Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Votes of No Confidence, Voting With Your Feet, or Putting Too Much Faith in False Prophets

I am so tired of hearing the hyperbole coming out of some folks in the .NET community who are far too wrapped up in themselves.  Yeah, Bellware, I'm talking about you and your ilk.  [1]

I'm tired of seeing all Microsoft described as morally corrupt, or covering their asses, or whatever overly broad, hyperbolic evil empire phrase of the day the fanatics want to throw out.  There is no doubt that some less than helpful folks exist in the corners of Microsoft, but can you honestly throw out those sorts of silly accusations and paint the entire company with the same broad stroke?  Can you give concrete evidence that the company is driven by nefarious goals without any effort inside the company to right past wrongs?  Can you honestly look me straight in the face and make those claims, instead of admitting that there are a tiny few intransigents in Microsoft who are not signing on to some very fundamental, amazing, positive changes the company is making as a whole?


Then STFU, calm down, and get an honest, civil discourse going again.  Leave off the self-aggrandizement, the condescending manifestos, and the attacks.  Start up a conversation with folks like the MVC team, who are actively pulling in community input.  Look up the folks at Microsoft like Sara Ford and the CodePlex geeks who are trying to empower the community.  Work with the evangelists like Drew Robbins and Jason Olson who are driving content to be more real world.  Hook up with the Visual Studio team who spent hours picking the brains of MVPs at the summit in an attempt to figure out how best to get community input to drive Visual Studio's feature set.

Does that sound like a bunch of dishonest, evil-minded folks?  Not in my mind.  (No clue how to try and get this same level of involvement from the Entity Framework folks.  I tried in one "open spaces" session at the MVP summit and was stunned by the EF guy ignoring what I and several others were telling him.)

And oh, by the way, I'm always happy to offer up my own criticism of Microsoft when they're due it.  See my comments here, or a separate post on my blog here.

Why am I so beaked about all this?  I'm tired of the many, MANY good folks at Microsoft being slandered.  Yeah, I used that word deliberately.  I'm also tired of being condescended to or outright attacked by a very small group of folks who seem to think I and other geeks can't evaluate things and make intelligent decisions on our own.  Do I need some pompous manifesto to tell me that NHibernate is better than the Entity Framework?  NO!  I need rational, detailed discussion on the topic. 

Unfortunately, rational discussion seems too far a stretch.  Bellware once even wrote a blog post demeaning folks choosing certain Microsoft technologies as performing "Dependent Driven Design" because they hostage to paying family bills and therefore making design choices to benefit Microsoft sales and pad their own pockets.  I'd point you to his blog post on that topic, but Bellware deleted his entire blog because he was narked about something.  Yeah, that's a mature thing to do.

If you are outside this entire train wreck of an argument and are reading some of these overly zealous conversations then you need to step back and consider what the goal of these one-way rants are.  Do folks who spread this hyperbole honestly expect that it will solve anything?  Is this utter lack of respect how these folks treat those who have differing viewpoints?

Maybe Bellware and the other folks spewing poison should follow a fundamental tenet of Open Space conferences: Vote With Your Feet. 

If those few hyperbolic folks honestly feel that Microsoft is a corrupt, evil, morally bankrupt entity then they should have the courage to live up to the standards they profess and go find work in a different domain.  Go off and write Ruby on the LAMP platform.  There are a bunch of amazingly cool cats in that area.  Why not go hit some Java work instead of .NET?  There are a bunch of wicked smart folks in that domain, too.  Are those folks still holding their MVP awards from Microsoft?  Give 'em up, dudes, and let pass the related business networks (read "increased pipeline and/or salary") that goes along with that award, otherwise you're beholden and corrupt yourself.  (I don't really think that, but you see my point.)

Let me be crystal clear on something: I am in awe of the technical chops of Bellware.  That man passed more brilliant ideas through his lower intestines last week than I will have the rest of the year.   He's brilliant in engineering and design, he's clued in on philosophy (and not just software), and it sounds like he's all over the right kind of processes.  I'm just sick of prima donnas.  I put up with this kind of crap during the many years I spent busting my ass to get great at competitive volleyball while watching all the folks with amazing natural talent spend more effort snarking and deriding others instead of working to lift up the team.  That sucks and it's one of the few things I get really, really pissed about.  (Plus Bellware called me an "arbitrary dick" on Twitter and he hurt my feelings so there.)

So what's the point of this long, somewhat rambling post?  Has Jim gone further around the bend than some of the zealots?  No, I'm just hoping someone who is trying to make a rational decision about various things from Microsoft may stumble across my blog before running in to the EF VONC or some other similarly toned rant.

[1] Do not for one moment think I lump all Alt.NET folks or Entity Framework Vote of No Confidence signatories together as one group of zealots.  I'm talking about a tiny subset of this group.

UPDATE: To be clear.  Bellware didn't just delete one ranting blog post, he deleted his entire blog. That really sucks, because he had a lot of great stuff in there.


Luc said...

Rant read. I agree with you opinion whole heartedly. Microsoft has made some really good changes over the years and are very involved in the dev community IMO.

As software vendors, we feel they they communicate upcoming changes in the IDE and framework in plenty enough time for us to adjust our tools well before the changes are made public. Now whether we like the changes or not is another thing, but... :)

I agree that people who label an entire company's morale with negativity while "shooting from the hip" using no facts to back up their claims are not worth reading. The fact that he retracted a blog about opinion-based rants has to say something... Good post!

Jim Holmes said...

@luc Thanks! You folks at Data Dynamics have a unique view into changes at MS, and I greatly appreciate your $0.02!

Bellware didn't just retract one blog post. He retracted his ENTIRE BLOG, which just completely sucks because there was some amazing content on it.

Anonymous said...

Well said, and needed to be said well. Regardless of the content or intent of a message such as the "Vote of No Confidence", it will fall flat in creating useful dialogue because the condescension and pompousness (and strange cult-of-personality vibe) completely alienate any folks not drinking the Kool-Aid but who would otherwise be willing to listen.

I was also shocked by the "arbitrary dick" line. Completely out of left field and uncalled for, a sign of significant defensiveness, IMO.

Jeff Hunsaker said...

Brilliant. Intelligent, problem-solving dissent is good. Ad hominem attacks are not. Thank you for having the courage to speak out in favor of proposing solutions rather than idolizing those who can merely identify problems.

Chris Bilson said...

Hi Jim,

Of course this is your blog and you can post anything you want, but when you see someone ranting and going off in the weeds, chasing them in there and ranting back at them seems like a poor way to get back on track.

You don't have to listen to opinions you don't like (heck, since Scott deleted his entire blog, you could argue that you really have to go out of your way (..back machine) to hear him.)

Now...uhh...what were we talking about again?

Jim Holmes said...

Matt, Jeff, and Chris: Thanks for your thoughts!

Chris: I think there's a pretty clear difference between the zealot's rantings and me offering up a passionate "Enough!"

Nope, I don't have to listen to those points -- which is why I don't follow any of those folks on Twitter or read their blogs.

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