Fog Creek Software
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Are you deleting q's you don't like?

Joel, I asked a couple of questions and they've disappeared.

Why is this please?

Gwyn
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

On the contrary -- all questions start out "deleted" and I only "undelete" the ones which I answer.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Then may I ask why you chose not to 'undelete' mine? I notice that one of them was briefly undeleted but then was deleted again.

Gwyn
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I believe if you delete your cookies then your unanswered questions will disappear.  This may be what you are seeing.

T.S.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I asked one about ROI the other day.  It showed up here for a while, then disappeared, apparently unanswered.  I figured it wasn't interesting enough to merit attention and so made it's way to the bit bucket.  So now, I am confused.

Tell me how you will measure me...
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Well I asked too. One was fairly innoccuous and the other asked questions about the Fog Creek business; how many employees are there; how much revenue etc. No more than any sort of due diligence would require if you were to do business with him.

Whilst one might think in a bit nosey asking for details about Fog Creek accounts actually it's not. Joel espouses about his business credentials and talks himself up as a guru but a measure of his credibility is what he's actually achieved. I'm disappointed that he's always refused to give any specific details on the success of his business. It's not a valid secret... unless you're trying to hide something. He should have the courage to show some honesty. His constant refusal to discuss the matter, even to own up to why he won't discuss it, damages his credibility. Probably more than the truth he so dreads would.

gwyn
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

TWO not too. Doh!

gwyn
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

+++Whilst one might think in a bit nosey asking for details about Fog Creek accounts actually it's not. Joel espouses about his business credentials and talks himself up as a guru but a measure of his credibility is what he's actually achieved. I'm disappointed that he's always refused to give any specific details on the success of his business. It's not a valid secret... unless you're trying to hide something. He should have the courage to show some honesty. His constant refusal to discuss the matter, even to own up to why he won't discuss it, damages his credibility. Probably more than the truth he so dreads would. +++

Amazing.  Someone sets up a valuable resource for you to use at no charge, provides valuable information on the market and vagarities of software development on a periodic basis, for free, then, when they refuse to provide intimate details of their privately owned company to a complete stranger on a highly public venue, must endure a silly rant such as this.

Ah, well.  No good deed, etc, etc.

rick

Rick Chapman
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Joel, know that most people who aren't speaking up are totally fine with and fully understand your whole method of running this board. Sometimes I know people get discouraged when all they hear about are the complaints, but I'm having fun reading all of these questions and answers, and I'm glad you're being selective.

Even if it does mean my questions don't get answered.

Dave Rutledge
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

It's not a silly rant. It's a perfectly valid question. In the UK Joel's company would be a private limited company. The accounts of these companies, shareholders etc. are fully publicly available.

Are businesses in the UK hampered by this? err. no. So why would it be damaging to a US company exactly?

It's a matter of honesty and credibility vs looking shifty (i.e. not trustworthy and not credible).

And I say that anyone who thinks this is a 'free board', alturistically put in place by some generous benefactor is actually rather silly. So there!

gwyn
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Really does seem a silly rant by a net crank. I think a troll. Gwyn, why don't you tell all us strangers about your own credentials, salary history and finances. After all, you are posting on a public board and that makes it the public's business to know!

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Make it into a treasure hunt:

Embed digits from each figure of last years profit/loss statement as HTML comments in random web pages on your website.

GuyIncognito
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

He's already done that! All the numbers are secretly embedded into the dates!

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

A "net crank". Cooool. Never been called one of those before.

Perfectly happy to tell you about my company. I didn't ask Joel any personal questions; I asked him about his company.

In fact I'm fairly happy to tell you about my personal situation. Why wouldn't I be? You'll find a lot of people on this board are quite forthcoming about themselves and both their strengths and weaknesses. I've seen a lot of very honest posts and I respect those people for that.

If I was thinking of investing in Fog Creek's products and would have any serious dependence on those products then I would certainly want to know the financial situation of Fog Creek.

You guys just don't get it do you? Must be some sort of transatlantic thing. Perhaps y'all branched from the gene pool too early ;-)

Gwyn
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Gwyn,

Maybe *you* don't get it. This is Joel's part of the world where he is the ruler. He answers what he wants, and doesn't answer what he doesn't want. Why is that so hard for you to understand?  Things might be different in UK or anywhere else in the world, but guess what... We are where we are, and here is not there.

