Attention Aspiring SharePoint Bloggers: Shut Up!

Let me make this clear right from the start. If you are a SharePoint person looking to join the awesome SharePoint blogging community, chances are you’ll fall into every single pitfall there is. So, before you head over to WordPress.com and sign up for a new ‘Everything there is to know about SharePoint’ blog, shut up for a second and listen. In fact, you should probably shut up for a long time and, in some cases, perhaps it is better if you shut up forever.

That said, if you heed the warnings herein, approach blogging as something incredibly valuable, and you are prepared to put the sometimes insane effort that you need to produce good value content, then I welcome you and greet you with all my warmest feelings. You’ll be a very valuable community member and we will learn from you every time you post.

Now, let’s look at those pitfalls.

Think About Your Reputation

I’ve been writing for a while and more or less made it my life’s main professional purpose. I love writing, I love the feedback that you and the other members of the community provide.

I’m not that keen on reading. In fact, I actually read slower than I write. When I sit down with a book, it can take me a couple of hours to get through four or five pages of content, even for low concentration stuff like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. On the other hand, I can easily write four or five pages of content within an hour, and that includes at least basic self-editing and proof reading.

This is why I’m extremely cautious about what I read. When I start reading someone’s blog, I usually spend a good amount of time checking what that person writes, especially stuff related to technical content. If what you write isn’t correct, you’ll have a hard time convincing me that the other stuff you post is better.

This is just me, though, and although the world does revolve around me, I appreciate the fact that not everyone shares my perfection. I am quite confident, however, that if people are continuously exposed to rubbish, they stop trusting the source of that rubbish.

So, keep this in mind when you write: What you write is stamped on your forehead, forever. Are you absolutely certain that what you write is your best effort? If not, why are you posting it? Perhaps you should wait or do more research, test your solution a couple more times.

Yeah, that takes time. Welcome to blogging.

All Content Isn’t Valuable

Did you know that SharePoint Designer is free? Or that SharePoint 2010 is now available on MSDN? Or that Steve Ballmer has retired as CEO of Microsoft? Well, those kinds of updates will likely be thoroughly distributed through other channels. Nobody needs to read that on 50 blogs and you are not adding any value to the community or your blog by reposting what everyone already knows.

I saw this a lot just after said launch of SharePoint 2010. The situation was a bit special because the entire MVP community was under NDA and couldn’t say squat about SP2010 until a certain date. On that date, everyone had a spontaneous oral diarrhea and just had to post exactly the same information. I’m not saying the information was wrong or bad, just that I got a bit tired reading yet another ‘great new features of SP2010’ post on October 20, 2009.

On the other hand, if you can offer additional insight to those items of news, such as opinions, additional resources, background information, heck, even just a good list of related information, then don’t wait for another second and just start typing right now.

Before you post, ask yourself: Would I be thrilled to learn what you just wrote? Are you providing value to the community and to your blog that hasn’t already been added? If not, why not either skip that “woohoo, I read something that I also want to have written” post or do some additional research to find valuable and unique approaches to a story.

Yeah, that takes time. Welcome to blogging.

Some Content Pollutes

Do you know how to store custom properties in SharePoint custom field types? Neither does 90% of the people blogging about this niche topic. It is very complex, so it’s not strange, but still, there’s an inherent problem that comes from inaccurate or incomplete information.

If you write about something you think is right, think again. I’m not saying you are wrong, but read it again, and you may discover inaccuracies or ambiguous content. A helpful exercise is to ask yourself “in what situations is what I write not correct” and then try to either address or mention those exceptions.

You see, if 10 people write about a topic and three of them are technically wrong, then 30% of random googlers will find the wrong information. It’s not just your reputation that is affected by this, but also that unfortunate reader who may think your content is correct and implement that. The end result may be disastrous or just an inconvenience, but regardless, the content space is now polluted with erroneous information.

I’ve made those mistakes myself. Fortunately, I am blessed with several hundred regular readers who are quick to point out my errors, such as when I used a particular example from reflected SharePoint assemblies to show bad code in SharePoint. I’m not relying on blog readers to correct my mistakes, and in this case, I hadn’t done my mandatory research. And yes, there have been other cases too.

Before you post, you should make sure that what you write is properly researched.

Yeah, that takes time. Welcome to blogging.

Give Proper Credit!

It’s a community after all. Most bloggers never make even close to enough money to make up for the time they’re investing in providing content. The fact that most bloggers keep blogging is evidence that money isn’t the motivating factor.

If you find something very valuable and use that in your own content, whether that is technical information or just information, mention those sources. For example, this blog post was partially inspired by Christian Buckley’s post on EndUserSharepoint.com called “The SharePoint Community Needs More Content: How You Can Get Involved”, a post with which I only partially agree, plus Daniel Antion’s post On Reading Blogs.

