How Much Knowledge Is Enough?

Lounge By paperlace1 Updated 13 Jan 2014 , 11:17pm by carmijok

paperlace1 Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 6:03pm
post #1 of 129

I am feeling really fed up- and i expect to be shouted down with this post. :oops: But i really hope that is gets a big response by ALL the newbies and all the experts. because i REALLY am interested in your opinion and experience of this forum. 

 

I don't want to point any fingers or be disrespectful I just want this to be an open and honest discussion. I am starting it because of other threads i have read on here. I thought that forums were the place to increase your knowledge and gain help and advice. This forum is probably the most active cake forum on the net.

 

I have decorated cakes since i was about 14 years old (i am now 54) i used to work in royal icing and have produced a lot of complex designs in the past. Then in my mid 30's i stopped doing cakes because of my career. Two years ago I started again and found that the craft had changed dramatically and i had to relearn. So now i do a lot of flowers and pastillage work. and i have won awards at international competitions. Most of my learning is done from books and online tutorials. I can no longer cope with doing royal icing because of disability  it is too physically demanding.    

 

So does my experience and knowledge make me an expert? I am asking because there is still so much to learn and there are new products and techniques being developed all the time that i have not tried yet. Or am i considered a newbie because i have only been back in the game for 2 years. I certainly do not feel like an expert. Yes i am a talented amateur and i am well aware of my weak areas where i need to improve my skill level. 

 

I joined this forum because i knew there would be times when i needed advice. But i get the impression that newbies are not welcome. Even with my considerable knowledge some of my questions may seem silly to a so called expert. I suggest that anyone who considers them self  an expert/professional in this trade or hobby still has times when they have to learn a new technique. Or a cake order stretches there skills because they have not done it before. 

 

I feel that there is an underlying impatience with members who appear by their posts to be inexperienced and some responses are less than helpful. I wonder if you are reading this post what you think.

128 replies
liz at sugar Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 6:12pm
post #2 of 129

I think to be an expert you need to be on the cutting edge of what is new in your profession, be creating new methods and techniques, and always be learning something new, whether it is how things were done in the past, or how to apply new knowledge to what you do.

 

I think most of the frustration here comes from people who don't seem willing to use Google or figure out the most basic things themselves.  And although many here are experienced, it doesn't necessarily make them an "expert".

 

Liz

Snowflakebunny23 Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 7:30pm
post #3 of 129

AI think an expert is someone who knows huge amounts about something but most importantly, is not arrogant to the fact that there is always more to learn. My dad is considered an 'expert' in his field: he has been working in the field for over 40 years and is perhaps one very very few people who could do what he does (a very random field and completely un-related to cake!)...but he says that nearly every day he discovers something new, be it a better way of doing something or a new fact that he didn't know before. That's the way of the world. The day I stop wanting to learn more about cakes will probably be the day I stop making them!!

And I don't think people are unwelcoming to newbies, but like Liz said, I think people get frustrated about those asking the same things repeatedly without having a look themselves. I got some fabulous feedback when I first joined this forum and have very rarely been taken aback by a comment. :-) Id be very interested to hear about the changes you have seen in cake decorating over the years :-) x

Annabakescakes Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 7:59pm
post #4 of 129

I think an expert is someone who knows their limits, has made every mistake, LEARNED from it, and knows how to fix it, and still get the cake to the venue, bride happy, every.single.time.

 

They may not know how to do royal icing, but they don't take orders for royal icing. Same for fondant, or buttercream or edible images. And they keep their mouths shut when someone asks for advice on a subject they know nothing about. If they have a limited experience, they will share it, but point out it is their limited experience, but not a hard and fast rule.

 

And when they want or need to learn something new, they PERFORM A SEARCH, and do their own research, THEN come to the forum and pose a question for clarity. If it has been done, someone has written about it here. LOOK for it. If you have searched 5 or 6 looong threads and don't have an answer, keep looking, or if there is a time crunch, ask here. Maybe you can't find the exact answer, but a little bit of experimenting is not blasphemy. I did cakes for 20 years before I ever had an opportunity to ask a fellow decorator questions. I either figured it out, or made a mess, and learned and gained experienced.

