StackOverflow WTF



  • Jeff Atwood's new venture StackOverflow has gone live and already it is obvious this place is going to be a major source of TDWTF fodder.  Take this, for example.  The guy takes advantage of PHP's type coercion to define 7 different error constants which all evaluate to false and 1 success constant that evaluates to true.  I guess he had never encountered UNIX "0 on success, positive int on failure" behavior before...



  • Also, check this out: [ http://stackoverflow.com/questions/72394/what-should-a-developer-know-before-building-a-public-web-site ]

    What about languages? - HTML - JavaScript - PHP/.net/python - Ajax

    Ajax? .net? People mix up these buzzwords all the time.



  • The good thing about StackOverflow is the ability to promote the good content, downvote the WTF fodder, and provide your own answer if none of the existing ones are sufficient.



  • @Erick said:

    The good thing about StackOverflow is the ability to promote the good content, downvote the WTF fodder, and provide your own answer if none of the existing ones are sufficient.

    This model worked for Digg and Reddit, making them the quality news sources they are today! 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    This model worked for Digg and Reddit, making them the quality news sources they are today! 

     

    As long as the subject matter is restricted to specific technical questions, rather than anything political or ideological or philosophical, it could work.  Part of the problem with Digg and Reddit is the generality, and the fact that you have millions of people voting on subjects that they know nothing whatsoever about.  The (perhaps erroneous) assumption on SO is that the majority of members will have some basic level of knowledge on the subjects they choose to post about.  Although if someone doesn't even understand the concept of an error code then I'd have to wonder...



  • @Aaron said:

    As long as the subject matter is restricted to specific technical questions, rather than anything political or ideological or philosophical, it could work.
     

    there are enough holly wars in the technological department as well ...

     



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    This model worked for Digg and Reddit, making them the quality news sources they are today!


    Blame the community, not the website. I can only hope that the common competence of programmers occupying the SO community is able to judge good code from bad.



  •  Wow, that's both kind of clever and totally stupid at the same time. Nice WTF.



  • @Nelle said:

    there are enough holly wars in the technological department as well ...

     

     

    I hate when plants fight!

    Holly Plant



  • I visited stackoverflow.com with NoScript enabled and got this nice message: Stack Overflow works best with JavaScript enabled



  • That's not a WTF.  Expecting any site to work properly with NoScript on is the WTF.



  • I'll have to come clean and say that perusing this site has been very interesting from both a technical and WTF viewpoint.


    But just to warn you all, someone posted a question about WTF moments, which started off a huge number of "Well 20 years ago .. " type posts that wouldn't fly on the sidebar here. But someone else posted a link to TDWTF .. so start counting down until the flood of posts starts heading this way!



  • @Erick said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    This model worked for Digg and Reddit, making them the quality news sources they are today!


    Blame the community, not the website. I can only hope that the common competence of programmers occupying the SO community is able to judge good code from bad.
    It's a little bit of both. Some sites are better at harnessing "the crowd" than others.

    For example, compare a digg thread to a slashdot thread on the same topic. Slashdot's highest-rated posts will at least be somewhat insightful. Digg's highest rated post will invariably be "fuck the RIAA". Digg's software is bad at filtering out the noise -- there are no penalties for abusing their comment moderation system. Slashdot's software inevitably dissuades any but the most dedicated from posting.


    The software shapes the community, to some extent.



  • @Aaron said:

    That's not a WTF.  Expecting any site to work properly with NoScript on is the WTF.

    Ok, I'll explain it to you. Like this site the site is mostly working with NoScript and only works "best" with JavaScript. And yes, I can expect web designers to not waste my CPU resources with stupid effects because I open many tabs and do more work in parallel and no site has the CPU for itself. But I like the ambiguous message. Just read it again. I don't know if the author wanted to be funny here or not, but this can be read as a property of a programming language.



  • @strcmp said:

    @Aaron said:
    That's not a WTF.  Expecting any site to work properly with NoScript on is the WTF.

    Ok, I'll explain it to you. Like this site the site is mostly working with NoScript and only works "best" with JavaScript. And yes, I can expect web designers to not waste my CPU resources with stupid effects because I open many tabs and do more work in parallel and no site has the CPU for itself. But I like the ambiguous message. Just read it again. I don't know if the author wanted to be funny here or not, but this can be read as a property of a programming language.

    I'm glad you pointed that out again, I didn't pick it up the first time - cute!

    Aaron, what makes you think that a website needs JavaScript enabled to be able to work correctly? Websites should be able to function perfectly well without JavaScript, and then - if appropriate - take advantage of JavaScript to enhance the experience (e.g. through AJAX search helpers, etc.) Relying on JavaScript to make a website work is asking for it to be resoundingly broken for some people.

    Some hackers take this to extremes by knocking together websites with loads of business logic running in the browser, and even horrors like user input validation that can be subverted just by turning JavaScript off. Better to have it working with NoScript than easily broken through any number of reasons that cause some piece of JavaScript to fail.



