Should Top Be Banned

(Copied from InsultJustificationDiscussion.)

Let's have this issue out once and for all since many discussions seem to return to the same theme.
I was enthusiastic about c2 years ago. I stopped posting any of my opinions about software development years ago. I just cannot stand the idiotic flaming.

I still read c2, usually through RecentChanges. Sometimes I use it for reference, for which purpose it is usually good.

But there is no way I would bother with any of my approaches to software development. It just aint worth it.

In regard to the present discussion, I know Top has some very good ideas. I also know that the RKs of the world also have some very good ideas. The constant to-and-froing of people like these reminds me of the early days, when there was always a healthy argument between the fortranners and the cobolers. Never the twain shall meet.

Show some respect for opinions you do not embrace. You just may learn something. --PeterLynch

Yeah! We should stop deleting SchizoidGibberishWikiAuthor's contributions, too!

I agree that we shouldn't dismiss an opinion merely because we do not wish to embrace it. That's quite different from dismissing an opinion on the basis that there is no sound or valid justification for it. Sometimes TopMind has good ideas, and I don't hesitate to acknowledge those. RK was full of interesting ideas, though he was also an emotional powder-keg with a vicious streak who left about six months before I arrived (I chatted him up, later). But TopMind also likes to weigh in on subjects in which 'UnconsciousIncompetence' is a relatively positive description of his expertise (DeliberateIncompetence would often be more accurate). And if he has trouble following a counter-argument due to his incompetence, he shifts blame to everyone else - blame the 'academics' and 'ivy leagers', blame the anti-toppie conspiracy, blame anything but himself. Sometimes he even claims to be speaking for 'the masses' and 'the practitioners' arrogantly voting himself representative. (You won't see me speaking 'for' academics.)

Despite the fact that I acknowledge and respect some of TopMind's ideas (I refuse to dismiss ideas merely because they come from fools, babes, or TopMind), I cannot respect TopMind as a member of this society. I truly, honestly, believe he's of net negative impact and believe he should have been banned years before I joined WikiWiki, and I suspect the only reason he wasn't banned is that he was somehow 'grandfathered' in by people unwilling to ban members of the 'old guard'.

Anyhow, this present discussion isn't about whether Top has good ideas now and again. Nope. This isn't about insulting ideas. This is about behavior, and habit.

I know many of you want this to be an academics-only wiki, but it is not. Ward has NOT declared that scope limit. I know you don't like communicating with practitioner-minded people, but tough. If you want your ivy-league ideas to be adopted, you better learn to better communicate with practitioners instead of trying to belittle them away. If WetWare matters, the practitioner mind can't be dismissed anyhow just to simplify your equations. Software and design issues are as much for people as they are machines. You have to design hammers with carpenters in mind, not physics teachers. This means you have to work with carpenters to test your theories. It may be uncomfortable, but necessary. It's the step the Greeks skipped to their peril because they didn't want to get their hands dirty. The Romans, with their inferior math, clobbered the Greeks because they were willing to get their hands dirty.

If you ban me, do it because of clear-cut rules, not merely because my statements generate waves in general. It is human nature to ostracize minds not like our own. Resist. You can learn from aliens. Besides, other than failing to become an academic, I'm not sure what my "sin" is exactly. And who made Failing-To-Become-An-Academic an "official" sin here anyhow? I agree I generate "friction" in the wiki-wiki community, but it's because I say things about software that are uncomfortable to others. Is that by itself a sin? Controversy by itself is not "bad". In fact, it's a necessary part of growth and change. You seem to be afraid of the Big WetWare Question, and hide on an academic island with your poetry to protect you (queue S&G tune). --top

I vote no. -JH

I vote no and I am an academic. -- JohnFletcher

I vote no. -- GunnarZarncke

A vote is irrelevant - just HandWaving of a different sort.

{The "friction" Top causes here and elsewhere is the same "friction" that quacks cause in the medical community. However, unlike some quacks, Top is harmless -- except, perhaps, to his employers and himself -- and I doubt anyone (except other quacks) takes his views seriously. The best way to be "rid" of him is to ignore him; anything else only gives him a certain unfortunate legitimacy.}

Another no vote. I don't think we should ban people unless they are abusing someone. While Top's deliberate ignorance and claims to represent practitioners is annoying, I don't think it qualifies as abuse. -- Martin Shobe.

