Sunday, October 3, 2010


I don't fit in; I never have.  Some of it is by my choice, but in the tech communities that I've found, I still don't fit in, and I've often wondered why.  It seems the short answer is right there in my blog description: "Frequently contrarian and occasionally cynical."

I tend to find communities once they get large enough to have formed opinions on things, and then I come in to disagree.  On XML and Data Formats was essentially written to disagree with Reddit's opinion that JSON is Super Awesome.  Which isn't too bad, in and of itself, because such an extreme opinion on Reddit's part probably is wrong, even if I have all the wrong reasons as to why.  But over time, especially if I want to post frequently, I run the risk of disagreeing just to appear different and unique, even if by chance Reddit or HN happened to be right this time.  (These communities tend to produce pressure in that direction anyway, since they hate "Me too" posts.)

I've also wondered about the tendency for people to disagree with me, when it's a provably correct fact.  Someone will ask a question, and get three people answering with (also provably correct) method A.  So I come in and mention that they might prefer method B.  Finally, someone replies to me that instead of that, they could use method A.  Well, obviously; it was mentioned three times already.

But, I think I've figured out that pattern, too.  Where the group consensus is on one thing, then any alternatives (which is me, since I speak up when I have something Different and Awesome to say) threaten the group cohesion, and the outsider must be either driven off, or accept the group's opinion.

I noticed this happening one day to someone else when I dropped by a prominent Subaru Forester forum; except for a Subaru salesman who said that people who drove it loved the CVT, the whole forum piled on to argue that anyone buying a CVT is a complete and utter moron.  Of course, the regular forum members are enthusiasts.  To them, anything but a manual is evil, because they mess up your starting, drifting, and anything else you're doing out there in the mud; meanwhile, everyday drivers are snapping up CVTs off the sales lot.  It's not that one point of view is invalid, or that the forum members don't realize they're talking about different scenarios—it's the existing group establishing solidarity against non-enthusiast intruders.

Experience is funny like that.  When it's not personal, it makes the situation so much clearer.  And once again, as I gain more experience, I come to appreciate its value more.

In order to avoid wasting time with them, and to pursue Happiness at the expense of Strife, I have blocked the tech news sites I frequent on my computer.  And when I blog in the future, I want it to be something actually interesting and perhaps in-depth, like that post on the future toolkit at my old blog.  Not anti-reddit stuff that they're not going to see, read, or agree with anyway.

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