Disclaimer: I'd like to not point at any posts or link examples of the kind of posts that I'm talking about. I don't want to blame/mock/be mean to any of the authors.
Edit: I'm in the process of writing a post that will gather all the ideas in your comments and then classify them so that we can discuss their pros and cons together. Thank you all so very much for your time and effort in coming up with all kinds of ideas :)
I've finally had enough! The quality of posts in dev is seriously deteriorating, my feed is almost always polluted with posts that have near-clickbait titles or copy-paste tutorials that I've either seen on other platforms by different authors or just a cobbled-together mess of the top searches on Google, and sometimes it's a 1 to 1 match too! The author has not changed a single word.
The worst part of this nightmare is that some of these posts lack research effort. Dev is growing at a rapid rate, which means obviously a lot of new and aspiring developers hear about it. Eventually, they'll visit the platform, read a few posts, and then become regular readers or may end up contributing by writing about their journey. This is one of the best things about this platform, the fact that it is completely open for any developer no matter what their experience level is, to express themselves and their journey.
What's so nightmarish about all of this? The fact that these new and fresh minds will read content that is either outdated or just inaccurate. They'll build their foundations on these incorrect fundamentals and eventually end up having to correct themselves down the line. If you've ever had a bad habit, you know how difficult it is to get rid of it. You could say that this is an over-exaggeration of a trivial situation, one that exists across a lot of platforms, but that's how all problems start. Platforms that start out from being great and just pure awesome eventually end up turning into parasitic manipulative poison-breeders.
Now you might think that nobody should use a single source to base their foundations like that, but quite often that's how it works. When someone sufficiently influential says that something is good, large numbers of people will also think that particular thing is good. In the case of dev, because credible authors write brilliant posts, it may be difficult for a sufficiently inexperienced developer to distinguish what is correct from what is wrong simply because they don't know enough to make that judgment call and the fact that bad posts are mingled in the good posts.
I'd say I'm an avid reader, and I comment on a lot of such posts in dev particularly, pleading the authors to put more effort into doing research and developing their content structure but often times it just never ends up reaching the author.
So the question is, how do we solve this? Do we mock/demean/be rude to authors that make posts like that? The answer is and always will be NO. This is what happens over at Stackoverflow quite frequently (not all the time, and by no means am I saying that STO shouldn't be used), new developers feel intimated to participate in such communities because existing participants of the community retaliate pretty harshly when said individual in their opinion does not demonstrate that they're "worthy".
Most importantly, it does not solve the problem. What is the problem? Quite often, I believe that a lot of authors actually do put effort into their posts but the final product may not be up-to-par because:
- The author does not have enough experience either in the topic that they're attempting to discuss or writing a post to properly express themselves or the idea behind the post. As a result, may use similar content to patch the holes by reading the top Google results.
- The author does not know how to structure and deliver the content properly, due to a lack of inspiration or research effort.
- The author is reposting an old post, without making the necessary updates.
- The author does not have sufficient English proficiency to properly deliver key points.
And so on. However posts that represent an organization can not be excused, at least the author can not be excused. The author is at that point representing the organization. Regardless, I believe that posts that display any of these symptoms can still be salvaged with a little more effort and experience. How do we do so?
- Direct the author to credible sources of information like documentation or well-received and up-to-date posts. When you do, please make sure you navigate them in such a way that they can find the content in question.
- If you believe that you have the required experience to explain certain things that the post has got wrong, do so but without trying to sound condescending or mean. We do not want to discourage authors. We want to make them better!
- If you feel like the post in question is a repost and lacks up-to-date information, outline the inconsistencies so that any new developer knows what's changed.
Among them, however, are ones that can not be salvaged and clearly demonstrate a pure lack of effort. At that point, it is possible and clearly evident that the goal is not to contribute but to just spit out content. These posts may be but aren't limited to:
- Posts that have straight-up plagiarized content. There are quite a lot of these and it's an absolutely horrible thing. You're just stealing someone else's work to look good.
- Posts that clearly "tease" content and make the reader navigate to a different platform to read the rest. This is no better than Medium's paywall.
- Posts that include nothing but a video link, with no or little explanation or summary of what the link is about.
- Posts that include a whole bunch of links or lines of text without explanations. You could call them resource lists. Resource lists are great, but ONLY when whatever it is, is explained well.
- Improperly structured help or "do this thing for me pls" requests. Posts like this are thankfully rare but I've seen them.
And so on, I believe that posts like this should either be hidden from readers or it should be possible to calibrate the feed settings in such a way that those who are fine which such posts can see them. Plagiarization is a pretty serious thing, so I'd rather see authors just straight out not be able to post for a while to learn from their mistakes.
In addition to this, I believe that after a while on dev, I've been seeing repetitive posts on certain topics. I don't see anything wrong with it but when I drop off work, just sit back and relax to read something it kind of annoys me because I'm almost done with my tea by the time I've found something that is interesting enough. I feel like it should be possible for readers to calibrate their feed in such a way that they can just opt-out of such content so I can opt-in to read such topics and help someone out when I feel like it.
I am aware that you could prioritize the tags you want to follow, but for example, I can't opt-out of seeing posts for the #100DaysOfCode tag (again, not trying to be mean, there are just times I wanna learn something new and I'm also not saying that you can't learn anything new from posts with that particular tag). Maybe a blacklist of tags would do well for a situation like this.
Finally, I'd like to end this rant by asking any potential commenters to this post to have civil discussions. Criticize the idea, not the person. Share any of your thoughts, experiences, and what you think could be done to change/solve the problem or if you don't see it as a problem!