  • @rosko said:

    Aaron, what makes you think that a website needs JavaScript enabled to be able to work correctly? Websites should be able to function perfectly well without JavaScript, and then - if appropriate - take advantage of JavaScript to enhance the experience (e.g. through AJAX search helpers, etc.) Relying on JavaScript to make a website work is asking for it to be resoundingly broken for some people.
    I think Aaron's point was that if you cripple your browser, you shouldn't expect every site to work properly.  Just like if you chop your arm off, you shouldn't expect to be able to play baseball as well.

    Hell, expecting some sites to work properly even with JS enabled is too much to ask.



  • @rosko said:

    Websites should be able to function perfectly well without JavaScript, and then - if appropriate - take advantage of JavaScript to enhance the experience
     

    That's wonderful, but they many don't, as you know.  So what should be happening is kind of irrelevant.....



  •  @Erick said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    This model worked for Digg and Reddit, making them the quality news sources they are today!


    Blame the community, not the website. I can only hope that the common competence of programmers occupying the SO community is able to judge good code from bad.

     

    No... not at all. The less a person knows, the less responsiblity they have therefore, the more time they can contribute to SO, at least blogs could filter out the dumb and lazy. Just take a look at SO right now, morbius's featured WTF article currently has over 1000 views, and an expert actually gave it a pretty elaborate answer to this gargbe. They both have repurations of over 800+ and one of them even has a silver badge... lol

     

    I took SO for a test drive and couldn't find anything on there at all about, say... ADF, which is a pretty common topic to discuss since it is a new technology. All I see there are idiot questions about pointers and other complete noob shit. I guess this is kind of helpful for those who frequent it the most.



  • @Vechni said:

    Just take a look at SO right now, morbius's featured WTF article currently has over 1000 views, and an expert actually gave it a pretty elaborate answer to this gargbe. They both have repurations of over 800+ and one of them even has a silver badge... lol
     

    I am not sure what you are saying here.  What is the problem with two experts giving good answers to someone who needs help? Both experts pointed out that what the OP was doing is bad and suggested better ways to do it.  What's making you "LOL"?

    If the site is too "noobie" for you, then perhaps that is an indication that you can contribute by providing help/answers for others.   Or, if you are looking for specific help on a specific product you work with, post some questions of your own.



  • @Jeff S said:

    I am not sure what you are saying here. 
    What is the problem with two experts giving good answers to someone who
    needs help? Both experts pointed out that what the OP was doing is bad
    and suggested better ways to do it.  What's making you "LOL"?

     

     The original post I made went over the reason why taking time to go
    over non-sense like that was pointless, why you are replying to it and
    pretending that wasn't mention-- I don't know......

    @Jeff S said:


    If the site is too "noobie" for you, then perhaps that is an indication that you can contribute by providing help/answers for others.   Or, if you are looking for specific help on a specific product you work with, post some questions of your own.

     

    How about a no. I left digg awhile ago. Ontop of that most programmer's blogs are shit. even jeff posts about some pretty dumb shit:

     http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001165.html


     



  • @Vechni said:

     The original post I made went over the reason why taking time to go
    over non-sense like that was pointless, why you are replying to it and
    pretending that wasn't mention-- I don't know......
     

    Ok.  You wrote:

    No... not at all. The less a person knows, the less responsiblity they
    have therefore, the more time they can contribute to SO, at least blogs
    could filter out the dumb and lazy.

    Again, still not sure what you are saying here.  Why is going over "nonsense like this" pointless?  Do you think the person asking this question learning anything and benefited from having his question answered?  I think he probably did.  Isn't that the idea? I understand that the lazy "send me the codez" questions are pointless, but we all were "dumb noobies" at some point when we were first learning how to program, and the whole idea of these forums and blogs is to help one another learn.  Right?

    Or, are you saying that no good programmers ever have time to visit these sites and provide help?   Obviously, you are completely wrong about that -- visit any programming forum out there and you'll see thousands of people helping others with sound advice.  

    @Vechni said:

    How
    about a no. I left digg awhile ago. Ontop of that most programmer's
    blogs are shit. even jeff posts about some pretty dumb shit:

    Digg? What does that have to do with any of this??

    If the bloggers out there are not smart enough for you, then, again, maybe that is an indication that it's time for you to contribute back to the community by writing your own blog.    Ever tried it?




  • @belgariontheking said:

    I think Aaron's point was that if you cripple your browser, you shouldn't expect every site to work properly.  Just like if you chop your arm off, you shouldn't expect to be able to play baseball as well.

    Hell, expecting some sites to work properly even with JS enabled is too much to ask.

    As you point out, some (many!) sites don't work properly whether JS is enabled / disabled / file_not_found. Nothing wrong with expecting them to work, as long as one is prepared to be disappointed. Expecting a website to work "properly" with JS disabled is perfectly OK, as long as one doesn't expect it to be all AJAX-ey.

    But it should at least be able to load its CSS without the need to run browser-side script...



  • @Jeff S said:

    That's wonderful, but they many don't, as you know.  So what should be happening is kind of irrelevant.....
    Um, isn't what should happen, rather the whole point of this website? Or are WTFs now to be seen as shining examples of what to expect, even strive for?



