Friday, May 04, 2007

You wouldn't let it lie!

The OTN forum is still seeing activity on the notorious long running thread URGENT URGENT PLZ READ B4 OTHERS VERY URGENT NO TIME WASTERS. OTN regular Simon Galaxy asks why.
"I think that sometimes the most irrelevant threads present the most posts.....!!!!!!!"

I don't think this is wholly fair. Some of the long running threads contain useful nuggets of learning and opinion for which they are worth mining. They usually start with a wacky theory or application architecture proposed by somebody is not familiar with Oracle in particular or RDBMS in general. Examples include the 'code class' rdbms, nulls and empty strings or the key-value pair design. Usually such threads die out quickly after the initial response. But sometimes, as with the threads cited above, the OP is possessed of evangelical wrongheadedness: they need to prove us wrong and we need to get them to see sense. That's where the momentum comes from. Eventually the posts snowball because they persistently feature in the Popular Discussions panel, so more people read them and respond. Threads like these become too unwieldy to follow, but often William Roberston and his gang fillet the best ones for posting on Oracle WTF.

On the other hand there are zombie threads which are just fuelled by stupidity, no - let's be generous - naivety. One such was the gone but not missed "plz send me the coding standards" thread, Somebody searching the web for PL%2FSQL+coding+standards finds a seemingly helpful post. Unfortunately they just respond to the OP without registering the thread's bloated number of posts or its original posting date. These can run on for years, although occasionally the OTN moderators do terminate them.

The NO TIME WASTERS thread is really just an opportunity for some old forum lags to let off some steam. And why not. It was a free shot and better than RTFM-ing a genuine but hapless seeker. The interesting thing about this thread is how many people who have never or only rarely posted to the OTN forums felt the need to weigh in with their opinion of the OP. That's the Tom Kyte effect. Whilst it's always nice to see have visitors it seems a pity that these espontaneos couldn't find something more worthwhile to do with their first post than abuse some dumb troll who had already been roundly abused by many others.

It's instructive to compare this thread with another recent one: Oracle is the devil itself . The opening post goes:
I hate this stupid database engine and all its relevant stuff. Microsoft SQL Server 2005 is the king! I could kill my boss, because I have to work with this ****! Hate it!

Obviously this chap's real problem is with his boss, who is making him use Oracle without giving him the necessary training and support. But he felt unable to express this to his boss, so he flames the OTN forums instead. The thing is, people engaged with him, calmed him down and eventually he resolved his issue. As you might have guessed, it was a bug in his .Net application and nothing to do with the underlying Oracle database. However, people continued posting to this thread, perhaps because it had a catchy name, and it became one of the Forum's more thoughtful examinations of the relative merits of MS SQL Server and Oracle as RDBMS products.


Anonymous Jacco said...

Yes I am a frequent contributer to the otn forum, and yes I feel the urge to bash some other users head sometimes, but I try to not to answer on otn while looking at these remarks (A question whould be phrased differently), since it is not my mission to make the whole world appreciate Oracle and it's features.

In the end these "wars" always end up in (to put it crudely) a dick-size-contest. The stone ages are over, internet does exists already and I feel no need to waste my time into pointing to page so and so in manual X (ergo: call RTFM).

Laughing at someone's question, or lack of knowledge of the English language (I'm no native english speaker/writer too) is not nice, even though it is enjoying. Making someone really understand what is wrong with their approach to a problem is much more helpfull, even though it does take 20 times more time then just pointing to the question.

7 May 2007 at 23:44:00 GMT-7  
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