If you don't like the fact that he doesn't want to answer your question, here are a few tips for ya:

- Stop asking the same questions
- Move on with your life
- Start your own website with your own "Ask Gwyn" forum where you get to choose what to answer and what to dump

Of course, you are always welcome to keep wasting your time and energy here doing what you are doing!

Why is this thread still alive?  :)

entell
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I suppose it's disappointment.

I thought Joel was probably an all-round good guy. Speaks intelligently and from an enlightened position. I've enjoyed reading his stuff, it reads well and is often fairly inspired. He promotes a more intelligent approach to most subjects.

Usually the more enlightened people are more highly principled and believe in the long-term virtues of honesty and openness.

However, I now have a modified, lesser opinion of the man. Which is a shame.

Gwyn
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

My company (no the company I work for, it's not mine) is in the early stages of considering the purchase of some Fog Creek software.  We're not to the due dilligence stage yet, but if we do go there, I assume we will direct our questions about the nature of Fog Creek as a business to a sales representative or sales engineer via typical vendor / potential customer channels as we do with any other purchase, not pose them on a public forum.

MacSqueeb
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Now you've said that we'll probably get an article on why due diligence is highly overrated!! ;-)

gwyn
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

To Joel: Thanks for leaving this thread up.
To Gwyn: Thanks for continuing to ask the same question again, and again, and again.

I was once on a site where the moderator routinely deleted troll messages (not to say Gwyn is a troll, those entries are quite polite).  The problem with that is you would sometimes see responses to the troll letters, but the letters themselves would be deleted.  How bad could they have been? I'd wonder.

Well, with this thread, you can get some small sense of what can go on.  Gwyn's entries are not bad, really, just repetitive, self-justifying, and add no new information.  Once you've read to the end of a thread like this, you no longer have major objections to additional, worse threads like this being deleted.

Bottom line: It's his board, it's his company, and I appreciate his generosity in revealing as much as he has.  He has a right to delete questions he doesn't like, even mine.

AllanL5
Thursday, February 26, 2004

Self-justifying? Of course - this is the natural response to being questioned other something you feel you are right on.

Repititive? No - each post relates to the previous poster's new information (have I said this before?)

For Christ's sake. Please get this clear YES IT'S HIS SITE HE CAN DO WHAT HE LIKES.

That was never the point. The point is of CREDIBILITY.

Me repetive? At least I read your bloody post properly.

Gwyn
Thursday, February 26, 2004

<rant><squared>
And another thing! If it's such a bad bloody thread why do people keep adding to it?!
</thread>

Gwyn
Thursday, February 26, 2004

You seem like a rather demanding customer, Gwyn.  I rather doubt that _any_ business goes out of its way to court demanding customers.

Kyralessa
Friday, February 27, 2004

"In the UK Joel's company would be a private limited company. The accounts of these companies, shareholders etc. are fully publicly available." False on all counts, as far as I know. Fogcreek is a fully private company. There aren't any shareholders. They have no obligation to report financial data to anyone other than the IRS (whereas the IRS *is* obliged not to reveal it).

If you want to evaluate supplier quality, do it via the usual purchasing channels. Don't clog up a public forum which isn't related to the supplier's business.

Martha
Friday, February 27, 2004

What is a fully private company without shareholders?

In the UK all companies have shareholders - can be limited by guarantee, etc.

In the UK the accounts of private limited companies are available online for a small fee. Companies are required to submit accounts annually to Companies House along with details of shareholders etc. I think you can see them for free if you make the trip to Companies House.

John Ridout
Friday, February 27, 2004

http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/

John Ridout
Friday, February 27, 2004

"False on all counts, as far as I know."

Should have checked your facts before you jumped in!

"If you want to evaluate supplier quality, do it via the usual purchasing channels."

Should have read the thread before you jumped in!

At the risk (ok, certainty) of repeating myself:

Joel says "x, y and z".
Joel says "I know what I'm talking about".

Gwyn says "Ok, please show us what you've achieved so we can measure how well your theories work"

Joel says ""

Gwyn says "This does not make you look credible"

Joel says ""

Gwyn
Saturday, February 28, 2004

I run a privately held software company.
I don't release the financials, because I don't
want to give potential competitors certain kinds of hints.
I don't want to tell them, for example, approximately
how many units we are shipping.  I don't want to give
them such detailed clues to how large our market is.
If they want to compete with us, I want them to have
to do it the hard way, just like we had to when we
pioneered the market.  If I am going to hand out useful
information, I don't want it to be focused *specifically*
on competing with us. :-)

Does this make me dishonest, or does it make me
honest about the fact that I don't feel the need
to reveal everything?

