Moderating Comments, and Apologies

If anyone’s been reading my blog for the last few days, you’ve probably seen the giant comment trail left on my Design and Testability post. After a lot of discussion the LosTechies community and with a few other friends, I’ve decided to start moderating comments that are significantly off-track on the discussion of content related to the post, when those comments veer off the technical or other paths related to the content of the original post. This means that I have deleted a significant number of comments from that post – including comments from good friends of mind, and comments of fellow LosTechies people. The comments were not serving the community in a manner that I feel is appropriate and were a disservice to the LosTechies readers.

I am not interested in censorship or keeping opinions out of my blog comments. I am interested in keeping the discussion on topic and related to the topic while advocating the additional discussion be taken to the blogs and other communication channels of the people who wish to veer off the related subject matters. I have, in the past, deleted other comments from other blog posts that I felt were crossing various lines and I will continue to do in the future.

I realize that I was the one who started the problems with the “Angels & Demons” section of that post, and for that I’m sorry for doing that. I was in a bad mood and wanted to toss that in just to get some reactions. It got more than I bargained for. I’ll try not to do that in the future.

However, I make no apologies to those who’s comments have been deleted. This was a very difficult decision for me, and one that I do not take lightly. In the end, the content of the deleted comments was simply not acceptable in the context of the original post and the LosTechies community.


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About Derick Bailey

Derick Bailey is an entrepreneur, problem solver (and creator? :P ), software developer, screecaster, writer, blogger, speaker and technology leader in central Texas (north of Austin). He runs SignalLeaf.com - the amazingly awesome podcast audio hosting service that everyone should be using, and WatchMeCode.net where he throws down the JavaScript gauntlets to get you up to speed. He has been a professional software developer since the late 90's, and has been writing code since the late 80's. Find me on twitter: @derickbailey, @mutedsolutions, @backbonejsclass Find me on the web: SignalLeaf, WatchMeCode, Kendo UI blog, MarionetteJS, My Github profile, On Google+.
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  • http://ampgt.com Scott Bellware

    This is one of the best examples of the permissiveness of influence that is at the root of what has been sapping integrity from this community for far too long. I’m deeply disappointed to see you trade some of yours for something of far lesser value.

    You can mark time from CodeBetter’s heyday to its decline for “community” decisions like this one. You’ll end up with far less than what you believe you’re trading off if what you stand for is the redaction of the truthful events of a community’s negotiation of meaning – no matter how discomforting.

  • http://codebetter.com/blogs/jeremy.miller Jeremy D. Miller

    It’s all good Derrick. Thanks to your post I now I know exactly when I’m going to be fired next spring so that I can plan ahead.

    FWIW, I’d trace the downfall of CodeBetter to the massive amount of negativity from a steady stream of vitriol and eye poking without any redeeming value from yours and my favorite little man. Something to keep in mind for yourself and LosTechies.

  • http://www.lostechies.com/members/derick.bailey/default.aspx derick.bailey

    “community” is not about “me”. i will sacrifice my own credibility for the community. if i misrepresented the community in stating the influence of my decision, then i will again fall on my own sword to preserve the community rather than preserve any sense of credibility or honor that may be associated with my name.

  • Matt

    Does anybody know of a good sushi place in Waco?

  • Liam

    This is bull@%$&

    ;)

  • http://www.drivensoftware.com Kevin Trethewey

    That’s disappointing. I learned a lot from the previous comments (learnings both intended by the OPs and not). I think you should have trusted people to make up their own minds about their value.

    If you want to moderate comments to guide the debate, fine and well. Deleting comments after they have already been posted is censorship, not moderation.

  • http://www.drivensoftware.com Kevin Trethewey

    That’s disappointing. I learned a lot from the previous comments (learnings both intended by the writers and not). I think you should have trusted people to make up their own minds about their value.

    If you want to moderate comments to guide the debate, fine and well. Deleting comments after they have already been posted is censorship, not moderation.

  • http://garrensmith.github.com Garren Smith

    This is so disappointing. A really sad reflection on the .net community. It comes across that we cant take criticism. We creating a community that has its head in the sand and will not look at any other communites around to learn. We are afraid to address the failing in our community.

    Does it really matter that its off topic. Isn’t that the point of a blog post to create comments and see where it takes us.

    FWIW I think that some of the comments from Scott were his best yet and I found them very insightful.

    This definitely takes away some of the credibility of the los techies community.

  • Disappointed Reader

    That’s too bad. I actually thought it was a bad joke for a split second. Are we children? No, we’re all big boys and girls and are intelligent enough to absorb information and make our own decisions about what it means to us. I think this decision will turn away more faithful readers than you think, myself included.

    Sometimes I wonder why we have a bad name in other communities, such as the Ruby community. Then, when things like this come up I wonder a little bit less.

    Is the hale bop comet coming round again?

  • Yep

    This was a crap decision, but you’ll probably delete this comment anyways.

