Do You Hate Me? If Not, You Should. Oh, And You Suck!

It has come to my attention that not everyone in the world finds me lovable and agreeable. Some people have suggested I may be rude and insensitive. Heck, some people even hate me outright.

Good. Please go on. Please hate me more. In fact, here’s something to spur your hate on: your mother has a foul stench and likely lays with sheep.

Are your feelings hurt yet? Well, I don’t really care. I care only for myself and what benefits me.

“You’re a Cynical Bastard!”

Why, thank you! I’m glad you noticed.

You see, I truly don’t care about you. I care about myself and by extension those closest to me. Your usefulness ends the second you stop being useful to me, and I need you to hate me.

I don’t need you to tell me that I’m smart, handsome, well-spoken, or charismatic. It’s like telling me the sun is going to rise tomorrow. I already know what my strengths are and I have an ego that, well, really doesn’t need to grow any bigger.

What I need is to grow, to learn, and to be what I am not. Humble, for example.  Everything I am not is an opportunity missed.

I’m not looking for constructive criticism, even, I want you to attack me, to hate me so much that you point out every weak spot I have, gladly in public. Make it sting, make me embarrassed. Hurt my feelings.

And every time you do, you will make me stronger.

B, the Masochist?

I believe that it is not what you manage to do that kills you, but what you fail to do. Sure, it’s great to be able to draw breath every few seconds, but it is when you stop breathing that the trouble begins. It’s when you drive too fast that you fail to control your car and hit a tree. It is when you don’t get that foothold that you plummet to your death in a mountain.

Yes, I’ve read the arguments against this idea many times (and reading is one of my weak sides, by the way). People, apparently, need recognition for accomplishments and to have their strengths acknowledged. Although I fully understand the arguments, they don’t apply to me, and to be honest, I believe that they are only valid in a statistical way, in that, on average, people need to have a balance of ‘focus on weakness’ versus ‘acknowledge strengths’. Well, I’m not average, and I don’t think average is a goal for which anyone should strive.

Take birthdays as a typical example. What a silly idea. The only accomplishment is drawing breath around 7,8 million times in a row. When drawing breath is a problem, I can understand the need to celebrate, but most of the time, it’s a matter of celebrating someone for no other reason than, well, being there for a year more.

I don’t celebrate my birthdays, not because I’m getting older and thinking of just _how_ old I am makes be depressed, but because I don’t see why there is anything to celebrate. I haven’t done anything in particular to warrant an annual celebration. In fact, regardless of whether I was put away in jail for robbing a bank, or if I had spent the past year healing sick puppies back to life would make no difference for the cause of celebrating ‘birthday’.

If You Heal Puppies, People Will Love You!

If I were healing sick puppies back to life, people would probably cheer me on for doing that. However, I’m not interested in cheering. Why wouldn’t I heal _more_ puppies? Why didn’t I set up a clinic for sick puppies? Why didn’t I invent better methods of healing puppies quicker and more efficient? Those are the type of weaknesses that I want to overcome.

You may think that’s a weird example, and that nobody would attack someone healing sick puppies for not healing enough puppies. However, the situation is much closer to reality than you think.

In 2008, I spent a lot of time writing and teaching people what I had learned about SharePoint, in this blog, in online forums, and whenever I met SharePoint professionals. People emailed me all the time with questions and I used those questions to learn even more about SharePoint. When someone asked something, I could easily spend a day researching the problem to provide a comprehensive solution.

However, at some point, I wasn’t able to answer everyone. The number of new people entering the scene and needing more information was simply too great. So, people started complaining that I didn’t help enough, or didn’t help fast enough, or comprehensive enough. It was a weakness in the model, people complained, so I had to come up with a solution.

The first result was USP Journal. To date, I’ve written 17 books and journals on SharePoint, addressing needs of tens of thousands of readers, rather than the few hundred people I would be able to help if I had stuck with the ‘old’ model. Through those endless complaints, nagging, and outright bitching, I was able to go beyond the problem that was preventing me from exceeding the limitations I previously had.

I receive and have received a lot of ‘thanks’ and ‘great work’ comments, messages, and emails for the journals. However, I’m not trying to portray myself as a hero here, because that wouldn’t in any way be true. I do what I do because it benefits me, some way or another. If that happens to benefit someone else as well, then all the better, but frankly, that’s a distant second on the priority scale. My only priority is to find my own weaknesses and eliminating them.

What I want is for people to tell me how much I suck. What I do wrong, and how I’m clearly incapable of getting dressed in the morning without written instructions, or better yet, an illustrative video. That tells me far more than how much one of my articles or books have helped you, because honestly, I don’t care.

To me, the reward of not sucking anymore is the best reward I can get. I don’t even need people to tell me I don’t suck anymore, I can usually figure that out myself, but if you’re so damn eager to give me compliments, at least acknowledge what I overcome that was blocking my path earlier.

Is There a Point To All This?

Well, yes, thanks for asking.

I had a discussion with one of the wisest people I know, in which we argued, among other things, whether focusing on strengths or eliminating weakness was the best approach to growth. We didn’t agree, which is fine as long as I’m right. However, the discussion lead me to realize something important.

You suck. No, really, you’re god-awful at something. Of course you are, everyone is, and I’ll expose that weakness in you. I’ll tell you exactly how little you truly understand, and how wrong you are in your claims. I’ll let you know why your writing style sucks, how your technical skills must improve, and how you’ll die if you don’t draw breath one more time. Whatever it is, I will find it, and expose it in such a way that you truly feel the pain of sucking so bad.

You’ll probably hate me for it, you’ll think I’m hurting your feelings, you’ll want to curse my mother back. You’ll post photo manipulated images of my face superimposed on top of one of the lemon party dudes. You’ll talk shit about me to anyone you meet, calling me rude, cruel, insensitive, and un-empathic, because those are terms you think will hurt me back.

Provided you have a brain, you’ll attack and expose my weaknesses, and I can grow. If you don’t have a brain, you’ll make mindless comments that will have no meaning to anyone, or you’ll lie about me, or make it clear to anyone that you don’t understand why you’re being criticized, confirming my claim that you are a mindless idiot and don’t understand what I say to you because I use words that impose some kind of rage in you. I win either way.

Every time it’s in my best interest, I will still expose your weaknesses. I will bully you, taunt you, dare you in public to make a stand, because if you can’t stand for what you believe, then sit down and shut up, and that’s your first weakness, right there.

In the end, however, I do what I do to hold you to the same standards I hold myself. Not until I hate my weaknesses so much that I do something about it, am I satisfied. Not until you hate so much what is holding you back that you do something about it will you get rest.

Because when those weaknesses are gone, you’re left with more strength and you’ve learned how to overcome your weakness. That benefits me, because if you are stronger, you can make me stronger.

I hate you.

Love,

.b

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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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New Blog Platform

I’ve moved! Well, I’m still here, but my blog has moved. Or, to be completely accurate, I have changed the host and platform of my blog, from Blogger to WordPress.

What you are looking at now (if you’re reading this on the web) is the new blog. I took the opportunity to change a bit on the layout as well, I thought the old layout was rather awkward and noisy.

This also means that some of the old links may no longer work. I have taken a number of precautions and installed a couple of plugins that should alleviate most of the problems. I’ve also done some random testing to ensure that most links still work. In fact, I haven’t found any links that doesn’t work, but if you do, I’d love to hear about it.

Not much has changed, though, at least not yet. WordPress gives me far more options than BlogSpot, and I’m certain I’ll add a lot of cool things, as certain as I am that I’ll forget all about it and pretty much just fix any sudden emergencies.

Hope you enjoy it!

.b

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