Fog Creek Software
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Ethics of running an online forum...

So, since he's not here, let's talk about him.

I go back and forth on Joel's absence. On the one hand, this forum exists courtesy of the generosity of Fog Creek, and the owners really don't *owe* us anything.

On the other hand, if you regularly post articles as well as edit, moderate, and participate in the forum, wouldn't it be the professional thing to do to post a comment that you're taking a sabbatical/ concentrating on the company/ otherwise indisposed?

I'm just interested in how people feel about a statement like "Joel owes us [x]"

Philo

Philo
Monday, June 14, 2004

Joel owes us nothing. The best way to stop
a good thing is start attaching responsibility
and obligations to it. Just let it be.

son of parnas
Monday, June 14, 2004

"The best way to stop a good thing is start attaching responsibility and obligations to it."

Parnas, may I quote you?

Raganwald
Monday, June 14, 2004

Hey, you never know why he's gone.  Eight days ago I had emergency appendix surgery.  Thanks to modern medicine, I'm now nearly back to normal.

It's possible that he's not even able to tell us why he's not posting.  I'm willing to cut him some slack, personally.

Aaron F Stanton
Monday, June 14, 2004

Joel must have gone through some personal issue or something, as he suddenly became very sensitive to criticism and disagreement.

.
Monday, June 14, 2004

My thought is that because of Joel, we have harmony to our once chaotic bug tracking process. Having the forums is a nice touch. I really enjoy watching questions and answers in a semi-close-knit feeling environment. I would be saddened methinks if the forum disappeared, but I certainly don't feel Joel owes us anything.  As long as they keep up the product support, and bold a topic every now and then, I am perfectly content.

CF
Monday, June 14, 2004

> Parnas, may I quote you?

At your own risk of course :-)

son of parnas
Monday, June 14, 2004

Any reason why Joel can't be a lurker on his own forum?

Stephen Jones
Monday, June 14, 2004

>Any reason why Joel can't be a lurker on his own forum?

Or a semi-anonymous poster?

Captain McFly
Monday, June 14, 2004

Relax, Joel is just in the process of writing the mother of all JOS articles. Be patient.

robtwister
Monday, June 14, 2004

Joel was abducted by a group of Linux zealots and is currently undergoing reeducation somewhere in eastern Europe.

Anonymous
Monday, June 14, 2004

You fools !

You don't understand anything, do you?.. Philo *is* Joel !

;-)

OK, well, maybe he's not. But anyway, let's start with the conspiracy theories..

Who's the Joel in disguise?

Daniel Tio
Monday, June 14, 2004

This is about as annoying as all the patrons on the show "The Restaurant" asking where Rocco is.  The difference here is this forum can continue to thrive without Joel needing to chime in on every post.

mama
Monday, June 14, 2004

Perhaps Joel wrote a Turing test automaton named Philo.

old_timer
Monday, June 14, 2004

"Joel owes us nothing. The best way to stop a good thing is start attaching responsibility and obligations to it. Just let it be."

Agreed.  Joel created this forum and the posters breathed life into it.  I'm sure we all would like to hear form Joel more often, but the man has a business to run.

Just enjoy the forum.

Christopher Hawkins
Monday, June 14, 2004

I too think Joel doesn't owe us anything. But then again, since that row with Steve Jones (or was it Stephen Jones?), he has suddenly disappeared.

Maybe we're going to have CityDesk for MacOS X.

RP
Monday, June 14, 2004

Geez, Philo, I always assumed you were in good with the man, and that if anybody would have inside info re: the whe & wherefore of his prolonged silence, it'd be you.

(I personally suspect he's just watching how the forum behaves in his absence, to see if it degenerates into total /. flamefoolery or if it will retain a semblance of its (ostensible) purpose as a place to discuss software development & related issues.  (Whether this would serve as fodder for a new article or just his own amusement, who knows)

Back on topic: a word of explanation from Joel would be nice but isn't required, IMO.  I learn enough useful stuff here that I'm not going to look a proverbial gift horse in the mouth...

- former car owner in Queens
Monday, June 14, 2004

That should have been "WHY and wherefore", dammit.

- former car owner in Queens
Monday, June 14, 2004

Personally I think its the best way to run a forum.

In fact, I'd really like to see how a forum would do if there wasn't any real guiding hand there.  Just a website address, and absentee (or absentee acting) owner.

I think that the hard part would be getting people to the forums, but it would be the ultimate in "no new features" for the forum. Discussion about how to "fix" it would be pointless, as who would you direct it to?