  • http://sergiopereira.com/blog Sergio Pereira

    Well, I think that’s too bad. Our community needs to know the good and the bad parts of itself.
    I don’t think there was a single person reading those comments and not being able to identify who was trying to contribute and who was just pointing fingers and chest thumping.
    People make fools of themselves in blog posts and blog comments all the time (myself included.) It’s all good in a healthy group. But it can only be a healthy group if we know more about the members.
    If every time something insulting or just stupid is said we erase it, then we’re just building a fake community.
    You should not feel in anyway responsible for the discussion that ensued. You will never be in control of that. Just sit back and relax. No one will be blaming you for the mischievousness of other people.
    Besides, the thread was honestly amusing when you knew what/who are the unnamed references. Almost as funny as when someone’s ex-wife decided to bash him on his own blog comments in a old and deleted blog in a certain declining blog network.

  • http://thatotherguy.lostechies.com Greg Long

    I appreciate everyone’s opinion of Derick’s choice. It was not an easy choice or one that was made without a lot of thought. Some of the thoughts expressed by the folks above (and probably the folks below) this comment were voiced by others in private.
    Having said that, I support Derick’s decision. I believe he made it for the right reasons. He has been and I imagine will continue to be a valuable member of our community – as a person and a developer. I’m glad he has the courage to say what he believes and allow people to comment despite some of the negativity that often appears.
    To everyone who finds his choice objectionable – do something about it. If you really feel strongly about an open forum for people to say anything (loving, hateful, hurtful, or useful) then go create it, promote it, and love it. Don’t waste your passion on bile.

  • Disappointed Reader

    > Don’t waste your passion on bile.

    Bile? It’s called a discussion. Sometimes they get heated, sometimes they don’t. We can all learn something from it regardless.

    > do something about it

    I will. I’ll stop coming to this site, which is really too bad as I found value in many of the posts that appear on LT. Good job!

  • http://www.lostechies.com/members/chadmyers/default.aspx chadmyers

    There’s a time for comments and there’s a type for blog posts in reply to other blog posts.

    If your comment reaches a certain size, it’s time to make it another blog post.

    You can’t censor someone on the Internet because they can always create their own site. Scott has his own blog and he can espouse his views there and link back to the post in question if he chooses.

    There’s a proper way for discussion and argument, and there’s a wrong way. 300 line-long comment threads, I hope we can all agree, is the wrong way.

  • anon

    What a joke…
    This is censorship at its worst form.

  • Steve

    Chad,

    If those comments that were removed we placed on the new blog, then I’d agree. Just removing them because it “hurt the community” isn’t nearly the same thing.

    Derick,

    What’s funny is that it when people on Twitter were linking to the article, it was the comments that people were referring to, not the actually contents of the post. I’m also sure Los Techies got more hits over the past few days than they probably have all year due to people reading those comments, and now they’ve been removed due this weird, over stretching believe that somehow the “community” needs to be protected from itself.

    Its your site, do what you will, but it’s not like you were removing spam postings for WoW Gold or Pr0n sites or anything.

  • http://www.lostechies.com/members/derick.bailey/default.aspx derick.bailey

    thanks for the feedback everyone – especially to those who say i made the wrong decision. in hindsight, yeah, you’re right that this is censorship. i could have done something more effective without causing so much drama.

    i’m not afraid of falling flat on my face now and then, and this is certainly one of those times.

    i appreciate the honest responses that i’ve received and i take them all to heart.

    lesson hopefully learned, and time to move on and pick up the pieces where I can.

  • http://www.blogcoward.com jdn

    I had a feeling this was going to happen, which is why I’m glad I copied all of Scott’s responses locally. 16 page gift that keeps on giving.

  • Nolan Egly

    (note I didn’t read the previous article’s comments)

    Blogs can range from a one way soapbox-and-megaphone without any feedback (comments disabled) to a free-for-all anarchistic message board with an intended use (discuss software), and a completely different actual use. Or something in between, like a newspaper with an editorial section, or a group meeting with a moderator.

    They who own the blog, pick the format. Period. It’s not censorship – censorship is complete suppression by higher authority. Derick is not anyone’s higher authority, and nothing is preventing anyone from starting their own blog with their own format.

    @Derick, most participants will prefer any rules of protocol are explicit and enforced consistently. I’d suggest you take this weekend to think about things. Why do you have this blog? What is your goal? Development tips? Shared learning discussions? Make an explicit post about it. What are your principles on feedback? How are you going to moderate? Completely off topic? Off topic but relevant? On topic but emotionally hostile or containing personal attacks? Show some explicit examples of acceptable and unacceptable posts.

    I completely respect your desire to host useful discussions, am sympathetic to your struggle to balance a useful discussion with potentially detracting content, and personally know that you honestly just want to do The Right Thing and are struggling to figure out what that is exactly. Realize that whatever choices you make you simply aren’t going to be able to please everyone, but you shouldn’t worry or be discouraged about that. I’m looking forward to your next post.

  • http://ampgt.com Scott Bellware

    Jeremy,

    I look forward to the day when you have the integrity to address me without first trivializing me. You haven’t had the backbone to offer commentary about me without first trying to shape perceptions about me in the most transparent ways. I’m waiting for something from you that has more substance, and I miss the days before you succumbed to the expediency of your own celebrity to back away from substantial community commentary. I’d welcome it – even if it were about me.

    I miss the days before you realized the opportunities for your own personal security by being more permissive with Microsoft’s interests and Martin Fowler’s interests. You used to have a lot of interesting things to say before you replaced a drive for a greater good and started focusing on the greater potential for personal gain. You were a much greater contributor before you become one of the trusted leaders who lent their name to endorsements of lesser interests.

