Ayende @ Rahien

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It is an issue of traffic

I just had to respond to this post, Davy Brion talks about the Ruby community, and he had the following to say:

When i asked them about interesting resources to follow as a newbie Rubyist, they all gladly shared their suggestions. When i thanked them for it, they all replied stating that i should feel free to contact them if i had any more questions about whatever Ruby related. Seriously, can you imagine the few .NET heroes that we have responding to questions through email from people they don’t even know like that? I can’t. Hell, i know most of them don’t respond like that. The few that do are still trying to earn their MVP award or are too worried about renewing their MVP status.

Ignoring the MVP dig, allow me to explain exactly what is going on.

In the last 48 hours:

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Those are all cold requests, from people I have never met, and all to my private email. Note that in most cases, there is a dedicated mailing list for the topic in question.

For that matter, the last two days has been decidedly quiet in the NHibernate front, this represent a more realistic sample of what is going on:

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And those are in addition to the business, private, mailing list and other stuff that I do in email.

Putting it simply, there is too much traffic for me to welcome most cold questions with anything more than a direction to the appropriate mailing list. This isn’t about being rude, or uncaring, this is about actually being able to do any work at all.

Comments

fschwiet
08/31/2010 11:57 PM by
fschwiet

Ayende I don't think you should take that criticism as being directed at you. Obviously you share a lot of your knowledge. His post is directed at the community overall, or MVPs overall.

Since he's just starting with Rails, his Rails questions were likely trivial for most of the Rails community. So of course he gets lots answers. Post an easy .NET question on stackoverflow.com and you'll get the same results. Given that he's making such broad generalizations based on just his experiences, I would hardly consider his point conclusive.

Nick Berardi
09/01/2010 12:15 AM by
Nick Berardi

I wouldn't take too much offense to what he says. His observations are at best uninformed and at wort just plain ignorant. Because if you step back and look at it, it is all a numbers game. You talk to 10 ruby developers and 8 of them are helpful, wonderful you have a great close-nit support group.

However to talk to that same percentage of .NET developers would probably require something on the order of 200 or 400 or maybe more (I don't actually know the ratio, but I hope you get the point) developer conversations.

Right now the Ruby community is a lot like the .NET 1.1 community, a lot of very knowledgeable people that can understand the whole framework and help out with a lot of broad and general questions. But we are 7 years beyond .NET 1.1 and we have groups that specialize in the framework. ASP.NET, Silverlight, WCF, etc

And this is one of the reasons the MVP program exists, for serialized help from people you known can be considered experts. His comments were just malicious, and probably should be taken with a grain of salt.

josh
09/01/2010 12:26 AM by
josh

You are one of the more responsive .Net devs. I've been fairly lucky to get feedback from you and others, but I don't have unrealistic expectations either.

I agree with Davy that there is a difference in the Ruby community, but not to the extent that I'd disrespect the great help I've gotten from you or others. Nor do I think he meant any disrespect.

I try to help when I can, but I'm certain I don't have a tenth the traffic you get.

Steve
09/01/2010 12:38 AM by
Steve

Ayende, I'm sure you've been called many things, but the "norm" is not one of them. :)

As others have said, the .NET community is huge, so someone making a generalization about it doesn't mean it applies to you.

For example, after their dealings with lots of Canadians, a lot of people say that in general, Canadians are nicer than Americans...but that doesn't mean that even though I'm Canadian that I'm not an complete a-hole. :)

Tyler Burd
09/01/2010 02:15 AM by
Tyler Burd

Is this guy kidding? .NET has been THE most helpful dev community I've ever experienced, and I come from a heavy Java background, with a couple of PHP years before that. People like Udi, you (Ayende), Haack, ScottGu, and countless others CONSTANTLY answer questions or implement new features in OSS projects basically without compensation of any kind. And that's not mentioning the extremely active mailing lists, the bloggers who often answer questions directly in their posts' comments, and Google, which can usually answer your .NET-specific questions with little effort on anyone's part.

if you don't expect completely personal attention from someone who, like you said, is likely very overloaded with traffic, the mailing lists usually answer questions within minutes of posting (I'm speaking here to the NHibernate and Castle mailing lists. I also had great luck on the NServiceBus lists while I was exploring that.)

Cherian
09/01/2010 04:50 AM by
Cherian

Excellent case of using gmail’s canned messages to redirect them to appropriate lists..

Jeff
09/01/2010 06:41 AM by
Jeff

Oren, I am a consummate critic (mostly silent) and still you have directly answered the few questions I have directly and privately asked you...and quickly! The one thing you have always done is produce a huge volume of knowledge and experience to the cutting edge .net community. You don't need to make excuses!

Sammy
09/01/2010 07:09 AM by
Sammy

Why don't you just hide your personal email address?

Joseph
09/01/2010 07:38 AM by
Joseph

This totally goes against my experience too, both as a sometime question asker, and a question answerer. I've had folks from MS provide lots of help using their libraries, and I've cold-called projects I know using technologies that I know stuff about and offered to help them.

