questions and discussion. But hijacking a clinic, or a guest speaker on a podcast, is just disrespectful.

    Presenters spend a lot of time preparing clinics, and many people have to work up the courage to stand in front of a room to deliver a clinic. To have someone then hijack the clinic confirms that presenter’s worries – discouraging them from ever participating in a conference again.

  2. Amongst my varied resume was a period working for a statistical software company as a trainer, which involved teaching statistical concepts as well as the software. I was not alone, there was a small team of us, and we had numerous stories to tell and ways of dealing with them.

    One is to simply ask the interruptor to take the dias/stage/microphone, and to continue the lesson/lecture/presentation.
    Another was to say something like, “Ah, I can see you are following my train of thought, and are ahead of me. If you could just hold on to that thought, and let the others catch up, we can all proceed at the same pace.”

    One colleague, when new to the role, had a terrible time with two attendees who obviously viewed their course as an expenses paid two-day outing, and talked incessantly during the teaching part of the class. Eventually, another attendee stood up and said, “If you two don’t mind, I really want to hear what Kate has to say.” (Name changed to protect the innocent.)

    If anyone is in an audience where the clinic or whatever is being hi-jacked, I urge them to follow the latter example. As the presenter, it can be quite difficult to do this, but anyone in the audience feeling that they are becoming short-changed due to the interruptions has almost all of the rest of the audience on their side.

    I could go on – I usually do – but don’t wish to hi-jack the comments…. …so my chain-of-sausages explanation of multi-dimensional modelling will have to wait for another time!


  3. This appears to be an all to common occurrence amongst the model railroad community. The rest of the audience needs to be sensitive to the problem and act to keep the presenter and the topic on path. But then there is the time when it becomes apparent that the presenter really doesn’t know the topic….

    At the conventions and other meets where I have been responsible for as the host, I usually have at least one of my committee members in each clinic to monitor and intervene to prevent the harrassment of the presenters. This has been of great value in keeping control

  4. How many of the “interruptors” would GIVE a clinic? Most events are in want of good clinicians. When an NMRA division super, I thought that good clinicians were almost worth their weight in gold.

  5. So much for facts before ego. While the hobby has a lot of good folks who are researchers both with the “War Emergency” and Cocoa Beach, it seems we have a lot of ego being displayed. When academic articles are “peer reviewed” the reviewer must cite sources when challenging the author. That does not seem to be the case for the model railroad hobby and we are much poorer for our lack of rigor.

    Just thinking.

  6. Thanks for the shout out, Trevor.

    When the clinic deals with “facts” – (history of a certain line, development of certain boxcars and the like…..) – a huge “if” and not always the case with a model railroad clinic, it is certainly incumbent upon the clinician to be as factual as possible with the material presented. But it’s no excuse for boorish, childish behavior.

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