Suddenly, your content becomes part of a conversation with these people. Your readers will also appreciate the opportunity to learn from the same sources you do. And, if nothing else, it’s good for karma; perhaps those bloggers will link back to you and drive their readers to your blog as well.

Before you post your next post, think about this: If I took what you wrote and posted it on my blog, as my own content, would you be happy? If not, why not just add a link back to the original source and mention that you got inspiration from that post or that you took parts of your content from that source.

And no, that doesn’t take time, but welcome to blogging anyway.

.b

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This post was written by who has written 415 posts on Furuknap's SharePoint Corner.

I do SharePoint. When I'm not doing SharePoint, I sleep, and then I dream about SharePoint. Oh, and I dabble a bit in cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Litecoin, etc)

40 Responses to “Attention Aspiring SharePoint Bloggers: Shut Up!”

  1. Dave Coleman November 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    Good advice Bjorn i agree wholeheartedly with your post i know from painful experience from writing huge blog posts how it can be hard work but also how forefilling it is as well.

    And after my recent stolen blog post (Which i freely admit) i did over react but so annoying.

    Good post and hopefully more will chip in with there own opinions.

    Dave

    • Bjørn Furuknap
      Twitter: furuknap
      November 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm #

      Dave,

      Thanks for your comment. Although I don’t encourage stealing, keep in mind that some forms of stealing is a compliment to its author. I’ve had entire articles stolen only to be put on high-profile companies’ web pages as their own content, and although it doesn’t give me squat, at least I know they found it so good they wanted to become thiefs to get it :-)

      .b

      • Dave Coleman November 27, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

        Yes i think i realised that after, i have found some more of my articles scattered round the internet as well, So i have learned to relax about the whole thing :-)

        Dave

  2. Mark J Owen November 27, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    Bjorn

    I agree with you, but at the same time I disagree with you (especially the bit about shutting up).

    There are a lot of people (like myself) who have a blog merely as a way of “gathering their thoughts”. For me I find that writing a post about something actually forces me to think about it. Because I was going to publish something I really had to think about it.

    You could say that “in that case, why publish?”. Well my goal is not that someone WILL read it (in fact, I couldn’t care less if no-one did), but knowing that it “might” be seen by someone really made me think more about it.

    Another blogger (who is well known in the Documentum/SP2010 world – Andrew Chapman) also told me once that he could ponder about things while he is in the shower, but in writing a post for his blog is what crystallises those ponderings and results in something much better.

    Also, there are multiple people who have advised others to blog about their learning experiences (particularly in a new technology) by blogging about it. In fact this is the advice that I read from a Linked In discussion that was held in one of the SharePoint groups earlier this year.

    So – I think you’re advice about shutting up is a bit too strong. People should be allowed to blog/post what they want. (In fact, that’s the whole point of the internet.) Actually the person reading the post has to be smarter. If there are 100 posts of exactly the same thing, surely it up to the reader to judge whether they want to read all 100 posts.

    Along with this, is the important fact that readers need to be aware that everything they read on the internet needs to be read with a critical eye. Just because someone writes a blog, it does not mean that they are an expert.

    I do agree with you, however, on your comments about giving credit where appropriate. I am a strong believer of this. Giving appropriate recognition of other peoples work does not detract from what someone has written. Not giving credit, does.

    Mark J Owen
    blog: markjowen.wordpress.com
    twitter: @markjowen

    • Bjørn Furuknap
      Twitter: furuknap
      November 27, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

      Mark,

      Thanks for you comments. I’d rather someone shut up than burn themselves by posting material that will taint their reputation, pollute the community, and likely discourage them from blogging again.

      When I see comments like the one Daniel pointed out (from a commenter to a blogger), I am struck with awe at the people who still keep blogging, despite being ridiculed, harassed, and hung out to dry by fellow commenters (often anonymous). That may not be the best way to start a blogging career; to be flogged for posting, well, less than good content.

      From my own perspective, I am sick and tired of reading the same crap over and over again, especially when it’s wrong and has been refuted. That tells me that the author doesn’t want to do basic research prior to posting and that tells me that the content is likely rubbish. I’ve plonked many super-famous and unknown bloggers over the last couple of years, simply because they don’t add value or even worse, take value away. I don’t care, I’m not bothered by them for more than a blog post or two, but they may care that they’re perceived, secretly or openly, as polluters and unskilled labour.

      Of course, if you use blogging as a way to force yourself into deeper research than you’ve already heeded the advice, but thinking extra carefully what you put out there.