    You’ve hidden behind a crafted community persona while people who know you personally have gotten an every clearer view of your duplicity. I wish you had the courage to be who you are in private with the whole community – to give them a chance to really know you rather than just know the craft you offer that is most expedient to your current angle on personal security. I think that if you were willing be be real for a while, that the community would at least be given the fair chance to decide whether you are someone they want to believe in. And I believe that the community deserves that. And I believe that it would be a watershed moment in personal development for you as well.

    I don’t believe that any of our interests in personal security trumps the greater interests in the community. I don’t believe that because a more visible authority gives me tacit approval that I should allow it to affect my duty to self-question. You’ve used the same trade in assigned authority from Microsoft in recent years that is the very problem that you lamented about .NET community leadership not long before. You allowed Microsoft to borrow your name and you allowed the community to believe that things were progressing with Microsoft, only to wake up to find that once the checks-and-balances were removed, that LightSwitch is the new direction, that Entity Framework is the data strategy for ASP .NET MVC, and that IronRuby could now safely be de-funded. And worse yet, you earned materially in the transaction as well.

    You’ve done more to undermine the efforts of .NET community development over the past few years than anyone I know. You’ve influenced community members to stop taking action and to accept what they’re given, and you’ve made sure to position yourself to be the alternative purveyor of what it is they’re given, reinforcing your own security. What really bothers me about what your doing is that I still care about Dovetail, and it’s deeply bothersome to me that you’re taking such advantage of them. You’re far over budget and far too underwhelming in your product market space, and yet even if your program is canned, you’ll have built enough open source tooling in your tenure there for you and Chad to live off of that. With the funding you had, and the timeline you were given, you should given the people at Dovetail a far more compelling product to build their futures on. This, to me, is an unconscionable example of destructive self interest.

    I look forward to a Jeremy Miller that experiences bravery beyond the fantasy books that lines his bookshelves. You have a potential to make a profound impact on .NET community if you could get past the fear the limits your own actions and seeks to keep the community from moving away from your safe havens faster than what makes you comfortable. I don’t believe that replacing Microsoft’s orthodoxy with MillerSoft’s orthodoxy is something that serves anyone but you. And even if your duplicity makes it possible, I don’t believe that it’s healthy for you in the long term.

    As for the security of your job, you can count on Dovetail CEO, Stephen Lynn’s own fear that even more of my forecasts will be spot-on. But I do know that conversation of re-evaluating the Dovetail CRM v2 program have already happened and that timelines have been discussed, and I have had conversations with some of your own team members about their own looming doubt in where you’re taking them.

    If you do get sacked, I’ll be there to remind you that I knew why long before you did, and I’d be happy to consult to you to make back some of the security that I have lost since you decided it was most expedient for you to systematically discredit me than stand up and meet some of the personal challenges that I had put before you. I think it’s ironic that you take shots from the security of a position that wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t pushed harder than anyone else was willing to do.

    Your duplicity isn’t lost on people who have known you longest. There’s a point where the new folks to the community won’t be new anymore and the doubt about you won’t be localized to just those few people who don’t trust you anymore. I think that it would be a lot better for not just the community but for yourself as well if you brought some of that courage into real life, and to serve community in truth and in fact rather than merely in convenient fictions.

    Of course there are people in this audience who will lash out at me for taking you to task, but that’s just more predictable fear that their chosen leaders may really not have their best interests at heart. But I know that there are also many in the audience who know exactly what I’m talking about, and I know that you know it too. And that’s what matters.

    I’ve put a lot of relationships in this community on hold for pushing people harder than they wanted to continue to go, but I haven’t lost as much respect from them for doing what I do as you have for doing what you do. I know that with respect as a foundation that relationships can be rebuilt. I don’t know that if you continue on your self-serving course if you’ll have the same option. As people wake up to realizing that you’ve been willing to take advantage of them, you risk losing them permanently.

    I’m not your enemy, but I will not abide by the malfunctions of your self-interest, and I’ll continue to remind you to wake up from the fearful sleep that keeps you enslaved to it.

  • http://www.lostechies.com/members/derick.bailey/default.aspx derick.bailey

    Scott and Jeremy –

    if you have something to say that is relevant to my moderating comments, great. if you wish to continue talking past each other, though, do it on your own blogs or another communication channel where this is appropriate.

    the first two comments from both of you, while touching on subjects that should be taken elsewhere, did address my post and were valid from that perspective. scott’s most recent comment about Jeremy and Dovetail contains nothing with direct relevance to what this comments on this post should be. it’s become personal attacks and irrelevant to this community.

    take it to your own blog, scott, and don’t respond to scott, here, jeremy.

    it’s this type of blatant disregard for the community that you’re involving, that caused me to make the mistakes i did in the last few days. i won’t tolerate this anymore.

    feel free to continue this conversation – but not here.

  • http://ampgt.com Scott Bellware

    Chad,

    It seems to me that you might benefit greatly from the audience accepting your edicts of the rules for community media.

    I don’t accept your edicts on how media can and should be used. I believe that negotiation of meaning happens where it happens and only someone with something to loose from the community achieving greater awareness would seek to muzzle dialog that is already under way, o worse, to encourage the redaction and censorship of recorded dialog that has already become influential.

