[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software

The universe aligns to prove my point

by Joel Spolsky
Friday, July 20, 2007

Clay: “...the sites that suffer most from anonymous postings and drivel are the ones operating at large scale. If you are operating below that scale, comments can be quite good, in a way not replicable in any ‘everyone post to their own blog’”.

Dave: “...he says that I don't allow comments on Scripting News. That's not exactly true, there are comments here, but you have to look carefully to find them. I find this ups the quality enormously -- people don't generally comment here to embarass anyone or to provoke a fight -- there isn't enough traffic to interest those people. But the people who want to add information to a thread here on Scripting News, and have been reading the site long enough to know what it's about, they find their way to the comments and add something to the mix.”

Both excellent comments. Thank you. This is an example of people posting their replies on their own site. There is a lot more value to them than the comments about this post on my own discussion forum. Why? Because I know who Clay is, I've met him, he wrote A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy, which, to this date, is the most important, insightful, and brilliant understanding of group dynamics in online communities. Dave has something to add to the conversation; some thoughts he's had since the article I quoted him on. Great content, in their own spaces.

And you're not only hearing their replies because I'm telling you about them. You might be hearing about it from Techmeme, which has really cool algorithms to figure out where the conversation is, and put it back together. Look at Techmeme right now:

They reconstructed the conversation magically for you. Of course, Techmeme only works for the biggest, noisiest bloggers. But Bloglines will do it for anyone.

PS to Clay: I'm still in awe at:

Now, there's a large body of literature saying "We built this software, a group came and used it, and they began to exhibit behaviors that surprised us enormously, so we've gone and documented these behaviors." Over and over and over again this pattern comes up. (I hear Stewart [Brand, of the WELL] laughing.) The WELL is one of those places where this pattern came up over and over again.

I apologize for falling into such a common pattern!


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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, which lets you organize anything, together, FogBugz, enlightened issue tracking software for bug tracking, and Kiln, which provides distributed version control and code reviews. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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