Frank Quednau
09/01/2010 07:50 AM by
Frank Quednau

Strange that the day you refer to Davy Brion is the day I hit on his blog and the Agatha Framework.

I was just reading a couple of his posts and he seems a bit exasperated with the .NET community - I have no idea what his personal experiences are but after reading some posts it seems the alleged focus of Microsoft on non-professional devs (keyword: LightSwitch) is one of the things going against his grain.

It must be an individual experience, though. There are a ton of knowledgeable people in the .NET community, some have already been mentioned here or on Davy's blog, other names that spring to my mind instantly are Jon Skeet (what doesn't he know about .NET?) or Eric Lippert (I get answers to my questions from the C# COMPILER TEAM? WTF?!) - There are numerous mail groups. Stuff like reactive framework or additions to the .NET framework regarding multithreaded programming etc. aren't exactly aimed at no-professionals, are they?

So, no, I can't share his sentiments.

alex
09/01/2010 08:29 AM by
alex

There is a huge bunch of people who are just too lazy (or slow or whatever) to digg inside problems and they tend to spam forums, mailing lists and concrete people to get free quick answers. At this point I understand Ayende very well.

But on the other side, do u guys who read this blog really think that Ayende did all his work on helping people because he is that generous ?

He has established a solid reputation in the community which he is using now to set up his commercial projects - raven, profiler and sell his consultancy hours for higher rates. If his time now costs $$$$, he cannot anymore provide it for free. )

Frans Bouma
09/01/2010 09:48 AM by
Frans Bouma

I also don't get what Davy is aiming at. I regularly get emails from random people who want programming help, I always reply with an answer. I also offered Linq provider dev info to anyone who wants it, as it's silly to let another person suffer the trial/error mess again.

Though I totally understand your (Oren) position wrt to support and spending time on emails from random people: some people find it easier to write an email with a question than to think for themselves for a couple of minutes. Most developers who are known by others in the community often have obligations to their own customers or users of their work to provide support as well, and that of course gets a higher priority, something likely overlooked by people asking questions out of the blue.

Ben Taylor
09/01/2010 12:50 PM by
Ben Taylor

I agree with Davy on the general "feel" of the Ruby community versus the .NET community. There seems to be a more "we're in it learning together" spirit versus the "Microsoft/beginner your code is junk, look what I did".

In a roundabout way, this post re-enforces his point. He did not call out Ayende and the post was only partly about email responses. The bigger point was negativity and the fact that ALT.NET did not reach it's potential. Responding as if he did call you out flames a new argument which only results in further division (as you can see in the comments above).

Davy Brion
09/01/2010 12:56 PM by
Davy Brion

"In a roundabout way, this post re-enforces his point. He did not call out Ayende and the post was only partly about email responses. The bigger point was negativity and the fact that ALT.NET did not reach it's potential. Responding as if he did call you out flames a new argument which only results in further division (as you can see in the comments above). "

finally, somebody gets it :)

Al
09/01/2010 02:01 PM by
Al

Ben and Davy,

So you're both saying that when somebody makes wide-ranging criticisms of the Ruby/Rails community, everybody is just cool with it? That is definitely not what I've seen from DHH et al. I'm not saying it's any worse or better; I'm just saying you can't insult a group of people and say they're being negative when they reply. It's like accusing someone of being defensive.

I don't think Ayende is starting any argument. He's just responding to your critique of the community he's part of.

Honestly, Davy, if you "got it", you wouldn't make ridiculously broad judgments like that. I know many MVPs, and 4/5 are just friendly people trying to spread their passion for software development. They are people who spend many hours every week helping others -- usually without any type of reward.

Maybe the .NET community seems negative to you, because you put out a negative attitude? Or maybe you just pay too much attention to Bellware.

Steve
09/01/2010 02:59 PM by
Steve

Al,

Davy is hardly the first person to question the attitude of MVPs.

As a whole, I've found the Ruby community to be better than the .NET community, especially when asking "basic" questions. That doesn't mean that Ayende, Rob Conery, et al aren't great at responding to questions, it just means that, as a whole, one group is better perceived than the other.

Rubyists due tend to be a bit more high and mighty, but there doesn't seem to be the bitterness that at least a few .NET-ites let seep into their blogs, or worse their responses when someone disagrees with them.

Davy Brion
09/01/2010 03:02 PM by
Davy Brion

@Al

"I'm just saying you can't insult a group of people and say they're being negative when they reply."

i'm not complaining about negativity in the replies. everyone has an opinion and everyone can criticize, nothing wrong with that as far as i'm concerned.

i just find it ironic that some of the comments are a nice illustration of the point i was trying to make

"So you're both saying that when somebody makes wide-ranging criticisms of the Ruby/Rails community, everybody is just cool with it?"

pretty sure i didn't claim something like that :)

my point about the negativitiy is within the group. attack a group, and yeah, you'll get a negative response from that group, that's not something anyone should be surprised about.