Reluctantly, I must go with the consensus here that Top is basically harmless. Annoying, sure. Simple-minded at times, absolutely. Capable of wasting plenty of your time with meaningless, illogical arguments, to be sure. But still harmless, even after all that. Stop feeding the trolls and they'll go elsewhere to chow down. -- MartySchrader

[As of October 2010 I may have shifted my opinion on this matter; check out IsTopTheNewRichardKulisz for more details. -- MartySchrader]

I think we should stop deleting SchizoidGibberishWikiAuthor's contributions on that same basis as the arguments given above. You guys (MartySchrader, Martin Shobe, Top) should help. We should start reverting deletions immediately.

{Point taken, but although the value of Top's contributions is clearly debatable, all but one of the participants who have weighted in on the matter would rather see Top's posts remain. I don't see anyone seriously arguing that SchizoidGibberishWikiAuthor's contributions should be preserved.}

I consider DoubleStandards the greater sin. If we are going to keep Top's contributions on the basis of the arguments given above, we shall also keep SchizoidGibberishWikiAuthor's. I will seriously argue this. If we wish to keep Top's contributions but reject SchizoidGibberishWikiAuthor's, you will need to provide some different arguments.

{Argue away. In the mean time, I propose we maintain status quo, such that Top's contributions shall remain and SchizoidGibberishWikiAuthor's shall be deleted. If you can convince the regular participants -- or at least a majority thereof -- that either Top's posts should go or SGWA's should remain, then that can change.}

DoubleStandards it shall be, then. I suppose I'll just leave WikiWiki.

{You do know we're no longer giving out the "Richard Kulisz Award for Amateur Dramatics (Queen Category)", don't you? By the way, the standard applied here is essentially the same as that used to maintain employment in the public sector throughout most of (at least) the Western world: Schizophrenia or psychosis is cause to be dismissed; being an idiot isn't.}

I've been thinking about leaving for a while now, so this is hardly a spur-of-moment thing. Rather, this is a 'last straw' issue - or perhaps an excuse I've been seeking for a while now. WikiWiki takes too much of my time. Arguing with self-important morons - mostly TopMind - is too tempting and takes too much of my time; the best way to resist temptation is to avoid it. People who say "don't feed the trolls" often feed them on a regular basis - hypocrisy whose basis is character weakness rather than dishonesty. I'm not strong enough to follow that advice, and the resulting ThreadMode messes undermine many otherwise valuable pages. I believe many useful community contributors have left for similar reasons. (How many people who commented in ObjectiveEvidenceAgainstTopDiscussion are still here?) I see WikiWiki as a dying community. I think I will find or build a better platform for airing my own thoughts. In the meantime, I will remove my name from this Wiki, along with any contributions I feel would require maintenance by me. Doing so will remove the remaining temptations to remain in this bad, bad place.

{I suspect you're reaching a realisation that most Wiki participants eventually seem to reach, which explains why keen contributors inevitably go elsewhere. It certainly is reasonable to leave if you're finding yourself drawn into spending more time here than you like. I never spend a minute more than I want to -- sometimes that means I delightfully argue ad infinitum against Top's idiocy, and other times I let it slide. I don't take WardsWiki seriously enough to give it more attention than that. Maybe that's part of the problem. *Shrug*. Note, by the way, that what you're going through with Ward's Wiki is something you'll probably eventually experience with the 'net as a whole and you'll wind up planting bananas or running a motorcycle shop. That's not a bad thing. The world needs more bananas and motorcycle shops.}

A community goes sour because the people let it. Anyhow, you should stop feeding the trolls even if you find it delightful. Your words: "The best way to be rid of him is to ignore him; anything else only gives him a certain unfortunate legitimacy." Or are you keeping a troll around for amusement? Sigh. Well, keep your pets, have fun.

