Ben Langhinrichs

August, 2005
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Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Wed 31 Aug 2005, 01:09 AM
We Notes/Domino zealots have suffered a lot in recent years from rampant FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) spread by various Microsoft apologists, and we have been particularly annoyed by trolling in the various Notes/Domino forums.  A troll isn't really looking for information, and isn't really open to reasoned argument.  A troll simply wants to start flame wars and cause trouble.

Given this history, and with Notes/Domino 7 just released, many people in our Notes/Domino community may be just waiting for the inevitable trolls to start downplaying the accomplishments and spreading more FUD.  All well and good, but I'd caution you all to keep your Troll-O-Sensors set just a bit lower.  Just because someone asks a question about Notes/Domino, or even expresses a concern, doesn't make that person a troll.  It may just make that person a potential customer who has reasonable worries, or who has even been confused by the FUD being spread around.  But do you really think it is going to convince anyone that their worries are unwarranted by jumping up and down on them and screaming.  Not a chance.

The specific example which brought this up was on the (now) Notes/Domino 6 & 7 Forum, where an Imran Ashraf  asked about Notes Technology Risks.  Some of these concerns are legitimate, some are not, but all are quite plausible concerns that a company might have based on the press and analysis out there in the media.  What bothers me is not his list of questions, and he is asking people's opinions of these risks, not simply stating that they are facts.  What bothers me are the responses.

Aside from my response, where I actually addressed each perceived risk as best I could, here are the responses.

1) The first person asks if he is just "fishing for a batch of indignant objections?" and ignores all specifics and says these same risks would apply to any technology, which they certainly wouldn't.

2) Someone chimes in that he would "venture to guess that the is (a) MS developer" and derides that choice.

3) Another person piles on saying that these would mostly apply to any platform.

4) Finally somebody who is not a regular in the forum and didn't "get the memo" actually responds to a couple of concerns.

5) The last comment, thus far, is from another regular who asks, in a somewhat confrontational one-liner,  "Ok, you (-or your company) are entitled to your opinion, but why not get qualified advice from this group, or a consultant company?" and seems to ignore that that is exactly what the person did just do, and got fairly soundly blasted for doing.

Now, if this person is an MS developer (which his IP address suggests he is not), then everybody has just done exactly what he wanted by responding and drawing attention to the comments without refuting them at all.  If he is a potential customer, or even an existing customer, everybody has just made him feel like he has no right to ask any questions, but must unthinkingly remained devoted.  That tends to work... not!  Finally, anybody else reading the forum is likely to feel like the residents therein are a bunch of rude bozos who aren't willing to listen to any possible objections to their chosen platform, which would have the opposite of the intended effect, since it would tend to discredit their objectivity and make it more likely the questions being raised ARE legitimate.

So, all I can say is, let's show a bit more sensitivity when people ask questions.  It is a good and wholesome thing to ask questions, and also a good and wholesome thing to provide reasoned, intelligent answers which convince people you know what you are talking about.  That will better serve to bolster both our credibility and the reputation of Notes/Domino. in my humble opinion.  Sure, sometimes there will be trolls who ask questions in such a way that no reasoned answer is appropriate ("Senator, is it true that you have stopped beating your wife?"), but there are also people out there who have used Notes since it was a glimmer in Ray Ozzie's eye, and who may have questions that they would actually like answered.  Let's be aware of them as well.

Copyright © 2005 Genii Software Ltd.