Civility in the Internet Age (Part Two)

Back in 2007 I wrote a post about Civility in the Internet Age.  I think it’s even more appropriate today as more and more things go online and it’s practically the only way to communicate with each other.

One of my goals as a blogger is I *try* to be sensitive to the feelings of others.  I *try* to imagine the person I’m talking to is sitting across the table from me because there are things that I would never say if I were face to face with that person.  I would hope that our conversations are spirited, sometimes loud and boisterous, but we can go have a drink and joke about it afterwards.  If an apology is needed I’m not above that either.

I am a passionate person.  I tend to jump into things both feet first the not worry about the consequences until later.  Firing off a heated response on a forum or an email is not a good way to handle things.  Slowly I’m learning that no response is sometimes the best response (I’m still working on this).

I try to not make things personal.  I mainly blog about Real Studio/Xojo developer issues and have since 2007.  For my company to succeed I need Xojo to succeed.  I can be critical of the product and company AND be a supporter at the same time because at the end of the day, I need the best product I can get.  It supports me, my employees, and our respective families.

I’ve been involved with the Xojo community for over ten years and I count most of the people that work at Xojo Inc as friends.  I have no grudge against them and if anything I’m in their corner because I figure if the product makes my life harder it must be doubly so for them as they’re ‘eating their own dog food’, as they say, since the Xojo IDE is written using the Xojo IDE.  In my opinion, that’s quite an accomplishment, and one of the reasons why, despite the warts, I’ve been a Real Studio and Xojo developer and supporter all this time.

In the past six years I have generated a lot of responses from my blog posts.  I’ve received hate mail as well as some where people felt my analysis was spot on but couldn’t say so publicly.  I have been accused of being a shill for the company, inciting a mob, for personally delaying releases, and having an ‘agenda’ or two.  I find it hard that I am all of these.  Maybe I’m simply just a blogger saying what is on my mind (and occasionally on the mind of other developers).  If you disagree, that’s fine, I respect your opinion, because we all have one.

40 thoughts on “Civility in the Internet Age (Part Two)

  1. You’ve done a good job blogging and speaking your mind. I enjoy reading your blogs and will com back every once in a while. Your blog site is informative which helps me keep track of what’s hot and not with Xojo. Thank you for the good work!

  2. Being civil is just a problem with trolls who don’t respect the opinion of others. But then I don’t read troll emails anymore.

    Challenging Xojo/Real/”insert name of the company this year” is always good. I still don’t know what reaction they expected for Xojo 1 and it’s awful navigator. They solved a problem that wasn’t there.

    • Xojo Inc. has been very cooperative and supportive. They know I’m not trying to be malicious and just want the product to be better.

      They solved a problem that wasn’t there.

      Well…tab management is a minor of a pain, but not as bad as trying to find one line in a listbox with thousands of items. So they just traded one problem for another. And ironically, one of the recommended solutions is to use tabs.

  3. Your blog is one of my favourite destinations on the web – informative, balanced, helpful, and with healthy doses of constructive criticism. It makes a pleasant departure from all the hype and PR one encounters on the internet … one just has to wonder how a company would do that used the same approach to its PR …

  4. > They solved a problem that wasn’t there.

    Cpuldn’t have put it better. At least from a user perspective.

  5. You titled your blog post, “Civility in the Internet Age.” This leads one to ask has their been an age where there was civility? Civility has been a problem from the beginning and the only thing the internet has done is to grease the wheels and increase the velocity of poor behavior. Before the invention of motorized transport, you could only travel as far as your feet or horse could take you. With the invention of the car, our range and speed of travel dramatically increased and so it is with the internet in regards to civility.

    You mentioned trying to be sensitive to others which is doing onto others as you would have other do to you. If people did this, things would be totally different on the internet. Yet this points to the central core of the problem which people are self-centered.

