DIY

I only read the stories for the comments

Reading essays on Tech Republic blogs is great way to keep your pulse on how technology is being used in the real world. Tech Republic is famous for going beneath the covers of the news stories and demonstrating how the tech managers and programmers are really using the technology. It's the comments that really bring the stories to life.

I've noticed a trend in the online world that probably developed a long time before I noticed it.  I call it the "attack and castigate" mentality.  It's the tendency for writers, especially those leaving comments on essays, to pick to pieces and tear apart the fruits of someone's hard work in creating what they hope is helpful content.

I can understand this technique being used on those who deserve it - a writer who has thrown a piece of junk up there just to fulfill a quota or to meet a deadline.  People who are thick like that aren't affected by the kind of comments that tear down and tear apart.  Hopefully they get the message and start producing good work.

But when someone has gone to a lot of trouble and thought to create useful content, is tearing it apart the best approach to engendering discussion?  Maybe I'm feeling this way because I am an old guy and just not used to the way some forums promote and encourage this kind of dialog.  After all, there's no real harm done, right?

Get a grip - it's all done in fun

I can just imagine what you're thinking right now.  "Get a thick skin.  That's just the way it is.  We're not babies."  I also recognize that some people learn best by questioning and probing.  They throw out the barbs not to inflict pain put to find chinks in the armor of the piece that was presented by the tech writer.

I've visited a lot of tech forums over the years.  I get my news online and read comments posted on top news stories every day.  Is it just me, or is the trend getting worse?  I've read stories of people getting so ticked off at what others have written in comments that they have tracked them down and done them physical harm.

Perhaps the trend has developed because the online world is somewhat impersonal.  If you don't like what is happening at one tech site, you can just turn it off or spend your time elsewhere.  If the kind of comments you read at your favorite news site bug you, then perhaps its time to move on and find a better forum.

Tech Republic is the best Tech Forum

I have been reading Tech Republic since 1999.  I have watched it grow and change hands several times over the years. I have noticed that a lot of old long-time contributors stopped posting comments.  Perhaps they changed jobs and don't have the time to participate anymore.  Or maybe they just got tired of the dialog.

Discussion is the lifeblood of Tech Republic.  We're all interested in technology in one way or another.  We have some of the best minds in the industry gathered in this one little virtual world.  I'm constantly amazed by how helpful some of you are in answering questions and advising those who struggle with technology new to them.

I'll bet there are thousands of you who keep Tech Republic open all day long in a side window while you write code or answer tech support calls.  I know there are many of you who read and comment on the forums over the weekends, discussing gardening, music, breast cancer, the latest political news and even Friday Yuk.

Summary and Conclusion

For those who don't know, Tech Republic runs a fairly tight ship.  Although owned by a big company (CNET) and now by an even bigger company (CBS), the actual paid staff of Tech Republic is pretty small.  Most of the stories, and especially the blogs, are contributed by part-time contractors like me, the Tech of all Trades.

I love writing for Tech Republic.  It's been a dream come true.  I have enjoyed sharing my experiences on implementing new technology and taking care of old technology.  I've been delighted by the response to my essays, even when I purposely left an essay dangling and didn't provide all the clues to the whole story.

Aren't the new Videos great?  Thanks Jason and Bill.  I remain convinced that Jason has his pulse on this industry like few other insiders.  I get more depth here on Tech Republic than I do from just reading the stories on other tech news sites.  All I wish is that some of the comments were a bit more professional.

16 comments
The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Interesting however I will add (late I know) that there are not may forums where people will actually read the information and take time to reply. Sure you could go and create your own blog site. Chances are you will be the only one using it, alone, with to readers.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

the participating of IT pros like you Tim, who work in the real world and then take the time to share their experiences with their peers here on TechRepublic. TechRepublic was founded on the twin pillars of content and community. We didn't go out and try to find high-dollar technology freelance writers. Instead, we found working IT pros and used professional editors to help them produce articles to engage in the ultimate peer-to-peer experience in IT. It has turned out pretty well. We're arguably the best and the biggest pure-IT destination on the Internet. Today, we still pluck some of our best contributors out of the TechRepublic forums. It's true that our forums have their share of trolls and negativity, but like you I still believe TechRepublic has the smartest and broadest set of IT pros that participate in any IT forum on the Web.

