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Dear community or my response to Dear JavaScript

I decided to write this blog after reading the post “Dear JavaScript” by James Kyle. In short, James write about how the anger and negativity in some posts/comments hurt people who work tirelessly developing open source software. I’d like to take this discussion a step higher and talk about online communities in general and growing the thick skin.

I do understand James’ feelings first hand. Been there. Produced a lot of free content online. Wrote more than a 1000 blogs in English. Recorded 500 audio podcasts in Russian . Published multiple free video trainings watched by hundreds of thousands people. In short, I’ve produced a lot of content. Some of it was of great quality IMHO, and some of it could be better.

At least I tried.

But no matter what content you produce, as long as it’s consumed by a dozen people expect getting some criticism, which, for the most part will be constructive, because these people belong to your close circle. But as the number of consumers grows, you’ll start getting angry or even hateful feedbacks. With thousands of consumers, expect direct insults.

Haters gonna hate.

It took me a while to stop paying attention to negative feedback as long as I believed that I did a good job. You can’t be loved by everyone. Let’s take my Intro to Java video. It was watched by more than a 100,000 people, got 1,000 likes and 18 dislikes. This tells me that I did a great job. Should I worry about 18 dislikes. Not a bit. Not everyone has to like my content, style, voice, or the shape of my nose. Vast majority of comments are positive and thankful except this one(I translate it from Russian): “This is almost the most stupid and disgusting presenter I’ve ever seen.” This comment put a smile on my face. I took me a while to grow thick skin, but if the majority of people approve your work, I’ll continue doing what I enjoy.

I’m following a very interesting person on Instagram. Her name is Nika. She travels the world, posts beautiful photos, and writes excellent notes (in Russian) to her posts. You can’t even imagine how many hateful comments she gets. Originally this photo  was taken by her teenage son Gregory, who created his own site. Here’s an abridged translation of their dialog:

– Mom, could you add a link to my Web site. I can go public already, can’t I?
– Sure you can, but first let me show you something. Here’s the collection of comments written about your mom (90% were written by women). These are their faces, and they will inevitably come to your site to watch you.
After reading silently for about five minutes Gregory’s face became pale, and he asked:
– Mom, why are they doing this? What’s wrong with them? Why do they hate you so much?
– Greg, this is not hatred. They tell us about themselves and their fears. I personally have nothing to do with this. They don’t care who to write about. I’m their mirror and it’s very painful for them to look into this mirror. Fear=pain=hatred. Are you ready? Are you sure you won’t get upset?
– Mom, don’t publish the link to my site.

Then Nika concludes. This may be not very pedagogical, but he’s a big boy now. Let him know the difference between “for what” and “why”.

In the past, most Internet users were consumers of some published content. Now anyone can easily produce and self-publish any content. Moreover, with the advances of blogging platforms, CSS, and typography no matter what you publish will look as a professionally produced article (regardless of its content). Yes, I’m talking about medium.com. Who cares that every blog on medium looks the same? They look better than the online edition of the New York Times.

Unfortunately, many social networks are poisoned by angry, destructive comments that may hurt good people like James Kyle. The only social network that stands out as a friendly place for everyone is StackOverflow. After earning the 2000 reputation you are allowed to edit posts of other users. Maybe that’s one of the reasons people love going to StackOverflow. No negativity there

So dear Internet community, be f@@king polite to other people. Respect the work done for you by others. Especially, if they did it for free. If you don’t like some content, suggest improvements. Don’t expose your black souls. Peace.


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More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay. He wrote a thousand blogs (http://yakovfain.com) and several books about software development. Yakov authored and co-authored such books as "Angular 2 Development with TypeScript", "Java 24-Hour Trainer", and "Enterprise Web Development". His Twitter tag is @yfain

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