More analysis, less assassination

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Your pre-reading warning: I’m quoting some tweets in this post, tweets that definitely contain some NSFW language.

The success of tech often relies on criticism. Many a proposed tech solution that would have wreaked havoc in a production system is saved from that disaster as a consequence of focussed critical analysis and comment.

But here’s a word for you…Schadenfreude.

A quick check on Wikipedia:

Schadenfreude: The experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.


Recently a college lecturer posted an article about hacking and security on a popular IT website. I’m being deliberately vague here for reasons I’ll get to shortly. My assessment of the content was pretty simple: I thought it was fundamentally flawed. Many assertions were not to be backed up by facts (or at least no references were provided), and many of the conclusions came from splicing together unrelated topics to give the conclusions that were not valid in real world applications.

Whilst I could expand further, that last sentence above is probably a sufficient example of providing a critique and if we check the character count:

“Many assertions were not to be backed up by facts (or at least no references were provided), and many of the conclusions came from splicing together unrelated topics to give the conclusions that were not valid in real world applications.”

we come in at 237, fitting nicely under the Twitter limit.

I did not post that critique to Twitter because when I went to reply, I first checked to make sure that similar feedback had not already been posted. Let me give you a snapshot of the feedback that had been posted on Twitter.


This is probably the worst opinion piece I have ever read in a legit publication, and that’s against a competitive field

this guy appears to be a professor or teacher of some kind.
cant wait for his students to make it out into the workforce.

and this piece is just a catalog of everything org-behaviorish I tell my students NOT TO DO because it is BAD and NO ONE WILL WORK FOR YOU

This is so bad it should invoke Gell Mann Amnesia countermeasures

Those who can, do. Those who can’t do, teach.

This article is strike one. The author should be fired.

Who WAS he intending to target with the “Don’t hire” sentence??? No matter how I read it, it doesn’t get any better.

This is bad and they should feel bad. Reading those snippets it is unlikely that this person has built or worked in an infosec team

It’s *gotta* be satire. Right?

It does not read like satire. I think he’s serious. Oh my….

I would caution you to not seek out the author’s twitter and read any of the responses. Unless of course you like cringing while exploring rabbit holes.

This is hilariously bad in so many levels. Even bad basic management practice.

It’ll be fun to watch. Can’t wait to see what happens to this organisation.

When they have a security breach, which shouldn’t be long, I hope the person responsible for writing this and whoever hired them are fired for cause.

You mean it got worse after I stopped reading?!!?? Wow!

Holy crap… this is really bad. I’m sorry to any of the students at the XXXXXXX.

And never go to this school:
XXXXXXX is a professor of Information Technology at the XXXXXXXXXX.

Someone should probably audit the systems article OP has touched

Guessing this is some lecturer living in the past with no actual field experience???

I can’t stop thinking about how tremendously bad of a take this is. Just, wow.

This is … wow.

If this isn’t satire, I’m gonna go back to school for something else like refrigerator repair

The fuck did I just read?

Sounds like a professor who’s mad that his new laptop is managed by IT and he can’t run his WordPress server from his office PC anymore.

This is…something else. I’m speechless.

That has to be a joke. Either that or written by the most high risk and vulnerable company in the history thereof!!

At a loss for words at how poor this take is… wow

This is… painful to read, yeah… Yikes.

This article is the information security equivalent of the people who were filling plastic bags with gasoline last week

So this is what decades of academia, decades of PowerPoint, with zero real world experience sounds like?

This is definitely some of the least-informed, most potentially damaging advice I think I’ve ever read, amplified by the author’s confidence they are not, in fact, woefully ignorant.

What? That is so bad ………. I have no words.

The level of dumb in this…wow.


When did this become OK?

Not only did no-one take the effort to provide an objective criticism, they could not even restrain themselves to pontificating about just the content. Now its about the authors reputation, their job, their career, the school they teach at. Also, there comes a point where these posts seem to become less about the commenting on the original post, but more about being seen to be commenting on the post, the aim to come up with something incendiary enough to garner some attention.

This is one of the reasons I miss face to face events so much, because when we have face to face discourse our community, my experience has been is that people have disagreements in a civil, polite restrained manner, even if our views are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Don’t misunderstand my premise – I am not saying that we should all be glowingly endorsing whatever content is published on the internet. Critique is a vital part of tech progress. And I’m not saying that all of our feedback must always be serious posturing. Humorous digs at both ourselves and members of our tech community when they SNAFU is a good thing to ensure we all don’t take ourselves too seriously. Conversely, I think strongly calling out behaviours that run against our values and personal beliefs is fine too, but it can be done without deciding that it is our role on Twitter to destroy people and/or their reputations.

Now you understand why I was being vague on the article source, because the last thing I want to do is pour fuel onto an already large fire of vitriol that has been thrown this persons way.

In a nutshell: Debate moves our community forwards, derision moves it backwards.

Final note: If you do find the article, please don’t post a link to it here. Lets not provide more cannon fodder.



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