  • @rosko said:

    @Jeff S said:

    That's wonderful, but they many don't, as you know.  So what should be happening is kind of irrelevant.....
    Um, isn't what should happen, rather the whole point of this website? Or are WTFs now to be seen as shining examples of what to expect, even strive for?

     

    sigh ... yes, clearly that was my point -- we should strive for WTFs.  Thanks for helping to clarify that!



  • @rosko said:

    @strcmp said:

    @Aaron said:
    That's not a WTF.  Expecting any site to work properly with NoScript on is the WTF.

    Ok, I'll explain it to you. Like this site the site is mostly working with NoScript and only works "best" with JavaScript. And yes, I can expect web designers to not waste my CPU resources with stupid effects because I open many tabs and do more work in parallel and no site has the CPU for itself. But I like the ambiguous message. Just read it again. I don't know if the author wanted to be funny here or not, but this can be read as a property of a programming language.

    I'm glad you pointed that out again, I didn't pick it up the first time - cute!

    Aaron, what makes you think that a website needs JavaScript enabled to be able to work correctly? Websites should be able to function perfectly well without JavaScript, and then - if appropriate - take advantage of JavaScript to enhance the experience (e.g. through AJAX search helpers, etc.) Relying on JavaScript to make a website work is asking for it to be resoundingly broken for some people.

    Some hackers take this to extremes by knocking together websites with loads of business logic running in the browser, and even horrors like user input validation that can be subverted just by turning JavaScript off. Better to have it working with NoScript than easily broken through any number of reasons that cause some piece of JavaScript to fail.

     

    Wow, thanks guys, this was way over my head until you both explained it.  My eyes are open!

    Except, no.  Here, I'll put this in point form so you can understand:

    1. The site says it works best with JS enabled because it works best with JS enabled.  It works, kind of, without it - at the very least you can definitely view content - but some features of the site might not work without it.  I can't imagine anything more self-evident.
    2. I seriously doubt that any of you have your computers engaged full-time in such important computations that a couple of scripts on the web would actually "waste" CPU cycles that aren't already idle.  If you actually care about this, you need either a new machine or the back of my hand on your face.
    3. I'm not sure who decided that "websites should be able to function perfectly well without JavaScript", and perhaps this was the conventional wisdom back in, oh, 1999, but nobody cares anymore.  You might as well demand that your cordless phone should work during a power failure - yes, maybe 10 years ago phones were simple enough to work off of just the analog line, but not now, and that's just the way it is.
    4. Yes, relying on JavaScript will make it broken for "some people" - an even lower number of people than the number of Opera or Netscape users.  I'm trying not to sound arrogant here, but frankly, my time and money and my company's time and money are too valuable to waste on a tiny handful of nerds with an irrational fear of the status quo.
    5. Avoiding critical design flaws like client-side validation without accompanying server-side validation does not require correct operation without JavaScript.  That is a red herring and you know it.

    In conclusion: it's 2008, and expecting sites to work without JavaScript is no more logical than expecting a new printer to work without a USB port.  New technologies are invented, people shy away from them at first, then they get refined, start to see more widespread adoption, and eventually people come to depend on them.  They may not be perfect, they may not be safe or secure, but that fact changes nothing unless and until something better arrives on the market.

    Ever since the first "Web 2.0" treatise several years ago, we've been living in a JavaScript world.  ECMAScript has even started to get taken seriously as a full-fledged programming language.  Welcome to Planet Earth.  This is the world we live in - get used to it.



  • @rosko said:

    Aaron, what makes you think that a website needs JavaScript enabled to be able to work correctly? Websites should be able to function perfectly well without JavaScript, and then - if appropriate - take advantage of JavaScript to enhance the experience (e.g. through AJAX search helpers, etc.) Relying on JavaScript to make a website work is asking for it to be resoundingly broken for some people.

    Some sites need to be widely-accessible, so for a blog or an e-commerce site, I agree with you.  However, something like Stack Overflow or web apps should take advantage of JS if they want and screw the users who disable JS.  Seriously, people who intentionally cripple their browser and then complain about sites that don't go to great lengths to cater to neo-Luddites piss me off.

     

    @rosko said:

    Some hackers take this to extremes by knocking together websites with loads of business logic running in the browser, and even horrors like user input validation that can be subverted just by turning JavaScript off. Better to have it working with NoScript than easily broken through any number of reasons that cause some piece of JavaScript to fail.

    If the developer is so stupid that they do only client-side validation, JS is not their problem.  Being a moron is their problem.  In fact, they would fit in quite well on Stack Overflow.  And nobody said using NoScript is bad, but people who act surprised when a site doesn't work with NoScript on are just obnoxious.



  • @Aaron said:

    Wow, thanks guys, this was way over my head until you both explained it.  My eyes are open!