    Most people who sit behind a keyboard and type out uncivil or off the wall comments on the internet probably have never studied the basic laws of logic which include…

    1) The Law of Identity
    2) The Law of Non-contradiction
    3) The Law of the Excluded Middle
    4) The Law of Rational Inference

    So when they rattle off some poorly thought out comment they think it is right as rain. This is because they haven’t filtered it though the basic laws and they are using their own sense of what is right and wrong. How does one debate with such an individual? Put two such individuals together who have opposing points of view and you a recipe for a nasty encounter.

    What it really boils down to is adhering to the truth since truth is an absolute. A lot of people will substitute an “agenda” for truth which warps there sense of right and wrong and that feeds back on itself to further warp their agenda etc. This is a vicious circle and is why some people will end up sending you nasty hate mail because they think they are totally justified in doing so. Truth is something we should conform too and not the other way around.

    Applying this to the navigator issue, one could pose the question like is the navigator causing people problems? In asking that question it led to discussions on the forum, NUG and your blog. This in turn led to feature requests (your’s and Brad’s). So now that the dust has settled we have actual data, we can now make an informed judgement. According to today’s numbers…

    FR 28400 (Make Navigator only show objects) – 2044 points
    FR 2044 (Please stay the course with the navigator) – 788 points

    Translating that to percentages…

    FR 28400 – 72%
    FR 2044 – 28%

    This clearly shows the navigator is causing problems.

    In terms of civility, what do those who think the navigator issue was not an issue do? Do they continue to say it isn’t so and restort to straw man ad hominem arguments? In that situation, no consensus can be achieved. We all, to some degree, walk around with a self-centered attitude so there will be conflicts like we saw with the navigator issue on the forum, NUG and blogs. The best thing we can do is make sure we are not falling into the trap assuming that our own agenda is the truth, but rather conform our thinking to the truth itself.

    • I think you can (safely) argue that civility has always been an issue. Thomas Jefferson paid journalists to trash John Adams. The press was merciless to Abraham Lincoln before and during the Civil War. The difference between then and now is timing and a certain level of filtering. To get published in the paper before the internet you had to write it by hand, mail it, and then if it made sense the newspaper *might* publish it. With the internet there’s no filter and anybody can put their opinion out there with little or no hindrance and no consequences.

      I rarely post any blogs without sitting on it for a day or two just to make sure I’m not being overly emotional. My Xojo Release 2 article broke that rule and hence my apology for making it sound like bugs reported during the beta cycle weren’t being fixed. If I had waited a day I would have rewritten that portion of it. I do the same thing with email and will be doing that with forum posts in the future.

      It’s just not worth the emotional energy to get that wrapped up in the straw man and ad hominem arguments. I give. If users are happy with the product that’s fine with me. If they feel that my writing negatively affects the company that’s fine too because they can certain ignore me or do their own Xojo blog. The feedback that I’ve gotten (both publicly and privately) says that most agree with much of what I said about the Navigator.

  6. ” The feedback that I’ve gotten (both publicly and privately) says that most agree with much of what I said about the Navigator.”

    Outside of you know who, have you gotten any feedback disagreeing with most of what you said?

  7. Phillip wrote, “Just because a larger number of people say one thing over another does not make it truth.”

    This statement will lead to uncivil behavior because it is based on a lie. Let me break this statement down and show you why it is so.

    Your statement violates the “law of identity” in that you are trying to dispute that the data (72% and 28%) has no valuable meaning. The ratio is indisputable, but what about its meaning? Is the data linked to actual user experience? The IDE is used by people and it is people who feel pleasure or pain from using the IDE and each individual reported their own experience in voting for the feature requests. Now you have a direct correlation between user experience and the navigator feature and therefore the data and navigator experience are lock-stepped together (context is king here). An example of what your statement is like in the business world is called FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). When a company spreads FUD about a competitor’s product it is purposefully preying on the ignorance of consumers to get them to buy their product. Now I don’t think you are “purposefully” spreading FUD with your statement, but that you really do believe what you are saying is the trustworthy. If you have proof that the numbers can’t be trusted, then present that argument. Just saying it “does not make it truth” is really just pushing an agenda despite the facts. Taking your argument to the next level (which actually happened on the forum), Norman said the the user base is much bigger than those who signed up for the feature requests and therefore we can disregard the opposing point of view. I responded by asking the question if this is a statistically valid sampling? I think the case can be made that it is a statistically valid sampling. Again Norman introduced FUD to bolster his argument which is an illogical way to debate an issue.