Essentially just a spot on the internet that someone lets discussion memebers collaborate, and runs it from the background in such a way that the users don't mind that there isn't a public "face" for it.

Though that could be the biggest detractor.  Too 1984.

It should would slowdown the fanboyisms though.

Andrew Hurst
Monday, June 14, 2004

"Message 141886 does not exist or has been deleted."

Chris McEvoy
Monday, June 14, 2004

Which one was 141886?

Christopher Hawkins
Monday, June 14, 2004

I like Joel's articles.  At least I used to, seems like maybe he's running out of things to say.

In any case, I never really much noticed his participation in the forum itself.  So I can't say I miss him here.

And it just seem silly to me to even suggest that he somehow "owes" something to the forum, or to the people who appreciate his semi-regular articles on the website.

Herbert Sitz
Monday, June 14, 2004

I have no Joel and I must scream.

RP
Monday, June 14, 2004

Joel does owe us some respect.  The truth of the matter is this forum generates a crap load (yes that is the technical term) of traffic to fog creek.  I think there is a interesting assortment of people here (including the likes Eric Sink, Philo, etc.), that's why I continue to frequent the forum.

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Monday, June 14, 2004

I think Joel's token of respect to the professional developer community is to run a board like this and to suffer most of the message traffic that it generates. Every thread here sure as heck isn't a gem. If he didn't respect us, this BBS wouldn't exist.

Here is a point of comparison. There are several technology mavens around, some of them being "consultants to consultants" who promise to help (for stiff fees) some of us get independent work, who have no "community" presence at all and who give nothing away.

That tells me that those guys (and I am thinking of some very specific "become wealthy following my system for tech consulting" types) don't respect their peers enough to give something back to the community.

Bored Bystander
Monday, June 14, 2004

" ... But then again, since that row with Steve Jones  ..."

WHAT ROW, WHATROW WHAR DID I MISS??

Kate
Monday, June 14, 2004

> At least I used to, seems like maybe he's
> running out of things to say.

Doesn't everyone? You can only have so many
insights. Them your fresh out until you have a
change of some sort. It's the same for song writers
and book writers.

son of parnas
Monday, June 14, 2004

Personally, if I post something on the public Internet, I think that I have an obligation to communicate about it and maintain it.  Others have lesser standards.

The Internet is filled with lots of neglected junk.  People have the attitude that if something is free, then they have no responsibility for it.  But it doesn't work that way in the real world, either.  For example, suppose that I gave your kids some cookies and they got sick.  You'd be right to blame me even if your kids got them for free.  If I supply you some source code or a web site, I try to stand behind it.  And, if I'm done with a web site, I consider it only fair to post: "This web site is no longer maintained."

I don't think that Joel "owes" us so much as I would appreciate some communication and I consider it unprofessional and discourteous to disappear.  I would quickly change my mind, though, if he were sick, depressed, dead or pretty much any explanation.  It's the not knowing that annoys me: I'd like to know what to expect, even if I should expect nothing.

Daniel Howard
Monday, June 14, 2004

Some people, I think, would welcome the news of a regular (daily, weekly, monthly, or whetever) column from Joel.

Personally, I'm glad he only posts when he's got something to say. Otherwise, his regular advice would eventually deterioriate until it reached the levels of Garfield or Marmaduke.

Benji Smith
Monday, June 14, 2004

Again, we have this topic??!!??

MilesArcher
Monday, June 14, 2004

In the past when Joel had nothing to say he didn't say anything.  Imagine that. 

I also think he has a book coming out featuring various articles from his collection.  This is probably what he's working on in addition to CityDesk 3.0 and FogBugz and support and marketing and sales and... well you get the idea.

As far as Joel participating in the forum, well I can pretty much guarantee that he's around here... somewhere... the joke is really on you.

Anon
Monday, June 14, 2004

I wonder if Joel's actually one of the several anti-MS or anti-Indian trolls?

Melvin J. Troll
Monday, June 14, 2004

Joel is an abstraction. An abstraction of something everybody thinks they know, but nobody knows in full. Like (almost) all abstractions they are leaky. In the case of the "Joel Abstraction Layer" his "leakyness" is shown by sometimes having an inability to post or do otherwise normal board related activities. I'm sure, soon enough, the people at FogCreek will notice the malfunction and kick the entity back into normal working order.

anon-y-mous cow-ard
Monday, June 14, 2004

The offshoring posts aren't anti-Indian. They're anti American, Australian and UK business managers.


