What happened to you’ve been HAACKED?

I normally don’t write blog posts directly at one person. I don’t like to be confrontational, and I have professional courtesy. That being said, please take this post as constructive criticism rather than being negative.

Over the last couple of months I have noticed a steady decline in the broad coverage of topics and knowledge put forth from your blog Phil, With recent posts such as Blocking Direct Access To Views in ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET MVC Update, Testing Routes In ASP.NET MVCASP.NET MVC Design Philosophy; I am more than a little disappointed with how biased the topics are. Not all of your posts are about ASP.NET MVC, but a large majority are. More then half of them in the last couple of months.

I understand that you are a new Microsoft employee and are excited about a new framework that you are working on and are trying to get feedback from the community. I am not so much disappointed in your blog as I am with Microsoft. It is clear that Microsoft has created a magnificent MVC framework and at the same time, played their cards right with the preview release of ASP.NET MVC and got the right people to spread information into the .NET community through various mediums. It was played very nicely I must admit.

Now, Phil’s blog has more subcribers than probably every single blogger on LosTechies combined. I think it was around 8000 subscribers the last time I looked. I know that before I got into a lot of open source frameworks and contributions, one of the first blogs I started reading on a regular basis was Phil’s. This was because of MVC oriented posts years ago, TDD related posts as well as content about SubText, open source etc… I wonder if a lot of other developers go down the same route and find the same blogs. If so, then I question the motivation behind these posts. This is a little extreme however as I would never presume to say that Microsoft is asking you to make these posts Phil, but this I do not know. Please correct me if I am totally wrong of this presumption.

I’m sorry Phil, I couldn’t hold it in any longer and I feel like I need to vent on this. I am frustrated that yet another avenue for great agnostic content from the open source community has now been dominated by Microsoft tools and frameworks. It’s nothing against you and I still plan on reading your blog. I will admit however that when I see posts appear on “you’ve been HAACKED!”, I do not have the same enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect of another post from your blog that I used to.

Now, with constructive criticism you need to offer a solution otherwise there is nothing to construct on. So my constructive criticism is this: Blog about what you think is most relevant but try to do so without being biased. I know probably all you are working on is ASP.NET MVC, but perhaps you can do more MVC agnostic posts rather then completely gearing your blog towards Microsoft related content.

As I said at the beginning of my post, I really don’t like posts targeted at one specific person but I really feel like someone had to say something. Maybe I am way out in left field but I had to vent some of this.

About Sean Chambers

I am a Senior software developer from Palm Coast, Florida. An advocate of Domain Driven Design, Behavior Driven Development, creator of FluentMigrator and community activist. I am married to my beautiful wife Erin and am the proud father of two wonderful children. I currently reside at ACI, a local insurance industry/mortgage software company that excels in creating solutions using Agile methodologies.
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  • Playing the devil’s advocate, is this any different than hammett blogging about Castle or Charlie Poole blogging about NUnit?

  • Well, yes and no.

    No because Castle and NUnit are both open source projects and their blogs are not pushing corporate frameworks best interest to gain popularity. I suppose on this point I am laying out open source vs. ms, but I don’t see any other way to explain.

    Yes because hammett, charlie and phil are all blogging about something that they enjoy and wish to share with people which is a good thing.

    Maybe it didn’t come across in my post but I want to make it a point to note that I was trying to gear the post towards my frustration that Phil is now blogging about a framework that a corporation is putting forth and the drastic changes that haven taken place in his blog since stepping on board at microsoft is what upsets me.

  • Sean – sorry to be so blunt but your post kind of bugs me from a blog authors perspective. What if I was to say –

    “You know what, I’m pissed off you don’t blog enough about punching kittens. I like punching kittens so you should write about punching kittens”.

    I forget to who said this, but paraphrasing – people walk around with umbilical cords hanging out looking for somewhere to plug them into.

    Its all good, if any single blog isn’t providing the information you want just unsubscribe and plug-in somewhere else. The majority of bloggers blog to tell their story, not to entertain their crowd.

  • Joe

    There’s always the “unsubscribe” button… While Haack, Conery and (to a lesser extent, at least while Miller and Boodhoo are still blogging) Codebetter and others go to shit someone else will step up…

  • @Max I didn’t ask him to blog about a peticular topic, I am just raising a concern about the content I have bee reading lately. Sure I could unsubscribe but this isn’t the point. I don’t want to unsubscribe from his blog. I have always enjoyed his posts and hope that there are still some good posts in there.

