What Is It About Joel?

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After reading over my last blog post, I wondered why my posts take such a virulent tone towards Joel Spolsky when I think he’s wrong. Looking around the web, I noticed I am not the only one.

I mean, I’ve never met the guy. He hasn’t killed any puppies that I know of, nor has he insulted my mother. In fact, I am pretty sure he doesn’t even know my mother.

Then I read this snippet of a great comment from Melissa in my blog…

Joel just likes to write with conviction, irrespective of the matter at hand. He probably has strong opinions about light butter/no butter/movie theater butter on his heat-expanded maize kernels, and he could probably write a persuasive as hell argument for his position and the more suggestable among us would immediately agree and get on their knees to show their appreciation for Joel’s relieving them of their obligation to think for themselves.

That’s it! Joel is an authority in topics of software, and like it or not, authority carries with it power, which carries with it responsibility (thanks Uncle Ben). He writes that BDUF is absolutely necessary, and suddenly hundreds of software middle managers across the country are thwarting their teams efforts to engage agile methodologies.

“If Joel says BDUF, then we do BDUF. We’re bringing back Ye olde Waterfall Methodology.

So it’s not that I think he’s wrong, it’s that he is so forcibly and authoritatively wrong. I’d love for him to try and make BDUF work with some of my current clients. A few weeks into it and I’d have to have the straight jacket and padded room reserved (Lord knows I’ve had a stay there).

So that explains my harsh attitude. Well… that and the arrogant tone he takes. That seems to get my dire up. Especially when he put down corporate developers.

In any case, one post mentioned why anyone is still reading Joel. Well as much as I like to get my panties in a bunch when he says something stupid, 99% of his writings are still top notch insightful and worthwhile. In every position I’ve been in, I would circulate links to various articles he has written to help improve software development practices. 99% of the time, he knows his stuff. It’s that 1% of the time I wish he’d just shut up.

[Listening to: Stretch ‘n’ Vern / Get Up! Go Insane! (Fatboy Really Lost It Mix) - Fatboy Slim - Greatest Remixes (7:14)]

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6 responses

  1. Avatar for Scott
    Scott August 18th, 2005

    True enough. I blame the punk rawk of my youth for my attitude. Although if you think your tone was virulent, you should have read my first post. I pointed out that no one who worked on Excel and VBA should be lecturing about proper design except in a 'don't do as we did' capacity. LOL

    I feel the same way about Paul Graham too. I like a lot of what he says, but when he's wrong, he's WAY wrong. And he ventures into "making stuff up" territory too often.

  2. Avatar for Scott
    Scott August 18th, 2005

    ha ha, and I just noticed that i have his book, "User interface design for programmers" sitting on my shelf next to my desk. So I can't hate him all that much. :)

  3. Avatar for baus
    baus August 18th, 2005

    This really isn't a new thing for Joel. He's had a pretty arrogant tone since day one.

    He's a self proclaimed authority. It is an example of talking with authority and people automatically assigning authority.

    Consider how Joel started Fog Creek. In the early part of this decade a lot of us were in shit recovery mode after the stock market crash. We didn't have Microsoft stock. We didn't have Juno stock. We didn't have google stock (Joel admits to having pre-IPO google stock. How he got it he doesn't say). There is no way would could have just setup shop in NYC.

    With that said, Joel's a great writer, and I have thank him for going to bat for hiring a few smart people locally when everybody else was outsourcing overseas.

  4. Avatar for Ian Griffiths
    Ian Griffiths August 18th, 2005

    Speaking of putting down corporate developers... The irony is that if only he had some real experience of corporate development, he would have known that this spec, which he is putting forward as a fine example of BDUF, is in fact anything but BDUF.

  5. Avatar for Thoughtblog.com
    Thoughtblog.com August 18th, 2005

    My old pal Phil has whipped up a storm again! This time he is taking on Joel Spolsky.
    Joel believes in using BDUF (Big Design Up Front) software development where Phil believes in using Agile Development. While for the most part I agree with Phil...

  6. Avatar for Community Blogs
    Community Blogs September 13th, 2006

    Of course that assumes that Joel wears a size 9 and a half. Once again the Joel Cycle takes another turn.