{Yes, I do find Top amusing. Is he trolling deliberately? Dunno. Don't care. Doesn't matter. I haven't particularly argued with Top lately, though, because I don't feel like granting him any legitimacy except when my desire for casual amusement exceeds my desire to limit his legitimacy. Lately, it hasn't.}
See WikiAsReference for some comment on that aspect. (Note: this is missing a de-reference tag??) Please explain. Perhaps it is that I didn't give the reference here to PeterLynch's comments at the top of this page, where he said Sometimes I use it for reference, for which purpose it is usually good.
Won't Do Something

The accusation against me seems to be that I "won't bother" to read the pet academic materials of the author(s). However, I also ask a chore that the other side refuses; namely describe in detail how they know their pet technology is better in (useful) measurable numbers, not just "it feels right in my head".

Your chains of (alleged) reasoning are too long to skip measurement. GoodMetricsUseNumbers, so stop using lousy metrics and acting like your Rube Goldberg "logic" is "good enough". It doesn't matter how complex it is, numbers can be found to measure it. Even rocket designs can be measured in various metrics such as success percent, cost of fuel to reach the moon, etc. Thus, complexity is NOT an excuse to receive a Get-Out-Of-Metrics-Free card. I find it hypocritical that you complain about what I won't do, yet you won't do something either. --top
Banning him gives him more recognition than he deserves, delete gibberish and move on.

Deletion is rude. You are free to argue your case, but not delete others' opinions (without risking retaliation). I know you feel certain you are right, but that's not sufficient reason to delete opinions you don't agree with. EarnYourRightToInsultMe.
Engineering is a process by which we expand we expand and refine our knowledge based an application and testing, it is not a system of unsubstantiated belief. TOP applies a very old technique of LanguageFraming? such a way Facts are challenged by Belief on supposedly equal ground. aka "his opinions are just as good as our facts." It proves should a fundamentally misunderstand what science is about that I would be surprised if it can ever be fixed.

If your "facts" were clearly true and refined, then using them to counter such "proletariat" claims via something like ItemizedClearLogic should be relatively easy. If you do so repeatedly for the same person, such a proletariat will lose credibility and people will stop paying attention. You could link to a list of their failures against ItemizedClearLogic when they start a new set so that readers can quickly identify their past logic failures to know better. It has the side benefit of documenting IT knowledge in a concise manner for students etc.

"Equal ground"? That sounds like some kind of human ranking, ArgumentFromAuthority. -t

[1] Unless perhaps as it relates to selecting among competing theories. Occam's Razor generally favors elegance. But that's at a different stage than the "problem issue" here.


I'm new here (just passing by). I think you're all a bunch of cowards for not manning up the courage to boot a constantly disruptive troll. I just wasted an entire day mezmerized by the resulting slo-mo train wreckage. It was entertaining, in a schadenfreude kind of way.

The idea of this wiki is good, but any online gathering place that will not deal with trolls will eventually be killed by them. I'm guessing that's what happened here. I wouldn't want to invest anything into joining this community (if it's still alive), simply because it seems trolls have free reign here.

Ain't nobody got time for that!


Kill me with ItemizedClearLogic, not hate. I believe PageAnchor Complaint-004 under TopMind is by the same author as the above. Note that being "disruptive" by itself is not inherently bad. For example, Socrates was "disruptive", but started a revolution. (Of course, true charlatans also are disruptive.) --top

In my opinion, most anger against me is from those who get personally upset when their sacred cow or cash cow doesn't live up to the scrutiny I toss at them, and thus they join the "top is a charlatan troll" bandwagon along with the other cow-kicked WikiZens. Their pride or fear of financial loss prevents them from accepting defeat, and they thus deflect that onto me. Human pride is a bastard. --top

[I haven't seen anger against you for years. I've seen some frustration, but that's not because you are killing anyone's "sacred cow or cash cow". Indeed, like most technical people, I think C2 participants are sufficiently anarchical to appreciate a really good sacred cow (or cash cow) killing. However, sacred cows are killed by weight of evidence and cutting logic, neither of which your usual arguments bring. Your arguments are not "scrutiny" in any rigorous sense -- which would be great -- but are merely superficial (and frequently emotional) objections, i.e., they're slightly more verbose ways of saying "it sucks!" This seems especially the case with facilities -- recently, HigherOrderFunctions or PreparedStatements; historically, OO and polymorphism -- that as software engineers and computer scientists, we know they work and would much rather focus debate on the genuinely interesting controversies in the field rather than defend useful and established facilities against your naïve, weakly justified, poorly evidenced, and blatantly reactionary criticism.]

