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Podcast 074


Spolsky: See you are talking about, I mean, the reason I am so excited about you here is the idea of like making passionate users through. Let see if I can express this very well. Creating passionate users through the very act of making them awesome about what they do and in your talk. I am not very good at interview questions. In you talk you talked about.

Atwood: ( laughing )

Spolsky: One thing which was really interesting.

Atwood: Where are we Joel?

Spolsky: We are at ? Oh yeah

Atwood: ( laughing )

Spolsky: Whose here ?

Atwood: Who's in the room?

Spolsky: Kathy Sierra, Yeah!

Atwood: Yes and Bert also here.

Spolsky: Yeah! And Jeff Atwood and I am Joel Spolsky. This is stackoverflow podcast and at some point we will be interrupted by person bringing the coffee.

Atwood: Which is okay.

Spolsky: Yeah! And now we are at Business Software Conference in Sunny San Fransisco California. It is on day 2 of 3 day conference with just some absolutely awesome speakers.

Atwood: But my favorite day you know why?

Spolsky: Speaking because this is one you went to.

Atwood: You know why we are here today right.

Spolsky: Yeah!

Sierra: Right. What did you say yesterday ?

Atwood: It is so amazing how relevant every time when somebody gets up and speaks. But especially Kathy asked “How obviously relevant it was to design of stackoverflow ?”. About how like one of thing that kills me is stackoverflow is all about people asking questions and becoming awesome at what they do and then occasionally you will see somebody that so utterly incompletely doesn't understand what stackoverflow is that they will making some comment somewhere in the Internet about how like Why would we do this for free ?. I mean why we should contribute to your site and Joel and Jeff are going to get rich of stackoverflow. It get sought of a rather humorous content

Sierra: And not a reflection of systems something.

Spolsky: Yeah. It is fun way of putting it

Atwood: Right. So I was long time student of Kathy's writing and I was lucky enough to discover very early in her blogging career. Your career goes on absolutely much more earlier before that.

Spolsky: Yeah. You where blogging to actually right

Atwood: What's that?

Spolsky: Like I mean Kathy was writing stuff creating passionate users

Atwood: Yeah

Spolsky: When did you start that site?

Sierra: No that was end of 2004.

Spolsky: Ok

Sierra: I briefly got sucked into doing a few blog posts on the Java blog I can't remember what they called it.

Spolsky: Was it like on the orielly network or something

Sierra: Yeah

Spolsky: Ok Yeah Yeah

Sierra: Cause I was Sun Employee then.

Spolsky: Oh right.

Sierra: I did very little

Atwood: Yes I was lucky enough to discovering her very early on and the message really resonate with me like putting users first. Figuring out what they want? How to do make them look good and all that sort came back to just to tie that together. When I was setting up stackoverflow sort of top of line was how do we make programmers look good because I think programmers in the audience think it is easy to make look good because they love to tell you how good they are. ( laughing )

Spolsky: Yeah

Atwood: (laughing) So it is you have just nudge then a little bit

Spolsky: (laughing)

Atwood: Oh I am from the best. You know I can write code like nobody business and get them to use that in a positive way where they are making themselves look good. They are making our site indirectly look good and they are helping each other. You know Java ranch was of some of was basic kinds of philosophy.

Sierra: yeah Oh yeah.

Atwood: Cause you got some history with Java ranch. How did you start it?

Sierra: I started Java ranch in 1997. Well back when there was one book on shelf for learning Java

Spolsky: Before it became separate room in the book store.

Sierra: Right Now it kind of sad to see how its.

Spolsky: That how it gone back. ( laughing )

Sierra:You know that it was so difficult to learn from the resources. So I was going on on the newsgroups. You know they are brutal they were and that wasn't place I wanted to be I was terrified of asking a question and no way certainly going to answer a question and especially when I would see you know other people struggling with same stuff that I was. This was in still in the first beta release of Java and I wanted to jump in and help them go Oh yeah yes I did that last week yes exactly I hit on my head on that.

Spolsky: Yeah.