I suppose part of the difference here may be a culture gap.
Many Americans don't want to talk in great detail about how
much money they are making, at least as private individuals.
I know some other people disagree, especially if they are
curious. :-) 

I admit that when someone hands out advice on running
a software business, it's natural to be curious about his
exact level of success in his software business. 
At the same time, the competent thing to do
sometimes isn't to reveal everything.  I am confident that
somewhere in the world, at some time, there has been,
or is, or will be, some dishonest person who would try to
get "full disclosure" from Joel, and would abuse that
disclosure.

I had written a sarcastic closing paragraph in questionable
taste, but I am exercising the strength, or dishonesty as it
may be, not to reveal it. :-)

Full Monty
Monday, March 01, 2004

Interesting.

Joel doesn't have to prove anything to you or anyone else.  He has a full-time job, he owns and runs a company, writes fascinating articles, and, based on the sheer number of people who post to his FogBugz board and who have obviously purchased his product, he is doing very very well.

Sounds to me like you're not really interested in inferring that he's doing just fine. 

It also sounds to me like you're hoping that he's insecure enough to actually write back to you (hats off Joel, let your readers show their appreciation for the time you spend sharing your thoughts).

As far as his opinions, they're like any other opinion: the wisdom is in the reader applying it to the right situation in the right way.

If you really are concerned that his company won't be around to support you with a product you buy from him, why not put it that way?  (FogBugz ships with the source by the way, and it's a stand-alone product, so once you buy it, you've got it.)

So I'll add my voice to all the other readers and say I also agree that you've missed the point here.  And you'll probably miss this one too... but sometimes, one just can't help but feel like responding to someone who we can't quite figure out if you're just not getting it, or that you actually have an agenda that makes you not want to get it.

Hope you decide to let it go sometime soon...  (you've made your point enough times, and I think every reader of this post can decide who looks more credible: you or Joel.)

Cheers,

Assad E.K. Ebrahim
Thursday, March 04, 2004

Is this thread still going?! Despite all the calls for its demise? Excellent.

Just to clear up the meaning of the word 'credible' as I think this was misunderstood in the previous post. These are the dictionary definitions:

1. Capable of being believed; plausible. See Synonyms at plausible.
2. Worthy of confidence; reliable.

If you show evidence of what you've said being true then I would say that makes you credbile.

If you do not show evidence then we have no idea

If you actively avoid showing evidence then we still have no idea but we have to wonder why this might be.

So following this logic. Is Joel credible and are his writings credible? We don't know. But we have to wonder why he avoids disclosing information that could show him to be credible (or not).

Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with Joel per se. I think some of his writing is excellent and I think some of his ideas are excellent. I don't think his provision of this forum is altrustic; I believe he does it as a marketing ploy. I don't see Joel as the major bit of this forum; I see it as all the subscribers. But I would like to see some way to measure the theories. Science and ideas are not progressed in the world when somebody makes a claim ("I can fly faster than the speed of light") but fails to back it up with documentary evidence that can be proven by other people in the world.

gwyn
Saturday, March 06, 2004

I think maybe Joel has decided to let his actions speak louder than words about the internals of his company.  His company has two products, one of which is on version 2 and the other of which is on version 3.  This gives a very strong indication that his company is self-sufficient.  He clearly states pricing for the products.  A bored Sunday reading through the archives or a search will yield this post http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000026.html dated December 2, 2000.  That's over three years out of date, and if you add to it the fact that his company recently had new office space created to their own specs and is hosting an open house, I'll think you'll find that he's doing fine.  The exact internals are not necessary.

Aaron F Stanton
Saturday, March 06, 2004

Maybe, but if we can deduce or extrapolate that information so easily then why the big secret?!

The continued expenditure could be a sign of company success, or private investment, or perhaps Aunt Fanny died and with the money she left Joel decided to indugle in his architectural ideals.

Would you bet your house on it being any particular one? Honestly?

gwyn
Saturday, March 06, 2004

"Would you bet your house on it being any particular one? Honestly?"

My house isn't at stake here.  His is.  Generally speaking, a product doesn't survive to version 3 and go multiplatform if they are lacking in buyers.

I've used CityDesk a bit and like it - I haven't bought it yet because I haven't done a lot with it.  I haven't tried out FogBugz yet, but I'm sure I'll get around to it.  Both seem to be reasonably priced - a low risk investment.

Seriously, are you questioning the value of his products, or the philosophy and advice, or just his secrecy?  Are you just trying to find out the size of the market he's in?  I honestly don't understand your motives.  Help me understand.

