Discussion Thread

Why Don't You Respond? (Building Online Confidence)

  • 1.  Why Don't You Respond? (Building Online Confidence)

    Posted 11-30-2021 09:46 AM

    I was wondering, why, within such a large online community, we only see a handful of people interact with posts while others are the forum lurkers (I don't mean that in a negative way).

    I used to be timid about replying to posts and I couldn't imagine starting a thread! If I saw a topic of interest I would hope someone would reply with my question/comment and I would follow the email thread to see.

    As I continued working in the industry I realize that sometimes my lack of knowledge is a benefit and allows me to look at a problem from a unique perspective. Moreover, I am realizing that, while I may think that I have nothing to contribute, being that I have no experience, the experience that I do have can easily be related to those who are a few years behind me!

    For instance, I can advise someone on how to go about getting an internship or their first job because that is something I have recently done.

    TLDR: My question is why are some people timid about posting/responding to threads if they have something meaningful to add?
    and to those that read this and think, "I would love to respond but I have nothing meaningful to add" why do you think that is so?
    How can we build individuals' online confidence?

    Daniel Bressler EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Brooklyn NY

  • 2.  RE: Why Don't You Respond? (Building Online Confidence)

    Posted 12-02-2021 07:55 AM
    Hi Daniel! It is a nice question! Sometimes, I imagine that our community does not participate in forums because of a lack of communication skills (e.j. English sufficiency, the proper way to express themselves positively). In my case, it is a lack of enough time to read every post, but I try to do it and straightforwardly offer my perspective. It is not necessary to write "a letter" to express an opinion. As you mention, everyone has something to give (any idea, experience); it will help build a better community and accomplish our mission as engineers.

    Andres Guzman Ing., M.ASCE
    Associate Professor

  • 3.  RE: Why Don't You Respond? (Building Online Confidence)

    Posted 12-02-2021 10:06 AM
    Many engineers refrain from comments online for legal reasons.  Anything posted publicly can be used for discovery.  Private community forums, emails, and text messages can be used as evidence, as well.  Many times, lawyers will immediately seek out facebook and linkedin profiles of a person involved with a case.  Even if posts do not relate to a specific case, they can use them to formulate a character that may or may not reflect an individual's true identity.

    Furthermore, the ASCE Code of Ethics states "express professional opinions truthfully and only when founded on adequate knowledge and honest convictions."  This means we are free to express personal opinions on just about any topic, but when we are expressing "professional opinions," our background knowledge needs to be sound.  Of course I have opinions on roadways, but as a steel design engineer, I do not have the adequate knowledge to opine on in depth traffic engineering issues.

    Just by mentioning the Code of Ethics or any referenced source, we are opening ourselves up to a lawyer asking in the courtroom "Are you familiar with the ASCE Code of Ethics Society Section Item C?"  Our answer should be "Yes." 

    Previous generations, had very formal means of communication - document, letter, and fax.  Discussions not intended for record are best handled on the phone or in-person, which is still the case today.  Social media, emails, forums, and texts introduce a more casual form of communication somewhere between.  Recent court cases prove that texts are discoverable. 

    How do we overcome this legal issue?

    Some engineers choose to abstain 100% from social media to avoid any problem.

    Abide by the Collaborate Code of Conduct which has been constructed in a way to avoid these pitfalls.

    Talk about past jobs only and not current jobs.

    Talk about issues outside your field of practice without getting too specific.

    Ask yourself - is this a personal opinion or professional opinion? before you post.

    Chad Morrison P.E., F.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI

  • 4.  RE: Why Don't You Respond? (Building Online Confidence)

    Posted 12-03-2021 07:49 AM
    Hey Daniel,

    I also think this is a great question. Its my opinion that there will always be a certain amount of apathy from people who view their engineering job as a 9-5 that gets promptly forgotten about at the end of a work day. But it does seem like those are not the people who would be spending time viewing posts on Collaborate to begin with.

    The more people who use Collaborate to... well, collaborate, the more experiences we can share with each other. I'd say we all stand to benefit when more of us share non-technical anecdotes about our lives and how we manage to integrate a career in the field of engineering into our lives. This is a fairly easy platform to allow you to engage in discussion with a lot of other specialists whom you may never come across in such quantity elsewhere, even at professional networking events.

    I hope we can find a way to draw in more people to share in these discussions.

