Sunday, November 23, 2008

Online Groups/Discussion board ethics

I recently joined this Google groups hoping to share my knowledge and also to get some of my own doubts clarified. I posted a technical question with my piece of code showing where I was badly stuck and I got a decent and exact answer from the moderator himself. I thanked him and posted the new code. FWIW, someone else following it up might find it useful. But then as I browsed through the questions posted and the replies made to them, I could glaringly notice the tone of the people who were replying. It clearly appeared to me as totally UNETHICAL and a lot of comments were inappropriate.

 Some of them were too demeaning that it made me think they were mere racial slurs camouflaged as outbursts of a bunch of impatient self-proclaimed “Tech Wizards”. There was one too many instances where these guys refer to its subscribers as “Silly”, “Stupid”, “Idiots”, “Incompetent” etc… This is certainly not the way to go. It makes me believe that it is run by a bunch of red necks! 

I do understand that it gets really frustrating when you see a question repeated or naïve questions asked; questions which have answers all over the internet. But then, no one is under any obligation to reply to those posts. If you think you have an answer – go ahead answer it or else JUST SHUT UP! Do not make sarcastic comments. Don’t make fun of some guy’s ignorance or idiocy for that matter. Or if you want to discuss about someone, do it personally within a private distribution list of people who would fall off their chair laughing at your stupid dirty jokes (maybe you could call it “RedNeckSuckers”? it would be a good name to start with!)

The more professional way of handling these things would be to put points like these on the rules and regulations, terms and conditions section of the group:

  1. Avoid posting questions which have already been asked. Please search the group for similar questions, before you post yours
  2. Post your questions with some example code wherever possible. Arbitrary questions will not be entertained.
  3. Users repeatedly violating these terms will be automatically unsubscribed from the list.

Unless something like this is done, it would be hard for me to believe the group is run by professionals.

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