ODC Appreciation Day: Significance of Sharing and Feedback

Today is the Oracle Developer Community Appreciation Day. Let's pause for a while and value all the effort which people apply to contribute to the web. And while being thankful, let's discuss the importance of sharing of obtained knowledge and significance of any kind of feedback.

ODC Appreciation Day: Significance of Sharing and Feedback

Today is the Oracle Developer Community Appreciation Day of the year 2018. And despite the fact it's more than a month to the official Thanksgiving Day, I think it's a good opportunity to say thanks once again to all those people who helped us on everyday basis by contributing to the community this whole year. To people who wrote great articles in their blogs and shared their personal experience with us, to those who tried to sort out our troubles on forums and in chats, and of course to those who supported and motivated us by liking and spreading our posts and ideas in Twitter. And special thanks to the awesome Oracle APEX community which accepted me and led me to the right direction so many times this year! I hope this would always stay the same and all these people carry on making our world a bit better place to live!

And while being thankful to others, let's remember if you spread your fresh knowledge to people around you.

Significance of Sharing

Indeed, it happened that IT community is used to all that stuff available on the net and take it for granted. What does one do if they got into trouble with some piece of technology nowadays? They google it. They seek for a prepared answer in advance on their question. And in most cases they find and then use it. But what happens if they do not? Well, some 'experts' stop here and give up, but the better half tries to sort out the problem themselves. And in most cases they succeed - that's what we are paid for, after all, and then our ways part.

Unfortunately, after working out a solution for a specific issue, most developers never share their experience with anybody. Even with their immediate colleagues, not saying about global community. They forget that a little while ago they themselves were seeking for a piece of advice on the matter, they forget how useful their solution could be for others, who stuck with the same problem.

That's, of course, not true about everybody - we are lucky enough to have people with different thinking on our side. But here's my first point - it's very important to share your experience with others, especially when you already confirmed the fact that there's no information available regarding your issue. Don't think your issue is that exclusive and isn't worth discussing - this is not true in most cases.

Furthermore, by sharing your experience you do better not only for others, but for yourself in the first place. Indeed, if you look deeper at this, you realise that by composing a proper blog post on some particular topic you:

  1. Consolidate your fresh knowledge. By writing a post you put things in order in your own brain which helps you remember things better. Don't be scared by the fact you may seem incompetent - we all learn and by learning we become better. If one stops learning it doesn't mean they know everything, it only means they stop developing.
  2. Save your own notes for future you. It'll be you who will refer to them in a some while in the first place. Do you really think you'll never come across this issue again in your whole life? Will you remember what you did before to sort it out?
  3. Show others you know how things work and who you are. And this stands out you from other invisible developers, about whom we know absolutely nothing. Remember - your posts describe you better than any kind of CVs.

I really hope these reasons would motivate at least someone to compose their first post in their brand-new blog. In this case I'd say my mission was accomplished. At least they were the reasons which did the job for me.

I agree that it is time and energy consuming to write a good enough post, but the more you write the easier it is for you. And maybe we'll see more talented specialists sharing their knowledge on the web in some future.

Significance of Feedback

My second point is that even if you don't write your own posts, don't underestimate the power of feedback on those you use in your work. Your words of gratitude surely motivate authors to carry on, you criticism helps authors polish their articles to your requests. Your questions give writers ideas about such things as:

  1. How to improve a post, what information to add into it, what aspects of the subject to consider in more details.
  2. What interest their readers and about what to write in the future.
  3. What to change in their style and how to improve the language.

You even can't imagine how hard it could be for authors to realise some things which seem obvious for their readers. Sometimes it's on the surface, but is not seen for the blogger from their perspective of view, because of different life experience.

Significance of All Kinds of Feedback

Let me start with some of my recent observations about difference in russian and european mentality. It happened that I wrote exactly the same post in two languages - in russian for the local community on a very popular collaborative blogging platform and in english for the rest of the world here (and then tweeted about it). And I realized that behaviour of different communities was like they were from different worlds.

The russian version of the article got loads of immediate feedback like Why so complicated? It would be much easier if instead of A you'd use B.. or So many movements, it wasn't needed to do X at all.. and the type. And all this was said after my disclaimer that I wasn't a guru in that particular area, I was just sharing my recent experience of working with the stuff I came across for the first time in my life and people were warmly welcome to offer their, better solutions in comments. Instead of this, they only criticised without actually offering anything valuable instead, like You solution sucks and that's it. This, of course, was not true about everybody and my post got its up-votes, but what really surprised me was the fact how easily people left negative feedback and how hard it was for them even to say thanks for the job done. I mean, where's golden mean?

The situation with the english version was orthogonal - I got a lot of likes and comments like Great job, dude, carry on, but there wasn't a single suggestion on how to improve the guide. I found this fact very weird - like my guide was ideal, though I knew it was not, and it was really easy for people to praise me, whereas they didn't tend to seek for any negative aspects of the post.

Furthermore, this difference in peoples' mentality seems to affect them even more when they are given unexpected type of feedback. I mean, when somebody praises a post in a russian blog, author doesn't know how to react and often think they're just made fun of. People tend to forget what sincere gratitude look like. In the english-speaking part of the world, on the contrary, I noticed that if one gets reasonable criticism on their job, they also answer inadequately, or don't answer at all. It's as though they were insulted rather offered some really valuable information about how they could improve their post, or product.

But what frustrates me even more here is the fact how easily english-speaking community spread the word about something positive, and how lasily they do so when something unpleasant happens. I have a really good example about exploiting undocumented features of some product - people tend to praise so happily those who find such features (and they are surely useful sometimes), but if you point out the fact of lacking of documentation on them or that they shouldn't be there in the first place, this is likely to be ignored totally. Even despite the fact it is the right thing to say - this kind of feedback helps vendors find gaps in their products and docs, which, to my mind, should be spread by community very eagerly, if they want the vendor to pay attention on the problem.

Maybe I don't know how things work, and behind the curtains people take all kinds of feedback very seriously (please, leave your thoughts about this in the comments below), however it's not clear for us, the end-users, customers or readers, for whom products and content exist. We don't see any reaction on our feedback, and we don't know if we are heard. Yes, it could be unpleasant to accept you made a mistake, but it's natural to make mistakes. Bother to appreciate the fact that community pointed out them and helped you find them.

This was a long preamble to my third point which I wanted to denote in this article - the fact that all kinds of feedback are important. Positive and praising feedback gives us more energy and helps understand we're doing the right thing, whereas negative type of it helps us to improve our product and content.

I would only add that criticising in the sake of criticising is surely a bad thing which doesn't lead anywhere. If you bother to criticise, also bother to offer something in replace and motivate your point of view using strong argumentation.

To finish this article, I'd like my readers to remember one very simple fact - if each of us becomes today just a little bit better than they were the day before, we'll see our world shining very soon.

Keep Calm and Carry On

And I believe that it's there in our nature to want to be better, so, just be yourself, keep calm and carry on. And thank you very much for your attention, I hope this post would be useful for at least some of my followers! #ThanksODC!