Sierra: There is way no way I was going to say anything So I thought there just needs to be a friendlier way to do this and So I started Java ranch and I started putting up and it didn't have forums then. I mean Obviously it got lot more popular after the forums happened that was really someone else doing. So I just started by posting you know what I thought would be sought of friendly, helpful way something that will lot more accessible that was first time started using graphics and drawings and anthropomorphizing.

Spolsky: Yeah

Sierra: Here is life from objects point of view and here's life from virtual machine point of view and those kind of things.

Spolsky: Cool

Sierra: And that's how also started. Then I went working for sun they kind which is I don't know 1999 They sort of found on the whole idea of using the word Java and the name and there was that whole thing and it was betterefied didn't have anything do with it. Even though later it became you know their best evangelism site. And much more supportive for Java programmers than anything that they where doing it

Spolsky: Yeah

Atwood: Right.

Bates: Yes Kathy how much you sold Java ranch for ?

Spolsky: Oh You sold it

Atwood: Billions.

Spolsky: Pancakes

Sierra: Pancakes for breakfast

Spolsky: Pancakes How many pancakes that could be good talk for Niel Davidson How many pancakes ?.

Atwood: It will be Waffles

Spolsky: In Java Ranch

Atwood: We have this waffles thing going on.

Sierra: ( laughing ) Oh yes

Atwood: It is in the same vain. Now I remember your presentation there was one rule which was “Be Nice”

Sierra: Yes

Atwood: On the Java ranch forums.

Sierra: Yes.

Atwood: Was that effective rule. I mean was that in your experience ?

Sierra: It was absurdly effective and really Burt is. I don't have much to do with Java ranch any more Burt still really the main act of moderators and kind of keeper of nice flame. I mean its all volunteers. But yeah it's pretty ruthlessly enforced and has been from the beginning. Means that is there is just a few things that they insist on.

Spolsky: Just even saying that which we don't have anything even remotely like that.

Atwood: No We do actually It is like

Spolsky: What do we have

Atwood: Yes Matter of fact believe or not

Spolsky: Which is be nice

Atwood: It is question to people getting asked reading our site. Actually ours is a little long. Hers is Nice.

Spolsky: Two words

Atwood: Nice because it is two words. Ours is little bit longer. Be nice is in there it is in bold it is in h1

Sierra: But they don't even have see it. It just the culture I mean

Spolsky: Yeah

Sierra: That no one has to have remembered that they had to click that button and turns the service.

Spolsky: No No But having a card in two big words in stone in entry gate makes people remember. It is like when Google say “Don't be evil” Whether or Not they are evil or whatever It will at least cause them to have conversations right before they do something evil internally

Sierra: Doesn't flickr Don't be creepy. Says that Don't be creepy You know the guy Don't be that guy

Spolsky: Yes

Atwood: That's right Don't be that guy.

Spolsky: ( laughing )

Sierra: Don't be that guy

Atwood: Because everybody know whose that means?

Spolsky: I don't know Does it help Did you have any trouble a Java ranch with like we always have problem with I won't name those

Atwood: Always Always

Spolsky: ( laughing )

Atwood: We occasionally have outbreaks of incivility. Its an on going concern. It is not a general.

Spolsky: It is lot less that other communities that I have been for sure But sometimes they have a person who insists on being member of the community that is sometimes helpful but more often than not taking up more than his fair share of vice principals time Let us put that way.


Atwood: But that's true.

Spolsky: Yeah

Atwood: That's an unfortunate fact that does happen.

Bates: In the moderators forum we spend lot of time determining moderators closed forum no one else can see.

Spolskey: yeah.

Bates: How do we nicely deal with this guy who has to be shuffled of the stage.

Spolsky: Some how ? right.

Atwood: Yeah. So I thing we will get to that stage. Eventually communities do and now Kathy

Spolsky: We got be really large before we get to that stage.

Atwood: True it is very small minority.

Spolsky: Yeah

Sierra: Oh Yeah

Atwood: Yeah most of time people come like a) I am gonna show off what I know which is great and helping other programmers. That's really the core of design I think programmers don't really think learn in school They can learn from each other. So if you are not out there actively helping each other little. We are failing in the craft you know the thing we are doing So it is kind of important this actually happened

Sierra: Oh Yeah

Atwood: So to extent easy to happened. So you create a tool that facilitate the system makes it easy to happen in some what a right way

Sierra: You can also create even just the presence of a couple of simple documents that help people learn how to answer questions and learn how to ask questions.