      By the way, if people can’t take being told to shut up, they certainly can’t take the heat they’ll experience from comments on public blogs. In this case, at least, I tell them how to rectify the situation, whereas most hate-commenters simply express anger (and no, my mother is still not a goat).

      .b

  3. Stuart Pegg
    Twitter: stuartpegg
    November 27, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    Thanks for the tips. I’m only just starting out in the world of blogging (and indeed SharePoint) and the above advice will certainly be useful.

    The problem of high-quantity low-quality information is obviously not uncommon with the Internet. The counterbalance (I believe) is a consolidated source of verified information. Either a well researched blog as you mention, or perhaps a community of peer-reviewing experts?

    Examples of the latter might be Wikipedia, and indeed SharePoint Overflow.

    • Bjørn Furuknap
      Twitter: furuknap
      November 28, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

      Stuart,

      Welcome to blogging, although I know you’re not completely fresh on the scene :-)

      Maintaining a community driven and verified source of information requires massive amounts of effort. If Wikipedia could be such a source, we’d need a much higher mass of participants. Even then, Wikipedia could never replace the blogging content by a long shot, especially considering SharePoint’s adaptive nature.

      The problem with maintaining any verified source is that the editorial resources aren’t available. Site such as EndUserSharePoint.com offers great value to the community, but the content isn’t maintained and the business model doesn’t allow for dedicated full-time editors with the technical skill to ensure the correctness of the information, not to mention the cost of reviewing the information on a regular basis to ensure that old information is updated to reflect changes in service packs or hotfixes.

      Even if such a site would surface, the problem with getting skilled editors with domain knowledge is that SharePoint resources are so scarce that the candidates for editorial roles likely have extremely well paid offers for consulting or regular jobs available. To have an editorial team and platform available to gather, edit, and publish content is extremely expensive. I know because I’m putting together that team for the relaunch of SharePointMagazine.net right now.

      Authors is an even greater challenge. Writing takes a lot of time, and when competing with consulting rates of $200 per hour or even higher, skilled authors need to sacrifice a lot of money to contribute to the community. Most do, to some extent, but the long-term contributors are few and far between. People such as Joel Oleson, Dux, Mark Miller, Marc D. Anderson, Jim Bob Howard, and a range of others are spending thousands of dollars in lost revenue each year to provide the incredible value they do to the community.

      These people put properly researched and highly valuable content to the community. Some manage to get a few hundred dollars each month or perhaps more in ad revenue, thanks to services like SharePointAds.com, but most never get anything close to what they add in return.

      Now, with thousands of bloggers wanting a piece of what they perceive is fame, money, and glory, it becomes exceedingly difficult to find those good bloggers, even for the skilled people who know the difference between a template and a definition. This makes it that much more difficult for new members of the community to locate the brilliant content and close to impossible for new bloggers to differentiate themselves from the pack.

      My advice in this article then is intended to tell new bloggers that this isn’t a field of gold and honey; if you want to aspire to something other than harddisk filling, you need to put in the effort, focus on delivering real value, and don’t for a second think you’ll be filthy rich or even make up for the time you spend from blogging.

      .b

      • Stuart Pegg
        Twitter: stuartpegg
        March 7, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

        In which case, perhaps we’re looking at two counterparts to the same problem. To use an analogy (because I love them); detailed and informative blogs are like city guide books, whereas expert answer sites are more like restaurant review columns.

        A guide book needs a team of expert editors and writer-researchers to create and update the large and comprehensive set of information. Whereas a restaurant review needs just one writer-eater to cheaply give a pin-point view of a specific point in a city, with little expectation that it will still be accurate next year.

        But to get to my ulterior motive; I’ve written some more gunge to clog up the blogging world, in order to get a little more momentum behind the SharePoint Overflow migration:
        http://blog.pentalogic.net/2011/03/your-sharepoint-community-needs-you/

        It may be interest to anyone who needs a pin-point SharePoint answer now and again. Please feel free to edit out the shameless plug if you wish to publish this comment. :)

  4. Veronique Palmer November 28, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    I don’t agree either.

    I think your post is very harsh. Blogging is terrifying for most people at any given time, especially new bloggers. New bloggers are all too aware of the level of expertise available out there, and are struck into silence and terror at the thought of having to write anything, say the wrong thing, or made to look like a fool. I can’t tell you how many people talk to me about this very thing. They know!

    Where’s the encouragement instead? There’s a lot of stick in your post. Your post is going to put people off posting for life. And I’m thinking of 2 people specifically in my world right now that are trying to get their blogs going that have plenty to offer the community in the long run. If they read this post, they will never write a thing. I hope to Heaven they don’t stumble across it. If I was new to blogging, this post would have put me off for life.