    Except, no.  Here, I'll put this in point form so you can understand:

    1. The site says it works best with JS enabled because it works best with JS enabled.  It works, kind of, without it - at the very least you can definitely view content - but some features of the site might not work without it.  I can't imagine anything more self-evident.
    2. I seriously doubt that any of you have your computers engaged full-time in such important computations that a couple of scripts on the web would actually "waste" CPU cycles that aren't already idle.  If you actually care about this, you need either a new machine or the back of my hand on your face.
    3. I'm not sure who decided that "websites should be able to function perfectly well without JavaScript", and perhaps this was the conventional wisdom back in, oh, 1999, but nobody cares anymore.  You might as well demand that your cordless phone should work during a power failure - yes, maybe 10 years ago phones were simple enough to work off of just the analog line, but not now, and that's just the way it is.
    4. Yes, relying on JavaScript will make it broken for "some people" - an even lower number of people than the number of Opera or Netscape users.  I'm trying not to sound arrogant here, but frankly, my time and money and my company's time and money are too valuable to waste on a tiny handful of nerds with an irrational fear of the status quo.
    5. Avoiding critical design flaws like client-side validation without accompanying server-side validation does not require correct operation without JavaScript.  That is a red herring and you know it.

    In conclusion: it's 2008, and expecting sites to work without JavaScript is no more logical than expecting a new printer to work without a USB port.  New technologies are invented, people shy away from them at first, then they get refined, start to see more widespread adoption, and eventually people come to depend on them.  They may not be perfect, they may not be safe or secure, but that fact changes nothing unless and until something better arrives on the market.

    Ever since the first "Web 2.0" treatise several years ago, we've been living in a JavaScript world.  ECMAScript has even started to get taken seriously as a full-fledged programming language.  Welcome to Planet Earth.  This is the world we live in - get used to it.

    +5 Insightful, Funny

     

    1000 Stack Overflow CRED to you, sir.

     

    The only point I disagree on is "nerds afraid of the status quo".  I think it's more like "people who like to think they are nerds trying to show off their technical savvy by blocking scripting so that when a site doesn't work without JS they can throw a hissy fit".  It's 2008.  If your browser doesn't support JavaScript, I have no sympathy for you.  It's like running Windows 3.1 and commenting every other day "I tried to install this new application, but it wouldn't even run in 16-bit mode!" 



  • @Jeff S said:

    blah..

    I will do all of that, if you visit this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPgI-7hTZkQ



  • @Aaron said:

    expecting sites to work without JavaScript is no more logical than expecting a
    new printer to work without a USB port. 

    My printer connects to the parallel port!..

    Okay, it doesn't, but I wish it did. I'll crawl back to the shack now.



  • @Vechni said:

    @Jeff S said:

    blah..

    I will do all of that, if you visit this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPgI-7hTZkQ

     

    I am wrong about what exactly? And what did I ask you to do?  Do you have two browser windows open at the same time in two different forums and are somehow getting confused about which conversation you are responding to each time? 



  • @Aaron said:

    ...In conclusion: it's 2008, and expecting sites to work without JavaScript is no more logical than expecting a new printer to work without a USB port.  New technologies are invented, people shy away from them at first, then they get refined, start to see more widespread adoption, and eventually people come to depend on them.  They may not be perfect, they may not be safe or secure, but that fact changes nothing unless and until something better arrives on the market.

    Ever since the first "Web 2.0" treatise several years ago, we've been living in a JavaScript world.  ECMAScript has even started to get taken seriously as a full-fledged programming language.  Welcome to Planet Earth.  This is the world we live in - get used to it.

    Why is Javascript so evil?

    Because webmasters use it to make:

    • Popup windows and Popunders
    • Windows presized to some size the user don't want.
    • Windows with no functionality, ie. just a frame with contents.
    • Full screen windows, again a size the user don't want.
    • Forcing windows to front of the screen
    • Taking over the status bar
    • Alert boxes
    • Browser sniffers
    • Cursor following animations
    • Guessing resolution (irrelevant and often wrong anyway)
    • Used for links where a simple HTML link is sufficient
    • Used for forms so that they cannot be filled out without Javascript enabled

    These reasons, and more, are why I run NoScript. You might think that most of the above are perfectly valid, but I've come a cropper on all of them at some point when some turkey does a WTF because they can't be arsed working out how to write good (X)HTML/CSS. The browser sniffer thing is particularly annoying when it tells me to bugger off because I'm not using something they couldn't anticipate back in 1999 - Fedora 9 with Firefox 3.

    As for scripts chewing idle cycles, have you never been to a website with multiple scrolling text boxes driven by poorly written JavaScript that completely consumes your processor? "Why is everything so much slower? What's hogging the processor? Firefox? Ah... WTF-ey JavaScript!" Maybe that problem will fade away now that Google's new JavaScript engine has appeared (and Firefox will work that technology in soon) (And on SWMBO's old P4 with a noisy fan, dodgy JavaScript makes the computer noisier too - I know, should replace the fan!)

    When it appears that I'm missing something on a website due to NoScript, and I reckon I actually want something from that website (e.g. TDWTF), then I happily enable scripts for it. Until then, I let NoScript filter out the WTFs for me and generally enjoy a reduced-stress browing experience.