    So if you choose to argue on an issue based on a lie where the agenda comes first and the facts are second, you will end up causing strife because you will stick to your guns no matter what and begin to say “anything” to support your agenda. This was clearly the case when the navigator issue played out in the public forums.

    In Phillip’s statement the subtle illogical nature of what he said is common place. Another thing that happened in the navigator debate was extrapolating from a single data point to the general where someone would say it works for them so you other guys must be whacked. Combine FUD with poor reasoning skills and you have fight which is exactly what happened.

    • To be fair, Norman was NOT responding to the debate on the Navigator but to the claim about the Feedback report represented a lot of users. The only thing the Feedback points prove is that some people voted for it.

  8. Well the percentages do indicate what percentage of people took the time to use Feedback to report their views.

    I mean there are so many possible circumstances. What about the people that hum along using the product that have no idea that Bob’s FR existed? They certainly wouldn’t know Brad’s existed. Nobody would think to make a feedback request to vote for minimal changes right? They would have had to been watching the forums where Brad posted that he created a FR in response to Bob. Then they would have had to take the time to sign on to it. A far stretch I think. So I don’t conclude that a one sided argument is necessarily truth just because it seems to be that way.

    Yes Bob probably has been mischaracterized. I believe thats what his post was about. Not whether his FR was actually TRUTH or not. You turned it into that Brendan.

    Now you are mischaracterizing me by claiming that I say the data has no valuable meaning. Of course it has valuable meaning but that doesn’t necessarily align to whatever TRUTH you seem to be preaching which I’ve demonstrated above. The TRUTH is more people signed on to the Navigator not being as helpful as it could be than people who signed on that they like it more/less in it’s current form.

    From there it’s up to Xojo to take that DATA alongside other bits of DATA we aren’t currently debating to create a plan. If customers come and go (like yourself Brendan) that’s the nature of the game. Some customers were going to leave anyway regardless of the Navigator. Some might leave because of the Navigator. Here’s the kicker, some might COME because of the Navigator.

    Of course we won’t really know since we don’t have access to the data of who is coming and going and why. All we know is what a few people posted in blog comments, forum posts, and otherwise. To have that real data in the split second moment when someone says yes/no to a product and either invests or moves on… Well that would be a dream wouldn’t it?

    We don’t have it so I think it would be best for internet civility if you stopped pretending like you do.

  9. Truth is subjective. What’s true for me may not be necessarily true for anyone else.

    I have 4 developers working on Xojo consulting projects. That puts me in a significantly different situation than a lot of Xojo developers. I’ve also been using REALbasic/Real Studio/Xojo for over 10 years which, again, puts me in a significantly smaller group than a lot of other Xojo developers.

    I have stated this repeatedly: If you are happy with the Xojo Navigator that’s fine. It doesn’t work well for us. Period.

  10. Remember, this blog post by Bob is about civility on the internet. My response to Bob’s blog is how such discord gets started. The navigator issue happens to be the big elephant in the room and fresh in our minds, so it makes a good example. I have made a reasonable argument as to why the numbers are valid for the navigator issue. You seem to forgot what I stated before in that it is we who need to conform to the truth and not the other way around. You have not made an argument that is logically sound to say otherwise. Presenting a bucket list of possibilites of what might be does not make for an argument. Also, what Xojo does with the data has no bearing on the premise that the navigator is causing people pain. There it is, the numbers don’t lie. What are the numbers saying?

