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Two Personal Notes from OSCON

Dear Reader,

OSCON is a mind field. There are way too many Zealots here for civil discourse to take place. it’s no wonder tech conventions have to serve so much alcohol. Here are 2 observations.

1: I made the mistake of mentioning to someone that I prefer using MySQL over it’s open source rival. The gentleman (I’m being nice) verbally lunged at me. His words were “I only use *the tool* that works.”

Hey, Mr. Twentysomthing, you were the only tool in the room at that moment. I was designing databases before you were born. I’ve worked on everything from small 30-table databases to multi-terabyte systems. I certainly do not need your help in selecting the proper RDBMS for my projects. I won’t hold it against your technology that it’s represented by people like you. The product is good, it’s just not the most popular. Being rude to people is NOT the way to make it more popular.

Oh and it’s ok to be polite to someone who doesn’t agree with you, ass-hole.

2: I was wandering the tradeshow floor looking for technologies I wanted to write about. At one place, I asked what underlying technologies they supported. He rattled off the usual list and then said the strangest thing. He said

“Pretty much everything except ‘technology X’, I can’t stand ‘technology X'”.

I smiled politely and moved on. But here’s a hint to vendors, know who you are talking to. Not that I’m special or important, but if you are talking to someone who works for ‘company Y’ and ‘company y’ is very closely associated to ‘technology x’, even to the point of having their corporate tagline be “The ‘technology X’ company” maybe you can skip the “I hate ‘technology X’ speech.” It really doesn’t make any difference to me.

If you don’t support it, that’s fine, I’m not a Zealot like Mr. #1 above. Explaining that you hate “technology X” does not win you any points with me. It does make me wonder though if you are nothing more than a market-roid reading from your corporate talking points instead of a developer who has actually implemented ‘technology X’ and knows why his company doesn’t support it.

As always, the views posted on THIS blog are my own. They do not reflect the views of my employer, my family or the voices in my head. If your gonna be hating because of them, hate me.

Until next time,

3 thoughts on “Two Personal Notes from OSCON

  1. Hey Cal,

    These are just opportunities to educate the misinformed. :)

    Part of this behaviour is that people often feel a need to advocate their favourite product by criticising competing products.

    Another key part is that many of the leaders in this community hold strong opinions. People in the community who aspire to be like their leaders often emulate their behaviours in a very broad sense – thing of it as a kind of cargo cult thing (

    As for OSCON vs. other venues – it is very similar at most events, regardless of what they focus on.


  2. I have often noticed that some technologies’ user communities have distinctly different characteristics.

    There are some characteristics that seem to tie directly to the technology itself. It does not surprise me that a pragmatic programmer, or a person who likes purity would chose a programming language that fits their own mindset.

    I don’t think friendliness of user community does tie directly back to the technology, but I have noticed that technologies that are widely used and have a large and growing userbase tend to have friendlier communities than less popular alternatives.

    I don’t know which is cause and which is effect.

    Most people genuinely believe that their chosen tool is the best tool for solving a class of problem. Does having the majority of people disagree make you bitter and unfriendly?

    Alternatively, do OSS projects start out friendly and welcoming, then after growing for a few years decide that they no longer need troublesome newbie users and close ranks starting a process of stagnation and user reduction.

    I often worry that the PHP community has started to head towards the unfriendly path. There are people who would be perfectly happy if the language became harder for beginners to use, in the hope that others will then have more respect for their skills.

  3. Zak, Luke!
    (Two of my missing interviews!)

    Thanks for the thought provoking posts.

    Both of you touched on what I believe to be the problem, (at least with Mr #1) community.

    I think that those who insist that their tools are best are short-sighted. I will agree with them that they are the best tools for them, but not to the point that they are simply the best tools. Let’s face it, bash is a useful tool and despite it’s quirks, I’ve gotten used to it. But it is in no way the best shell out there, just the best one for me.

    Community is something that is starting to really puzzle me. Is a community defined by the leaders? If a community has elitist leadership (and I’m not purporting that PHP does) does that mean that the PHP community is elitist? I hope the PHP community remains a friendly place for programmers of all skill levels. I would hate to see us raise the barrier of entry. I wouldn’t mind if we stratified the community a bit because I believe that we have some highly talented programmers who may not be recognized as such simply because of the impression that PHP is “easy”.


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