    Oh, note that NoScript isn't the only reason why JavaScript might be disabled or ignored:

    • some firewalls disable scripts and other active content by default
    • some users disable scripts and other active content, and explicitly enable only on "trusted" websites
    • some corporate firewalls strip scripts except on "trusted" websites (and some take out the noscript tags too!)
    • some users (blind / visually impaired) need screen readers that read the HTML content, pre-JavaScript

     

    Don't tag me as some sort of Luddite fighting against the adoption of new technologies. I'm not saying that websites shouldn't use any JavaScript, just that they need to still work without it.

    @morbiuswilters said:

    ...The only point I disagree on is "nerds afraid of the status quo".  I think it's more like "people who like to think they are nerds trying to show off their technical savvy by blocking scripting so that when a site doesn't work without JS they can throw a hissy fit".  It's 2008.  If your browser doesn't support JavaScript, I have no sympathy for you.  It's like running Windows 3.1 and commenting every other day "I tried to install this new application, but it wouldn't even run in 16-bit mode!"
    Thanks for tagging me as trying to be a nerd, I'm sure SWMBO will be delighted to hear I'm not really a nerd after all... :-)



  • @rosko said:

    stuff
    That's nice.  I'm glad you have such firm convictions that lead you to use NoScript, but don't expect sites to work.  Noone ever said that using NoScript was a WTF.  Just don't expect sites to work when it's turned on.  Just like users behind the firewalls that you mentioned, they shouldn't expect sites to work either.

    Rant and rave all you want about how designers should create better sites.  It's not happening, and it's not likely to happen, unless every webserver is destroyed and the web is repopulated by militant anti-JS dweebs.



  • @rosko said:

    Why is Javascript so evil?

    ...

    As for scripts chewing idle cycles, have you never been to a website with multiple scrolling text boxes driven by poorly written JavaScript that completely consumes your processor? "Why is everything so much slower? What's hogging the processor? Firefox? Ah... WTF-ey JavaScript!" Maybe that problem will fade away now that Google's new JavaScript engine has appeared (and Firefox will work that technology in soon) (And on SWMBO's old P4 with a noisy fan, dodgy JavaScript makes the computer noisier too - I know, should replace the fan!)

    You've posted what amounts to a generic complaint about a tiny handful of shady sites that abuse Javascript.  This all happens, but it's not in common practice.  If this is a valid reason for you to use NoScript (keeping in mind that most browsers already have popup blockers and can limit JavaScript's ability to resize windows, etc.), then that's fine, although I would call it cutting off your nose to spite your face.  Even so, it's still not a valid reason to complain about sites that require JS and don't abuse it in this way and aren't poorly-written.

    JavaScript itself isn't evil, just the way some idiots use it.  Generalizing in this way is tantamount to saying that commerce is evil because you got fleeced a few times, then refusing to do any more shopping until retail stores can get their collective act together and properly serve customers who have no money.  You're taking a specific, contextual problem or complaint, casting it as a general one, and then expecting the rest of the world to solve the general problem you just fabricated.  Not only will it not happen, but it makes no sense.

    @rosko said:

    When it appears that I'm missing something on a website due to NoScript, and I reckon I actually want something from that website (e.g. TDWTF), then I happily enable scripts for it.

    That's brilliant!  So why didn't you spend 2 clicks and 3 seconds of your time doing this for SO, instead of wasting far more of your time and everyone else's bitching about it?

    • some users (blind / visually impaired) need screen readers that read the HTML content, pre-JavaScript

    The only actual legitimate complaint so far.  Fortunately, it's quite possible to make JS-heavy sites accessible to the visually impaired, and accessibility tools today are mostly smart enough to handle Ajax and the like.

    I'm not saying that websites shouldn't use any JavaScript, just that they need to still work without it.

    That is, in fact, exactly what the luddites did.  Although they rejected the technology, their primary line of reasoning was not that there was anything wrong with the technology, but that people still needed to learn and practice the old ways.  Why?  Um....

    "Graceful degradation" is a crock.  You're talking about tripling the cost of development in order to serve less than 1% of your potential customers.  In economic terms, it's just plumb stupid.  Ideas like this can only possibly sound good in the minds of anal-retentive web "gurus" blathering on about crap like XHTML and the Semantic Web.



  • @Aaron said:

    That is, in fact, exactly what the luddites did.  Although they rejected the technology, their primary line of reasoning was not that there was anything wrong with the technology, but that people still needed to learn and practice the old ways.  Why?  Um....

    "Graceful degradation" is a crock.  You're talking about tripling the cost of development in order to serve less than 1% of your potential customers.  In economic terms, it's just plumb stupid.  Ideas like this can only possibly sound good in the minds of anal-retentive web "gurus" blathering on about crap like XHTML and the Semantic Web.

    +5, Funny

     

    I've decided that I want my iPod to degrade gracefully as well.  If I suddenly decide I'm sick of MP3s, my iPod should be able to play cassettes, 8-tracks and LPs. 



  • @morbiuswilters said:


    I've decided that I want my iPod to degrade gracefully as well.  If I suddenly decide I'm sick of MP3s, my iPod should be able to play cassettes, 8-tracks and LPs. 