 

I never expect someone to do all the work for me.

jenmat Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 8:08pm
post #5 of 129

Quote:

Originally Posted by Annabakescakes 
 

I think an expert is someone who knows their limits, has made every mistake, LEARNED from it, and knows how to fix it, and still get the cake to the venue, bride happy, every.single.time.

 

They may not know how to do royal icing, but they don't take orders for royal icing. Same for fondant, or buttercream or edible images. And they keep their mouths shut when someone asks for advice on a subject they know nothing about. If they have a limited experience, they will share it, but point out it is their limited experience, but not a hard and fast rule.

 

And when they want or need to learn something new, they PERFORM A SEARCH, and do their own research, THEN come to the forum and pose a question for clarity. If it has been done, someone has written about it here. LOOK for it. If you have searched 5 or 6 looong threads and don't have an answer, keep looking, or if there is a time crunch, ask here. Maybe you can't find the exact answer, but a little bit of experimenting is not blasphemy. I did cakes for 20 years before I ever had an opportunity to ask a fellow decorator questions. I either figured it out, or made a mess, and learned and gained experienced.

 

I never expect someone to do all the work for me.

Yep. Experts are not those that know enough not to have problems. They are those that know how to figure out how to solve problems. I don't think I'll ever consider myself a master, but I think I have enough knowledge to be close to an expert in what I do. Not in what everyone does, but what I do. 

 

Newbies are DEFINITELY welcome. An attitude of gratitude goes a LONG way, newbie, expert or somewhere in the middle. 

jason_kraft Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 8:20pm
post #6 of 129

AThis is a very subjective question, since everyone has a different opinion on what constitutes an "expert". IMO there are three facets involved in being an expert in a particular field: the ability to implement knowledge in practice, the ability to explain your knowledge to others in an accessible manner, and knowing what you don't know. The best experts will be strong in all three of these facets.

enga Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 8:36pm
post #7 of 129

paperlace1 your avatar is what I feel like today and I'm on my second cup,lol. I was a long time lurker just popping in to look at the beautiful cakes never once going into the forums or threads. I would always use the search box.

 

Then one fateful day I started reading the forums and saw how rude some of them were so I started a thread called what's wrong with being a newbie..... it ended in disaster. I felt attacked but was told I was attacking by what I thought was me defending myself. Long story short, I left the site forums alone for awhile. I felt like it was this certain group that had a gang like mentality and someone would ring in and say, I don't think that their comments were rude or mean, just straight forward and honest advice, funny it didn't feel that way to me. This is an old argument and it's truly fascinating that its still going on to this day.

 

I'm a pastry chef by trade but I love the cake decorating aspect of my job. I came here to learn new techniques and ideas and maybe gain friendships along the way. I started off by sharing my happiness with rainbows, alas I have become standoffish and guarded with my posts and responses for fear of starting an argument. Which is not fair, I should be allowed to enjoy my freedom of opinion as well as everyone else on this site.

 

There are redundant posts on this site but I look at them as being so excited (like I was) to have found  CC and just expecting to have their questions answered by what they might have considered experts happy to oblige them. I'm a jack of all trades master of none but I try to answer some of the threads that I have knowledge of to the best of my ability. I'm genuinely a happy person and always willing to help my fellow man, that's just the way I am.

 

CC used to be a happy place for me. Now, eh, not so much.

Stitches Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 8:57pm
post #8 of 129

I see the OP's post as being multiple questions/statements, no?

 

1. What makes an expert (pretty easy to find answers to that........so I don't think that's the real question being asked). I'm not going to define this since it's already been done in this thread.

 

2. How do I fit in here at CC, what are theses peoples expectations for newbies to participate? (You can't find this answer with a quick search, but if you spend some time reading at this site you can gather that info.) Don't pretend to be an expert on a topic that you are not......we all have strong areas and weak areas and understand you do too.

 

The real points I take away from your post are these:

 

A. But i get the impression that newbies are not welcome.

 

I can see how you might get that impression if you only read a couple threads here or there and don't read here often. If you read here several times a week you'll see how repetitive the posts/topics are (not that that is bad) but many regular readers wish that new members would read and research a little on their own.