Another pet peve is that many of you are shitty communicators/writers. I give you suggestion for how to better convey and present your ideas, but you outright ignore them, going right back to your original shitty writing style that failed the first time, and sure enough fails again (at which point you blame me for reading it wrong). Evidence of stubborn personalities. -t

[We're software engineers and computer scientists. We're not technical writers. If you'd like to create a page of suggestions on how to write well, I'm sure it would be helpful. Contrary to your claim, I don't recall you giving suggestions for how to better convey and present ideas. At least, I don't recall seeing any that weren't -- as is the case in the paragraph to which this is a response -- more insult than suggestion.]

Yeah, this appears to be the Top Method of <cough> argument. Throw some unsubstantiated claims about, then piss and moan when people point out the obvious holes. When whining isn't enough resort to gutter behavior and language. Thank goodness we have top to bring any possible chance of making progress in discussing serious software engineering topics to a halt with useless flameage and bickering.

No wonder this fellow insists on hiding his identity -- can you imagine discovering that you have top working for you? Oy!

Up yours, hypocrite Handle-Free-Fad-Boy. And I generally follow what my employer wants. If they want me to design stupidly, I'll do it. I state my point of view, and if it's rejected, it's my duty as an employee to do it their way regardless. The work-place is not a democracy. If they get too stupid, I start to look for another job rather than repeatedly argue with them. -t

Let me help you out here, topper ol' buddy -- this here's MartySchrader, yer old phanboi, once again calling you out as a crank, a nihilist, a general purpose naysayer, and an overall asswipe. Everybody on this board has tried to cut you the maximum amount of slack, but you insist on being a complete dweeb whilst hiding behind your anonymity. So, to the above list I add one more attribute: coward. Go ahead and throw all the tantrums and insults you'd like, but the Wikizenry recognizes you for what you are -- a troll and a waste of time. Up yer TenSeven.

I believe my antagonists are mostly a handful of regulars, NOT a WikiZen consensus. The pattern appears to be that fastidious academic-oriented personalities are frustrated that the industry doesn't take their pet concepts or high-abstraction programming seriously, and they take that frustration out on me because to them I represent the "typical field mentality" that rejects their high-falutin' ideas or ideals. They cannot call up random practitioners in the industry to chew them out for "doing it wrong", so instead they focus all their frustration on me: I'm the most accessible specimen of this "field mentality" they despise so much. That's my psychological profile speculation on their abrasive behavior toward me. That's my honest assessment, and may God, Buddha, Naraka, or Zeus strike me dead if I am intentionally lying about this assessment. -t

[The number of contributors, over more than a decade, who agree with you about anything appears to be small. The number of contributors -- who appear to be quite a large set over time, even if they're a fairly small set at any given time -- who disagree with you seems comparatively large. What does that suggest? Of course, we could all be wrong and you could be the lone voice of correctness, but what evidence is there to suggest that is true?]

Back in the usenet days, it appeared that almost everyone was against me in the OOP debates. Yet I got a lot of "fan mail" (for lack of a better description) from those who encouraged me to "keep up the fight". They admitted they were too timid to jump into the fray, seeing how badly I was treated (called a troll, Luddite, charlatan, university-hater, dumb, abstraction-color-blind, etc.). The editor of a well-known IT magazine even gave me personal kudos. I suspect similar here, although I don't post my email these days. Further, most of those against me don't sign. Thus, either a majority of WikiZens don't sign, or my antagonists are a handful of non-signers. Occum's Razor points to the second. The feel and Top-bashing is almost identical to the OOP battle. -t

[Fringe views, even outright batty ones, invariably draw followers. It's how, for example, some UFO zagnuts wind up forming (small) cults. (See In other words, a few supportive emails do not constitute validation, especially when your views typically run contrary to ComputerScience and SoftwareEngineering. Of course, that doesn't mean ComputerScience and SoftwareEngineering are right, but it does mean if you're going to convince anyone outside the fringe that they're wrong, you're going to need far more potent evidence -- and a better approach to presenting it -- than you've brought to the table so far. If you expect any mainstream influence at all, you're going to have to demonstrate serious, in-depth, educated knowledge of ComputerScience and SoftwareEngineering so that you can present your issues to the field as a learned equal armed with patient persuasion, potent logic, powerful evidence, and extensive knowledge. Otherwise, your criticisms of technology appear to be nothing more than middle-aged grumpy naivety, reactionary resistance to change, a certain amount of laziness over learning new information, and a legitimacy-destroying inclination to use insults and expletives.]

