Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Sad Day on Flashcoders

Today was a dark day in Flashcoders history. I counted no fewer than 45 posts on the topic of "Flash coders content degrading" today, and this was a carry over from yesterday. Many of these posts were multi-paragraph rants regarding noobs, RTFM & Googable questions, the place of newbies in the mailing list ecosystem, elitists, etc. The tone of the posts ranged from irate to juvenile to jovial to concerned. The vitriol spilled into other threads as well, with accusations being hurled as to who did and did not Google or read the Help manual before posting. Scorn was heaped, soap-boxes were stood upon, and real questions went unanswered.

I resisted the temptation to voice my own opinion, except to defend one hapless soul who happened across Micael Stuhr's inbox at the wrong time. But my hackles are up, and this blog is the correct forum to voice my opinion, and so here it is:

The only people degrading the content on Flashcoders are the ones who post messages about people degrading the content on Flashcoders, and the occasional "joke of the day". What about the noobs and all their silly questions, you say? I believe there is no such thing as a stupid question, as long as it is sincere. I have learned more from answering "newbie" questions, and from reading answers to "newbie" questions than I have learned from almost any other source. Anybody who thinks they're above "newbie" questions simply doesn't see the benefit they can gain from a review of the basics.

Like many others, I love Flashcoders for its potential to provide answers to really difficult questions. But I recognize that some of the very people who today are asking "simple" questions are the same ones who will be answering hard questions in the future. Over the years, I have watched some great minds at work on Flashcoders, many of whom no longer post to the list. Today, those guys are legends in the Flash world, and probably busier than hell.

Who has taken their place? From today's conversation, it looks like their places are empty.

So, what can be done? Stacey Mulcahey issued a call to save Flashcoders, but then promptly disappeared from the scene. (I don't mean that as a personal attack on Stacey... it's just that 1) I love her blog and have been looking for an excuse to link to it, and 2) I was right there with her and a little disappointed not to see her on Flashcoders anymore). She's not the only one who complained and then dropped out of site. But if you want to save Flashcoders, you can't abandon it.

Here's what can be done: do not respond to off-topic messages. There are those who will... Ignore them. With regard to newbies and RTFM questions: either answer the question, or do not answer the question. It seriously does not take long to determine if a question is of interest to you.

The key thing to remember is this: it is not your civic duty to reprimand anyone for OT, RTFM, or anything else. You are not the OT Police. Dave Watts is pretty much the only person who can be attributed that title, and he seems disinterested in the job.

I know this is an idealistic approach, and not likely to reduce the amount of OT. But it WILL cut the amount of OT about OT, and that actually seems to be more of a problem these days.

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Anonymous Keith Peters said...

The signal to noise ratio of Flashcoders has been degrading for at least a couple of years. I unsubscribed over a year ago. I can only imagine what it's like now. Unfortunately, it seems to be a natural cycle. Something is good so it grows, then without real strong organization, it just gets so big that it collapses under its own weight.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Brandon said...

I was a mod at Flashkit and did suppor t on the Friends Of Ed Boards for almost two years. In that time the one consistent theme was that very few people knew how to pick their battles or behave like a human being so I GTFO'd. I miss the friendship of boards but if I wanted the constant bitching ,whining and trash talking I could get that at work.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Bitch said...

How can I not respond now , since I've been called out. I actually put some time in my response, which you can read at my blog. But just for you, a save flashcoders tshirt pic is on my blog post.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous JesterXL said...

Flashcoders was a huge help in my first few years of learning Flash when I started in Flash 5.

Darron Schall started asking questions on the list, and I'd answer them (as would other people). 1 year later, I'm asking him questions.

After about 5 years, I just couldn't take it anymore. I feel I've contributed way more than I took, and feel fully justified in moving on.

Still, I'll miss those threads where people start learning the API's of a new version together, and post collaborative solutions.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guilty as charged - I originated that thread - but it was kind of hijacked. If you read back I was asking where all the big guns had gone, where the innovation, the experimentation etc. had gone.

That's what made the list great, techniques and the extensive knowledge base.

My second question was perfectly valid too. What's the point of a flashnewbies list if peeps can't differentiate a newbie question from any other?


I lit the blue touch paper, now I guess I should retire.


2:05 AM  
Anonymous Mike Schmalle said...

I to was on FlashCoders a couple years ago. It helped me tremndously.

Jesse, Keith etc were all there...

Stacey, there are people that know abandonment dosn't mean what most think it means.

I abandoned Flash 9 months ago, threw away 1 year of development on a container component set that did work.

Bottom line is, if you grow up, you grow out and need new cloths.

Peace, Mike

9:01 PM  
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