Oracle Forum Hostility

>> Saturday, 18 August 2012

Thomas Kyte has written a very good post on The Keys to Oracle, the best starting points for a journey to a decent working knowledge of Oracle.  But he also recommends a great way to learn is to start asking questions on http://otn.oracle.com/forums. On this point I have to disagree with him.

I only use Oracle forums when a search engine leads me there.  They can be good as catalysts for me to get to the root of my problem but all too often I am appalled by responses I see to questions asked.

Now I know I have to be fair here, there are some very helpful and dedicated people that work hard to support and help people in the forums.  I regularly see the same names giving some great support and answers. If it weren't for them the forums wouldn't hold so much of the great information they do.

But even with my many years of Oracle experience, I am too scared to ask a question in the forums.  There are just too many sarcastic, unhelpful responses given that I know I would find very upsetting if aimed at me.  Damn! I find them upsetting when they are aimed at others.

This problem with hostility in Oracle forums is well recognised and I have to say I have never seen it as bad in any other IT area.  In fact the Unix ones I've used have people falling over themselves to give the best piece of advice, they don't often chuck in an RTFM because they are dying to let you know how much they know and if nothing else at least point you to a part of a document, white paper or other web site.

Tom himself talked about some of the Oracle forum issues back in 2005.

But here's a very recent question in the forums where the first answer is a sarcastic unhelpful response.

http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=oracle+convert+long+to+varchar2
Of course the poster of the question hunted via the search engines first but you don't always manage to hit the spot.  Sometimes in google I'm just not asking the right question, my terminology isn't quite accurate enough to get me there but another DBA with experience of that area might have a few more terms to throw into the mix that means I start to get closer to where I need to be. 

Here's another one, with the first response:
The correct URL for doc questions is
http://tahiti.oracle.com
not
http://forums.oracle.com
Thank you
The poster points out they had looked at the documentation. Sometimes the Oracle documentation is a minefield.  There is so much of it, yes you can search it but it's back to the point about search words, if you are unsure of the ground you are treading you often don't get the search terms right.  This takes us back to Tom's advice, if you feel the need to point someone to the documentation why not give them a pointer of which part you are thinking of specifically.

And if you are still thinking I'm just exaggerating the 'hostility' part then how is this for a response:
Oracle documentation is SEARCHABLE.
Most people here can not be bothered to search.
They don't need guidance, they need corporal punishment or their wage subtracted for every question they ask here.
Or this
Almost all posters have 'I don't hate my work, and I want to maximize my income by doing nothing' inscribed in capitals on their forehead.
These sorts of attitudes and responses make me quite sad. This explains the need for respect in forums very well and the difference in creating passionate people it can make or break.

The people that I respect the most are the people that are always happy to share what they know, happy to re-explain the basics, when I ask a dumb question they don't make me feel small and stupid.  They often say "I'm glad you asked that, let's get back to basics, we all need to go there sometimes". I ask a lot of dumb questions especially at places like OUGs but time after time I have had people say to me later "I'm glad you asked that, I was thinking that too".  I know I'm not the only person that walks the earth that wasn't born knowing it all and hasn't managed to learn (or sometimes just plain remember) it all yet.

The people I know that time and time again are explaining the same questions with the patience of a saint as the more experienced of us have blonde moments and the newbies start to learn are the greats like Thomas Kyte and Jonathon Lewis.  I put Pete Finnagen in that pot too.  How about Jeff Smith or Martin Berger ...oh there is an endless list of helpful DBAs hanging out in twitter that will give you some wider search terms to see you closer to a problems end.

So all I am saying is when there are so many really great and good out there, why oh why has no one managed to silence the sarcastic, egotistical idiots that still think answering a question RTFM or LMGTFY is an acceptable or respectful way to talk to anyone.

OK, I'm off my soap box...until next time.

1 comments:

Arup 19 August 2012 at 07:41  

I can't express how much I agree with you there. You struck it just right. It's a topic that needed to be said and thank you for saying that.

It's this very reason I stopped costing the forums. Not just ITM; but oracle-l as well.

Arup

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