     

    Don't forget about the power supply.  It should have a hand crank just in case you're lost in the middle of the Amazon and can't obtain batteries.

    I also insist on an 8" floppy drive installed in all my new PCs.  I wouldn't want to be caught unprepared when somebody comes around in a white van selling the original Roswell files as backed up from an IBM 701 mainframe.  I need to be able to check their authenticity on the spot.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Jeff Atwood's new venture StackOverflow has gone live and already it is obvious this place is going to be a major source of TDWTF fodder.  Take this, for example.  The guy takes advantage of PHP's type coercion to define 7 different error constants which all evaluate to false and 1 success constant that evaluates to true.  I guess he had never encountered UNIX "0 on success, positive int on failure" behavior before...

    To get back on topic, I think the real problem with SO is the belief that a community of people will recognize the right answer when it's handed to them.  Given the herding of developers from framework to framework, or down different styles (procedural, oop, functional...)  i doubt that community voting will do anything but exactly what you said, "be a major source of TDWTF fodder"



  • @Aaron said:

    @morbiuswilters said:


    I've decided that I want my iPod to degrade gracefully as well.  If I suddenly decide I'm sick of MP3s, my iPod should be able to play cassettes, 8-tracks and LPs. 

     

    Don't forget about the power supply.  It should have a hand crank just in case you're lost in the middle of the Amazon and can't obtain batteries.

    I also insist on an 8" floppy drive installed in all my new PCs.  I wouldn't want to be caught unprepared when somebody comes around in a white van selling the original Roswell files as backed up from an IBM 701 mainframe.  I need to be able to check their authenticity on the spot.

    The screen on my iPod can only be read by species that have evolved high-resolution, photo-sensitive organs.  I demand that track info also be provided as a chain of amino acids just in case I should ever rapidly devolve into a single-celled organism.



  • @clively said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Jeff Atwood's new venture StackOverflow has gone live and already it is obvious this place is going to be a major source of TDWTF fodder.  Take this, for example.  The guy takes advantage of PHP's type coercion to define 7 different error constants which all evaluate to false and 1 success constant that evaluates to true.  I guess he had never encountered UNIX "0 on success, positive int on failure" behavior before...

    To get back on topic, I think the real problem with SO is the belief that a community of people will recognize the right answer when it's handed to them.  Given the herding of developers from framework to framework, or down different styles (procedural, oop, functional...)  i doubt that community voting will do anything but exactly what you said, "be a major source of TDWTF fodder"

    Agreed.  I think letting people vote on the answers is silly enough, because software development is so subjective and contentious.  What's more, I have to wonder what kind of quality we will see in the form of questions and answers.  Most of the questions will probably end up being "send me t3h codez" and the answers are being provided by people who have enough spare time to provide free CS instruction.  Something tells me that most good, professional developers will not have the time or inclination to bother answering questions.



  • @clively said:

    To get back on topic, I think the real problem with SO is the belief that a community of people will recognize the right answer when it's handed to them.  Given the herding of developers from framework to framework, or down different styles (procedural, oop, functional...)  i doubt that community voting will do anything but exactly what you said, "be a major source of TDWTF fodder"

     

    Well it works for Wikipedia, which always has the correct information on every topic.

    To be fair to Jeff, I think he's aware of these problems, which is why he quips "None of us is as dumb as all of us".  It's a kind of experiment, and they're hoping it will work out for the better.  I think what we're most likely to see is something like an 80/20 ratio of fodder to useful topics.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Something tells me that most good, professional developers will not have the time or inclination to bother answering questions.

     

    I'd emphasize inclination over time.  Most people who are talented and feel that they might have something to offer start out optimistic but get cynical for two reasons:

    • New members looking for a quick fix can't be bothered to search, so veteran members keep answering the same stupid questions over and over again (and eventually those members get exasperated and stop participating).
    • Most people treat technical forums,
      newsgroups, etc. as their personal helpdesk and don't even bother to
      come back with a "thank you" after following somebody's advice.  Many even have the gall to get abusive if they don't get the answer they want, or if they're forced to wait more than 6 minutes for it.

      

    It makes a lot more sense, if you have a real contribution to make to the "community", to put it on a blog or personal site, where you might actually get some recognition or ad revenue.  These forums always start out with potential, but crash and burn when the best and brightest realize that they're just cogs in the machine and tire of not being treated like human beings.  You're effectively volunteer tech support; maybe you're supporting "developers" instead of "users", but I think this site proves that the former group can be just as dumb and several times more irritating.



  • @Aaron said:



    @morbiuswilters said:


    Something tells me that most good, professional developers will not have the time or inclination to bother answering questions.



    I'd emphasize inclination over time.  Most people who are talented and feel that they might have something to offer start out optimistic but get cynical for two reasons:

        * New members looking for a quick fix can't be bothered to search, so veteran members keep answering the same stupid questions over and over again (and eventually those members get exasperated and stop participating).
        * Most people treat technical forums, newsgroups, etc. as their personal helpdesk and don't even bother to come back with a "thank you" after following somebody's advice.  Many even have the gall to get abusive if they don't get the answer they want, or if they're forced to wait more than 6 minutes for it.

