It’s not about ego … it’s about knowledge

Take a quick look at this blog post by Jonathan Lewis

Anyone that has been working with Oracle for any length of time probably knows that Jonathan has a great depth of knowledge in the Oracle database, and is a regular blogger.  But this post is a good example to inspire anyone that is working with Oracle (or any technology for that matter) to start blogging and sharing their experiences with the community, no matter what their level of experience is.

If you read the post, you’ll see that Jonathan presented a well-crafted test case, and presented a hypothesis about NVARCHAR2 and potential side effects of adding columns of this data type to an existing table.

Turns out the hypothesis was wrong, and the observations were unrelated to NVARCHAR2 at all.  A comment from a reader pointed out the true cause of the side effect.

But here’s the important thing.

Has the blog post been deleted ? No

Has the comment been deleted ? No.

Publishing information for the community to digest is not (as we say in Australia) a pissing contest ( to show who is the smartest or the fastest or the cleverest.  It is about collectively growing the knowledge base of one’s self and the community.

So don’t be afraid to publish your experiences so that all may benefit.  If your findings or claims are incorrect, then good people in the community will correct you gently and professionally.  And those not-so-good people that choose to point out errors in a condescending or derogatory tone…well….they’ll be doing a lot more damage to their online reputations than they could ever possibly do to yours.

Happy New Year!

Why being wrong can be awesome

OK, Now that I’ve started the post with a nice click-bait heading, let’s get down to the business of being wrong. Smile

I did a lot of conference presentations last year, and the great thing about that for me was that I got to meet a lot of new people in the Oracle community in the Developer and DBA space. One of the questions that came up over and over again was about putting one’s knowledge “out there” in the community and how to deal with the repercussions of that.  In particular, “What if you publish something that is proven wrong?”

Here’s the thing about being wrong …. there’s two likely outcomes:

  • Someone tells you that you are wrong, or
  • You never know that you’re wrong and you wallow about in flawed darkness for all eternity.

Which would you prefer ? Smile

This is really all about perception from both the blogger and the reader, and the way they behave.

If you are the reader and you find something that is incorrect, you have choices:

  • Absolutely go ballistic on the author via comments, insult their intelligence, tell them how much smarter than them you are, and that they should never have been born, or
  • Initiate a reasoned discussion about where the errors might be, how the author may have come to that point, discuss boundary conditions and both leave the discussion more knowledgeable as a result.

Rest assured, if you take the former position, no amount of smarts is going outweigh the public reputation you’ve just acquired as being a schmuck.

And similarly, as an author of content, when someone points out an error you can:

  • take it in good faith, and work toward improving your knowledge by investigating further and collaborating with the person who discovered it, or
  • just deny it, and lose your mind at them and denigrate them so that you don’t lose your fine public standing.

If you do the latter….guess what you just lost?  Yup, your fine public standing.

And here’s the thing. Even if the person pointing out the error is indeed lacking the basic skills of civility, and is demonstrating their “schmucky-ness” all over your blog, just put that aside and focus on improving the content.  Other readers will pick up on this, and they’ll value your contribution to the community much more than Joe Schmuck.  They’ll be “red flagged” in the minds of the community as “one of those members that just isn’t worth the time of day”.

And if you’re wondering what the motivation for this post is – just this morning on an AskTOM answer, one of the Product Managers inside Oracle reached out to me and said “Hey Connor – I don’t think that answer is completely correct” and gave some me some additional content about the cause, and how to improve the answer.  The net result of that:

  • I learn some new stuff!
  • The community gets better content from AskTOM!
  • I make a new contact within the Oracle organization!

So don’t ever let being wrong stop you from contributing to the community.  It’s the best way of improving yourself and the community as well.