    I think that if you had the courage to be as transparent, that you wouldn’t have asked Derick to delete the comment that you left.

    What you’re demonstrating here isn’t so much a principled stance, but a tendency to not have the courage of your convictions and a tendency to act with draconian imperatives while labeling others as inappropriate. Or in other words: to succumb to fundamentalism.

    There’s no way to justify censorship of meaningful dialog based on conformance to mere bureaucratic guidelines to acceptable use of media – and especially ones that you have introduced here unilateral as a point of artificial order.

    As a person of faith, I hope that you truly dig deeper into the courage that faith offers you to not act out with such fear that you would risk the wholeness of community’s frank engagement with itself with openness and transparency. Those moments are quite rare and indeed precious. And I think you tip your hand to the community when you suggest that you are in favor of their suppression for such trivial reasons as conformance to media use policies that you have attempted to misrepresent as already widely accepted and widely known.

    I don’t believe that you’ve got the community’s best interest at heart. Supporting the suppression of it’s history is hardly an act of leadership as much as it is an act of manipulative will to power.

    I think you can safely give over the will to power to God and allow this community to explore its own meaning without you acting out to redact, suppress, censor, or redirect it in any way, or to retroactively inject justifications of this kind of destruction based on forced and creative interpretations of doctrine.

    This kind of fundamentalism is what creates the intolerance that justifies book burnings. And in fact, in fine fundamentalist tradition, what Los Techies has undertaken in this circumstance is nothing short of a contemporary book burning in electronic media. For you to be in support of this isn’t exactly surprising to me, considering the religious intolerance that sometimes characterizes your personal life, but until now, I hadn’t seen such a glaring expression of it in your profession life. And I don’t think it bodes well for community that you’d be willing to allow this tendency toward doctrinal intolerance to interfere.

    I offered myself openly and transparently to the community in the essays that I published with Derick’s article. I did so knowing that it makes me vulnerable, and I took on all comers who would seek to discredit me, and who would seek, as you have done here, to justify suppressing the open dialog. I gave over a tremendous amount of time to see that it was done thoroughly and as completely as possible.

    What I didn’t expect was that people who have been undermining the community with such duplicity for so long would encourage a young leader like Derick to succumb to the will to power that has supplanted true leadership in the community. You are indeed getting some of what you want from this, but you are also losing a tremendous amount of ground in the trust that you’re losing to the community at large. And when you’re done with all of this, and when you’ve returned to the center of your faith, I’ll still welcome your help in repairing all the damage that has been done out of necessity of demonstrating just how much we justify destroying culture, history, and promise when we indulge fundamentalism and its intolerance in an aspect of our lives.

    I’ve sat down with every single person I’ve fought against. I even went to Redmond to work with the Entity Framework team after the Vote of No Confidence successfully got them to pause and consider whether they might indeed be on the wrong path. I expect that if your faith goes beyond intolerance, that I’ll be able to do the same with you some day. But while you remain committed to condoning suppression, I remain committed to fighting you on it – even if I’m the only one doing it, and even if you leverage even more manipulation to discredit me in a community than I’ve worked harder than anyone to steward and to defend from elitist self-interest even if it costs me my livelihood and my own security.

  • Stebbo

    Coming up in The Real World – Austin…

  • http://ampgt.com Scott Bellware

    Derick,

    I don’t blog anymore. I don’t consider the kind of electronic publishing I do “blogging”. Whereas you recognize hat you do blog, and you do so about .NET community – which in the large is what this post is about.

    If you don’t want to invite community dialog on your blog, then don’t write about subjects that invite dialog from the community.

    This isn’t a matter of respecting or disrespecting your hopes for where dialog will go, it’s a matter of recognizing that inviting community dialog comes without having the ability to control where that dialog goes except through suppression and censorship, which I believe has been as well-received by community as I told you last night that it would be.

    If you can’t trust the community to hold it’s own dialog, then maybe you might consider backing out of the limelight, because anyone illuminated by it necessarily draws dialog to them. That’s one of the costs of notoriety, and you don’t get to have one without the others without either backing out or engaging much stricter controls.

    It’s not all sunshine and roses in the center. There’s usually much more responsibility than reward, and if you’re sage enough to remain neutral, you might even sustain it without subsequently loosing the trust of many people’s attention that you’ve drawn.

  • Steve

    True, this is our livelihoods, but I think its time to pump the breaks a little bit here. Derick, but doing what you did, I doubt you’ll greatly affect the traffic of this site (if any at all), three or four people saying they are taking their ball and going home doesn’t really mean much. Personally, I’m disappointed since even though this is your blog, you really should trust the people reading it to be able to be big boys and girls and think for themselves. If someone start spamming, blatant trolling or threatening someone, do what you will, but arguing with Chad or Jeremy is hardly grounds for this sort of over the top response.

    But I’ve got to admit, Millersoft was a good line. ;)

    It’s 3pm here on the east coast, almost time for a beer.

  • http://ampgt.com Scott Bellware

    Oh Stebbo, what is it about .NET geeks that can’t resist cheapening and trivializing dialog? Of all the counter-communal things that have gone on in this forum over the past few days, what you’ve offered is more demeaning to all of us even than the censorship. And as if to underscore so much of what is missing in .NET community, you lobbed in a cheap shot without even having the decency and respect for the community to identify yourself.