 

Too many new people come here and demand answers and become offended if they don't like the answers given by others. Instead of really listening and trying to learn from the answers given they ignore the people who respond.....and fail to realize that the people responding REALLY are trying to help and have spent a great deal of time trying to help the new person.

 

Your correct that some people who answer questions are EXPERTS and some are NOT at all. So it's hard for a newbie to figure out who's response to respect/listen to. So many of us repeat the answers to help boost the correct answers on a thread. I could see how some people see that as ganging up.......but it's more polite than pointing fingers and naming names of who's response is really wrong.

 

B. I feel that there is an underlying impatience with members who appear by their posts to be inexperienced and some responses are less than helpful.

 

I'm not sure I understand that sentence, perhaps you could explain further?

 

I mean I do get when members are sarcastic and how you'd see that as less than helpful.........is that what your referring to? If so, that's just having fun being goofy and it can get really funny when you get to know peoples personalities here.

Stitches Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 10:21pm
post #9 of 129

Paperlace1 please stop reading NOW!

 

You can see quite a variety of answers that have been given to your original post. Everyone answered your questions (one way or another). As I read each persons response they varied greatly. Because your opening post had multiple questions and points. You weren't totally specific.

 

That's where so much goes wrong. You have to understand that this happens at every active web forum.

 

It's almost impossible to perfectly communicate your question and responses through written words. Most of us aren't professional writers who can craft their words, thoughts and intent very well. You understand your own personal intent, but you can't tell what other peoples intent fully is just by the words they've written. Especially with women........we tend to read into things too.

Norasmom Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 10:30pm
post #10 of 129

Newbies are welcome on this forum for sure! 

sugarbabygirl Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 10:46pm
post #11 of 129

AI'm making my very first tiered cake on Sunday and kinda scared lol I'm 15 and I look up to the wiser women on this site and my inspirations and guides :) I'm most definently not an expert more of a hobby baker

MBalaska Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 11:11pm
post #12 of 129

"How much knowledge is enough?"   a philosophical question that can be discussed to infinity and beyond. Yet I'll give an answer.

*Enough for me to accomplish my mission and achieve my personal goals.

 

Cake decorating has changed a bit lately.  Welcome to old age, It's definitely not for sissies.  Sometimes the world, and the young, pass us by.  That's life.

 

this forum is free$$$$$$   It's like when you find a dollar on the ground.  You pick up the dollar and you profit.  You don't pick up the used gum, rocks, dirt, or dog poo next to it because it doesn't profit you to do so.  You ignore it and move on because you know exactly what is of specific benefit to you.  If you don't want the quirky personalities and chuckleheads like me answering (or challenging you) buy Books, DVDs, Magazines.

 

ps: someone may pick up the rocks you ignore and make diamonds, rubies, or opals.....as they may see the value in  rock that you do not.

paperlace1 Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 11:53pm
post #13 of 129

Ever since i have joined the forum i have been trying to get my head around how to become an accepted member. - i wanted to get past the newbie phobia mentality that seems to run rampant among more established members. Asking the question how much knowledge is enough was an attempt to throw light on the fact that we all come some knowledge. I fully appreciate the "OMG do some research" mentality. But i also understand the "I need to post some threads and become an established member" mentality too. :detective: i am sick of just browsing the posts trying to get up the courage to write something that will cause someone to want to be a friend. now i know that this is a "knee jerk comment" and a little extreme but it does take me back to the feeling fed up comment i made at the beginning of the thread:oops:

 

This forum takes some getting used too. The search facility is efficient but can be overwhelming. With the information you want being hidden in 100's of posts that are irrelevant but included because they contain the search phrase.:-?

 

If I could make two changes to the way the forum works it would be these.

 

1 tagging- by tagging the posts with key words like instruction or royal icing for example then the search facility could only search via the tags making the results more relevant and easier to read through.

 

2nd  thing i would change is member classification. It has no benefit or special purpose. Doing away with it would place everyone on a equal footing. 