Projection. YOU are the fringe, and YOU lack "potent logic". Most in the industry are not ivory tower zealots who mistake their pet models for universal truths. I have NOT violated any clear-cut ComputerScience logic, just your biased word-game versions of them. In short, you hallucinate the existence of ComputerScience canons. (Maybe you are a genius, but your shitting writing and evidence-presentation ability masks it deeply.)

[Your response is merely more evidence of my point, and confirms my allegation. Now, why not try a new approach: Learn about the technology you criticise so that you become an expert. Then you can attack it with knowledge instead of vapid insults.]

Your response is merely more evidence of my point, and confirms my allegation. Now, why not try a new approach: Learn about the scientific process, formal logic, and evidence presentation. Then you can present your claims with CLEAR EVIDENCE instead of ArgumentFromAuthority ("Me iz educated, you a dumby, therefore, me win"). The rocket metrics analogy (RocketAnalogyProblem) shows why your claim is an irrelevant red-herring and a liar's gimmick.

[I've presented much evidence, as have many others here. You ignore it because you don't like what it shows. (What is a "rocket metrics analogy", and how is an analogy a demonstration of logic?]

Bullshit. You hallucinate objectively where it doesn't exist (or is overridden by factors you want to ignore). I honestly think that is a big-ass fault of yours and your real-world-starved brethren. Another compiler writer recognized that trait also in you. The rocket angle proves you are a defective evidence evaluator..

[Wow. You briefly started a reasonable thread here about "thin tables" and proof, and by the time I tried to submit my answer, you'd replaced it with nothing but the above AdHominem insults. How does that help your credibility? ("Another compiler writer"??? "Rocket angle"??? Huh? Dude, I think you've popped a gasket.)]

Go ahead and prove thin tables are scientifically "better" if you want. By rocket angle I mean that you claim only an expert can validate the usefulness of a tool. RocketAnalogyProblem. It's a fallacy. Further, if average staff cannot absorb it either, it doesn't matter if it's theoretically better (GreatLispWar). (I lightened some of the insults.)

[You may have "lightened" the insults, but it's still a purely AdHominem attack. I still have no idea what you mean by "another compiler writer" and "rocket angle", and as far as I can tell in RocketAnalogyProblem, your correspondent discredited your points.]

[By the way, in response to your original "prove thin tables" are better, my response was this: How do you distinguish a "thin table" from a non-"thin table"? The only logically interesting table degrees are 0, 1, and n. At what 'n' do we have a thin table, and at what 'n' do we have a non-thin table? Of course, a table that requires nulls to represent missing column values introduces potential logical inconsistencies, and in general, higher normal forms are preferable to lower normal forms as higher normal forms are less subject to update anomalies. On the other hand, an increased number of joins may result in performance issues in performance-constrained environments, so there isn't a "prove thin tables" that means some (undefined?) degree is unconditionally better than some other (undefined?) degree, at least not without the qualifications that I've just given.]

As far as "update anomalies" I see trade-offs, not solid rules. See TableQuantityVersusAppSize. I agree to factor out known, clear, and stable duplication. However, there's a hell of a lot of grey area and crystal ball failures in the real world.

[I don't think there's a meaningful discussion to be had here until the distinction between a "thin table" and a non-"thin table" is determined. I agree that the appropriate level of normalisation is dependent on the requirements. For most "conventional" business applications, 3NF is fine. For some applications, particularly involving temporal data, only 6NF is even possible.]

