layout: post title: “Misinformed Dangerous” excerpt:
I had a recent conversation with a friend about SEO and how the Google Bot crawls websites. There was a question from our conversation that remained unanswered so I fired off some queries to figure it out.
I came across a question on StackOverflow (sort of unrelated to what I was searching for) where a programmer (properly) asked a question because she was given terrible information.
In that question she mentioned:
Someone insists that this is because of MVC 3, which cannot be indexed by main stream search engine
Thankfully she called bullshit and turned to StackOverflow for help where a few people pitched in.
The person she is referring to gave her terrible information. I want to understand why this person was so misinformed. Did he or she run into an search engine indexing issue with their MVC 3 site and conclude that it was the web development technology that caused the indexing issue? Perhaps this person glanced a tweet that was related and formed their professional opinion based on 140 characters or less. Perhaps this person is wildly making assumptions because they don’t like Microsoft or MVC. Perhaps this person is simply one of those people that forms an opinion at some point and sticks with it without testing the theory or without being open-minded and listening to other professionals who might have compelling information to prove their understanding incorrect. Sometimes misinformation can come from years of experience doing things the wrong way, or simply not allowing anyone to challenge your opinion.
There are many reasons this type of misinformation can be dangerous. Cost alone makes me squeamish when I hear programmers spewing information that is blatantly wrong. Imagine a programmer who takes this bad information, such as the the above example, and chooses a different technology that he or she might not know as well. Also, like a virus, this misinformation can easily spread to other programmers and so on and it can end up perverting entire teams of developers.
It should be your duty as a software craftsman to correct this in a way that is professional. The best way to tackle that is to test the misinformed theory and then to prove your own opinion. Obviously you might not be able to do this in every case but if you can locate the correct information quickly without a test, then that is ok. The misinformed might not be willing to hear you out. That’s fine, just blog about it instead ;)
Another option is to post a question on StackOverflow on your topic and have other professionals help prove your opinion correct or incorrect.
When I think about the programmers I trust, it is typically a programmer who is passionate and who likes to prove their opinions with examples or documentation. I’ve talked about this with my business partner Barry Harkness in the past. Trust is built over years of seeing someone be correct time and time again and sharing the information they have. When we Google for something and a StackOverflow result shows up, we click on that first because we’ve come to trust StackOverflow and the StackOverflow community to provide the best answers to programming questions. I feel that same way about programmers. If you aren’t active on StackOverflow, or you don’t use or advocate it, then I automatically trust you less than a programmer who does. That doesn’t mean that you are a bad programmer, it just means that I trust programmers who use trustworthy tools to perfect their craft more than anyone else. If you drop information all the time to fellow programmers but never provide details, examples, documentation, then it is likely that your piers will not trust you.