 

When i joined the forum i did have a few expectations.

 

being a wheelchair user I find it difficult to join club and groups - most do not have wheelchair access. So was hoping that the forum would give me a chance to make friends with people with the same interest.

 

I was also hoping for a place to talk about my projects and compare notes and ideas. and find ways around problems when i got stuck. there is nothing quite like clarifying your ideas over a cup of coffee with a friend.

 

but instead i am here writing this type of post trying to decide if it is worth the effort because i am no further forward than i was when i joined.  Well actually is not quite true because this is the longest conversation i have been part of. :party:

paperlace1 Posted 3 Jan 2014 , 11:55pm
post #14 of 129

Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarbabygirl 

I'm making my very first tiered cake on Sunday and kinda scared lol I'm 15 and I look up to the wiser women on this site and my inspirations and guides icon_smile.gif I'm most definently not an expert more of a hobby baker

good for you - i remember how excited i was with my first cake. and how satisfied i was when it was finished. (((0)))

enga Posted 4 Jan 2014 , 12:29am
post #15 of 129

but instead i am here writing this type of post trying to decide if it is worth the effort because i am no further forward than i was when i joined.  Well actually is not quite true because this is the longest conversation i have been part of. :party:

 

I feel the same way. You know what? I like your style paperlace1 and look forward to future threads and posts from you.

paperlace1 Posted 4 Jan 2014 , 12:42am
post #16 of 129

OMG enga a like mind :cake: i have also had a private message there is hope here after all LOL  

enga Posted 4 Jan 2014 , 1:12am
post #17 of 129

So happy for you! Hope you find many friendships and like minded individuals in the future on CC. You have a lot of knowledge to share with this site.

howsweet Posted 5 Jan 2014 , 10:14pm
post #18 of 129

AMy first response is I don't understand the question. Doesn't everyone know what an expert is? But one thing I've learned on this forum is that there are lot of people who don't know how to recognize one. As far as i can tell, in the minds of many, an expert is someone who gives info that sounds about right to their own non-expert opinion.

Also, to some, an expert is someone who expresses opinions in a sweet or sugarcoated way that sometimes one even needs to read between the lines to understand it. Even on this thread someone actually said experts can't be arrogant. Why would anyone say that? I had major surgery done by a pompous ass, he was a jerk with the worse bedside manner I'd ever seen, but an expert? Yes, he was and I was lucky and grateful to get someone so qualified.

And I agree with the person who said many women tend to read stuff into what is said. What a shame. How nice it would be to just state what you mean and have it understood as such.

I see many getting annoyed with people who come here for expert advice and reject the information in favor of advise by people who know as little as they do. I see people annoyed with questions from people who expect a tutorial for every possible cake design. AND SOMEONE ELSE TO FIND IT FOR THEM. It seems rather demanding to expect others to always have already worked everything out for you.

And also childlike. I really hate to see grown women acting like little girls. We've all seen that here, but probably I'm the only one who'll say it out loud.

I don't think anyone is faulted for not knowing something. But with some of these posts, one gets the distinct feeling that the poster would really just have you come and do the whole thing for them. And you can't chalk that up to "not knowing". I don't know anything about making cars, but I know enough to not go on a car website, post a picture of an engine and ask someone to explain how to make it from scratch. But if i did, no one is going to give the person who tells me "I'm not ready" or to "look it up myself" a hard time about his wording.

Or as i was told recently that if I didn't have something helpful to say, don't say anything. And yet that person really needed someone to let them know they should perhaps not take on the project. Why wasn't my comment seen as expert or helpful? Because it wasn't what the person wanted to hear.

Stitches Posted 5 Jan 2014 , 11:31pm
post #19 of 129

Quote:

Originally Posted by howsweet 

My first response is I don't understand the question. Doesn't everyone know what an expert is? But one thing I've learned on this forum is that there are lot of people who don't know how to recognize one. As far as i can tell, in the minds of many, an expert is someone who gives info that sounds about right to their own non-expert opinion.