     

    It makes a lot more sense, if you have a real contribution to make to the "community", to put it on a blog or personal site, where you might actually get some recognition or ad revenue.  These forums always start out with potential, but crash and burn when the best and brightest realize that they're just cogs in the machine and tire of not being treated like human beings.  You're effectively volunteer tech support; maybe you're supporting "developers" instead of "users", but I think this site proves that the former group can be just as dumb and several times more irritating.



    Which is always the issue with organizations taking on ‘free open source’ projects for their own product development because it’s ‘free’ :

    Argument: “Not only that the support is free from forums”

    Answer: “Yes: you are also paying your engineers to support strangers, potentially competitors”



  • @Helix said:

    Which is always the issue with organizations taking on ‘free open source’ projects for their own product development because it’s ‘free’ :

    Argument: “Not only that the support is free from forums”

    Answer: “Yes: you are also paying your engineers to support strangers, potentially competitors”

    That's only a downside if you have a conscience.  Personally, I would compile dossiers on any competitors that were using open source solutions developed by my company and then instruct my engineers to include several subtle, difficult-to-detect defects in the publicly-available versions that would not be in the internally-used versions.  As these bugs worked their way downstream to the competitor(s)--much like a large blood clot working its way towards the severely-narrowed section of a major artery--I would launch a massive PR campaign demonstrating the reliability of my own product in the key areas that the manufactured bugs would affect the competitor(s).  This would establish mindshare within the market, making my company the premier beneficiary of customers leaving the competitor(s) after the apocalyptic failure(s) of said competitor(s) system(s) as a result of the aforementioned weaknesses fiendishly injected into critical software components by my engineers.  After the competitor(s) have declared bankruptcy, all that is left is to have my engineers (the only witnesses to my treachery) killed and buried in shallow graves deep in the woods of Maine.  Then I will be free to swim naked in my giant pile of cash, much like Scrooge McDuck.



  •  
    Answer: “Yes: you are also paying your engineers to support the community - nothing is free”



  • @Aaron said:

    You've posted what amounts to a generic complaint about a tiny handful of shady sites that abuse Javascript.  This all happens, but it's not in common practice.
    Maybe not on the websites you go to, but I cop a large variety of websites I have to look at (e.g. when a client says, "we want one just like that") so I reckon you're being a little generous in your assessment there.

    @Aaron said:

    ... JavaScript itself isn't evil, just the way some idiots use it.  Generalizing in this way is tantamount to saying that commerce is evil because you got fleeced a few times, then refusing to do any more shopping until retail stores can get their collective act together and properly serve customers who have no money.  You're taking a specific, contextual problem or complaint, casting it as a general one, and then expecting the rest of the world to solve the general problem you just fabricated.  Not only will it not happen, but it makes no sense.
    No, I'm saying that it's easy to build a working website and then add JavaScript to make it all AJAX-ey, so I don't understand why so many people bollocks it up and make their entire website dependent on their JavaScript loading and working without error (given that some people block it, some have it blocked for them, and many website maker fuckups think they're JavaScript programmers when they evidently aren't) This stuff isn't hard, except for the aforementioned fuckups of course.

    @Aaron said:

    That's brilliant!  So why didn't you spend 2 clicks and 3 seconds of your time doing this for SO, instead of wasting far more of your time and everyone else's bitching about it?
    You seem to have me confused with strcmp. I'm only bitching about people who can't be arsed building websites that work, and confuse JavaScript with a magic bullet for modern web design.

    @Aaron said:

    I'm not saying that websites shouldn't use any JavaScript, just that they need to still work without it.

    That is, in fact, exactly what the luddites did.  Although they rejected the technology, their primary line of reasoning was not that there was anything wrong with the technology, but that people still needed to learn and practice the old ways.  Why?  Um....

    You are again confusing me with someone else. I've been writing JavaScript for websites since the mid-'90s, and I haven't dropped JavaScript from the websites I'm building today. But I don't confuse a screwdriver with a hammer when I need to rotate a metal fastener, and it never ceases to amaze me when others insist on using a hammer.

    @Aaron said:

    "Graceful degradation" is a crock.  You're talking about tripling the cost of development in order to serve less than 1% of your potential customers.  In economic terms, it's just plumb stupid.  Ideas like this can only possibly sound good in the minds of anal-retentive web "gurus" blathering on about crap like XHTML and the Semantic Web.
    ¿Que? I call bullshit on this one; tripling the cost of development indeed! Now that's a crock. What on earth are you doing with JavaScript that would mean having to reengineer that much of a website just so that it worked without it?



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    I think letting people vote on the answers is silly enough, because software development is so subjective and contentious.  What's more, I have to wonder what kind of quality we will see in the form of questions and answers.  Most of the questions will probably end up being "send me t3h codez" and the answers are being provided by people who have enough spare time to provide free CS instruction.  Something tells me that most good, professional developers will not have the time or inclination to bother answering questions.
    Totally agree, have seen this time and again on other forums. Usually those with most time on their hands leave the greatest impression, and more often than not have some special deviation from normal practise that they want to push through their forum posting. That, or problem solving through cargo cult programming, copy-pasting answers from one forum to another like so many recipes.