    Consider the last thing you state, “We don’t have it so I think it would be best for internet civility if you stopped pretending like you do.” What exactly is this statement and what is the intention of making it?

  11. Bob wrote, “Truth is subjective. What’s true for me may not be necessarily true for anyone else.”

    Is, “truth is subjective,” an absolute truth? The concept of truth itself is an absolute otherwise the second law of logic (The Law of Non-contradiction) fails and it is not a law. Don’t confuse preferences with truth.

  12. So tell me where in logic does it dictate you should follow and adamantly reply to blogs for a platform you no longer use?

    Why are you invested in whether I am right or wrong? Why am I the illogical one because I have an opinion but Bob’s is perfectly reasonable?

    We both have opinions that serve us. I’ve said on his blog comments before the Navigator is trash. However I also signed on to Brad’s feedback request because I know the turtle speed in which Xojo develops things. I’d rather they focus on 64 bit or iOS before they go back to the drawing board about tabs vs non-tabs. They made the decision now they have to live with it.

    If you hate it so much use something else. Thats logic.

  13. Of course you already have switched to something else. So now it sounds like you are only here to badger us about our poor decisions in using a product whom in your absolute version of truth is making poor decisions.

    Absolute truth is I make a nice living with Xojo and while it has its warts and people come/go I prefer using it over not. So I’m happy enough. I’m sorry that you weren’t happy enough.

    I’m more sorry you continue to badger us here about your choice and their choices and everything in between.

    Beyond that I’m most sorry I even engaged in this ridiculous argument over what is truth. My God had anyone known the arguments for/against navigator would devolve into what is truth… we might have all saved our energy for who’s going to win the Super Bowl this year… at least that only has 32 possible choices. TRUTH

  14. Phillip wrote, “So tell me where in logic does it dictate you should follow and adamantly reply to blogs for a platform you no longer use?”

    You do understand this is an dd hominem argument? This is where civility breaks down and why we need to consider the things we say.

  15. I’m asking an honest question. In your personal absolute truth how does contributing to the community of a tool you don’t use benefit you? I’m just curious. I mean you aren’t doing it for my benefit so I’m assuming you do. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  16. Phillip wrote, “I’m asking an honest question. In your personal absolute truth how does contributing to the community of a tool you don’t use benefit you? I’m just curious. I mean you aren’t doing it for my benefit so I’m assuming you do. Correct me if I’m wrong.”

    The tone and the rest of your response does not suggest an honest question? You also wrote, “Of course you already have switched to something else. So now it sounds like you are only here to badger us about our poor decisions in using a product whom in your absolute version of truth is making poor decisions.” That is an hominem argument.

    In any case, what is this to you? What does this have to do with the navigator issue? Again, it is prudent to watch what we say.

  17. 50% of my companies business revolves around Xojo. When there is a mob of people complaining about a singular issue it can send a message that Xojo isn’t ready for the prime time. Is that true? Absolutely not.

    I encourage people to use Xojo when I can. Navigator vs tabs issue aside the tool is extremely useful in situations it excels at. I understand when some users are impacted by an issue they wish to see resolved. However it’s disheartening when any other opinions to the contrary are rejected as non-truths, especially from people who claim not to use the tool anymore.

    So sure I can say nothing but there are two sides to every coin. My company is happily plugging away at great cross platform projects using Xojo. Are some things more difficult than they could be? Absolutely. That goes for all things though. Xojo isn’t perfect and I’m certainly not perfect.

    Your turn. Does participating in this forum benefit you directly? Does bringing more light to an issue of a product you claim to no longer use good for your long term interests? I am honestly interested to know despite my tone.

  18. Again, what is this to you? Does this line of argumentation add to the argument either for or against? The answer it doesn’t add anything. So what is the purpose of you asking? What would you use it for, more ad hominem attacks? You stating your background doesn’t strengthen the logic of your arguments. Do you see that?