Spolsky: Imm

Sierra: So that becomes area of expertise that they get. I mean with programmers especially oh yeah They are all ready to jump in show how smart they are Jeff also knows how smart they are.

Atwood: right

Sierra: But if part of showing their expertise means that they are starting to kick ass in actually answering questions

Spolsky: Imm

Sierra: We wanna to push people towards not their expertise at what ever their topic is but actually their expertise at sharing their expertise and more

Spolsky: Yeah.

Sierra: we can do that then suddenly. We want them the bar raised. Find out explaining something well

Spolsky: Oh yeah

Sierra: to each other

Atwood: It happens all the time.

Sierra: Exactly rather that what you typically get on technical forums It is just trying to shut the person down with how smart they are So there is no discussion. So we want the prize not even really how nice they are but how actually useful they are. So usefulness just like is nice that tool allows usefulness to happen. So people will ask questions and will feel comfortable doing that so people will answer questions like the thing we say about No Dumb Questions important but No Dumb Answers is even more important If you wanna grow that

Spolsky: Imm

Sierra: So obviously you are doing those things right ?

Atwood: We are trying to but people seem to happy about it and there is always tweaks but there has to be an active guard on the system

Sierra: Oh yeah

Atwood: In the system how quickly the things go weird like the broken window thing All of sudden something is there and one weird thing happens

Spolsky: But nobody says anything at that time

Atwood: Yeah

Spolsky: Established

Atwood: Yeah It is something we have to keep watching for

Sierra: Like I gave a topic. That was a private topic several years ago about dealing with nastiness on the Internet It was amazing because if I had given the talk a year earlier and asked the questions that I asked this one which would be “ How many people feel it is appropriate to occasionally moderate comments ?” because they supposed to be free for all These where the most heavy hitters ,intense, Internet people you can imagine hard core and every one would have said no you don't. But here now It like no brain Of course you do you don't wanna to devolve and Zay Frank stood up and said you know with digg comments we all have seen with slashdot All these different


Spolsky: Whatever?

Sierra: Youtube He said You know what we have to be teaching people how to behave? On the Internet We are teaching our kids how to respond in how to comment ? What kind of pattern we are going to set. Obviously it depends on the community. But in a community if you want to learn something then you have to be supportive allow or greatly restrict the number of people who we are gonna get help and be helpful

Spolsky: The idea like to moderate comments. This sounds very libertarian and sounds very

Atwood: And programmers would love

Spolsky: Yeah It sounds like not make rules we don't need

Atwood: No rules

Sierra: Connected Can I have some coffee?

Spolsky: Yeah please have some coffee. You start out like imaging there must be Ah Lets have a coffee break.

Atwood: Yeah Coffee

Sierra: We can be talking with Coffee

Spolsky: No No

Atwood: Lets do coffee break

Bates: There will be anything I wanna flip the tables on your side as Java ranch has a forum that Kathy and I debate all the time called meaningless dribble.

Spolsky: (laughing)

Atwood: Joel has some experience with this topic.

Spolsky: Oh Its kind of an off topic.

Sierra: Yes

Spolsky: An its an off topic forum

Atwood: Joel knows this.

Spolsky: Yeah

Atwood: We don't allow that on stackoverflow

Spolsky: No we have meta

Atwood: That's not off topic but the topic of the site

Spolsky: True !OK! fair enough! But still see the things is that like my theory has been you have to have an outlet for people that can't get enough of your site. And whatever the regular game is setup for them So here what we gonna do. So we are gonna play chess. We are gonna line up with the benches and tables and play chess that you're gonna do run stackoverflow people are gonna to ask their technology/programming problems that they are having and other people will try answering them. But that can give you maximum of let say one and half hours of satisfaction or satisfactory game play per day But there is somebody that is so who addicted to the site that they can't find anything else to and they are going to hang around after they used up one and half hour's game playing. They are going to invent the new game throwing the chess pieces and board around the room or disrupting other people playing chess or whatever it is. Just like this But the truth is that they are so in love with your freaking site that they won't leave after

