Podcast #73

by Jeff Atwood

on November 7, 2009

In this episode of the Stack Overflow podcast, Joel and Jeff discuss the meaning of "professionalism" online, the divide between ad-subsidized and pay business models, and the five things everyone should hate about their favorite programming language.

  • A brief mini post-mortem of DevDays. What makes a good conference? What makes a worthwhile event for software developers?

  • Speaking of conferences, Joel and I will both be at the Business of Software conference next week in San Francisco.

  • A discussion of Robert Scoble's article on the chat room / forum problem. Some of this stuff is counter-intuitive: you don't actually want to be too welcoming to newbies, and you don't actually want too much pure discussion. As Robert said, "the more conversations I got involved in the less I found I was learning."

  • I object a little bit to people proposing social design patterns to me that are historically demonstrated not to work -- or, worse, are known to be toxic. Essentially, they offer opinions without any research or even knowledge of prior research in the field.

  • We examine Joel's latest Inc article, Does Slow Growth Equal Slow Death?. 37 Signals responded in their blog.

  • Joel and I both tried to explain our careers strategy. I think Joel's post on careers.stackoverflow.com was clearer than my post on careers.stackoverflow.com, in that I had to post an update to mine because I failed to explain it adequately -- at least based on the reader comments.

  • To the extent that careers is focusing people on "how can I be more professional online?" we heartily encourage this side-effect. Why wouldn't you behave professionally online all the time, anyway? It is possible to have fun while being professional at the same time.

  • We posted the results of our Amazon advertising experiment. It looks like software developers are a worst-case scenario for some types of advertising. Unfortunately.

  • You can use free to undermine your competitors, but Google is going them one better -- they are paying companies to use their products. It's "less than free". Google's strategy is to get as many people online as possible, since more people online equals more ad clicks, statistically speaking.

  • There's an interesting tension between the "charge for stuff" (Microsoft) and "give people ad-subsidized stuff for free" (Google) models. Having been on both sides of this now, there are definite pros and cons to both.

  • Joel and I concur: it probably doesn't matter what language and toolchain you use, as long as it has a certain level of critical mass. What you should be more concerned about is the product you're creating.

  • If you're happy with your current tool chain, then there's no reason you need to switch. However, if you can't list five things you hate about your favorite programming language, then I argue you don't know it well enough yet to judge. It's good to be aware of the alternatives, and have a healthy critical eye for whatever it is you're using.

  • Most programming languages don't evolve particularly well over time. They're usually replaced by other languages rather than new iterations of themselves. Why? What languages would you point to as the best example of growing and evolving in useful, relevant ways?

We answered the following listener questions on this podcast:

  1. Edward: "What fun technologies are coming up that you think employers are willing to spend money on?"

  2. Colin: "If I'm happy with PHP, why would I want to convert to ASP.NET?"

If you'd like to submit a question to be answered in our next episode, record an audio file (90 seconds or less) and mail it to podcast@stackoverflow.com. You can record a question using nothing but a telephone and a web browser. We also have a dedicated phone number you can call to leave audio questions at 646-826-3879.

The transcript wiki for this episode is available for public editing.