    You make it sound like it’s just new bloggers that post rubbish. I’ve seen very established bloggers do exactly the same thing and continue to do so. I just have enough experience now to tell the difference, but it’s taken years and was something that I had to learn on my own – as will everyone else.

    With the amount of information out there, it’s becoming harder and harder to find the right information. A Google search of SharePoint returns 14 500 000 hits. How are inexperienced SharePointers supposed to find anything and then know that what they’ve found is right? Likewise for the potential bloggers? There are usually 5 different ways of achieving results in SharePoint, who’s to say which one is the correct way? Every implementation is unique and hence every blogger can offer a unique perspective to address those scenarios.

    To tell potential bloggers to shut up is not very kind nor fair. There is such a skills shortage globally in SharePoint, posts like this will discourage people from getting into this field, something we can ill afford. Everybody has to start somewhere – shouldn’t “specialists” be offering encouragement and advice, and guiding them gently when they make a mistake instead of beating them down like this?

    IMHO

    • Bjørn Furuknap
      Twitter: furuknap
      November 28, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

      Veronique,

      Thanks for your valuable contribution to the debate.

      You actually make my point even clearer: with 14 million results available for SharePoint, we don’t need more content, we need better content. Adding more content will only serve to confuse inexperienced SharePointers, especially when a lot of the content that ends up high in the search rankings isn’t even right, technically, or even good practice.

      Contrary to what it may seem, there are established best practices for delivering value from a solution development perspective. Unit testing, for example, is generally accepted to be a good thing, although I personally don’t think it’s that valuable in SharePoint development. Agile development methods are usually favored before waterfalls. So, there are ways of determining whether something is right or wrong, what is good practice and what is bad.

      I have no idea if the two people would add value in the long run. However, if they are discouraged from writing because someone reminds them that what they write indeed will stick with them for the rest of their lives, and that they should focus on quality rather than quantity, and that they should make sure what they write is properly researched, then perhaps that’s a good thing, both for them and for the community. A public blog is a brutal place, especially for low-quality content, so by shutting up and thinking twice or more about what they post, they at least have a better chance of not being completely trashed when they first pop their heads up.

      There are, indeed, usually five or more ways of accomplishing something in SharePoint. Heck, it’s even three tiers of development, each one offering unique benefits and disadvantages.

      Here’s an example: Simply saying that “here’s how you create site templates” doesn’t address the disadvantages of this method and provides little value above what you can already find on TechNet or MSDN. Instead, an article discussing the benefits and drawbacks of utilizing templates versus definitions, for example, would allow the reader to determine which method makes sense, not just give them yet another copy of the step-by-step guides that exist elsewhere.

      Veronique, I’m not here to be kind. I sincerely hope I discourage some people from adding more rubbish content as opposed to adding quality. If the price I have to pay for better content is to be called unkind, then I would put that title on my business card.

      .b

  5. Matthew Hughes November 28, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    Bjørn,

    I am not sure if I agree fully with this, I think some people, myself included, are on a learning journey and along the way you come across some bad information or a way that may not be “best practice” but it works for you.

    If it’s not the “best practice” way or indeed the “correct” way does that mean you shouldn’t blog it because others may pick you up on it?

    I am in the middle of a branding series on my blog and I would very much appreciated people to say, “Matt, what your doing here is so wrong, try it this way”.

    It’s not through lack of research, I feel, certainly in the branding world, its through lack of published information.

    I do, however, agree with the comment about the same information being republished, you try and find some information on many of the cmdlets for SharePoint and you will see hundreds of posts that just list all of them which I could have seen on technet.

    Thanks

    Matthew Hughes
    weknownothing.co.uk

    • Bjørn Furuknap
      Twitter: furuknap
      November 28, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

      Matthew,

      Thanks for your comments,

      I think that if ten people have blogged something, there’s absolutely no reason why you should blog the same. So yes, I mean that if you are not adding value, you should shut up.

      I can promise you, however, that after a while, the “Matt, here’s how to improve” will be augumented by “Damn, fool, you suck and your mother is a goat” and “Tried it, didn’t work, you suck” from anonymous or even sometimes named users. Those that already know enough about a topic to give you constructive feedback have little or no incentive to read your article, so the people who read will largely be people who have little or no idea about what you blog. They’ll try what you say, perhaps it will solve their problems and they’ll love you for it, or they may hate your guts for not solving their problems.

      These aren’t the people you know or even hear about. The online SharePoint community consists of a few thousand people. Every month, according to Google Adwords right now, there are over 10,000 searches for SharePoint branding. Over the past six months then, over 60,000 people have searched and tried to find info on SharePoint branding. I’d bet over 90% of them are completely anonymous and never post any comments at all, and if they do, they likely do so anonymously. You’ll have one shot at impressing these people, or you’ll never see them or hear from them again.