Sierra: Exactly

Spolsky: Gotten exactly about as much as of it they can get today out of the site you will see almost the kind of people that become trouble makers or like a little bit compulsive a little bit addicted in a good way before hand you might notice this. So one thing that happened Joel of software discussion group a long time ago as the site got big enough there became a group of people for whom there not enough to talk about on Joel's and software discussion group and started talking about other stuff It was the wrong stuff and we had to delete it and finally we made an off topic forum and sort of hid it It was like after certain amount of time you would discover that link for off topic forum hidden in the new question posts Not everybody really noticed it. But when you went to post new questions. Is this off topic or not in topic forum So it was only experienced people who where wasting too much time knew about this and all kind to off topic forum where they preceded to devolve into the worst kind of I don't want them I have insulted them a lot of times already. But just sort of a libertarian discussion forum with group of people that have fun saying outrageous things

Sierra: right

Spolsky: That got me thrown in jail it is in another country other than united states. It takes even some of them case thrown in jeopardy So we finally had to shut it down But it was a kind of bizarre thing is that creation of outlet made the core group so much healthier for some reason and much long giving people some other outlet .


Atwood: It drew out some of the weird energies .

Spolsky: Yeah

Atwood: It helps in that regard.

Spolsky: Even though we have But we don't actually have

Atwood: Its like ghost busters that thing that captures the ghost

Spolsky: yeah

Atwood: you trap them

Spolsky: It's called mine is fly paper metaphor. It is like all the files gravitate to that and then you can throw them all at once if you want then to shutdown group and they are gone.

Atwood: We shut them away

Spolskey : But that does

Atwood: Ghost containment unit

Spolsky: Yeah a containment unit. Yeah But there is another thing wait let me throw this as a How you control you overly excited users little bit? And give them a outlet for basically investing eight hours a day site instead of appropriate twenty minutes a day Probably exactly

Atwood: What did you end up doing ?

Sierra: In Java ranch there is meaningless dribble

Spolsky: Yeah

Sierra: I think now its wonderful I think it went through period of time where it wasn't meaningless that was the problem. Things became really political and

Atwood: got heavy

Sierra: And it got real heavy and that I suppose that was important for people at that time when it got heavy You know now it is great and it is back to culture thing also moderated So they it is off topic but it not off core values at site which is still it's tag line been there since first page I put up this is friendly place for new Java honers green horns But it just always had to maintain that is a value Even though the topics can

Spolsky: get of topic

Sierra: But Now the kinds of topic they discuss about are more about like puzzles and challenges , games and twitter names one letter of movie titles Its more fun stuff but they are trying to out clever each other instead of still an outlets for things not related to Java and people to keep spending time and keep interacting but more kind of showing off how funny and clever they are ?

Atwood: Yes

Sierra: That is much healthier way for them to do and even for their long time regular user you know they will be lot more tolerant If somebody is going through something pushes the edge little bit But you guys the moderators are pretty familiar with regulators.

Bates: Yeah So you really talking about the we have the document that teaches people how to ask questions, good style and how to end quote and another document how to answers questions nicely and keep the In meaningless dribble we have document about fallacies, spot fallacies, How not to put fallacies

Atwood: Oh really fallacies

Spolsky: Illogical argument that is common on

Bates: Yeah

Atwood: That's clever.

Bates: That's proven to be very popular also. It kind of helped to keep it can always point back if somebody gets little bit Did you read the fallacious arguments

Sierra: Which is great that in itself is like spread endless discussion on like there is discussion on like wild cat stuff Is that like fail or Is that you are doing wrong?

Spolsky: (laughing)

Sierra: In the same kind of argument?

Atwood: subtly failed I didn't realize

Spolsky: One thing we never I don't thing we have figured out stackoverflow that some thing always thought I hate to use the word community because it makes you think of a planned development via developer.

