I ran across a post in an eham forum on the topic of Elmers where the person was contrasting Experts and Elmers. It was a well-written piece, and the follow-up comments were sometimes equally interesting. More often than not when a person asks a question in a forum or on a chat board or a mail room, experts jump in and (attempt) to show off their knowledge. Obviously, there are real experts in any field, and their input is always useful because it is more likely to be correct.
But the so-called experts to which I am referring are the people who do not have an encouraging word for anyone, rather they are typically consumed with trivialities which they hope will impress others. They seek attention, and therefore are selfish rather than selfless. An Elmer comes alongside to help, instructing when necessary, but always encouraging and allowing mistakes and the learning which comes from those mistakes.
Some of you know I host a newcomers and elmers net every Sunday night where we talk about different topics and answer questions of anything amateur radio related. The goal of the net is to bring together newbies with people willing to be elmers, all in an encouraging atmosphere. We do not tolerate the “expert” who is just there for their own gratification!
As the host, I am always a bit reluctant to answer questions because I do not want to be seen as an expert or know-it-all. I always open up any questions first to the group and then, if no answers are forthcoming or if I believe I can add something meaningful to the discussion, will I provide an (hopefully helpful) answer.
A blog like this gives me a chance to get on my own little soapbox now and again (like I do for preserving shortwave radio!!) and talk about a topic of importance to me. Elmering is something very near and dear to my heart. We need more elmers and less experts. When someone posts something in an email, chat room, or forum talking about something exciting they have done or a “first” for them, give them a few words of encouragement.
Regardless of how simple, or rudimentary an accomplishment, give them a verbal “pat-on-the-back” or, if in person, an actual pat-on-the-back! We all took baby steps when first becoming an amateur radio operator, or shortwave listener, or broadcast DX chaser. Share the excitement just for the excitement it brings to someone else. And don’t say something like, “Oh yeah, I did that a long time ago – it was simple” or some such life-sucking, trivializing comment. Share the moment!
If you read something useful from someone else take a moment and send them a “thank you” email or post a kind comment. On the air amateurs often refer to praise as receiving “flowers” – I just heard a net control operator thank a person today on the Maritime Net on 20 meters for the flowers, obviously someone had complimented him on his signal or operating skills. And especially let’s remember to compliment new radio enthusiasts on even the smallest successes — it is how we will ensure our wonderful hobby continues, and all will benefit.
I do not know about you, but after this crazy election cycle I have had enough from “experts” bloviating and pontificating; I for one am ready for some kindness to be shared. Let’s make the most of every opportunity we can to bring some encouragement wherever we can! Very 73, Robert AK3Q