      If the content on branding is lacking, which it may or may not be, then you should certainly add content to that space if you have something to contribute. The only way to figure that out is to research. What’s been written already? What is missing from the content space? Now you have your topic. If the topic has already been covered, what do you know that adds value to that topic?

      Assume that readers are capable of researching on their own as well and they will likely find whatever you can find. So, rather than repost what is already there, add something new, interesting, funny, or otherwise valuable. If you think what has already been posted is rubbish, improve it and explain why you think it is rubbish.

      So, if the branding space is lacking, go for it! The community may certainly benefit from more quality content. If you think the PowerShell cmdlets content is lacking, heck, I’d hire you to write articles on that any day.

      .b

  6. Bil Simser
    Twitter: bsimser
    November 28, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    It’s a difficult balance to achive when blogging about any subject (SharePoint or otherwise). I do find a *lot* of content on SharePoint to be rehashing of boring useless crap. There are posts that are regurgitations of the MSDN documentation or many posts that are just “Look what I did, I installed SharePoint”. Nothing to see here, move along.

    I think the message to potential bloggers is to blog with passion. Write about something you have passion about (whether it’s glorious admiration or dignified frustration) and try to enlighten. Let people know about problems you’re having and some solutions you’ve found. Write about the good, bad, and uglly of SharePoint as we know there is a lot of each. Above all, write to help and tell people about something that’s value-add to their day. Don’t rehash stuff that has little value.

    It’s hard to find that spot and I don’t believe people get it right off the bat (well, very few). It takes time and you make mistakes. Pick yourself up, dust off, and move on. The next post will be that much better. Listen to the comments and respond and react to them. If someone calls you out on a technical gufaw then prove yourself or correct the error. I think the biggest mistake bloggers can do is ignore comments and suggestions from people and just keep writing.

    Blogging is a personal thing and you’re sharing your thoughts and feelings with the world. Be prepared to take the critisism. Its how you deal with it that defines your online presence.

    Good points and many great ideas here that new bloggers should follow. While I may not have the best tact when it comes to reacting to people, I don’t agree that telling people to shut up is the most positive way to say what you’re saying but that’s your style of writing. Everyone has one and no style is right or wrong. It’s your point of view and way you express yourself. Not everyone agrees with it and if they don’t like it, there’s always the back button they can hit.

    • Bjørn Furuknap
      Twitter: furuknap
      November 28, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

      Bil,

      You know I write to provoke reactions and piss people off enough to speak up. Not everyone knows that, though, so thanks for pointing that out.

      Being smashed, sometimes by entire communities, is part of blogging. After a while, you grow a tough skin, but that road is paved with broken egos and bloated expectations. Those that survive do so because of persistence and an ability to react as you say. A bit of preparation goes a long way to avoiding the most crushing comments and tained reputations.

      .b

  7. Matt Bramer
    Twitter: iOnline247
    November 28, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    Bjorn,
    Telling people to shutup is a bit harsh, but I am tired of reading about the same information from one blog to the next.

    What are your thoughts on new SharePointers that follow only a few SharePoint blogs. Shouldn’t they be entitled to hear about the latest doo-hickey related to SharePoint or the latest cumulative update that breaks the User Profile Service?

    • Bjørn Furuknap
      Twitter: furuknap
      November 28, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

      Matt,

      If you follow only a few blogs, then you’ll get only part of the information. If people rely on a small number of blogs as their news service, perhaps their environment should fail to thin out the ranks a bit :-)

      .b

      • Matt Bramer
        Twitter: iOnline247
        November 28, 2010 at 6:30 pm #

        I agree with getting part of the information… Out of 14 mil+ hits, I really only need part of it. I’ve found it’s easiest to RSS feed a select few into Outlook and occasionally view an obscure blog every so often. The first one is the actual Microsoft SharePoint blog. They post all of those ramblings that are on other blogs. But that’s me… It took me a long time to get to where I’m at and I know as a beginner, I wasn’t that keen on my sources.

        I definitely do not like the regurgitation of the same blah, blah info, but I also do understand why some people do it. My blog is my personal reference to my previous work. I can find those oddball KB’s a whole lot easier on my blog than scouring the net. Not saying it’s great and should be done, but I can understand the need.

  8. Chris Beckett November 28, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    While there is a fair consideration to suggesting that if people are going to publish technical content on the Internet, try to make sure it is accurate, the core of this blog post seems to be the lamenting of the *loss of the expert* on the web. This certainly isn’t the first post suggesting that the chorus is drowning out the solo.

    The economics of retaining qualified technical authors and editors is no different than the conversations dominating the boardrooms and staff rooms of today’s leading newspapers, magazines, and any other publishing organizations. In the age of Info-glut, generalized knowledge that flows in a single direction, competent or otherwise has become a somewhat cheap commodity. People and businesses need experts to help them solve their specific problems, within their context, on their schedule.