Jaqui
Jaqui

You could, here on TR at least, look at the comments that rip apart the original post in another way. An opportunity for the Original Poster to both prove their position and expand their content beyond the size constraints of the entry. I personally like to question the validity of a stand, just so more information supporting it is posted to help increase my own understanding of the viewpoint. Though on this subject, I do tend to agree with Palmetto. Some people aren't worth serious responses, only the ripping part responses. Though I'll add that even someone who generally is useless for content, to me, may occasionally produce something I do see as worth while. [ A lot of George Ou's earlier posts fit into that, George has made some changes that make more of his entries worth a look. ]

karen
karen

In many ways, I've seen a trend in TechRepublic that makes it seem as if it is becoming less an d less technical and more about the corporate culture of IT. While I do appreciate some news about what's happening with the big IT corporations and I do often read the career-related blogs, I miss some more technical information and I'd really appreciate some more technical networking information here beyond just some very basic Cisco IOS primers. (I'm very excited about the new wireless blog starting up!) Basically, I read what either interests me or entertains me. If I find a post that seems thrown together or lacking in content, I move along. I don't feel the need to make an attack on anyone. (Maybe I'm just too busy?) I do think that the general "manners" on the internet have gone downhill, but I think that is a reflection of the audience widening. When many of us first starting using the internet, it was mostly the domain of intellectuals and hardcore geeks, most of whom were intelligent enough to either be polite or at least be more interesting in their attacks. Now that access is open to all, that brings with it a more diverse mix of people with different ideas about what is acceptable discourse and what is not. We've gone from having a discussion in a university auditorium to out in the streets, for better and for worse.

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[i]We've gone from having a discussion in a university auditorium to out in the streets, for better and for worse.[/i] I agree with your description of the clouds. I see no silver lining.

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You suspect you have noticed, in the time since, some rude behavior from people in this industry. [i]I've visited a lot of tech forums over the years. I get my news online and read comments posted on top news stories every day. Is it just me, or is the trend getting worse?[/i] I joined [as Absolutely, before changing my alias to Absolutely!, then a couple others today] originally in 2004. I haven't noticed prevalent manners getting better or worse, but since 1999, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they have declined a bit. And with the general economy being what it is, I wouldn't be surprised if Americans' manners are getting worse, in meat world as well as 'net forums, on all topics.

DanLM
DanLM

It eats co2.. ;o) Dan

DanLM
DanLM

It eats co2.. ;o) Dan

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I have some reading to do, however. I'm not surprised to learn that algae-produced ethanol is best, but I did just learn that. Thanks again!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I try to treat the content posted by TR staffers and contractors professionally, but I hold it to a higher standard than what members post (BALTHOR, for example). Sometimes an article just seems hastily slapped together and almost invites 'slash and burn' responses. The recent "Adventures in Open Source Apps" is a good example. The 'article' was 15 or so screen shots with no commentary at all. It's obvious Adrian was under some sort of deadline: http://content.techrepublic.com.com/2346-3513_11-202456-1.html Another type of content that encourages my snarky side is multiple articles on the same subject, especially those that use the same question repeatedly to start the discussion. There were at least four nearly identical articles when the Mac Air debuted, all presenting similar content. With a small shop it should be easy for someone handling the editorial duties to avoid this. I've also gone off this week about bloggers and staff repeatedly asking what the members are going to do with Vista. This has reached an almost troll-like level of repetition; it seems like the question is repeated simply to reignite the flames: http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-6230-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=264916&messageID=2510063 Otherwise I've often pointed out to other members that not every article is going to appeal to everybody. I absolutely hate it when members post comments about a blogger's photo. First, the photos are of the hosts, not necessarily of the bloggers. (Could we get blogger photos to accompany the host photos, please?) Second, I don't know what personal appearance has to do with subject matter expertise. Oh, wait, yes I do; nothing. I would like to compliment the membership on several recent Linux - Windows discussions. This formerly contentious topic has lately consisted of well-presented positions with each side accepting the other's stance. I wish this blog entry had been posted on a Monday morning. I hope it doesn't fall of the list over the weekend.

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[i]I try to treat the content posted by TR staffers and contractors professionally, but I hold it to a higher standard than what members post (BALTHOR, for example).[/i] I can usually tell from the title, and in borderline cases from the first paragraph, that I will or won't find an article useful. Non-staffers' comments tend to be commentary rather than information. Commentary invites counter-commentary.

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[i]I wish this blog entry had been posted on a Monday morning. I hope it doesn't fall of the list over the weekend.[/i] I assume that the irony of concluding a mostly positive post with a complaint was completely deliberate.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I wasn't complaining, I was just hoping the topic is still on the Discussions list on Monday. I know many members don't frequent the site over the weekend and I'd like to hear some other opinions.

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I think it would be a valid complaint. Let's see, crontab -e wput [option]... [file]... [URL]... man, it's not too tough for an IT pro to write now & post later, is it? But, I guess they can never be confident that this particular server is up at any specific time.

Jaqui
Jaqui

those of us who saw the post seem to be keeping it active enough to be on the list somewhere. :)

tmalonemcse
tmalonemcse

As a relatively new blogger on Tech Republic, I've written an essay about the unique experience of the user community participation in added comments to the stories, sometimes very personal ones. http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/techofalltrades/?p=151 What do you think? Should essays written by contracted bloggers be held up to the same standards as regular Tech Republic employees?

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