I just listened to the Alt.Net podcast where Scott Bellware talks about the state of Alt.Net. Bellware has recently become a major thorn in the side of the Alt.Net community because he is claiming that they have become a social club that is no longer moving towards its original goals.
My understanding is that the original purpose of Alt.Net was to bring “alternatives” to the .net community and to spread the word to the developer masses. Instead of just swallowing the latest toolset that Microsoft delivered, they want people to think about what is the best tool for the job and look outside of the normal community for solutions.
Scott’s fear is that the ALT.Net community is just replacing the Microsoft problem with another one. It sort of reminds me of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. A rebellion whose leaders become just as corrupt as the original ones they replaced.
The problem is that you can’t raise this alarm without treading on a whole lot of toes. Bellware appears to have knack for stepping on toes really hard.
My fear is that I am starting to smell what he is describing. I am starting to get the sense that if you are not doing it the “ALT.Net” way then you are not one of the cool kids. To the point where there are attempts to squash dissension in the ranks. At the Alt.Net conference in Seattle there was a session called “Is Persistence Ignorance necessary?” There were a fair few people who showed up and it has been a pretty hot topic of the past 12 months. On the Kyte.tv video stream of the session, Chad Myers makes the following comments
“Point of order: It is easy to do. “
“And has been solved “
“About 3-4 years ago, actually “
“(sigh) He’s re-learning (out loud) all the problem N/Hibernate folks solved years ago “
“I have PI and it works great. Why are we even talking about this again? “
I have two problems with this. The first is that this appears to be a classic bully technique to eliminate any further discussion of the topic. That does not seem in line with the Alt.Net philosophy as I understand it.
The second problem related back to what Scott is trying to convey on the podcast. Alt.Net has to be open to the fact that 99% of developers don’t know why persistence ignorance can be beneficial. To say, oh well it violates separation of concerns is like saying “thou shalt not kill”, because it says so in the Bible. A session like this is exactly what Alt.Net has to do. Reinforce the basics, over and over and over. If members are going to say, we already know all about that, we don’t want to talk about it, then you have immediately alienated all the “new recruits”. You have an elitist club.
ALT.Net needs to focus the majority of its efforts on teaching people who are not in the Alt.Net community rather than being focused on self-learning. If they continue to develop their own “state of the art” within the community they are just going to increase the divide between haves and the have nots.
From what I can tell, Scott has reason to be upset.
During the podcast Scott repeats incessantly his call for people to go out and do something to make a difference. So, here are a couple of items that I am going to do:
- I’m going to spend time on StackOverflow.com answering questions. Stackoverflow is a magnet for junior devs looking for answers. The Alt.net crowd should be all over that site, sharing their knowledge.
- I’m going to continue hiring interns from our local colleges and universities and mentoring them in our workplace. We need to get the message out when developers are still learning.
What are you going to do?