Also, to some, an expert is someone who expresses opinions in a sweet or sugarcoated way that sometimes one even needs to read between the lines to understand it. Even on this thread someone actually said experts can't be arrogant. Why would anyone say that? I had major surgery done by a pompous ass, he was a jerk with the worse bedside manner I'd ever seen, but an expert? Yes, he was and I was lucky and grateful to get someone so qualified.

And I agree with the person who said many women tend to read stuff into what is said. What a shame. How nice it would be to just state what you mean and have it understood as such.

I see many getting annoyed with people who come here for expert advice and reject the information in favor of advise by people who know as little as they do. I see people annoyed with questions from people who expect a tutorial for every possible cake design. AND SOMEONE ELSE TO FIND IT FOR THEM. It seems rather demanding to expect others to always have already worked everything out for you.

And also childlike. I really hate to see grown women acting like little girls. We've all seen that here, but probably I'm the only one who'll say it out loud.

I don't think anyone is faulted for not knowing something. But with some of these posts, one gets the distinct feeling that the poster would really just have you come and do the whole thing for them. And you can't chalk that up to "not knowing". I don't know anything about making cars, but I know enough to not go on a car website, post a picture of an engine and ask someone to explain how to make it from scratch. But if i did, no one is going to give the person who tells me "I'm not ready" or to "look it up myself" a hard time about his wording.

Or as i was told recently that if I didn't have something helpful to say, don't say anything. And yet that person really needed someone to let them know they should perhaps not take on the project. Why wasn't my comment seen as expert or helpful? Because it wasn't what the person wanted to hear.

Seems pretty accurate to me.

 

In the last 12 hours at CC I've read at least 2 threads where people wanted instant answers/secret recipes/templates to both basic and complex questions with-out even being nice (or sounding appreciative)asking for them. One was the equivalent of how to do I build a motor from scratch (as mentioned above)....a question that the asker clearly didn't understand how complex of a question they were asking.

 

I read an expert (AZ) give two really helpful responses and the newbie hasn't bothered to respond back.

 

Why do people treat CC like a company owned help center where people can drop in and demand answers and the respondent has to coddle the caller no matter how nasty the caller is?

jason_kraft Posted 5 Jan 2014 , 11:38pm
post #20 of 129

ATo be fair, I don't think it's necessarily useful to be upset at people who don't follow up after posting a question. Yes, it would be nice, but everyone has different standards of etiquette, and as long as they aren't flat out rude it is often counterproductive to attempt to apply your standards to someone else. There could also be other circumstances involved that dramatically lower the priority of reading and replying to their thread.

People generally reply to questions on CC because they want to share their knowledge and help others, not because they want to be thanked.

Stitches Posted 6 Jan 2014 , 12:00am
post #21 of 129

Quote:

Originally Posted by jason_kraft 
everyone has different standards of etiquette, and as long as they aren't flat out rude it is often counterproductive to attempt to apply your standards to someone else.There could also be other circumstances involved that dramatically lower the priority of reading and replying to their thread.

People generally reply to questions on CC because they want to share their knowledge and help others, not because they want to be thanked.

~~Hum, I thought please and thank-you were the first most simple basic standards of etiquette we learned as small children. If you can't do that when receiving help from complete strangers do you have any standards at all?

 

I guess you've pointed out to me that I'm unrealistic and probably selfish. When I go out of my way to help someone I do want some sort of a simple response back from that person. I find it uncomfortable to watch someone else do that and never get a response back either. I'm certainly not an etiquette nut, please and thank-you are don't take a lot of effort to write. And I don't put a time limit on how long it takes for a response, they can respond back a couple weeks later if they are busy until than. We do get email (if chosen) to receive a notice when someone has responded to your post here. 

 

I believe people want to share knowledge only if someone isn't taking advantage of their knowledge....or the whole sharing thing breaks down.

liz at sugar Posted 6 Jan 2014 , 1:18am
post #22 of 129

I'm with Stitches on this one - a simple please or thank you is on par with what you teach your 5 or 6 year old.  If you are an adult here asking for help, at the very least you should employ the most basic of manners.