    As someone who specializes in Enterprise Content Management and Information Architecture, I consider the issue of associating author reputation or qualification to information to be one of the premier challenges to the global Information and Knowledge Management community.Don’t expect a solution any time soon. Until something better emerges, the hard work of raising (and keeping) your voice above the masses, earning your following, and figuring out how to pay your bills from the effort will be a constant struggle.

    The Internet has given everyone a voice, in so many ways for the better, but often for worse. The saying goes “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. You are standing on a stool in a huge room where millions of people are engaged in thousands of conversations and trying to tell people to “shut up”. While your points may be well-intentioned, and from at least one perspective entirely valid, it is also somewhat absurd. Good luck with that :0

    • Chris O October 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

      Wow – great insights.

  9. Ruven Gotz November 28, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    Lots of good discussion on both sides. I have two small points to add:

    1) Search engines ‘vote up’ posts based on popularity (links). This is not a foolproof solution to guarantee correctness. But, in general, in the “huge room with millions of people talking”, those with more authority (via skill, quality, value) *tend* to be the most likely to be heard.

    2) When searching for a solution, I may not think of phrasing my search using the same words as the most popular bloggers, and therefore I don’t find what I’m looking for. The ‘extra/wasted/repetitious/useless’ post is the one I find because of how I search and the words they use. (No fair to blame me for poor search skills, so ‘shut-up’ if you’re tempted to do that!)

    • Bjørn Furuknap
      Twitter: furuknap
      November 30, 2010 at 1:28 am #

      Ruven,

      I am certainly aware of Google’s intentions. What the Bing people thinks, I have no idea.

      In fact, although I’ve recently lost virtually all my love from Google due to moving the blog to a new domain, at times I’ve been able to dominate high traffic search terms such as workflow, sharepoint development, and, and after that stunt last year, the term “SharePoint sucks”.

      However, there are serious flaws with that logic, considering most searchers won’t be able to judge quality of a solution, as you mention, and many are far too impatient to judge. I get fairly accurate tracks of what users do on my site, and I’m surprised at how articles of 2,500 words or more can be read in 30 seconds before someone comments or asks questions.

      Then, of course, is that fact that many popular bloggers get links and mentions just because they are popular, not because what they say makes any sense or is technically correct. Add to that the confusion you also mention about using the ‘correct’ search terms, and the chances of actually finding good content is very low.

      .b

  10. Kerri November 28, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

    Bjorn, I personally find your point of view refreshing mainly because I don’t have much taste for sugar-coated opinions. To be honest, I don’t read many blogs at all. I do read yours regularly because I find your personality amusing but I don’t typically read others because I don’t have the time and hardly any of them apply to my skill level. I’m that dreaded end-user, who in all likelihood has nothing of interest to say that you would ever care to read. Lucky for you, most of us are silent. Too bad I can’t follow the crowd.

    So while I have your limited attention…I’m going to tell you what I would like: I want more people to submit well-researched articles to sites like NothingButSharepoint/EUSP. I want my information in one place. Have a blog if you must, but don’t expect me to read it. If you have written something fantastic that would really benefit the community, publish it to Nothing But Sharepoint. The community can act as editor, they typically do. Creativity is a huge element in Sharepoint, which I think is what drives the passion behind the platform. Share the creativity, but make sure your point of view is unique. The audience response will tell you if they want to hear more.

  11. Fernando November 29, 2010 at 1:40 am #

    Good Sir
    While your stirring the pot is commendable and welcomed, your point of view goes against everything that blogging and the internet stands for.
    Now, I am no expert blogger, but it sounds like you are. Not only that, you seem to make a good living at it, which would explain why you posted what you did. Why do you need 14 million posts out there competing with the 1 that brings bread to your table?
    It is commendable that you offer would be bloggers advice on what and how to post, but honestly, who are you to tell anyone this? While it is your opinion, it does indeed seem you go on quite the condescending soap box on this one and I for one did not like it.
    The very success of sharepoint is due to its community of bloggers. Have you read the material that’s out there? I don’t care how regurgitated you think it is, but some bloggers do put a nice spin on said regurgitation and make it somewhat more digestible. I don’t know about you but the msdn articles are about exciting as a 21 inning baseball game. SNORE….SNORE….oh wait, sorry about that, i was reading about managed metadata and governance and dosed off.
    If I find a solution that does not work, i kindly ask the poster if he had the same results, if he is wrong, then i tell him he is wrong, but in the end we all help each other. Rather than telling everyone to shut up, why not try to help correct them instead. I am sure you will get better results that way.