    What ever happened to RTFM?



  • @rosko said:

    Maybe not on the websites you go to, but I cop a large variety of websites I have to look at (e.g. when a client says, "we want one just like that") so I reckon you're being a little generous in your assessment there.

    Then maybe you need to cut down on the pr0n and gamez0rz.

    @rosko said:

    No, I'm saying that it's easy to build a working website and then add JavaScript to make it all AJAX-ey, so I don't understand why so many people bollocks it up and make their entire website dependent on their JavaScript loading and working without error (given that some people block it, some have it blocked for them, and many website maker fuckups think they're JavaScript programmers when they evidently aren't) This stuff isn't hard, except for the aforementioned fuckups of course.

    This statement is, once again, based on the premise that a "working" website is, by definition, one that exposes all its functionality and behaves correctly in all respects without scripts, and that is the very premise that's being questioned.  I believe this fallacy is called argumentum ad nauseum.  Don't repeat yourself - we understood you perfectly well the first time.

    @rosko said:

    You seem to have me confused with strcmp. I'm only bitching about people who can't be arsed building websites that work, and confuse JavaScript with a magic bullet for modern web design.

    I haven't confused you with anyone, I merely responded to a post you made.  Did you read the quoted material?  And, once again, that's your definition of "websites that work"; it's not an accepted definition and it's certainly not an objective one.

    @rosko said:

    You are again confusing me with someone else. I've been writing JavaScript for websites since the mid-'90s, and I haven't dropped JavaScript from the websites I'm building today. But I don't confuse a screwdriver with a hammer when I need to rotate a metal fastener, and it never ceases to amaze me when others insist on using a hammer.

    What the hell are you talking about here?  First the "magic bullet" comment and now this.  I'm sure that this is supposed to be an analogy for something, but I can't begin to imagine what.  If the point you're trying to make is that it's common practice for people to try to use JavaScript to solve every problem under the sun, then that's not only completely unsubstantiated but totally irrelevant to this discussion.

    @rosko said:

    ¿Que? I call bullshit on this one; tripling the cost of development indeed! Now that's a crock. What on earth are you doing with JavaScript that would mean having to reengineer that much of a website just so that it worked without it?
     

    Do you actually speak Spanish or are you writing that just to be clever?

    Anyway, here are a few examples:

    • Multi-level navigation.  If your site uses drop-down menus, then "graceful degradation" means you need a separate page to drill down into every top-level section, and you need to update them whenever the site structure gets updated.  Of course it can be driven off a database but that just moves the work around, it doesn't eliminate it, and the development of this is a cost you wouldn't need to incur otherwise.
    • Content management.  HTML/rich text editors and the like.  Just try getting one of these to be usable without scripts.  Oh wait, silly me, your users can all write raw HTML or wikicode!
    • Ajax.  I hate to break it to you, but designing an Ajax site that doesn't totally suck involves more than just slapping a few scripts on top of an already-"working" site.  I've been tasked with this before, and much of the time it involves totally restructuring and/or redesigning large swaths of the site.  If you want the site to work both ways, good luck.
    • Progressive validation.  If you want to do this without scripts, you really need a separate screen or control for each "chunk".  Not user-friendly either.
    • Grid/table editing.  Oh dear lord this sucks, both for the developer and the user, especially if there's any kind of nesting.  A 4-year-old can put this together on the client side using one of the modern JS kits, and just have the whole thing submitted to the server at the end, which also saves a ton of bandwidth and hits, both things that can directly affect the bottom line through capital and operational costs.
    • Portals.  I personally hate these, but if you don't want to use a few simple drag-and-drop scripts then you need to develop an entire alternate UI.

    I could go on.  Just take a look at any of the many pages on graceful degradation techniques and you can see for yourself how complicated and long-winded they are.  Most of the time they involve a lot of rigmarole with query strings and iframes.  It's brutal.

    Also, I'm curious, do you make sure that all your sites "gracefully" degrade in the absence of cookies?  Because most of the time that JavaScript isn't available, neither are cookies.



  • I checked out SO... It's pretty bad already lol... You get questions like "what is all this int and Integer stuff":

    10 people flocking to answer this question repeatedly.


    I decided to ask a question that would contribute+would help me. One that isn't already documented or just shit stupid, or why do i get ____ error:

    Shocker, 6 views no answers.


    I don't see what this site's sysem is hoping to achieve? The reward is for asking and answering any question, thus generating noise as opposed to content. If they removed this silly reputation system and let the reward to the community become building a useful website then they may have something. Actually, no.... their community tends to not only gain much information from posts giving them advice to "check in early, check in often"... Jeff's user base didn't take a dent in their ability to spam comments regarding this (agreeing, elaborating very basic concept). Actually check the first comment by "anon". and finally 20 more comments down someone else also gets it. Other than that most of the community there alone believes that to be an informative article + worth elaborating on.


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