    This blog post is about civility. You seem to acknowledge that your tone was harsh by saying, “despite my tone.” Were you wrong to take such a tone? In your latest response you say, “When there is a mob of people complaining…” you are characterizing those people in a dismissive light by calling them a “mob.” Also consider when you wrote, “However it’s disheartening when any other opinions to the contrary are rejected as non-truths, especially from people who claim not to use the tool anymore.” Again this is a backhanded ad hominem attack. If such an attitude exists within you, how can someone reason out an argument with you? A forceful argument is not equal to a ranting argument. You have not made a rational inference that can be followed to a logical conclusion concerning these issues of the navigator or being civil. You wrote, “So sure I can say nothing but there are two sides to every coin.” Well, then make the case for the other side of the coin in a way that is logical and doesn’t use ad hominem arguments etc. That’s my whole point!

  19. I thought I had conveyed that I was curious your interests in a platform you don’t use.

    In regards to why I said “despite my tone” I was being sensitive to your feelings which apparently felt my tone was anything other than curious.

    In regards to a mob yes I believe a large number of people mobbed up here and on feedback. Does that make them wrong? No. Does that make them right. No.

    I’ve stated why I dislike the ongoing debate. It makes one issue appear larger than the sum of what Xojo is/can do. Now I’m curious why you like the ongoing debate. I have yet to receive an answer aside from more pointing out that I too have an opinion.

    Well thats true.

  20. Also keep in mind Bob isn’t trying to reason me out of my argument. Why? He has not been provided opportunity to do so because I agree and believe Bob is correct from his point of view. He has said from where he is sitting and his company the truth is it has impacted them. Others have said it has impacted them. It has not impacted me despite me not liking it.

    What I dispute is you calling it truth.

  21. And by truth I mean your “absolute truth” because there are no absolutes to be found here. Therefore I think you misrepresent the product and the people who use it and those who have an opinion on both sides. I don’t doubt that Bob believes that some people probably do like it, he just does not.

    Brendan what I’m getting at is it seems the way you convey your argument that nobody likes it or such an overwhelming majority that the ones who do simply.do.not.matter.

  22. Phillip, I have laid out my arguments and you simply refuse accept them and that is your privilege. Like I previously said to Bob, don’t confuse preferences with truth. Truth is not subjective or relative and trying to prove truth is relative is like trying to prove a negative assertion. If you live by the concept that truth is relative, it opens the door to all sorts of poor behavior since one can justify anything they want. That means subjective truth is driven by one’s desire and not necessarily reality. You obviously thought it was OK to be disrespectful in this conversation. Being civil means being respectful even if we don’t agree.

  23. You have disrespected those who disagree with your Navigator assessment. You were totally fine being a dissenter with me until it started getting preachy with the absolute truth bit.

    People have different views. I personally don’t acknowledge an absolute truth. So yes anyone in my world view can justify anything. That’s the breaks.

    However I have always contended that those who see the Navigator as more troubling than I do as individuals with differing opinions. I don’t start rattling out percentages which amount to a very unsatisfying amount of evidence as absolute truth.

    That’s where you lost me and I felt you did us wrong. So from where I’m sitting its preposterous to me to try to argue your point that you have absolute truth when I don’t believe such a thing exists.

    What I want is real data. Convince me you are right. Show me how many people decided not to renew. Show me how every new purchase since RS became Xojo that none of the totally new customers like the Navigator. Show me how if they were to rip it out now that none of the green customers just buying into Xojo wouldn’t feel like a bait and switch just occurred. Show me measurable statistics on how you can’t perform certain tasks and something costed you more money to achieve.

    I take Bob’s word and everyone else’s word that it has impacted them. I do not take yours that it has impacted everyone.

    To retaliate you call me disrespectful and ignorant to the concept of absolute truth plus by virtue of not sharing in your ideas of absolute truth, dishonest.