Aaron F Stanton
Saturday, March 06, 2004

No, I'm not questioning the value of his products or the quality of them or even the size of his brain!

I'm questioning the need for secrecy (I think that was a good way to put it). Secrecy breeds mistrust and I'm sure Joel has stated as much in the past. I don't think he's honest about who he is and what he can do. He likes to publish the Joel-enhancing stuff only but I believe this to be untenable in the long run (people eventually see through it) and I wonder why someone who clearly has an enlightened take on the world sees this so differently.

Maybe it's too personal; he doesn't want to reveal too much about himself and I guess I could understand this  but on the other hand he is quite public and open about his homosexuality which is often a much bigger, if not the biggest, personal issue for people. It's not just that he would admit it but he actually presents the fact on his website. Almost all of the homosexuals that I've met have been some of the most honest and most comfortable-with-who-I-am people I've known, because they've had to do a lot of introspective examination and deal with the incredibly tough personal revelation of exitting the closet at one point or another.

And please don't somehow construe that I'm homophobic by any of this. In fact I sometimes wish I was that way inclined.. when you go to a predominantly heterosexual party only half the guests are prospects!

gwyn
Saturday, March 06, 2004

Gwyn, you sound just like every taxi driver I've ever met in Saudi.

First queston: "Where from?"
Second: "Mafi Madam?"("Are you married?" (followed by "Why not?" if the answer is no))
Third: "Kam felous?" ("How much money do you make?")

It's a pity they're only taking Saudis now. You have one of the three qualifications for the job (the other two being total ignorance of the city you work in, and a total disregard for traffic rules).

Stephen Jones
Sunday, March 07, 2004

I'm pleased to announce that I do indeed have a total disregard for traffic rules.

ps. How much you make?

gwyn
Sunday, March 07, 2004

Gwyn's questions are valid because he gets to the heart of the matter on credibility.  Joel speaks with confidentce (to put it mildly) about everything, even on things which he is wrong, and so it does make sense to see whether or not his strategy letters, hiring practices, etc. do lead to superior performance results (revenues and profits).  Joel created this site to build his image and stature; if he wants us to accept that burnished image, he should be willing to back it up.

Otherwise, he must just be the Donal Trump of software: great public image, poor financial results.

Senor Queso
Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I wouldn't say Donald Trump gets poor results.
His name alone is worth gold.
Never mind all the assets.

As for Gwyn's persistence,
Several people pointed out that this forum isn’t the proper
venue to establish a formal business relationship. I’m guessing Gwyn knows this and that this is not what the post is really about.

Several of her original posts were not answered (hence never appeared). She sees this as a form of rejection. The initial artificial politeness of the posts doesn’t mimic their true nature:

“It's not a valid secret... unless you're trying to hide something. He should have the courage to show some honesty. His constant refusal to discuss the matter, even to own up to why he won't discuss it, damages his credibility. Probably more than the truth he so dreads would.”
“It's a matter of honesty and credibility vs looking shifty (i.e. not trustworthy and not credible).”

** Its not his credibility being damaged, perhaps its your feelings being hurt ?

“You guys just don't get it do you? Must be some sort of transatlantic thing. Perhaps y'all branched from the gene pool too early ;-)”

** So now you’re not just insulting Joel, but the entire American continent ?

“I thought Joel was probably an all-round good guy…..However, I now have a modified, lesser opinion of the man. Which is a shame.”

** A modified opinion that you’ve just created in this thread, starting out being polite and progressing to direct insults. The simulated conversation with Joel you posted earlier illustrates how artificial all this is.

“For Christ's sake. Please get this clear YES IT'S HIS SITE HE CAN DO WHAT HE LIKES.”
”Me repetive? At least I read your bloody post properly.”

** Hmmm all caps, finally letting that anger out ?
How much more grievous are the consequences of our anger than the acts which arouse it (Marcus Aurelius)

“So following this logic. Is Joel credible and are his writings credible? We don't know. But we have to wonder why he avoids disclosing information that could show him to be credible (or not).”

** Disclosing information ? Who appointed you chief interrogator of the Spanish inquisition ?

You feel –rejected-.
You refuse to accept it and -move on-.
You won’t take –no- for an answer.
You feel -entitled- to answers from a total stranger.
This thread satisfies your need for –attention-.
You won’t be –ignored-.

Stalker material I’d say.

Hani Obaid
Wednesday, April 21, 2004

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