Wrestling With Pigs

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I have to repeat this cliche to myself at least once a week:

/Never wrestle with a pig; you both get dirty and the pig loves it./

One of the problems with online forums is that, naturally, they are dominated by the people with the most time on their hands - and by the people with the most dogmatic views. As in any community, the loudest views are often the least-informed. When criticized in a forum like TSS , it's usually better to just stay out of the mud. As difficult as it is to let uninformed statements go unchallenged, it is almost always the best decision. Let the pig be. Disputing a post brings attention to it. If the poster is of a particular personality type, the disputation will very quickly turn personal. Maintaining your dignity once that happens is virtually impossible.

In fact, what most amazes me about IT communities is the sheer ubiquity of /argumentum ad hominem/. I've always associated computing with the pursuit of understanding via scientifically inclined methodology. Yet most of the debate that occurs in the Java community consists of name-calling. I got so mad about this today that I broke all my own rules and launched some /ad hominem/ of my own, which is really quite self-defeating, I suppose.

The big problem from my point of view is that I can't simply ignore the online forums; as an open source project they are an absolutely indispensible way for us to get our ideas heard.

Clay Shirky has written insightfully about how online communities can be designed, so it is interesting to speculate about what kind of adjustments could be made to a community like TSS if we wanted to bring out our good sides, and encourage technical arguments rather than personal ones. But perhaps the very strength of TSS is the freewheeling nature of the debate there. Flame wars get attention; they generate the most traffic.

Well, I'm a big boy. Hibernate has been subject to all kinds of outlandish criticisms right from the start. But we are growing every month. We often joke that criticisms of Hibernate invariably begin with I've never used Hibernate but... and indeed that is still true. If our actual /users/ start bitching, /then/ we will need to start listening harder!

Apologies for the nontechnical post ;)

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