  • http://ampgt.com Scott Bellware

    Steve,

    The significance of three or four people “taking their ball and going home” (which is not what they said, and your characterizations demean and disrespect their willingness to tell Derick how they feel about it) isn’t in immediate impact of traffic. I doubt Los Techies is a for-profit endeavor to begin with, and that traffic optimizations are a principle concern.

    Perhaps a larger issue is the signaling of something new: a loss of trust in Los Techies that had not before been an issue. It’s only a traffic problem if it becomes a trend. But its a brand problem from the moment it happens, and the traffic problem on a property like Los Techies doesn’t happen unless the trust problem happens first.

    CodeBetter folded – not as Jeremy suggests – because of my insentience on fostering more integrity in community and dialog, and from the conflict that arose from it, but because the community fragmented and fractured around the issues that stem from this root cause.

    Los Techies might be in the process of embracing the same expediencies that CodeBetter naively thought would save it from further loss of credibility. Maybe not. Point is, once that credibility is sacrificed, it doesn’t come back, and maintaining credibility and the integrity that’s the substance of its foundation is the only thing that sustains a trusted source.

    Without the trust, a once-trusted source is just a source. CodeBetter is still trusted by the people who still pay attention to it, but only by the people who still pay attention to it. And frankly, if Jeremy moved his blog somewhere else, CodeBetter would likely lose the last of its relevance.

    I don’t believe, as Jeremy has expressed hope for, that CodeBetter will experience a renaissance. For CodeBetter to recover, it would have to embrace the kind of integrity that would restore its credibility and then earn back communal trust.

    From my experience with internal policies and machinations in the CodeBetter community, the remainder of CodeBetter have contributed the most to its loss of integrity and its trade of honorable dialog for personal expediency.

    What’s still on CodeBetter is the strongest repulsive force. And while Los Techies has expressed an attractive force in the wake of CodeBetter’s decline, CodeBetter at one time also expressed this attractive force. The CodeBetter experience has many things to teach – one of those is about impermanence.

    If Los Techies does decline, it will be because it embraces the personal expediencies that CodeBetter had. If that happens, the audience will sense the shift and be put off by it.

    The most important way to treat people with respect is to be open and transparent with them. When they sense this is no longer possible, even with perspectives and positions that upset them, they stop extending trust. Los Techies hasn’t crossed that chasm yet, but it seems to be looking out across the gorge and considering what real harm could be done by just giving in just a little, just this once.

  • Steffe

    I don’t know if CodeBetter’s decline is the result of lack of confidence as much as its lack of content lately.

    I started reading CodeBetter less when it became a notice board for the bloggers’ i’m-giving-a-speech-come-watch-announcements.

    So maybe it is a trust (or lack thereof) issue after all :)

    Anyway, since that guy took some time off from blogging there’s even less incentive to visit CodeBetter

  • Steve

    Scott,

    My comments were more in the regards to the severity of their statements. This was a guy removing a few comments from thread where people were arguing about IoC containers. Let’s remember that and keep things in perspective.*

    Also, in a similar vein, Derick’s “I’m doing this for the greater good” reasoning might as well have been Reverend Lovejoy’s wife screaming “Won’t anyone think of the children!!!!”.

    All in all, we can all feign anger that Derick has “betrayed’ the community or that he’s a fascist, but in reality it was a thread about IoC containers that got a little personal and he panicked.

    I don’t like what Derick did, simply because it was completely unnecessary. After your last comment, the thread went comment-less for hours, yet he THEN decided it was time to remove a few things, probably in some sort of deference to Chad who you had just ripped a new one.

    But at the same time, Derick (to me anyways) is just a guy writing a code blog. So if the next blog he writes is an interesting article on , I’ll read it and take it on it’s merits. I personally don’t believe in “leaders” of the “community” simply because I’ve dealt with too many egos in my lifetime and awarding some sort of fame to anyone like that is silly. Derick is a programmer who writes a blog, ditto for Chad, Jeremy, Karl, Rob Conery and everyone else in the Alt.NET-ish community. If they write something of value, I’ll read it, if they don’t, I won’t. I’d go out for a beer with any of them, but I don’t put them on a pedestal because they’re just people who happen to be a bit better at this coding thing than I am.

    This kind of reminds me of a post on Scott Hanselman’s blog a few years ago when he talked about a seminar he went to where the presenter dropped the F-bomb a few times, reading the comments you’d think that the guy set fire to the bible while pissing on the American flag. It’s so easy to get all angry and inflamed when posting on an internet site because you don’t actually get to hear what you are writing. If people took the time to read their posts aloud before hitting “submit” (or Add in this case), they’d realized how over the top they sound. THAT is what I meant by pumping the breaks. So if still think I’m doing those brave souls who took their ball and went home a disservice, I guess I can live with that.

    * I also don’t by a guy cutting some comments one time from his own, private blog “censorship”, again let’s have some perspective. If this becomes a habit, well than that’s a different story, but we’ll jump off that bridge if we get to it.