    I think you are missing the point and warping what I was trying to get across

  • @Jimmy switch that, Yes on the first one and No on the second. got the Yes’s and No’s mixed up =)

  • The reason for the recent focus on ASP.NET MVC is less sinister than anyone *making* me do so. Certainly blogging about one’s area of influence is encouraged at MS, the simple explanation is that I’ve been too busy lately to blog on much else. I can blog about MVC on company time and justify it as part of my job.

    Keep in mind, I’m not just taking on a new job right before a product release (which is a crazy busy time), but I’m also dealing with a move to a new state, selling a house in a down market (thankfully done), while buying a house all at the same time.

    Oh, and I have a kid now too. :) All these things have added up to less blogging overall.

    I appreciate the constructive criticism as I’m flattered anyone would go through the trouble to write a full blog post about my blog. :)

    Point well taken and I hope my recent series on versioning addresses the criticism somewhat in that it’s not specific to any product, but is a more general topic. Hopefully, as things settle down here, I can get back to Subtext and other topics of interest. Thanks!

  • @Phil Fair enough. I’m glad you took my comments cordially. I can understand being stretched thin and this eases my concerns. Thank you for taking the time to respond and I look forward to your posts in the future.

  • jason

    Cut Phil some slack. Just because we enjoy what someone writes doesn’t me that they *have* to write. Phil is a brilliant and gracious dude, but he blogs because he enjoys it, not because we pay him. He doesn’t owe us anything, but we always enjoy his insight and perspective on whatever topic he chooses. Thanks, Phil!

  • @jason Fair enough, although I never said that he *had* to write. I was just stating that the diversity of his topics that be blogs on seems to have changed recently. I wouldn’t presume to tell someone that they have to blog about a specific topic. Maybe next time I will be a little more verbose as to the intent and meaning of my post. sorry

  • jason

    @schambers – I wasn’t singling you out, Sean. I was just pointing out that we tend to put people on pedestals and worship them until they stop doing what we like. Then we throw tomatoes. I think you’ve eaten enough crow on this topic. No need to apologize to anyone.

  • @jason no problemo. I’m actually glad that everyone presents their opinions very professionally. Thank you for being cordial, I appreciate it.

  • It’s the point of a blog for the author to post about whatever THEY want?

    It’s not like a paid web site or a magazine where the reader gave money for an expected service. so how does a reader have any sense of entitlement as to the author’s topic choice ?

  • @joe we don’t. thats the catch. that doesn’t mean we can’t give CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. hence, the reason for having comments and posting about other people’s blogs.

    In no way did I ever expect for Phil to change his content based on my post, but I gave him some advice. thats all

  • throwspoop

    While I am not sure we as readers should have a say as to what bloggers write…we are the audience.

    That said, since the whole MVC blowup and MS’s interest in the .NET open source world (alt.net…bleh) a lot of blogs have changed their format to accommodate the _new_ hot topic (and undoubtedly to beg some attention from MS and potential publishers-$$$).

    Thats fine by me, because it opens up the opportunity for new bloggers to fill the void they have left and open my mind to new ideas, etc. Look at it this way, if you wouldn’t have written this post, i wouldn’t have stumbled on this blog ;)

  • @throwspoop I completely agree. I think the recent moves towards more open source adoption by Microsoft is a great move and I think noone will disagree that everyone is thrilled.

    When I wrote this post Scott Guthrie hadn’t announced that they will be doing open source code drops to codeplex. Even though this isn’t a “true” open source adoption it’s better then having nothing at all. I think we’re all on the same page on that note.

    Just to clarify once more for everyone, I proposed some positive comments to Phil, I in no way meant for it to be negative and I still enthusiastically read his blog and enjoy his posts. I think what he is accomplishing at MS is fantastic and I am behind him 100% in his endeavor.


  • throwspoop

    By all means you opened up the communication…I love haacked, because he offers great insight and _knowledge_ , but (agreed) the quality of variance (no desenting opinion :( )is not the same as it was…lets see if he responds with even better posts!

  • David

    I sense Sean getting a lot of flack for this post. For what it’s worth, I’m pretty much in agreement with Sean. I’ve really enjoyed Phil’s blog in the past but much less so since he started focussing on ASP.NET MVC. (Again, this doesn’t just apply to Phil.)

    I think the problem for me is that, while I really hope ASP.NET MVC turns out to be a great platform, I’ve seen WebForms, CSS Adapters, ASP.NET AJAX, etc rise and fall, and so I find it hard to be interested in “look at all these great things [next big thing] can do” type posts, suspecting that, as soon as I try to use it in anger I’ll find I need to engage in some tortuous workarounds or subclass/rewrite some of the main controls to get it to work in a realistic manner.

    None of this is Phil’s fault of course, and all this said, I’m hoping he’s trying to make MVC work for developers, and if his blogging evidences his enthusiasm for that, then that’s got to be good news for the framework!