"Maybe the .NET community seems negative to you, because you put out a negative attitude? Or maybe you just pay too much attention to Bellware. "

for what it's worth: i haven't listened to Bellware in about 2 years

my assessment of the .NET community's negativity is largely based on the type of communication/interaction you often see between members of this community. If you say you don't like a certain approach or pattern or whatever, you'll get a ton of responses from people and quite a few of them will be extremely negative towards you, not what you're saying.

As for me personally, i don't feel that i've gotten a lot of that. But i've seen quite a few insults going around between people who were arguing over various approaches and practices.

And from what i can tell, this seems to happen more in the .NET world, then it happens in other developer communities, for whatever reason.

Al
09/01/2010 03:26 PM by
Al

@Davy,

Very fair response.

And FWIW, I actually do agree that there's more bitterness and judgmental behavior in the .NET world. My personal guess is that's it's related to the wide range of developer skill level and approach.

In .NET world, you have people like Ayende and then you have people who program Excel macros. I understand how people who are serious, passionate developers could eventually get sick of answering beginner questions from people who are not actually trying to learn and don't look for answers first.

From reading your blog, I also bet that you ask well-articulated questions that people can answer quickly.

I mainly took issue with the snipe at .NET community leaders. I think you should have left that out. It really watered down your point, IMO.

Al
09/01/2010 03:42 PM by
Al

.... not that there's anything wrong with writing Excel macros. :) My point is that few people come to Ruby as their first language, and those that do, they actually want to learn software development -- in my experience.

In the .NET world, there seems to be a much higher percentage of people who are just trying to get a paycheck and go home. Again, I don't have any problem with people for whom this is just a job, but it does create a very different type of community.

Frans Bouma
09/02/2010 09:31 AM by
Frans Bouma

"my assessment of the .NET community's negativity is largely based on the type of communication/interaction you often see between members of this community. If you say you don't like a certain approach or pattern or whatever, you'll get a ton of responses from people and quite a few of them will be extremely negative towards you, not what you're saying. "

True, but isn't that the same within ruby? I know for a fact that some people who use ruby now for a long time (e.g. along with Java using JRuby) absolutely hate RoR and the code it produces. And with 'hate' I truly mean HATE. So I think your opinion about ruby's 'community' is a bit surrealistic (but nevertheless how you experienced it)

I think within the .NET 'community' (I don't see it as a community btw, more as a grouping predicate for the developers on this planet using the .NET platform in any given way) there are simply a LOT of people and choices, and therefore opinions. With an opinion comes passion about that opinion, and if a group is big enough, you'll see the creation of sub-groups, as the whole group alone isn't enough to identify with. Sharing an opinion and a passion about an opinion is a good way to create a sub-group, to identify with (e.g. 'BDUF is bad!, BDD is the only way to good software!'). etc.

I think the group of .NET developers who you could call 'the .NET community' is that big that it has formed sub-groups within that group who have different opinions about how to solve things: if you talk to a member of subgroup A about an opinion shared by and expressed by subgroup B, you'll likely meet a lack of enthusiasm for your story. But if you talk to a member of subgroup B, it will likely be met with a friendly face, like when you come home after a long journey.

In the past I had some problems with some individuals in the alt.net 'subgroup', and this wasn't friendly at all. Looking back, I was simply in the wrong sub-group. I therefore recognize what you're referring to but I don't think it's formulated very well, as you seem to attack individuals, which is a silly thing to do: communities don't work that way.

Are these sub-groups a bad thing? I don't think they are. Of course, trying to get into a subgroup because 'all the cool guys are there' can be a challenge when you don't really share the same mindset. But that's the same in real life. The more expressive these subgroups are, the more simpler it will become to see what the choices are, what the pro/cons are to do a given thing.

The only thing I don't get is the attack on MVPs. If you want to attack people, fine by me, but name them by name or leave out the attack. Now it looks like people who got an award from MS are selfcentered douchebags.

Simon Mac
09/02/2010 05:54 PM by
Simon Mac

I saw my email in this post, and to be fair I was asking for nothing, and trying to give something back.

The traffic is not only a one way street. ;)

Roco
09/03/2010 11:10 AM by
Roco

Look, I think Davy is correct in his assessment. But I think there is aspect that has not been discussed yet, and that is in the Ruby world there is obviously a huge focus on RoR. In RoR, for better or worse, there is an accepted way of doing things. So, you usually don't see wars over HOW to do things, rather you see discussions about solving problems and getting work done faster. In .NET land, we have a good core of great people like Ayende and Frans who contribute useful knowledge, but we have a HUGE population of people with blogs and big mouths (sometimes MVPs) who create the atmosphere Davy is talking about.

It seems like every day we get a post along the lines of "Now, this is how you should be doing things,and if you don't get it, well....go back to dragging and dropping grids on a designer surface." And for christsake, can we stop with the over-complex architectures that only apply to maybe 1% of the apps we develop on a daily basis! If I see another CQRS post I'm going to throw my beer bottle at the wall....Well, that would be stupid, but you get my point ;)

JeroenH
09/03/2010 11:54 AM by
JeroenH

@FransBouma's comment pretty much sums it all up. Very insightful.

Comments have been closed on this topic.