Never let it be said that I’m a soft touch when it comes to my writing style. Moreover, I have a proclivity for being a freelance moderator of what gets written about tandems on the internet when I stumble over something that makes me wrinkle my forehead… and given my obsessive/compulsive nature when it comes to consuming tandem-related information, I stumble over a lot of ‘stuff’, 99% of which I ignore because it’s fairly benign or obviously hyperbole. However, to the 1% of those who have been on the receiving end of my unsolicited feedback and recommendations, my apologies.
That said, my Google search engine dropped a discussion forum item in my inbox last week with some comments about tandems and disc brakes that just didn’t jive with current, objective thinking on rear-only and dual disc brakes on road tandems. Since I knew whom the author of the posting was from other forums I frequent, I dropped them a private note in an effort to identify the source of the information that formed the basis for the recommendation offered in the post.
The author replied and while they weren’t able to recall the source or find it again, what they described called to mind a study conducted 10 years ago by a German mountain bike magazine. That ‘study’ was used as the basis of various postings, FAQs and the like written in 2001… a time when disc brakes and road tandems was still not fully sorted-out. It’s fair to say quite a bit of development work and road miles have been logged on tandems with discs brakes since then that forms the current knowledge base cited by enthusiasts when asked questions about using disc brakes on tandems. In fact, some of the more recent thinking as well as some of the out-of-date or out-of-context information that continues to circulate was addressed a few months back in my Blog entry regarding disc brakes and tandems, i.e., Braking News.
Anyway, based on what the author told me I did my own search using some key observations made in the posting and found what I suspected was the source… I say suspected because (1) I could be wrong, and (1) never heard back from the author after providing my unsolicited feedback. Once again, I acknowledge that I often come across as arrogant, insensitive, acerbic, and curmudgeonly which can quickly truncate a discussion, but my standard recommendation to those who would like to give technical advise but who rely on 3rd party sources:
- Check the ‘freshness date’ on Web site’s that offer technical commentary or analysis, noting in this case the Web site I suspect was used had not been updated since early 2002 and much of what the content was based on was the body of knowledge that existed prior to 2001.
- Search out multiple sources that corroborate what you find in any one Web site so you don’t fall prey to a situation where the sample size used as the basis of information put forward as facts is One (1), aka, n=1.
- If you don’t have personal experience and are citing things written by others, be sure to point that out and provide links to your references.
- Guard against coming off as though you have first hand information and data if, in fact, you don’t.
Doing these things can keep you from passing along out-dated or perhaps unsubstantiated data as ‘facts’ and allows readers the option of doing a little homework before drawing any conclusions using what could be incomplete, out of context, or out of date information from 3rd parties.