    Remember Tom Cruise? “SHOW ME THE MONEY” haha. Show me the data Brendan I beg of you. I don’t want to be seen as disrespectful, ignorant, and dishonest in your eyes.

  24. Wow. Sorry, but a comment like “When there is a mob of people complaining about a singular issue it can send a message that Xojo isn’t ready for the prime time” completely disqualifies your post for me.. People disagreeing with you are a mob, the higher point number is suddenly “not a valid measure”, and we are only allowed to say nice things about Xojo?

    Never mind civility – what happened to honesty and integrity???

  25. Markus, sadly in my view it became a mob when certain individuals started clamoring the following:

    1. Xojo owes us and Bob’s blog an immediate response.
    2. If they don’t do something the end is near for Xojo.
    3. All customers hate the new navigator.
    4. Nobody can get any work done on any projects that aren’t super simple.

    Unfortunately a lot of good people and good opinions were swallowed up into the mess that became the mob. In a lot of ways the mob is even right. The Navigator is very inefficient. Some of us just disagree with what should be done with it.

    I would have loved if everyone had written a blog piece about the Navigator. Instead there were some awesome thoughtful replies to Bob’s blog post about the issue. I love that discourse and the ideas about where Xojo is great and bad. I agree with so many of them.

    I just don’t like the attitude that you are with us or you are ignorant. This “I’ve got the absolute truth” and thats that. So sorry if I offended you Markus or anyone else in that way.

  26. Phillip wrote, “So from where I’m sitting its preposterous to me to try to argue your point that you have absolute truth when I don’t believe such a thing exists.”

    You are misunderstanding what I am saying. You have substituted in the term “absolute truth” in order to paint me as being arrogant which is again an ad hominem attack in order to justify what you are saying. Let me explicitly define what I have been saying. I said truth is absolute as a concept. Truth is the reflection of reality and not a reflection of our own desire for something to be true. Furthermore truth can be asserted as follows, two contradictory statements cannot be true in the same sense at the same time. You simply can’t avoid that definition. We should conform ourselves to the truth. So, the root of being civil is conforming to the truth whatever it may be. Saying truth is relative is like saying gravity doesn’t apply to you because you wish it to be so. Reality doesn’t work like that.

    Since you have stated that truth is relative, there can be no consensus. Who then is to say what is reality in any situation? This is not my problem in the sense that I have convince you of the navigator issue specifics. You have access to the same data I do, but you have chosen to ignore basic logic principles. If you live by the concept of truth being relative, it will have negative consequences.

  27. This kind of stuff I don’t mind, spirited debate usually plays out like two worn out kittens. The problem is one camp is never going to convince the other camp and vice-versa. The content in the back-and-forth got a little too far out there for me to want to follow. But, if it doesn’t descend into chaos, personal attacks or name calling there’s really no harm done. And as big of a topic as the Navigator is, I don’t think any of us can be accused of being polite and courteous 100% of the time.

    • Hhhmmm….well, I feel like I’m caught between a Democrat and Republican arguing about politics.

      I REALLY need to pen a “what I like about the Navigator” blog post because there are some things I don’t want to lose now that we have it.

  28. That would be welcomed. I agree most of the changes are good, and I like the look of the Navigator about 10 times as much the RS Project Tab. Outside of the focus issue bugs, which I am sure they will addressed over time, the only thing that truly bothers me is what has been pointed out a million times, the list you are dealing with becomes hopelessly long in a very short amount of time. I find myself closing things in the Xojo Navigator about 50 times as often as I do dealing with too many tabs open in RS. I am completely baffled when people make the argument that these two problems are roughly the same and you are just trading horizontal space issues for vertical ones. Not even close in my book.

    • “I am completely baffled when people make the argument that these two problems are roughly the same and you are just trading horizontal space issues for vertical ones. Not even close in my book.”

      I agree with you. Dealing with a row of tabs is way easier than trying to find find something in a listbox. They just don’t compare in terms of complexity.

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