I mentioned that it was situational and that I didn't wish to make any concrete "always do X" rules. Anyhow, didn't we once agree that if the DB was powerful and well-designed enough, then thin-versus-thick would be a view-oriented decision rather than a either/or decision? In other words, a "table" would always be a virtual construct (or there would be no visible distinction between a view and a table). It was one of the few times we actually agreed on something. -t

[Indeed, and I don't think what I wrote above contradicts that. It is entirely reasonable to construct a schema in 6NF and use views to present what a user expects.]

"Possible" and "made convenient" are not the same thing. I believe somebody else agreed that existing designs don't make virtual-ness very easy from the update side of things.

[True, most DBMSs do not support update-through-views, or only support it in a limited fashion. Whether this is a limitation or not depends on the requirements. In many implementations it's a non-issue, because updates are only done -- by software -- on base tables. Views are used to present a friendly schema to the people creating reports, which perform no updates.]

Academics want software to be about math, when it fact it's mostly about humans (WetWare). Since they are good at math and usually suck at humanity, they subconsciously try to force the industry into more of a math view to increase their perceived value to the industry and/or see their work recognized more. Sorry, it's the humans, stupid. Face the unpleasant reality instead of brow-beat the messenger, Mr. Top. -t

Really? I'm an academic and former (and still part-time current) practitioner (I mainly develop(ed) custom business software and DBMSs) and I don't know anyone, myself included, who wants software to be about math. We like math, because it's a useful tool, but then so is the wrench I use to remove and install wheel bolts on my truck. I'd rank math and the wheel wrench about equally. I don't want my truck to be made of wheel wrenches. Likewise, I don't think software is about math.

Are you sure you're not confusing "social science in computing" (which is an interesting subject) with ComputerScience and SoftwareEngineering? Are you also sure you're not making up a fight where there isn't one? If you and others want to focus on the human side of computing, that's great. I don't see how it contradicts what ComputerScience and SoftwareEngineering are about, though.

Software design is not "computer science", and software engineering is a gray art.

Indeed, software design is not ComputerScience, it's SoftwareEngineering. SoftwareEngineering is a collection of disciplines ranging from rigorous and mathematical (e.g., software metrics) to craftsmanship and artistry (e.g., user interface design.) There is no single statement, like "software engineering is a gray art", that can be accurately applied to all of it.

Further, you guys can't let some things go. If we come to an AnecdoteImpasse, then leave it there. You keep returning to AnecdoteImpasse topics in an obsessive way, and prod and prod in a rather rude and repetitious way. -t

We only do that when you post provocative (usually, insufficiently substantiated) statements to which we respond, but which you fail to respond adequately in kind.

That's not how I see it. For example, arguments that involve speculation about user or programmer behavior or viewpoints often result in an AnecdoteImpasse, but you guys keep probing me in rude ways for why I have a belief that group X is more likely to do or think A instead of B.

We have no problem with anecdotes and speculation about user or programmer behaviour. We prod you when your speculation is weakly evidenced but you assume it to be true (e.g., most developers can't understand HigherOrderFunctions) and use that assumed truth to argue vociferously against facilities we find useful, like HigherOrderFunctions.

It's a two-way street. The default of "Can typical users grok X?" is "unknown" (null), not Yes or No. Neither side has any evidence to point the needle away from "unknown" except for anecdotes about personal observation and experience. You don't have an OfficialCertifiedDoubleBlindPeerReviewedPublishedStudy and I don't have an OfficialCertifiedDoubleBlindPeerReviewedPublishedStudy. A symmetric AnecdoteImpasse. You can't seem to come to grips with that, seemingly thinking your anecdotes are beatified.

Nor have I seen any decent code demonstrations that HOF's significantly help out (simplify etc.) the kind of software I work on. LetTheReaderDecide if your existing examples sing to their own world (SummaryOfHofExamples). Let it be. If it fits it fits, if not, readers can vote with their eyes to go somewhere else on the web. You spend too much text on speculation about what is a typical reader/user/developer that is not based on solid evidence either way.

Indeed, you've frequently argued that HOFs won't significantly help the kind of software you work on. That's fine. They significantly help the kind of software I work on, as exemplified by HofPattern.

Good. I'm glad they help you.

See: IsTopTheNewRichardKulisz, PatternsOfClaimsAgainstTop


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