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Topic: What's the Difference Between Guidelines and Rules?

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Subject: What's the Difference Between Guidelines and Rules?
Date Posted: 6/7/2009 3:16 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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I felt funny marking a book I received as RWAP. I told the sender the reason for the RWAP was because it had 20 pages of underlining and therefore it doesn't meet the PBS Guidelines.

The word guidelines throws me everytime. I do not think of guidelines as rules. I think of guidelines as more or less suggestions or recommendations, but not rules. You must comply with rules, do you have to comply with guidelines?

In fact, the dictionary says a guideline is a recommendation indicating how something should be done or what sort of action should be taken in a particular circumstance.

So it makes me wonder why does PBS call them guidelines if in fact we are actually treating them as rules.

 

Date Posted: 6/7/2009 4:06 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
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that is a good question...I never thought twice about it but you make a good point.  they are rules, although if someone doesn't follow them it is up to them to be honest and give the credits back, no one forces them to.

Date Posted: 6/7/2009 5:13 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
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I always thought of them as guidelines because if I choose to accept a book with underlining, I can.   I know many on here think it's terrible to do this but NO underlining are the guidelines, not an absolute rule.      I know most won't agree.  

I wouldn't post a book with any underlining, but I might accept one.  Haven't had to make that decision yet, thank goodness.



Last Edited on: 6/7/09 5:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/7/2009 6:10 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2007
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It's true that the Help Center does say "guidelines". But when you look at the word "guidelines", it covers the entire posting section. In the subsection under "overall condition" it says the following:

Overall Condition:

  • No damage at all from water or other liquid
  • Not soiled
  • No stains (exception for cookbooks--see below)
  • No mold
  • no highlighting, underlining or writing on text pages (exception for textbooks --see below

To me, its clear that these 5 things are not allowed, because the word "no" is used. They put marking in the book in the same "no" category as water damage.

So perhaps maybe I will suggest that they change this to read "book condition rules" as opposed to "guidelines" because this is pretty clear.

Date Posted: 6/7/2009 8:00 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
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We have delineated what we can, and we expect members to follow these guidelines, and use their common sense in cases that are unclear. 

When you actually read the Guidelines section, the above line makes it clear they are not just suggestions, they need to be followed. I think they use "guidelines" because some of the issues require some judgement calls.

I always consider "guidelines" as a kind of boundary that I should stay within; I have some freedom within that boundary, but no going past it.

Date Posted: 6/8/2009 8:29 AM ET
Member Since: 4/13/2009
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I think that they are "guidelines" rather than rules because there are no direct consequences from PBS of a sender receiving a single RWAP and then refusing to refund the credit.   It's only if there is a pattern of violatations do they step in.

 

Date Posted: 6/8/2009 11:00 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2009
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Perhaps it would be more clear all around if TPTB changed the wording to say "rules for posting." I've always treated them as rules, no matter the vocabulary choice.

Date Posted: 6/8/2009 12:18 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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the above line makes it clear they are not just suggestions, they need to be followed

If there are consequences to not following the "guidelines"  then those guildelines are really rules.

I suspect TPTB chose to use the word guidelines  as a polite term. The word rules sound harsh and authoritarian. But PBS somestimes has to step in and be authoritarian.

I'd rather call the "guidelines" rules, but that's just me. It's really hard to complain that someone did not comply with the guidelines. If they're guidelines, people don't have to comply with them if they so chose.

 

Date Posted: 6/9/2009 12:47 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2009
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I thought of this conversation today when I re-read the message that comes up when posting a book. It's pretty clear to me that the use of the word must means these aren't just suggestions:

"Books swapped at PaperBackSwap must be in good condition. In order to post this book it must meet the conditions below:"  (List of what's unacceptable follows, you all know the deal...)

I expect that, as Laura guessed, TPTB chose to use the word guidelines as a polite term. But I'm sure it's added to some confusion occasionally.

Date Posted: 6/9/2009 12:52 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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 But I'm sure it's added to some confusion occasionally.

Yes, this problem came up on the CMT forum today. An unfortunate member received a book with writing on it and the sender had the nerve to defend underlining and annotations as beneficial to the reader.

Gimme a break! Id be furious!

Then again, the guidelines are just guidelines, not rules. Or are they?

I going to submit a suggestion that the wording be changed to RULES. It's not just semantics.