  • Stebbo

    Scott,
    I’m actually more of a Java guy, but point taken. That comment of mine might have been a bit impolite and not really adding to the dialog.
    It was actually a reaction to your lengthy response to Jeremy – and if you think that comment added any value other than being some kind of territorial pissing / vendetta then i really failed to see it behind all that frustration/anger of yours.
    I don’t know your history with Jeremy (nor do i know his) and i don’t really care about it, both of you inluence people and that’s great.
    What the community does not need is the kind of elitism i’ve met in the past in J2EE-forums. That kind of thing is distracting if anything.
    CodeBetter had the same issues when one of their bloggers started dissecting MS open source stuff and going “cluster fuck” about everything.

    And i guess that aligns pretty well with what Jeremy said, eventhough i’m sure we’re not referring to the same blogger.

  • http://ampgt.com Scott Bellware

    Steffe,

    It’s a viscous circle rather than a virtuous circle. That lack of confidence affects the whole participatory body – which includes the writers. I stopped contributing to CodeBetter in 2008. Many others left since. Some left before. Except for contributors early on who were very close to Microsoft and were involved in active campaigns to discredit co-contributors, most of the contributors who left did do in disgust. It was a disgust in decline in credibility in general in the community and in-specific with CodeBetter’s nascent imperatives to serve a power clique more than serving the interests of software development and its culture in .NET community.

    In the end, there has always been a rift between CodeBetter contributors who would cash in on their relationship with Microsoft, and those who saw that this was the surest path to ambiguous credibility.

    I don’t think you’ll find many CodeBetter members of the time who’ve got a beef with me, and who would shoulder me with CodeBetter’s decline. If the remainder of the CodeBetter community couldn’t pull CodeBetter from its decline in the two and a half years after January of 2008 when I left, then I think it’s safe to question the remainder’s contribution to the decline all along.

    Many CodeBetter writers left in disgust, and it was a generalized disgust for how bad things were going as contributors embraced more and more justifications for the innocence of taking just one more benefit from Microsoft – be it in insider access, MVP awards, trips to high-profile conferences, or straight-up service contacts.

    At some point, I had suggested a system of total transparency for people who were in positions to influence community to disclose all gifts, incomes, and influence transactions with Microsoft and its evangelicals. In retrospect, that data would have been a valuable resource in corroborating what people in positions to see abuse and self-interest unfold in real-time have said about erosion of integrity in the community.

    Ultimately, anyone sewing the seeds of lack of trust in community are not going to just drive off just the general audience, they’re also going to drive off other leaders and contributors. And thus the vicious circle.

    I find it telling that many of the community would make every effort to discredit my contribution and influence, and then ascribe so much power to me that I could be single-handedly responsible for the decline and fall of a web property that I haven’t had a policy participatory role with in almost three years.

    CodeBetter has had ample chance to rehabilitate itself. Its failure to do so given so much time might suggest that the credibility-subversive elements might still be in-place. One thing is sure, the attractive force that CodeBetter had once had, drawing participants and contributors who felt that CodeBetter was a place where it was possible to open up significant issues in significant ways, has turned into a force that often communicates the exact opposite. From my perspective, what has happened on Los Techies in the past couple of days reminds me of decisions that CodeBetter had taken back in the day that I believed would end up yielding more of the trust and credibility that endowed CodeBetter with the implicit trust that the community lavished upon it at its influential peak.

  • Steve

    Stebbo,

    But Karl was right when he called Oxite a cluster fuck. I remember that distinctly, and I still think it’s odd how so many people got bent out of shape over a few swear words. The product was complete crap and everyone (from MS down) knew it.

    Scott,

    You don’t think that’s a little over the top to suggest that private citizens disclose income to anonymous a-holes like me so I can feel better about what they are saying? Does that also mean that I need to disclose who I work for when I give a comment?

    So what if an author of a blog post is an MVP, or if he gets paid to write an MSDN article, if he writes a useful blog post it has value. I also think the readers of these sites are quick enough to call bullshit on someone if what they propose isn’t right (or as close to right). So if Jeremy Miller came along tomorrow and started suggesting that we use Lightswitch or Microsoft.Data, he’d get laughed off the page, it doesn’t matter if he’s a “leader” of this community or not.

    Maybe you over estimate their actual power, because I honestly think that the leaders of this community don’t have much…actually, I take that back. Maybe I’d buy Oren/Ayende or to a lesser extent Rob Conery, but I don’t think either are that influential.

  • Stebbo

    Steve,
    You’re right it was and i actually liked his nomenclatures in that post. Couldn’t care less about lingo, he was at least passionate :)

    I just felt it went downhill with anger from there and subsequent post. I was sure that whole LightSwitch story would go down the same path – maybe it already has, i didn’t redirect my feed to his new blog..

    I’ve got Los Techies where things seem jolly and warm

  • Steve

    Stebbo,

    Actually, I don’t seem to remember Code Better being particularly mean about Lightswitch, I think everyone else beat them to the punch. :)

    Ayende/Oren did post an initial impression, then went back a few weeks later and did a series of posts demonstrating the product in all it’s wonder (or blunder).

    There definitely was a lot of piss and vinegar during that and the EF vote of no confidence, but I didn’t really care to be honest. I can deal with angry language, because at least the logic in most cases was sound. The only thing that makes me actually angry anymore IT related is when people refuse to step outside the MS bubble and discount everything not from Redmond as heresy. But that is a much bigger topic than this, and a couple of deleted comments and a dick wagging contest doesn’t make a dent in that issue.