    Sincerely
    Fernando

    • Bjørn Furuknap
      Twitter: furuknap
      November 30, 2010 at 1:38 am #

      Fernando,

      Extremely few people make anything from blogging. Of those, a fraction makes a living, and of those again, a fraction becomes rich. I’m not part of any of those groups, I’m afraid. If I was in this game for money, I wouldn’t ‘waste’ hours writing when I can usually snap my fingers and get a month of work at $200 per hour. That applies to many of the bloggers that consistently produce quality content due to the extreme shortage of skilled SharePoint labor.

      So no, money is not a motivational factor for me. Never was, and never will be.

      You approach to interacting with bloggers is commendable, but I’m also afraid you are part of a very small group that has this behavior. Of the several hundred people who have read this article, for example, only a handful have commented anything, and this is an article that certainly has gotten a lot of comments. For technical articles, the ratio of comments to views is negligible.

      .b

  12. Stephen November 30, 2010 at 12:46 am #

    The internet is big enough for everyone. Most people, especially those that are working in a technical field, should know better than to blindly try something they read on a blog somewhere.

    Being someone that follows hundreds of SharePoint blogs I would argue that reposting is a form of aggregation and that what the SharePoint community needs as opposed to fewer bloggers is better and more aggregators. If I see something in my feed several times I know it is likely worth a closer look. Quality content, like the cream, rises to the top.

    • Stephen November 30, 2010 at 1:08 am #

      Though I do agree with a number of things you have said. Especially the things you have said about posting sources. Even beyond giving credit where it is due I would like to see more people post sources for original content. Let me know where you got the information from. Make it easy for me to verify. But then I’d like to see sources for everything, especially in PowerPoint presentations and computer books.

      Also while we are throwing around criticism.. SharePoint bloggers, please, please, please, date your posts. Display the date prominently and proudly. Also please let people know what version of everything you are using, what version of SharePoint, SQL, and server at the very least.

    • Bjørn Furuknap
      Twitter: furuknap
      November 30, 2010 at 1:52 am #

      Stephen,

      I’m not suggesting we need fewer bloggers. Quite the contrary, I want to have more bloggers, and thus give advice on how they should best approach that task in order to benefit both the community and themselves. If you think my wording is too strong, I’d invite you to review my ‘rejected comments’ list.

      Actually, I usually delete those comments, so it’s mostly empty, but you get my point, I presume.

      The SharePoint space doesn’t benefit from having another thousand people join, just to reiterate the same content over and over. On the other hand, as Matthew suggested, we may need one or two good branding blogs. Or fifty or a hundred if that’s what it takes to get the quality content out there. I wouldn’t know, I’m not following that particular space.

      I absolutely agree that we need better aggregators. Twitter works great for me, when a particular tweet about something is retweeted enough, it’s usually a good idea to take a look. It’s not noise, though, and it disappears after at most a day.

      .b

  13. Tony Rockwell
    Twitter: sharepoinTony
    December 2, 2010 at 5:25 am #

    I try to shut up and listen, but sometimes I find funny thoughts floating in my head after reading some blog…and then I have to make a silly comment.

    I think you have hit upon some good points and it should be viewed as an aide to new bloggers. Why promote poor content in blogging? Although everyone cannot spend massive hours researching every aspect of their content, they can try to get the facts correct and post THEIR experience, which can be of use to others.

    Thanks for enlightening the community with thought provoking commentary.

  14. Peter December 2, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    I do not like the tone of your writings at all.

    Who are you to give this kind of judgement and advice to people? You could start with looking at your own blog posts. For example the one on securing SharePoint sites. Ok, you tell the world how to find certain _layouts pages. For a developer this is common sense. The part where it gets interesting – what you can do about it – and other security aspects that can be an issue in a public facing scenario you do not discuss. I would classify this information as almost without value. At the end you point out that it is important to beat your developers. So much for the good tone in your posts. So, from what I have read on your blog you seem to provide no information and do this with with an offensive tone. Start with yourself.

    Kr., Peter.

    • Bjørn Furuknap
      Twitter: furuknap
      December 16, 2010 at 9:00 am #

      Peter,

      I’m sure you’re angry that I didn’t explain every detail of every vulnerability in SharePoint in that post. If you read it, however, you’d see that it was not targeted at developers nor that particular weakness I mentioned.

      In fact, if I recall correctly, I explicitly mentioned that it wasn’t as easy as giving a step-by-step guide, because every scenario and requirement are different.

      If you are a developer, you know that you can easily build a delegate control to manage access, but if your users want more control over permissions, that may cause a problem and thus isn’t a solution in that case. On the other hand, if you follow the official Microsoft recommendations, you can block the particular weakness I mentioned very easy, but then you’d lack the control you’d get from a web-based permission management. Finally, neither solutions will work in a shared hosting environment, so you’d need different advice for that.

