I don’t usually write editorial opinion type blogs, but given recent events I thought it poignant to follow up on one of my tweets. Last week, I sent a tweet talking about DB Stack Exchange and my thoughts on the lack of respect in the responses to those who take the time ask questions in forums.

I had many ask as to what I was referring to specifically, including some representatives of the Microsoft MVP program. My response to them is that I don’t believe in mob reactions or smearing anyone’s name and chose not to reveal the details. My reason for posting that tweet was just to remind those in the community that we have all been a beginner once and none of us know all there is to know about SQL Server or technologies in general. It takes a lot of courage for some to take the time to ask a question and all our responses should be respectful of that.

Unfortunately, too many times I read “shouldn’t you already know that” kind of responses that make the person asking a question look dumb. I also read sarcastic responses that to me tells the readers you’re not taking them or your response seriously enough. This disappoints me and is not representative of what makes our community great. In some of tweet responses, I had more than one “newbie” tweet saying they no longer use certain forums as they feel the forum has become too toxic. They’ve felt belittled or their questions were just ignored.

Now, I have also heard the argument that some questions on forums can seem like homework questions and like they are asking you to do their work for them, which is cheating. Honestly to me that shouldn’t matter.  However, for those take issue with it maybe more advantageous in your answer to ask the what have they tried so far, so you can guide them rather than give a rude answer.  My opinion in this is that there will always be someone that will read the responses and learn something.  Isn’t that what it’s all about? I do understand the frustration in that, I do. But if you think about it, we help each other daily with our own work, is that considered cheating? Regardless of what our answers are used for we are here to help lift and teach others not make them feel inferior.

I will happily say, that Stack Exchange is very much actively working on making the forums a friendlier environment and I applaud them for that. I had several of their moderators reach out to me to try to identify which post(s) I was referring to, so they could remove it or address the individual directly Again, I choose not to identify it but reiterated what my irritation was.

I want to make it clear and acknowledge how great of a resource DB Stack Exchange and other forums are. I very much appreciate those that take the time to respond and answer questions. Without those individuals that freely share their knowledge, many of us would be lost in the technology world.  Thank you to those who do it with integrity and grace. For those who don’t, please consider making a change or just stop answering questions.

One last note. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect all. Those who took the time to respond to me, thank you. Those who commented with arguing that I take things too serious or it’s not a big deal, I get it. It’s just not how I see it. I am not writing this to stir the pot, I am just following up with some thoughts. Thanks for listening.


3 Responses

  1. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t identify the problem postings for those folks working for the company and whose job it is to address those issues. That’s not smearing anyone’s name nor inciting a mob reaction. Instead, it is assisting those tasked with the issue in resolving the problem.

    I draw the parallel to the user who says “The DB is slow, can you fix it?” and then refusing to answer other questions (what were you executing, when was this happening) and instead just saying “It’s always slow, just go check it and you’ll see.”

    Simply admonishing people with a broad tweet won’t really accomplish much, we have to target the people causing problems.

    1. Joe, I am going to have to disagree.

      Not wanting to make it about one person or interaction, and instead push towards making them all good is perfectly fine.

      Monica is going out of her way to talk with moderators and others in the community – would you rather us just brow beat some individual whose behavior was effectively operating in an “acceptable mode”, or do we want to have a sea change in what is acceptable?

      I read the second intention, and I dont see much value in the first one.

      1. Constantine,

        I’m going to disagree (a little) with your disagreement 🙂

        Improving overall moderation is a great goal, for sure, and one that should be worked toward. However, there are some pretty large trolls out there, and sometimes you need to smack down the larger ones in order to make an example.

        I am not asking anyone to publicly shame someone on Twitter, but providing info for people to look at individual offenders is incredibly valuable. There are only so many moderators, and they have a huge job. Help them find the troublemakers, make an example of them, and things should improve.

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