Friday, November 6, 2009

Your dogma is peeing on my karma

I work in software development. We have a development team of about 40 people, which is reasonably self-contained process-wise within the organisation, so individuals have the ability (and indeed a responsibility) to influence practices, processes, toolsets and the like.

I don't know whether this environment attracts people who are passionate and outspoken about their opinions or just provides an open forum, but nevertheless, robust debate is common.

This morning, one of the guys sent out a link to a blog post about a fairly controversial opinion.

I'll start here by saying that I think there might be some good points in the post, but some of his justification for his recommendations seems a bit mangled and waffly so I'm not certain whether he makes them very well.

But I'm not really concerned with the post itself. What concerned me was the "religious war" that started up in the comments. Some of the comments were thoughful, well written and non-inflammatory, but a lot of them weren't.

It is of course, not the first time I've seen this situation. It's representative of something I see a lot online, and it's not just isolated to IT discussions. You often see comment or forum postings a little like the following"

1. (insert discussion point here) is good because it is. 
2. No, it's bad because it's bad.
3. I use it in (insert limited scope here) and it works really well so therefore everyone should use it. 
4. But it doesn't work in (insert other limited scope) so therefore it's really bad and you're mad if you even consider using it. 
5. But everyone I know uses it so therefore it must be good.
And from there, personal attacks often ensue.

I don't have a problem with the aforementioned robust debate, in fact I think it's necessary. But what I want to see is a little common sense - a recognition that there's usually no black and white in these things. I very rarely see comments that say "I've found that this works really well out of the box in this situation but we've had to modify it in some cases, and I can see that there might be situations where it might not be suitable at all".

I don't know whether it's the nature of the internet that makes some of the exchanges so nasty. Is there something about human nature that makes us think our opinion will be valuable to everyone else, and causes us to devalue those who don't share our opinions?

We knitters appear to be better than most other online communities I've observed, but we are not immune either. I've seen a lot of debate about the relative merits of knitting and crochet, of acrylic vs natural fibres, of acid vs natural dyes, and even between various breeds of wool, some of it not so polite!

So I will continue to try to use common sense in my arguments, backing them up with appropriate evidence from my own experience, and expecting that others will have different opinions, and plenty of evidence to back theirs up as well. I will endeavour to try new things and to occasionally change my mind. Who knows, I may even learn something!

On the knitting front, I've started another bag. This one will be a Booga Bag in various stripes of whatever I can find enough of in the feltable-wool box (8 ply/DK wool held double). Not much to see yet as it's only the black for the base, but I hope to get it finished this weekend.

No comments:

Post a Comment