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.