Sierra: You believe

Spolsky: You are listening developer. But Ok whatever it is group of people joining together on the Internet to do something

Sierra: right

[ 19 : 52 ]

Spolsky: And I have studied enough anthropology Although I found it to be the most boring in my life I am still trying get what it teaches from it. Now i just thought cultural anthropology not so interesting. But I did learn some stuff from there one of thing I learned was that there are certain stuff people do have communities with actual communities in real word and in anthropology it talks about the right of passage permits of wedding and death and writes about intensification which is fancy word for holiday or time when normal rule does not apply or its like Halloween to you can get drunk or whatever it is.

Sierra: right

Spolsky: Actuall poren is good example it is Jewish holiday which you are required to get drunk which is really the normal rule not applied I am sort of flipping around It seems to be a kind of healthy thing like special events that happen on calendar or catholic day times of day or whatever and something makes life much more better for people If it is not work work work and then enjoy the company of people whom you work with a little bit. So that one thing that never got in stackoverflow is good people place for just be social and hang out. Like what would you do if you where heavy stackoverflow user and you where going through life crisis for example like happiness like where would 100,000 point stackoverflow user is going to announce they are getting married

Atwood: That is a tough one. I guess I am in the minority I kind discourage discussion like my theory is like people hang at the bar and bar is place where you can get programming answers and then when the bar closes like you have discussion you cannot stay here.

Spolsky: ( laughing ) We have go home.

Atwood: Part of being a healthy software programmer is that you are not spending all of your time at stackoverflow. This is kind of minority position basically got the right to run the site


Sierra: I struggle with same idea that's why I was uncomfortable with I does seem to positives for the reasons you mentioned have out weighed and its very bounded

Bates: Probably the difference is turn of server at 2:00 am

Atwood: No

Bates: You can only look so far.

Atwood: I think it can found with the right community because the certain of meta community tends dominated by people who have invested or part of it . If we had it sanctuary place now you can talk about anything not it rude or offensive. Just talking about getting married or just talk about something cool happened at work. That can be kind of fun. There is really core people like I have been telling them there other places in the internet like we don't have own every minute of waking day that's great and consciously pushing people into.

Sierra: But the other things have caused people to want to do this like you have created an environment like people have gotten to know one another these are their peeps

Atwood: Being human beings and I totally appreciate that

Spolsky: The days when we did dev days conferences things that people complain about the time for networking and socializing not is partially due to one day and I want people to have ton of it I want you have atleast six

Atwood: You know we should do a speed dating thing? like programmers are afraid to like people I don't know if it is going to cool

Spolsky: It is forced interaction It is like a game. Programmers love from the reputation that programmers love this stuff. They love rules they love games and playing this stuff.

Spolsky: I doesn't have to be that elaborate which we have tried various ways of creating networking opportunities at stackoverflow dev days and every city had different physical logistics where we would be having lunch The one that worked best is when we had tables and every tables gets discussion topic like discussion topic was one word

Atwood: We did it at one place

Spolsky: It worked more than one place

Sierra: It is good idea

Spolsky: But some of places we could not make it work logistically. But the places it worked and the topic where extremely broad like start up, you are interested in start up, you want to be in start up, you are in a start up, anything to do with start ups which is business anything go to the table with A on it if you are interested in programming languages, anything related with programming languages, you just want to talk about programming languages go to table b on it and that gave people enough to get them over the table with 10 people. You don't know anybody but you talk about you have little bit of topic somebody will bring up something up and start the conversation no is no It worked really well and people really liked it That something we should do more of at stackoverflow conferences. But we sort need to wait around for.

Sierra: It is kind of restaurant like it that used to do that

Spolsky: No way really? Yeah

Sierra: It was I cant' remember what it was?

Spolsky: It was like group tables

Sierra: Yeah it was they called it joiner tables. In the whole area of Hollywood like all the post production stuff is where you have mix of people . So they would have this huge tables and they have things they like writing, lighting or audio editing or

[25:23 ]

Spolsky: Cool

Sierra: People would sit down because they would be in LA

Spolsky: that sounds as a terrific idea

Sierra: anywhere

Spolsky: That seems to be opposite of that of Belgium restaurant mostly in New York called pantedian is long communal tables that you eat That they have wonderful idea with all these people there that you presumely can have nice conversation about over a biggat and tella which is their main staple But of course you never do you just kind of ignore the other people in some socially awkward way Yeah Yeah. Just to add like topic what conversation for today flora

Atwood: As assigned one of explicit goals of was to get out of the technology gethos I know C Sharp that's all I know I don't care about anything else.