 



Last Edited on: 6/9/09 12:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/9/2009 1:23 PM ET
Member Since: 1/15/2007
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I suspect TPTB chose to use the word guidelines  as a polite term. The word rules sound harsh and authoritarian. But PBS somestimes has to step in and be authoritarian.

 

I suspect you're right on the reasoning behind using "guidelines."  

I'm beginning to think that replacing "guidelines" with "rules" may help curb the number of unpostables, or at least, turn away those with an aversion to rules.



Last Edited on: 6/9/09 1:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Kate -
Date Posted: 6/9/2009 1:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2008
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It's pretty clear to me that the use of the word must means these aren't just suggestions:

"Books swapped at PaperBackSwap must be in good condition. In order to post this book it must meet the conditions below:" 

I agree. The guidelines don't say "we suggest this" or "we hope you'll do that". The wording used (must, may, may not, etc) makes it clear that these are not optional suggestions. Maybe the word guideline could confuse someone at first, but I think most people who actually take a minute to read through the guidelines are going to get the picture that this is required. Especially when you have to confirm the condition when you post a book! It doesn't say "we hope you will make sure your book is like this, pretty please." It says the book must meet these conditions.

Personally I think the people who willfully ignore all of that wouldn't suddenly comply if the "guidelines" are changed to "rules" :/

Subject: Those who willfully ignore...
Date Posted: 6/9/2009 2:16 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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 I think the people who willfully ignore all of that wouldn't suddenly comply if the "guidelines" are changed to "rules"

Most people are intelligent enough and have a sense of fairness in them to infer that the guidelines are actually rules.

However, there are a few smart alek members who would take great pleasure in arguing the the two words--guidelines and rules-- are not interchangable. If people quibble over the word prefer, they most definitely do it with guidelines v. rules.

I can, offhand, name two members who'd probably delight in such a debate. Both willfully ignored the guideline that prohibited writing in books and needlessly created disappointment and headaches for the receiver who then had to argue with the sender that the guidelines are actually rules. No one deserves that!

If the guidelines were called the rules that they are, the willfull ignorers would not have a "leg to stand on" as far as arguments go. You may say that they already do not have a valid argument, and you're right. But if it the guidelines were called RULES, some saucy members wouldn't even try to pull a fast one!

The more black and white we can make things on PBS, the less hassle good members have to deal with and ...and...and...this is important

the more positive the overall PBS experience remains for EVERYONE!!

Just my thoughts.



Last Edited on: 6/9/09 2:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Kate -
Date Posted: 6/9/2009 11:26 PM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2008
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However, there are a few smart alek members who would take great pleasure in arguing the the two words--guidelines and rules-- are not interchangable.

Have you actually seen someone justify breaking the rules because of the word "guidelines"? I guess I wouldn't be shocked if someone did, but I haven't seen that before. I've read a bunch of ridiculous rationalizations (it's still readable, you're being too picky, they're free books, that's how I got it, you're lying about the damage, etc etc) but I've never actually seen "they're only guidelines".

Date Posted: 6/18/2009 2:25 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
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Well, they really do listen to the members.

I don't know when this changed but now in the Help Center there are no longer "Book Condition Guidelines" there are now Book Condition Criteria for 'Swappability' at PBS and within there its says These Guidelines are not suggestions.  They are criteria to which all books Posted here MUST comply.  <hehe little Borg mentality in that sentence :)>  So no more, its just a suggestion answers out of RWAPs.

Date Posted: 6/18/2009 5:02 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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Well, they really do listen to the members

I am surprised. The response I got about the idea from TPTB via e-mail was less than lukewarm.

Thanks for the update. :)

 

Still wondering whats wrong with the word rules

Date Posted: 6/18/2009 6:26 PM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2009
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Laura - Maybe they didn't want to admit that you had a valid point!  Or maybe after consideration or reviewing this thread they realized it was valid.  Look you changed policy :)

Date Posted: 6/18/2009 6:27 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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Look you changed policy :)

Sweeeet!

Date Posted: 6/19/2009 11:05 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
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I may be off, but I believe the origin of guidelines had to do with boundaries laid down to keep someone or something out of trouble. In other words, they are the same thing as rules -- do not stray past  the guidelines.

It is, like so much else in post-Nixonian English, another example of being obtuse for the sake of politeness or to cover up what is really being said so the person hearing will agree without knowing to what they are agreeing. (see public relations, see advertising, see bureaucrat speak, see the book American Newspeak, etc etc).

If TPTB have clarified what they intended to say as shown above, this is a Good Thing and I say 3 cheers to them.