This editorial was originally published on Apr 6, 2009 and is being re-run as Steve is away on the SQL in the City 2013 tour.
I’m not entirely sure of what to call this rant, but I settled on “Manners” and am going with that. This was inspired after some recent events both on SQLServerCentral and other sites around the Internet.
We have “The Thread” on the site. I won’t link it in here since if you haven’t heard of it, I see no reason to disturb it with lots of extra reads. It might be the longest thread on the Internet, and certainly is the longest one here at SQLServerCentral. It’s got thousands of replies and tens of thousands of reads. The thread started when someone asked the regular contributers on the site if it seemed that the questions being asked were getting worse. The first poster wondered if people were trying less, unable or unwilling to search, and unwilling to try and help themselves before posting a question.
There have been a lot of people who are regular contributors here, Gilamonster, Jeff Moden, RBarryYoung, LynnPettis, Bob Hobvious, Grant Fritchey, and more (apologies if I’ve missed people that post a lot), have been going through this thread, often venting and complaining about the way questions are asked, joking with each other, and providing examples of problems they see. It’s been a fun ride for those participating in the thread, or at least I think it has.
None of these people are paid for their time and efforts, at least not directly. I guess I get paid, but I don’t have to be in the forums helping people as much as I am. Most of us do it because we want to help others, teach them something, and give back to the community that helped us grow and learn earlier in our careers. That was the reason I started this site with Andy and Brian: to help others.
What’s amazing to me is how often I feel that I’m babysitting someone on this site in trying to lead them to an answer. I feel like I’m trying to teach 5 year olds about SQL Server some days.
I know that people don’t like it when I don’t just give them the answer. I get frustrated sometimes when I post on other subjects, but I also understand I’m getting free help, and as long as I get “help”, I can deal with the hints and links given. I expect I might have to do a little more research or reading to figure things out. That’s what I try to do, give people hints, references, and links, to help them learn. I expect them to do a little work as well. I’m happy to help, but I don’t think I should be giving out free consulting to people.
Why the rant today? I had someone post offensive language in a thread that I removed. I posted to say that we don’t like unprofessional language or personal attacks, but I also added I felt that the person responding to the thread hadn’t really provided enough information. The person got upset with me, which is fine, but they also frustrated me a bit in that they refused to acknowledge that they might be in the wrong, especially after multiple others agreed.
The bottom line is that you should treat other people the way you want to be treated. You may get into an argument with someone and that’s OK. Keep it professional and respectful. However if 3 or 4 people tell you that you’re approaching something wrong, or behaving badly, perhaps you ought to stop and consider if you are in the wrong, or acting inappropriately.
Note: I started this rant as a podcast, and then wrote the editorial from that, so to see the raw footage, watch the podcast. It’s why this rant goes a little off-course.
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