Spolsky: Yeah

Atwood: we kind of force people at the home page like python you are gonna see ruby and see all the stuff on homepage and our hope was that was very intentional You can click on the tag and stay in you tag and you can also see what other programmers are doing

Sierra: So dismissive

Atwood: I want people really to it is an intentional design issue.

Spolsky: Its is your opinion

Atwood: We are going to make you do this stuff If if like or not You have fight a little that was the intent These topic tables like java , I am c sharp guy you are ruby guy

Sierra: But that great your enabling growth and you making growth easier I am kind of tired of wars whose better what's better just go create awesome that what you really need to worry.

Atwood: The more programmers can focus on about the petty little language problem which they love

Spolsky: This is great thing we got do there is product which works great with mercurial which very closer to git opposing camps that's right but both are awesome they are terrific they are wonderful technologies I picked mercurial

because of family (laughing )

mercurial would be the monuges and capulates don't you think It is hard to say

Spolsky: It is hard to say Anyway it is like see that people saying Joel's apart with mercurial Let's see that cana be can we have fight here please? And hopefully get 37 c on the other side That would be perfect create the awesomost thing but to some extent you just like you wanna watch and order go to programming to discussion groups If you want there to be an epic fight between good and evil

Atwood: I like these physical manifestation on what we are doing logically on stackoverflow totally having different tables Next year let's have dev we have more focus on it

Bates: Have you ever done smack downs?

Spolsky: That sound's like a great idea.

Atwood: I am a Smack down fan. Yeah I was telling joel I am in a position of telling kathy's stuff to joel Because joel was actually remarking about people on internet like to see posing ideas and your idea was brilliant Occasionally you want little bit of conflict like kind of mock conflict where nobody is really getting hurt It is easier to learn when you see two opposing things

[28: 42 ]

Spolsky: True Yeah

Sierra: Forces your brain to engage you can't you can't ignore it.

Spolsky: Yeah

Sierra: Even against your will you brain is forced to like pick a side and you have think deeply especially when there is two that do some balance you have to listen to that argument you go yeah yeah and you hear the other side oh shit yeah that too but that makes sense too Well that pain your head is thinking We seriously lost it

Spolsky: Seriously things we had we could do few hours like if we have week long stackoverflow conference We can take bunch of people and do bunch of things like pair programming vs working alone. So basically some teams would work as pairs and everybody will get same problems and some coding problem and some teams will work as pairs with classic pair programming and some teams could divide up work in to parts and work on them separately and that would be really fun thing because nobody gets to do like anything remotely anything like a study whether or not pair programming is more productive than not pair programming or working in private office vs working in a board room and nobody even has come close to actually doing a comparison of these things.

Bates: You have to add heart rate monitor

Sierra: I love that

Bates: Yes I was subjected to pair programming we got lot of thing done but I wanted to jump out of window.

Spolsky: That's true people. People do ask me questions about that and somebody told me that you are against pair programming I got these two programmers who love pair programming If they actually like it its actually working it actually being productive the main problem with pair programming is programmer don't seem to want to do it. Not that they don't like to working like that closely with somebody else. Not that we can do.

Atwood: But we can do some kind of lab experiment for people who haven't done so

Spolsky: like that there are million things that people are making claims on both sides of the same argument.

Sierra: I love like frameworks on shack downs those which I have seen live.

Spolsky: That would be pretty funny. We have that very close at London where Peter Norvig whose the chief scientist at Google something or like that.

Atwood: Chief scientist I think.