  • http://ampgt.com Scott Bellware

    Steve,

    I’m not underestimating power. I’m pointing out that constant and pervasive use of very subtle power is more influential than grandiose uses of it. That was the point of organizing Kaizen Conf – the recognition of the incredible power of small influences applied constantly until new perceptions are created and new behaviors forged. But the whole kaizen idea became just another blog badge for people to attach to rather than something to consider at a much deeper level.

    This precision in thinking creates precision in analysis and understanding of use of influence. The real influence happens at levels where each individual act can be small enough to be dismissed as negligible. And when a habit forms of not paying attention to otherwise negligible acts, the outcomes are rarely, if ever, attributed to the intentional use of force that is at the root of influential change that we tell ourselves is just a coincidence.

    Here’s an example: what did I say – precisely – about disclosure? And what id you repeat back to me? Were they the same? If they weren’t the same, were you aware of it? If you were aware, you’d be misrepresenting me. It would be an example of subtle force, because remediation would depend on someone having paid detailed attention to my original proposal. However, someone reading your re-representation of my proposal would likely inform them that what you’ve chronicled as my proposal was in fact what I had offered. If it wasn’t intentional, then there’s an opportunity to become much more intentional so that misrepresentation doesn’t happen.

    If you listen back-to-back to the entirety of the ALT.NET Podcast episodes where I issued a call to action to the community and the episode where Jeremy discounts my call to action, you can notice quite a bit of misrepresentation. When I’m on the road, I constantly run into people who criticize me for the things that Jeremy has asserted that I had said. Many of them were distortions and many were just outright, opportunistic falsehoods. Yet still, it’s the last message out of the stack that most people will attach to, and it takes a lot of integrity to resist the urge to misrepresent – especially when there’s a promise of yet more personal income and benefit on the line.

    It matters little that a member of the community does something so flagrant as to embrace a set of values that is a direct contradiction to everything he has stood for and a set of values that has earned him the privilege of others’ attention. It matters more than we pay attention to the whole of what they are doing so that we can understand the bigger picture, and to recognize contradictions between what one face is saying, and what the other is doing.

    The point of disclosure was specifically in regards to accepting income of any kind from interests that are vested in exerting any kind of influence, and to measure correlations along a timeline of any changes to an influencers message towards more favorability to his benefactor. And to correlate this with accumulations of benefits. Under no circumstances could we conclude a causal relationship, but in many cases, some pretty stark correlations would have been made transparent.

    There are three very influential people who had been involved in the alt.net movement who demonstrated marked changes in value system and behavior as it became increasingly clear that there was more vendor money being left on the table that could be harvested by themselves and for themselves by redirecting the whole movement’s message so that it was more favorable to the benefactor.

    It took the activism of only three people to redirect alt.net toward something that was more beneficial personally than any benefit that the community ever realized. This wasn’t done with flagrant, grandiose actions, it was done with subtle force.

    It would be much easier for everyone to look back on the timeline as enriched with the real data and to question whether these changes were really just a coincidence or if they were in fact an example of negligent self-indulgence.

    At least, the questions could be asked. As it stands, they aren’t even on the table, and pressing issues of integrity remain fully in-play and yet almost entirely out of reach.

    Maybe you’re not aware of this, but my first seed of doubt with Dave Laribee’s integrity came when he began to focus on ways to monetize alt.net. This mighty red flag was followed by a number of actions over the space of a couple of years that I found utterly unacceptable and things that I could not abide by. This includes Dave’s machinations to redirect the purpose and practice of the Progressive .NET event that I founded in Europe and which Dave is now influencing to serve a much more expedient goal for Dave. And this happened with assent from Ayende. And this is where my trust in either of these people as people that I can trust with influence to do the right thing and not just fall back to a more personally-expedient course. They’re also two people who have received disproportionate benefit directly from Microsoft and whose attitudes toward bringing change and working for change shifted markedly during the same time.

    Whether or not you like what I do, or some of the things that I’m called to do, you will always know that I act outside of influence of personal security and personal gain. I don’t trade community gain for personal gain, and this has been true even when I worked closely with Redmond on community going all the way back to 2004 when I chaired the INETA Speaker Committee and worked to break up the grip of the Tech Ed old boys club on influential positions with user groups around the country.

    There salient truth will remain: I didn’t trade my influence in community for cash and gifts from Microsoft beyond what I had earned in community as an awardee of the MVP for five years. I remain unassailable to influence that many of my colleagues couldn’t resist. And presently, I’m an outsider in a community that I worked diligently to foster, and I promise you, than I am presently in greater dire straits financially for lack of access to work in my community and locality.

    What I’m asking for with disclosure is a leveling of the field so that people who refuse to cash in don’t become subject, as I have, to even more despicable measures of control.

    I know software development can be much better. I know how to do it much better. I look forward to the fall of many artificial obstructions to better software development so that we can get on with the productivity rehabilitation that would benefit all of us, rather than just a few who are willing to see themselves as more inherently deserving.

    Call me nuts, but I only get one life, and if I die tomorrow, I want to look back from my final moments with a mind that isn’t encumbered with all the excuses I made for selling a community short so that I could gain. I want us all to win, and my timeline shows nothing but the evidence of this, and my life at this point is a tapestry of the scars of that on-going effort.

