Friday, January 11, 2008

POF21C - The Problem

For context, see my January 5 post "Meme-Tagged: 'Eight things you (probably) didn’t know about me'," my summary of some of the subsequent "Orablog Tag" posts, and, last but least, my early morning post which hinted at what I'm about to write.

The first hint that something was amiss came in a comment that Jake Kuramoto posted to mrontemp:

Not everyone agrees, some dude named Howard Rogers left me Haterade in comments. His blog had a post on how much he hates it, but he took down the whole thing ( I guess he didn't want to be the guy who sends a "don't spam this list" to the dlist.

I guess some people should just shut about themselves and feed the readers with content.

When I checked yesterday, this is what he said. This is what Howard Rogers said.

Come back when the blog tagging craze has stopped.

Some time before 3:00 this morning, Rogers elaborated on his earlier statement.

I've been told the above headline is a bit too cryptic and makes people think that the site's been hacked. I see also that Tim Hall has characterised the above message as me 'throwing the toys out of the pram', which apart from being a cliché doesn't accurately describe things.

So for the avoidance of doubt: The Oracle blogging community has lately engaged in something of a collective nervous breakdown. 'Blog tagging' is an innocuous-sounding name for the production of a pyramid letter: 1 person posts something and then 'tags' 8 other people to do the same; those 8 each post and tag 8 others; those 64 each post and then tag 8 others in turn, and so it goes on. Before long you have a flood of similar-subject matter posts, none of them about anything remotely to do with Oracle. Fortunately, not everyone tagged has posted-and-tagged in turn, so we don't quite have the exponential growth in blog traffic that would totally overwhelm Blog Aggregators like OraNA and OraBlogs, but the noise levels have still been high enough that it's been difficult at times to see anything of substance in the aggregators of late.

When I politely pointed out the effects of this exponential growth of posts to some, I was told to (and I quote) 'chill dude, you'll have an aneurysm' or 'when I signed up for my blog, I didn't sign up to your terms and conditions' or 'grump'. Well, it's difficult to rebut such well-reasoned criticism, of course! And it's good to see that Oracle bloggers are still able to shepherd their thoughts so cogently. In passing, I would point out that I'm not demanding anything, just asking people to realise the detrimental consequence of their pyramid-participation actions. Being inconvenienced by having to wade through lots of tag posts on OraNA isn't me being grumpy, it's me being inconvenienced (and I'm not the only one).

I might also point out that my blog has not exactly been a hotbed of rigorous Oracle technicality at times. There have been wallabies a-plenty and composer's birthdays to celebrate and much else of a frivolous and personal nature. That's the funny thing about blogging: it's supposed to be about telling people about yourself, your work, your interest, whatever. You don't need a pyramid scheme to do that -and I'd always encourage bloggers to post at least some personal stuff regularly. If it's done freeform, as a matter of choice, instead of as a mad, regimented rush by the crowd, someone might actually read it, absorb it, be enriched by it - and then we'd all be better off as a result.

But these are mere details when so many people are having so much fun. All one can really do, therefore, is withdraw from the madness until it subsides. Doug Burns tells me that it will all blow over in a couple of days, so that's OK: once OraNA really doesn't contain another '8 things' post on its first two pages, I'll consider whether or not the Oracle blogging community is something I want to be part of once more. Right now, it's a madhouse I want no part of, and hence the withdrawal of material that might be considered part of it means this site is unavailable for the duration.

Eddie Awad did some additional research into Rogers' views, and linked to some other comments that he made. And apparently Usenet is still going strong - Paddy O'Furniture didn't kill it - because one of those comments was made in a post in

When I posted something which simply pointed out that 8^4 is 4096 me-
too '8 things' posts, I got replies that I needed to chill, stop being
grumpy and that I was dictating what others could do with their blogs.

In response to me pointing out, therefore, that there are practical
and detrimental consequences from this blog explosion, I got two
people telling me what they assumed my emotional state to be and one
telling me that my concern at actual consequences was just me trying
to fling my weight around.

What do you propose I do when the blogging community of which I am
allegedly a co-equal part doesn't take the points I make seriously
(which is different from agreeing with them, I hasten to add) but
instead immediately reaches for the personal attack?

For more information, follow the links in Eddie Awad's post "I am a Spammer and so Are You if You Played The Tag Game."

If I'm following things correctly, Rogers' concern isn't what people are placing on their own blogs, but what is ending up at If I understand correctly, OraNA aggregates entire blogs into its feed - for example, Laurent Schneider's blog.

Obviously, you have to pass a minimum set of criteria to get aggregated into OraNA - a set that my mrontemp blog does not pass, was not intended to pass, and never will pass. Ignoring my technical capabilities (or lack thereof) for a moment, this "all encompassing" blog discusses a number of items that are not of interest to Oracle database architects or administrators. Even my Oracle-specific feeds - openworld07 and openworld08 - are just as likely to talk about beanbag chairs as they are to discuss the finer points of binary large object storage.

But let's assume for a moment that I decided to create a focused blog that was dedicated to my vast knowledge of Oracle database administration techniques. (Insert "single Twitter tweet" joke here.) Now let's assume that my blog earned a reputation of being THE source on Oracle Database technical issues, and that people flocked to my blog for that very reason. In that case, it possibly would be disturbing to expect to read about geospatial variables and end up reading about, say, the preparation of McRibs. (Although they say that Oracle Database can store ANYTHING....)

OK, so that's the problem. What's the solution?

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