Off Topic: Whole Lotta Nuthin'
For the first time in a very
long time, I deleted a comment. (I delete the obvious spam all the time: “Kewl Blog! Here's my blog about how to Make Money Fast
”). But this was just a garden-variety criticism.
I forget the exact words, but I think they went along the lines of, “You sure expanded a short quote into a lot of BS.” And quite honestly, I had given my serenity the day off work. I was irritated. Very irritated.
My feeling is that a certain kind of criticism is healthy. It indicates that the blog is putting out actual opinions and not just hand-waving.
I can write a post about interviewing. If I don’t want criticism, I can say things like, “I review the candidate’s track record and accomplishments with her, discussing her problem-solving approach and evaluating the cultural fit.” Sounds great. Now, what did I say, exactly?
Did I say, “I don’t hire her because she’s a woman and our office is full of guys?” Did I say, “I hire her because she rails against cowboy coding, so I have a good feeling about her, even if I didn’t actually find out if she can write any code herself?” Nope, I didn’t say anything you could point to.
Compare and contrast that to talking about any specific
question you ask in an interview. Whether you talk about a software design challenge
or an easy coding problem
to screen out people who can’t actually program, someone will criticize you because you have said something specific
. You can’t even suggest asking a candidate how they got into the industry
without somebody suggesting you are using behavioral interviewing techniques and telling you how wrong that is.
Criticism of ideas is a sign that you are actually putting out specific ideas, not just platitudes. And as an extra special bonus, those criticisms add value for everyone who reads the ideas.
I recall Reiner Zwitserloot
saying that I just don’t get it about static typing, that it is all about the tooling, not the safety. I really like that kind of opposition, it adds a lot of value for people reading the blog. It makes me re-examine my thoughts and convictions. I am grateful for that kind of feedback, even if it comes in a refreshingly frank form.
However, the comment I deleted actually says nothing about the idea in the post. Well, it sort of says that I contributed nothing new, that I took a quote and added hot air. That is a kind of criticism, one that criticizes my writing style.
But still, it says nothing about the underlying idea. This is not a blog about blogging. It is a blog about (at various times) career issues for software developers, software development, software, and most often, programming.
Readers come here for those subjects. How does criticizing my lack of writing skill add value to their experience? If someone is reading a post and you point out that twenty paragraphs could have been one paragraph, how have you helped them decide whether that one paragraph is right, wrong, or not even wrong
I probably won’t delete a comment like that if it comes up again. But I do want to encourage everyone to consider the other readers of this blog before commenting.
Your comment is an opportunity to make the world a better place, to help someone else avoid the pitfalls and to steer them towards success. Don’t squander that on criticisms that are way off-topic. Are my words full of BS? If so, take a moment to explain why