  • http://msuarz.blogspot.com/ msuarz

    Removing comments suxs … i was planning on going over the comments at some point … let me filter what i consider inappropriate/irrelevant … also … some comments are so long that takes time to read … so, really, not everybody is gonna go over all that

    I don’t appreciate the state of the Alt.Net community. Specially since is the best source of ideas in the .Net world. But it is what it is. Deleting comments only makes it harder to understand it.

  • The Real Scott Bellware just stood up!

    I love the community. I just hate everyone in it.

  • http://ampgt.com Scott Bellware

    The Real,

    I think that a really hard place to find yourself. I would find it impossible to get through the difficulties if I didn’t remain dedicated to the essence of people in the community. I don’t know that there’s a way to distinguish a community from the people. Contemplative practice keeps that connection from breaking into meaningless distinctions.

    Although, because of the nature of what people are capable of, and the nature of the human condition, it’s vital to know who you can trust so that you don’t end up carrying the weight of a shared endeavor when colleagues opt for an easier way in the middle of the full realization of effort behind any significant enterprise.

    Are you making a point that such opportunistic misrepresentations will always win, even so far as to misrepresent a treatise on the scourge of misrepresentation? I hope that the community isn’t so lost to subversives that such a thing would go unnoticed.

  • http://www.lostechies.com/members/derick.bailey/default.aspx derick.bailey

    @msuarz – i know… it was stupid and i regret doing it at this point. @jdn (http://blogcoward.com) has an in-tact copy of the entire stream, though. perhaps he’ll post it somewhere.

  • The Real Scott Bellware

    I can write a 400 word sentence that means “nuh uh”.

  • http://www.lostechies.com/members/derick.bailey/default.aspx derick.bailey

    whatch it “The Real Scott Bellware” … you’re right on the line of childish attacks at this point. if a commenter wants to act childish i’ll treat them like a child, disable comments for the post, and remove their additional comments if the try to continue on other posts.

  • http://www.diogomafra.com.br/ Diogo Edegar Mafra

    @msuarz, @derick.bailey

    You can see all the comments using Google Cache (only works on IE8)

    Google Cache: http://bit.ly/aV60Fc
    PDF: http://bit.ly/9YlRsN

  • http://ampgt.com Scott Bellware

    The Real,

    I’m aware that of the criticisms of my sentence structure, and their use as a means to colloquialism my use of run-on sentences as a means to discredit me. This started with Jeremy, and continues to be one of the devices he uses to work toward instituting an assumption of lack of credibility on my part. This distracts from the message that I’m carrying forward from my experiences, and seeks to take focus away from substance and refocus it on ancillary distractions like form and form fixation.

    I value the clarity of others’ writing, and I’ve gotten better at improving the voice of my writing, but I wouldn’t trade the substance of my experience for greater abilities as a writer for anything.

    I see this kind of maligning as a desperate grasp at any form of discredit, and at any cost. The ultimate cost is the quality of dialog in the community, and the will of community members to participate in the open and transparent dialog the raises the expectations of integrity from community leaders.

    I’ve always hoped that members of the community would see this kind of thing as desperate as well, and that I would never find myself in a situation in this community where the imperatives of celebrity have taken us to a point where a recognition of these tactics is even necessary. I’m also quite realistic in understanding that community celebrities have followers and often those followers can get caught up in currying favor with idols by representing their stances in the agora.

    This kind of thing isn’t new in the .NET community. It has been going on for longer than most people have been paying attention. The leverage of followers to take up attacks on opponents was why Sahil Malik was removed from CodeBetter in the wake of his “Fragalist” attacks, when Agile development was under constant attack in the Microsoft sphere.

    The most recent was a patent dismissal of my article, “How the Mainstream Lost Software Development Productivity” (http://blog.scottbellware.com/2010/02/how-mainstream-lost-software.html) where Jeremy worked to shift attention from the substance of the article to the form of one (yes one) of its sentences. The background behind all of this is Jeremy’s work to discredit anyone who forms persona’s to effectively call out subversive and self-interested influencers in .NET community. In the article in question, I talked about the detrimental influence of “Eggheads” and “Shills”, to which Jeremy took personal offense.

    This was another way to subvert any dialog in .NET community about personality types that do indeed subvert productivity. And I think the drive to subvert the substance of this article is telling.

    I think the drive to subvert the substance of my response to you with more of these insinuations of lack of credibility due to form is also also telling. I want to believe that the community at large is above this, and can see through it, and can see that these kinds of tactics are usually only used by community members who won’t identify themselves.

    I hope that through examples like yours that we recognize what we cannot abide in community dialog in a community who’s dialog continues to be redirected every time it threatens the entitlements of its elitists. I hope that through the establishment of clear community protocols on dealing with dialog subversion that we can clear them from our future path. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to respond to you here to take advantage of this moment and hopefully recognize it as a teaching moment, and an object lesson. I hope that this is the clearest example of the worst of what this community faces while it doesn’t recognize a tacit need for greater integrity in dialog and or a means to ensure that integrity of a community does not continue to be subverted by the entitlements of a few.

  • Josh

    Scott:

    I really hope you don’t come across like this much of an arrogant douchebag in person. There is a fine line between speaking with precision and just coming across as an asshole (see the character “Sheldon” on The Big Bang Theory).

  • http://www.lostechies.com/members/derick.bailey/default.aspx derick.bailey

    ok. we’re through. comments are off.