Warning: Strong Opinions Can Cause A Backdraft.

Scott StultsMarch 28, 2011

In response to: ceo friday why we don’t hire net programmers

I’m sure there are a slew of witty responses in this rebuttal to a CEO writing this kind of article.

However, I’d rather focus on the real issue at hand. It sounds like the CEO, David Barnett, took a chapter out of an idiots-guide-to-blogging article to heart and decided to vocalize something very opinionated which would his blog/company stand out among the rest.

While some people still think under the pretense of “any publicity is good publicity”, its not always that cut and dry. If done wrong, it may cause a backdraft into his companies recruiting efforts and work against one of his primary goals

If you are going to write an opinionated article on developers and start-ups, it might be wise to not take lessons from David.

Don’t sound like a total tool or bigot.

David’s first point of failure was wording his argument in such way that it makes him sound like a bigot with no remorse till you get to the very end of the post.

Even then, the end of the post sound like it was half hearted update to quell the angry masses.

The title is probably the most offending line, followed by the bold face type and over-extended metaphor and is what people are really going to key in on and read.

Most people don’t read full articles on a website, they scan them. They jump up and down as they read, picking up on bold fonts, headers, and bullet points, sucking in what seems like the most important data.

Such cut and dry negativity towards a group people for any reason is just going to come across as cold and strike them on an emotional level rather than a logical one. Much more so if the post outlines the negative significantly more than any other content inside the same post.

Thus its most likely going to elicit emotional lashing out rather than a rational dialog.

Instead of targeting his criticism towards a technology he directed at people and pretty much told them they are excluded from his vision of the software “engineer” master race.

Yes a strong opinion will cause people’s passions to stir and voice their opinion, but it should never be so slanted that it cuts just as deep as politics or religion does in a technical blog.

Truth hurts, but so will a lost in sales. Instead of creating a following of fanatics, pushing the opinion too far could create enough negative backlash that someone launches a full on anti Expensify PR campaign.

Don’t use half facts, smoke and mirrors, or ignorance to support your point of view.

Going on tangents about Direct X vs OPEN GL or the underlying operating system factoring using a backslash when discussing the .net framework is little more than smoke and mirrors.

Direct X is not a part of .Net, and any programmer worth his salt knows to use code that handles path and slashes according the current OS when targeting an application that is platform agnostic.

As for the open source argument, that was true maybe 5 years ago, but the .net community has had to adapt in order compete on the volatile landscape of creating software.

While the .net open source community is still in its infancy they have made strides with things like codeplex, the community promise, nuget, releasing parts of the .net framework under open source licenses.

It seems like the author not only misses those points will continually choose to ignore even some of the valid points through out the comments blog that aren’t hate filled..

Don’t use truisms.

“However, if you need to make a 1.7 oz burger, you simply can’t. “ Aside from the abuse of a metaphor: Don’t state something like it is obviously true, but is actually false.

.Net will let you work with the bare metal and lower level should you need or want to. There is plenty of high level things that .net does for you, but that does not automatically mean your locked in to only writing code at a high level.

Its not perfect or it might not be the right tool for the job. But it does now reach onto other platforms with the help of mono including the IPhone and Android (thank you Mono team), and including all the syntactic sugar of the C# language.

In general its a bad idea to sell your opinion like its written in some with no margin for error based mostly on personal preference and speculation.

It is going to make you look bad in the eyes of your target audience and leave you open for people to easily pick you apart. That totally defeats the point of a strongly opinionated article.

Don’t abuse or stretch metaphors beyond their limit.

“Programming with .NET is like cooking in a McDonalds kitchen”. Except that this metaphor then becomes creating a 1.7 oz burger to cooking squirrel meat in a cave over fire created from banging two rocks together.

If you want to create your own web server using C++ from scratch and waste a bunch of your start ups capital on non essential things then cooking squirrel meat in a cave with only two rocks and a stick is the metaphor for you.

The metaphor about .net like cooking in a McDonalds kitchen is pushing it too far because it comes off as derogatory and insulting to the developer more so than the technology.

You shouldn’t take a metaphor that is already stretching a bit to illustrate an exaggerated point and then continue to beat it to death throughout the rest of the post.

Use the metaphor, make the point, move on.

Otherwise you’re going to confuse readers and dampen any decent effect the original metaphor was intended to have to the point of obscurity.

Don’t write on content that is out of your skill set as if you’ve mastered it.

The author is obviously writing from a very limited point of view stating truisms as facts, throwing smoke and mirrors to back up his claim and then trying to sell everyone on the matter like his opinion or post was reasonably written in some way.

It would have paid off to due some fact checking and getting some outside opinions on the matter before releasing that kind of material to the web.

Especially when you had a clue that it might en-flame a whole group of people.

The fact that the author failed to understand that .net is a framework instead of a programming language.

That small bit is going to cost him resonating with readers since .net was cornerstone part of his opinion and he didn’t fully understand what it was.

The only thing that the author really touched on that is probably a real reason for startups not to .net is the fact that the open source community is still in its infancy.

But obviously he didn’t follow through with line of thinking. Instead he spent most of his time insulting people while chasing tasty squirrel meat inside of McDonalds. (Where is PETA when you need them?).

In Conclusion.

It good to have a strong opinion that helps you separate yourself from the competition. Just don’t try support it with bad metaphors, truisms, and bigotry aimed at people and expect your target audience not to take notice.

A strongly opinionated posted should never read like it was written by Billy Madison on the Industrial Revolution and puppies:

Here at OSC we’re definitely not above being humbled and continuing to learn from others. Comments, Suggestions, Critique, and Corrections are always welcome below.

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