      My advice, as summarized at the end of the post, was to make sure you thought well and carefully about how you handled security and don’t expect anything to fit your needs out-of-the-box, least of all from a security perspective.

      My advice to you is to realize that not every post I write is written to target your particular needs or desires. I can’t be responsible for whether you perceive value or not.

      .b

    • Henry March 9, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

      Peter,

      I’ll have to backup Bjorn’s in-depth coverage. His book “Building the SharePoint User Experience” is my goto/worn-out/always on my desk resource for developing SharePoint solutions because he has dug under the covers and explained things that I just couldn’t find elsewhere. My perspective is that he really does spend an inordinate amount of time so we don’t have to.

      That being said, Bjorn … having “Shut Up” in the headline … it’s typical of your writing style, but it can be easily misinterpreted. Did you really want this to be your most popular post?.

  15. Bjørn Furuknap
    Twitter: furuknap
    May 22, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    I’m still surprised at the amount of hate this post generates, but I guess it affects mostly the people who should be offended and even those that would get the most benefit from heeding the advice.

    Just today, a reader wrote an email saying essentially that “I do whatever I want and you are not going to deter me from writing anything I like, including taking other people’s content and posting as my own”.

    OK, they didn’t write exactly that, but the end result was pretty much the same.

    Look, idiots, this email isn’t about your lack of freedom to do anything you want. Heck, I’m a Thelemite, I’d die before refusing you your right to do your will, but please use the space between your ears for something more than getting stereo sound.

    .b

  16. Rene Katerberg July 11, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    I don’t see you mention anywhere that perhaps some people blog to learn something for themselves and what others learn from their blog is an extra. I have a blog about SharePoint myself and I don’t pretend it is all new what’s on there, it is all about me learning SharePoint, from all angles, as an end user, developer and even installing SharePoint, basic stuff, all mashed up but I learn from it. If other people learn from it, like it or comment on it for me to learn from, then that’s a plus.

    On the other hand, I people don’t like it, then don’t read it, if another blog is better, by all means read that, I probably also have read it and found it to be better than mine.

    • Bjørn Furuknap
      Twitter: furuknap
      July 11, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

      Rene,

      You seem to be missing the point of this post, but for someone new to the scene, that may not be a surprise.

      Writing for the purpose of learning is great thing; I love it. In fact, the ‘big secret’ of many of my USP Journals is that I pick topics of which I know too little.

      However, when I do, I do extensive research on what’s already out there before I commit anything to paper, virtual or otherwise. There really isn’t a point in reading a fancy MSDN article, trying it out, and then just rewriting the exact same content just to convince someone you know something (least of all yourself).

      If you’re a Google learner, you’re not doing anything but picking random articles and reposting that, rewritten or otherwise, and I think most people are quite capable of doing a search themselves.

      However, because of people following this approach, the value of searching becomes less and less because there are now tons of articles posting essentially exactly the same thing.

      This is especially problematic when people aren’t doing proper research in advance and repost bad or insufficient advice they do not fully understand. Suddenly you now have ten people posting the same garbage, polluting the knowledge space. To someone starting out, there’s no way to separate the good from the bad, and bad knowledge propagates because there is just so much more of it.

      I see from your blog that you are indeed completely new to this game, and your blog posts and content seems to indicate that you are also fairly fresh to SharePoint as a whole. However, we really, really don’t need another post on “how to create a team site” in SharePoint.

      What _might_ be interesting for someone else is your experiences in learning; in other words, don’t try to ‘be an expert’ when you start out; you’re not. Be a novice and explain how you move forward. Don’t front your posts as sound advice, be honest about the fact that you really have no idea what you’re talking about.

      People connect, identify, and interact with people, not information. They interact with me because I’m a brutally honest asshole and possibly because I offer fresh insights, controversial opinions, and deep technical details requiring days if not weeks of research and work for an article.

      Tell your story, don’t try to tell facts. It’s boring, and so will you be. And especially, don’t try to offer expert advice when clearly you’re no expert.

      .b

      • Rene Katerberg July 11, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

        I do agree with the part about polluting the knowledge space, but on the other hand I think people as you say ” are smart enough to search for themselves” are also smart enough to separate crap from, a diamond in the rough.

        Because of my blog i’ve read your post and already learned another valuable lesson: even an “asshole” can offer you new insights.

        • Bjørn Furuknap
          Twitter: furuknap
          July 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

          I never said anything about being smart enough; capable yes, smart, well, that entirely depends. Even the biggest idiot may be able to search; separating crap from raisins isn’t about typing skills.

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