 

Liz (channeling Emily Post)

vldutoit Posted 6 Jan 2014 , 1:23am
post #23 of 129

AI am mostly a lurker not a poster. I learned to decorate cakes 35 plus years ago. I stopped decorating when my kids decided it was way more cool to have a big chocolate chip cookie from the mall. After 20 years of not caking I stepped back into it. Boy had things changed. I only knew buttercream and the world now uses fondant! While I am now comfortable with simple fondant decorations, when I am ready to cover an entire cake with fondant I can know that there is a thread to walk me through it. It is because you ladies share your knowledge and for that I am appreciative. This is my thank you for your help even though I never posted a question. I just read and learned

jason_kraft Posted 6 Jan 2014 , 1:30am
post #24 of 129

A

Original message sent by Stitches

I read an expert (AZ) give two really helpful responses and the newbie hasn't bothered to respond back. ... And I don't put a time limit on how long it takes for a response, they can respond back a couple weeks later if they are busy until than. 

It's difficult to say whether someone has even read the response...as you mentioned they could have just been busy.

I agree that everyone should say please and thank you, but IMO it's just as much of a breach of etiquette to specifically point out when someone fails to do so.

Stitches Posted 6 Jan 2014 , 2:45am
post #25 of 129

Quote:

Originally Posted by vldutoit 

I am mostly a lurker not a poster. I learned to decorate cakes 35 plus years ago. I stopped decorating when my kids decided it was way more cool to have a big chocolate chip cookie from the mall. After 20 years of not caking I stepped back into it. Boy had things changed. I only knew buttercream and the world now uses fondant! While I am now comfortable with simple fondant decorations, when I am ready to cover an entire cake with fondant I can know that there is a thread to walk me through it. It is because you ladies share your knowledge and for that I am appreciative. This is my thank you for your help even though I never posted a question. I just read and learned


sweet........thank-you for understanding.

paperlace1 Posted 7 Jan 2014 , 3:48pm
post #26 of 129

my point to this post was a personal attempt to say that no mater how long we have been on this forum we all come with prior knowledge and expertise and therefore all have something to offer. this discussion has been really interesting because to shows so many different outlooks all of which are valid. Even what is written here by so many people will be read and received in an infinite number of ways.

 

We are all expert at something and although our skill level in different areas may be lacking we are all able to contribute. The way in which that happens depends on so many different factors. Communication happens to so mamy different levels  and just 4% is verbal. 

 

Is it any wonder that on a forum so much misunderstanding happens after all relying on the written word without body language tone or facial expression means we miss so much. 

 

thanks everyone for joining in

howsweet Posted 8 Jan 2014 , 5:35am
post #27 of 129

AWell, I guess it depends on your definition of "valid". I see threads where someone asks what color the sky is and three people post that it's green.

Please and thank you are customary and when a person can't be bothered to come back and say thanks, they appear self centered and ungrateful.

And Jason, I don't think anyone who calls out someone for being ungrateful is under the impression they are not breaching etiquette. Etiquette is not the point. The point is don't be a jerk to the person who just helped you.

Annabakescakes Posted 8 Jan 2014 , 5:43am
post #28 of 129

I fail to see that "everyone is an expert on something". Take my ex-husband, for example. He has the reverse Midas touch, everything he touches turns to $h!t. The only thing he is expert at is avoiding work, getting out of paying his child-support, conning his father out of his retirement fund, making excuses, and mouth breathing. Hardly valuable or noble skills, unless you are the human equivalent of a leach.

jason_kraft Posted 8 Jan 2014 , 5:48am
post #29 of 129

A

Original message sent by howsweet

Please and thank you are customary and when a person can't be bothered to come back and say thanks, they appear self centered and ungrateful.

And Jason, I don't think anyone who calls out someone for being ungrateful is under the impression they are not breaching etiquette. Etiquette is not the point. The point is don't be a jerk to the person who just helped you.

We're talking about calling people out for not saying "thank you". If that's not etiquette, what is it? "Don't be a jerk" is pretty much the informal laconic definition of etiquette.

Annabakescakes Posted 8 Jan 2014 , 5:49am
post #30 of 129

I suppose I am abusing my children for telling them to say please and thank you?

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%