    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer

  • 5.  RE: Why Don't You Respond? (Building Online Confidence)

    Posted 12-03-2021 09:42 AM
    Taking a positive slant on this topic

    If you are are seasoned civil engineer, Collaborate is a low-cost way of giving back to the profession and being leaders. It can be as simple as lending your support where you see a good idea or best practice discussed or providing expert perspective on a topic. 

    If you are new to the profession, Collaborate is an easy way to build your leadership skills by asking questions and in doing so, demonstrating courage. 

    For all, if you find the topics uninteresting or uninspiring, please consider stepping up and posting a topic of interest or importance. It's all about leadership.

    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX

  • 6.  RE: Why Don't You Respond? (Building Online Confidence)

    Posted 12-05-2021 11:17 PM
    Hello I am as you would call a lurker, but what has my experience been as such?

    I receive an email from Career By Design and it's a loosely formed/organized email with professionals from all stages contributing to a discussion/discussions that I can't fully understand based on context. Today I read an email with this particular discussion and instead I followed a link in the email to an official website which hosted this thread! Is it terrible that I hadn't realized this wasn't an email based discussion forum? Probably. I've unsubscribed to the email subscription, I can actually see the threads now, how they are organized, who is contributing and how.  Now I know how to interact/respond/contribute. 


    Donovan Morrell S.M.ASCE
    Orlando FL

  • 7.  RE: Why Don't You Respond? (Building Online Confidence)

    Posted 12-06-2021 07:56 AM
    Thanks Donovan! I think getting to hear about your experience and your perception of this website so far could be really useful. Sometimes its easy to forget what the consolidated emails might look like to someone who hasn't already interacted with them in the past. 

    When I first got started participating in collaborate, I distinctly recall only finally deciding to do it because I saw another person from my local area and a local college post to it asking a question I felt comfortable responding to. 

    Welcome to the forums!

    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer

  • 8.  RE: Why Don't You Respond? (Building Online Confidence)

    Posted 12-07-2021 09:33 AM
    Hi Daniel,

    I don't think it is a matter of being "timid" but more likely a lack of time and/or legal reasons. I'll leave it at that.

    John Giardiello, PE

    John Giardiello P.E., M.ASCE
    Port Saint Lucie FL

  • 9.  RE: Why Don't You Respond? (Building Online Confidence)

    Posted 12-11-2021 11:45 PM
    "I would love to respond but I have nothing meaningful to add" why do you think that is so?
    How can we build individuals' online confidence?

    Because I feel like you can mislead some information and be accountable for that, that's why we need constructive criticism when we preview our feedback, do some research when theoretically speaking, and present some facts. Yet every opinions are acceptable but not all are valuable. And in my case, I'm not really confident with my English grammars, experiences, skills, and knowledge. So, to have such confidence, I just have to ignore what others could say.

    Llala Chrishaye Ocampo S.M.ASCE
    City of General Trias Cavite

  • 10.  RE: Why Don't You Respond? (Building Online Confidence)

    Posted 05-15-2022 11:23 AM
    Hello Daniel,

    I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering a year ago, yet to this day, I keep coming across a lot of discussion chats involving aspects of the career I have not considered at any point. I keep a short list of chats I hope to have something meaningful to add to down the line, but that's a matter of discerning what there is to say.

    I have created a lot of chats myself regarding annual events or the news because they had become relevant to people in engineering careers. A lot of those posts contain links to video essays from a Youtube channel with hundreds of history lessons on cinematic tropes, characters and endings, but they can prove relatable to what specific workers have had to endure throughout their careers, like reconsiderations of life priorities, systemic prejudices, or the evolutions of social movements. Overall, there are a lot more posts left I find fascinating, but a subconscious idea of what to weigh in with is insufficient. I have needed to start elaborating before I was writing each paragraph.

    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Bexley OH

  • 11.  RE: Why Don't You Respond? (Building Online Confidence)

    Posted 05-17-2022 04:01 PM
    Until an option to reply anonymously is added, the logic of providing current job, career and experience related insight will remain a challenge.
    There are challenges with the typed word being taken out of context, especially when one fails to re-read and forgets a word; editing becomes more "work like" than casual discussions. When responding in social or technical forums, your response not only reflects on you, it becomes a reflection of your current employer and may be viewed by a future employer. 
    I am encouraged that civil engineers still trend towards being discerning and cautious.

    James Williams P.E., M.ASCE
    POA&M Structural Engineering, PLC
    Yorktown, VA