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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

W00t Tang Clan: How The Trolls are Killing Ajaxian

I'm a huge fan of Ajaxian; I go there multiple times a day, and my girlfriend gets angry at me when I'm constantly checking it over the weekend. The content there is solid.

However, I've noticed something about the community over the last few months that is really souring me. I'll say it the nicest way I can: it's filling up with a bunch of big, fat trolls, w00t boys that are disrespectful of innovation. They aren't interested in Ajax or moving the web forward.

The Ajaxian comments used to be full of the alpha-geeks actually coding and moving Ajax and the web forward; now it's full of these strange drive-by-comments that have a low signal-to-noise ratio. I'd like to see the Ajaxian folks start moderating these forums and hold the commentary at a higher level of discussion; if someone trolls or says something without informational content or does it in an immature way, call them out and embarrass them.

Here's some example templates for the w00t style comments I see showing up on Ajaxian; I've provided commentary against them since I'm tired of seeing them show up all the time. Many of them are responses people give to simply dismiss a new idea, application, or framework:

"Oh, X doesn't support Opera -- it's useless"
Commentary: Opera ain't in the main stream; something can be very useful and important without supporting Opera.

"Man, X framework/application is stupid -- it doesn't work on Safari"
Commentary: Again, Safari is a pretty broken browser -- they didn't even work with GMail for a long period of time before users beat them over the head. If we forced innovation to move at the speed of Safari then Ajax would never have happened.

"X feature/application is stupid and useless -- who would ever need that?"
Commentary: Invention often precedes application. For example, the laser was invented far before applications were developed for it; most scientists thought it would be a lab curiosity without application. This happens time and again. When someone on Ajaxian shows an interesting new possibility, don't immediate shoot it down -- it might give rise to an important new class of applications down the road. Be a visionary.

"Ajax sucks"
Commentary: I support naysayers and those who are skeptical, but the standard "Ajax sucks" refrain on every post is getting old. Back up your refrains with some logic. Also, there are actually logical reasons against new ideas and technological progress, but things move forward anyway. When the Personal Computer came out, for example, it was lousy against more established mainframes and minis -- it takes several iterations of a tech to shake out its problems.

"This is useless -- it doesn't support accessibility"
Commentary: The history of technology shows, sadly, that things don't succeed or fail based on accessibility. In fact, if you bake accessibility in at the beginning, your tech is so complex that it most likely won't succeed. Lots of things can succeed without accessibility, such as Windows at the beginning of it's lifecycle. Ajax is another one of these; accessibility is not the holy grail of tech. I support accessibility, but not at the expense of innovation.

"Forget this - it won't work with JavaScript turned off"
Commentary: Yeah, and images didn't work with Lynx, but that didn't prevent their adoption. In the S-Curve of technology adoption (, progress rarely happens amongst conservative non-risktakers; it usually happens along the bleeding edge. Again, if we waited for innovation to happen at the speed of those with JavaScript turned off in their browsers, then nothing would happen.

"Who's gonna pay for this?"
Commentary: Many of the projects on Ajaxian are open source or personal research projects -- they don't need a huge market to drive them forward. Having a market based criteria be the only litmus test for innovation will cause important new innovations to not make it through your filter. Frankly, I'm interested in hearing about these, because it's often the technologies that first appear to be un-monetizable that become the most so (witness: the PC, the web, the Internet, etc. -- all appeared extremely communitarian and non-market based at first, but in fact have generated far more wealth than entrants that began with a strong, market oriented approach up front).

Those are just a few -- what are some w00t style comments that you see show up on every Ajaxian post that you want to shoot down?

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