Bates: He's very big guy

Atwood: He is one of main guys

Spolsky: He is really smart. He wrote an absolutely brilliant explanation of how you do spelling correcter which is thing on the Google in which you type and in correct response you get spolsky and it does not on the basis of dictionary but based on all words that are used in entire Internet everywhere in every language. And He said Here how he would write the code to do that and he did it in 21 lines of python code and when you look at these 21 lines of code you thing there is not enough code here possibly enough to do here. Here is a spell checker based all the words from gigantic corpus. Where you give any file or words and give another word and it gives you what error you made what typo you made. And that is cause python is super elegant and super clean and so one of things I had in dev days in every city was a python tutorial and recommend to python speakers if they don't have any topic they don't have to do recommended why don't they explain Peter Norvig code because it uses a lot of thing from the python that are actually unique to python to make really elegant code and even if you knew python you won't be bored because you would be learning interesting algorithm so 8 out of 10 used and people generally liked it But in London John Skeet was like can I during lunch write it in c# Like I am gonna write same code in c sharp can you put up monitor up on the screen and he got couple of people around him and put his computer on the screen during lunch and he tried to hack through in c sharp. I don't know the status of that. He didn't quite finished it.

Atwood: I don't think he got as far as he wanted to. He did make some progress

Spolsky: He did make some progress.

Spolsky: Actually in c sharp 3.0 some body like John Skeet can probably get it down.

Atwood: It will probably close to 30 lines

Spolsky: Like more than It would definitely be more robust this could be due to braces and lot of other things but it would be pretty similar advanced features like c sharp has. Starting to show up Anyway

Atwood: It's ok for people to seek some level of conflict but how much

Spolsky: Are you doing for sport or are you pretending there is conflict and it is not really happening.

Atwood: The place if comes from place of learning That is what I am try to say Oh let me see


Sierra: That is how we drove it we made the conscious decision from first head book that is going to included or that is going to be feature in the books as a tool for learning just based on the idea because we would use every trick that will cause people against their will to have to use their brain. And that is ones of the simplest way to do it. Sometimes we would see some authors and I have done it where it is sort of contrived or you only pretending that the other side is like doing an straw man thing We tried to discourage that and we tried to find honest value and those things even though we may decide we are going to pick one. This is approach we are gonna use.

Spolsky: Yes

Sierra: But the idea is to force them to think deeply Because when you are presented with two things where both make sense and are opposing and also we are dealing with issues that are more complex.

Atwood: Right

Sierra: They are not simple and they don't necessarily need to be .Its okay for people to understand that there are multiple ways to do this and that they both have value. Sometimes we are gonna pick one in this context like programming approach makes sense and sometimes we do it because it is nice or we already know this way even if it is not efficient It is okay we want the people to see those perspective and other reason we do it is because when people are trying to learn anything technical like everything they look at especially they are programmers like learning new language the first thing your brain starts dealing is to map it with what you already know and you are just bleeding brain cycles So part of what we do is not ignore the fact they are doing that and just acknowledge it in some way either by saying look here all the things that you should not worry about.

Spolsky: Right

Sierra: Like we are trying to anticipate here are all the things that is at back your mind.

Spolsky: Do you ever actually

Sierra: wait wait

Spolsky: Do you do test to show tax the people and ask them is it nagging at back of your mind so that I can put it on the list or you try to anticipate that .

Sierra: We do it in couple of ways actually

Spolsky: right

Sierra: the first one the first three books where subjects I where teaching at sun

Spolsky: right

Sierra: Sun I was teacher I end up with that list

Spolsky: Sure

Sierra: And you it has been studied that you look at technical topic and look at question are asked people ask it follows that 80 20 rule that there will some outlier questions

Spolsky: Yeah

Sierra: You can pretty much figure out what are things that are bother What we tell author who are not teaching the topics that you can't always predict

Serria: Where we would tell people to go haunt a forum where people are going to have most trouble whatever the topic is just do an analysis We want to see the numbers. How many people asked questions about this, how many people asked questions about this and figure out what their pain points are we dont want them guessing about cognitive leaks that cognitive leaks cause people to through book across the room or stop

Spolsky: Yep

Sierra: That they are not devoting time to it even if they are not consciously aware something is not right

Sometimes you are distracted by that book is trying to explain to you sometimes you are reading book and it is teaching you you wish the exactly the same sentence it was there

Sierra: We love that

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Last Modified: 1/26/2010 9:43 AM

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