Telling everyone you are clueless:
There was a time when computer programming was more an art than a science. I am talking about the times of Cobol, basic, gw-basic, q-basic and so many proprietary (now defunct) languages.
Right now programming is elsewhere and new products appear everyday, so you need to have a tremendous base knowledge in order to solve complex issues. Abstraction works only at the beginning, when issues, problems, and stacktraces appear you need to know what the hell you are coding and executing.
The matter with stackoverflow.com, public forums and mailing lists is this: it is not possible to solve these complex issues with Internet without looking dumb. I will put it simple: If you have a serious, corporate bound, programming or server related issue, don’t ever make it public, because you may lose your job and your competitors will wipe you out.
Now go ahead and try to share your problem with the world on the Internet, at your own risk, because it is amazing how much private and critical information programmers are putting in the forums.
The rise and capitalization of expert-exchange.com
Some years ago the reference site for technical Q&A was expert-exchange.com it got to be a very good site until their owners decided they where not making enough money with ads and decided to establish a subscription service.
That meant that all the answers that people gave by that time where used to make money for the guys at expert-exchange, they use the data experts gave them free for their own benefit, and I (like other experts) saw no penny at all, not even appearing on web searches as the solutions are not accessible to crawlers.
This kind of issue will sure repeat, maybe with stackexchange or java.net, some folks will claim your hard won knowledge (as you know information is power) to be theirs using EULA’s and lawyers.
So when you publish information in public forums be sure someone is making a benefit at the cost of your bills, your light, your time, your experience and studies.
Many sites use your expert advice to make data mining and prevent you from making any money of your knowledge, and maybe knowledge is free, but your mortgage is not. So be sure not to share information you or others by your side can monetize in some sense, unless you don’t care about money at all, of course.
As we said expert-exchange.com is already the enemy of good developers, you got to pay in order to get help and they are non-ambiguous about their nature: greed is the word. I suppose when I registered back in 2003 or 2004 I accepted an agreement allowing them to make cash of my knowledge without my REAL approval… who cares now.
Appear stack-exchange which in the beginning goes the same way experts-exchange goes, but with a “cooler” feeling, they seem to say: we won’t make you feel stupid, you are building a reputation with us… but the question is their reputation system is flawed by definition, and the expert is already feeling stupid.
Flaws on social (stack) exchange:
We could list thousands of flaws in a system like this: some questions are consultancy oriented, most users get their reputation up using unethical questions and buddies around or fake accounts, real experts won’t have real time to cooperate… you name it.
For example one of my advices on Java (a good advice) got wiped out by a couple of noobs on java who happened to have more reputation than me, ¡because of non java experience! WTF?!.
You could always go back to the Java.net forums (which now means Oracle)…but guess what?… Oracle has their own consultants (most of their yearly benefit)… what benefit’s does Oracle has from open cooperation on java.net?, no one.
What is the obvious conclusion?, admins on the Oracle forums tend to ban any post they consider to damage their business, and most usually those advices mean “don’t use a proprietary control version system” or “disable OC4J JAXB libraries”… censorship!, censorship!!, censorship!!!.
Censorship in a more abrupt and cheap fashion:
Imagine that you want to follow a link with a solution for a java issue, you most probably want a free solution for a problem… I PITY YOU FOOL!… since Oracle changed the sun domain to redirect to Oracle.com you no longer have got a working link, you have got a oracle.com home-page redirection. Example:
This used to be a solution for a server certificate issue… but now it takes you to… you guess it, to the Oracle-java forum main page :