Monday, June 14, 2004

1. Philo is Joel in reverse - he went from independant to part of the monolith. Heck, you could almost rearrange the letters in his name to spell... uh, Phoil. Jelo? I bet if you know their last names, you can get even closer. A J in Philo's last name and a P in Joel's last name get you halfway there.

2. Online communites can & have been known to thrive without their founder.

3. I don't miss Joel, he was a rare voice here anyway. Though it seems that after a flurry of activity - the Ask Joel forum, etc.  a lull is normal.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

In 20 years we'll be having debates over whether there really is a Joel, whether he set the wheels in motion and disappeared, and if there really is a Joel, why is there so much evil in the wor.... forum.

Gee, nobody thinks I'm Joel, I get back here just as he disappears.

"." has also had a rather large increase in posting. anon's posting has also picked up just as Joel's postings drop.

(fun with JOS Statistics) http://www.usabilitymustdie.com/jos/WW_DNA.html

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Maybe he's becoming Joeline.

change is good
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

there was an article on the home page around 2.2-5 weeks ago. but it has been removed on the next day. did anybody see that?


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

There is a simple explanation for Joel's silence.

He has spent some time watching 'The Office' and is now trying desperately to say something without sounding like David Brent.

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Ironically, Joel is back and posting, just that you guys missed it.

Unless, of course, someone is posting as him again, c/w the FCS sig (it was never difficult to do that).

Steve Jones (UK)
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

RP: "... since that row with Steve Jones ...".

Come on, I don't believe that our trivial exchanges over trivial items were the cause of Joel going awol for so long.

Give the guy some credit, please.

Steve Jones (UK)
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Perhaps he fell in lurve . . .

WoodenTongue
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

>> Eight days ago I had emergency appendix surgery

Oh My God, Joel had surgery?

Alex
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Now that's funny...thinking I am Joel.

Sorry, no.

Aaron F Stanton
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Have you ever noticed how Joel and Philo never post to the same forum? Wake up people!

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Who's Joel?

n00b
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

My guess is paying the upkeep on this thing just doesn't seem a good investment any longer. At the current rate it takes an almonst fulltime gardner to keep the place tidy.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Somehow I think Joel can afford this forum: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/BionicOffice.html

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

"This house will become a shrine! And punks and skins and Rastas will all gather round and all hold their hands in sorrow for their fallen leader! And all the grown-ups will say, "But why are the kids crying?" And the kids will say, "Haven't you heard? Rick is dead! The People's Poet is dead!"

"And then one particularly sensitive and articulate teenager will say, "Why kids, do you understand nothing? How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?""



How can Joel be dead when we still have his articles?

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Call me an old fart, but somehow I don't fancy living in the Young One's shack.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Those of us who have been on the forum since it's inception would know Philo's real name is Phillip Janus.  He's got a bunch of degree's and other junk behind his name.  Plus he's a big brown noser.  He used to use his real name in his posts along with the Philo thing.  Search the old posts and you'll find some or look at his blog.

Now he just happened to have some friend (or friend of a friend or something) that got his resume into MS and then he got an interview.  Before that he worked for some concern building a .NET program for the police he called it Camel and blogged about it then he get's fired or he quit or some such nonsense.

But who cares?  No one.

Anyway that's not as interesting as Joel's background of working on Excel at MS.  That my friends is real software development.  If I were a writer I would write an article about real software development.

Let's not confuse this Philo character with Joel.

Anon
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Anon it was a joke. No one is confusing Joel with Philo.

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

"Plus he's a big brown noser."

What did you base this on?

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Not to sound like a jerk, but honestly, I would never have guessed that people actually devoted spare cycles to wondering "where Joel is."

And don't get me wrong, I love Joel's articles and posts, but aside from the few minutes a day I spend skimming for useful information and the occasional post, the welfare of JoSForum and even Joel himself just don't concern me enough to spend my own time thinking about it.

ok, I guess I am a jerk
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

I have to agree with the rest of the rabble on this one. I don't think Joel owes us anything. I have never really viewed him as apart of this forum, he is not even a regular. Plus I certainly don't frequent this forum to hear his comments. He writes some interesting articles and some really boring articles. However aside from that I have know idea who he is, and really don't care.

Having said that, in the line of the way a good debate would work. Imagine for an instance that this is Britteny Spear's official website, and this is her official forum. If I were a poster on that forum then I would expect the occasional post from Britteny Spears. I would believe that she owed us that. I would also believe that she still owed us the occasional post, even if she is coping abuse from posters. I would be hoping she learnt how to have a thicker skin.

I guess I just don't put Joel up on this level. I value this forum because of the other regular posters.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

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