Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Why do uninterested people insist on chiming in?
Published on May 4, 2004 By Draginol In Blogging

People on-line seem to have a...need to give their opinion regardless of whether it's relevant or not.

I see this particularly in the tech world where a new product gets announced and someone who wouldn't even use the program feels the need to comment "I wouldn't use that."  Whenever I see that, and it's often, my initial thought is, "Well who cares?"

I just don't get it. I have no use for greeting card making programs, for example. When I see a news item about one, my first thought isn't to jump in and say "I wouldn't use it."

This really came to a head today over at WinCustomize. Adam and I want to write a little freeware program that can sit in your system tray and send to a server the names of the skins and themes you're using on your system. Users who use it can then go to a special page and find the most popular skins that are in actual active user and if the database can match the skin name with one in the WinCustomize library, it'll provide a link to download it. Other features could include displaying links to popular customizing programs (basically we would put a list of all the customization programs we're aware of in a database and every time there's a match it would increment a counter). Then anything that's reasonably popular could be brought to the user's attention.

In short, it's a form of spyware. Except we would be very upfront about it. It's basically Alexa for skinning. The user provides information to the community on what skins and skinning apps they have and in return they gain access to the results of that data. There's no ulterior motive. It basically boils down to people who want to know what the most popular skins IN USE are and get them. Not everyone trusts download counts and really, the ultimate recommendation for skins is what people are using.  Just so that we're up front about it, I want to call it SkinSpy. 

So I wrote a post asking for additional features people who would USE it would want. I explicitly stated that some people would not want to use this program if they're uncomfortable with a program reporting what skin or theme they're using. The system doesn't track users or anything. I.e. it doesn't know who you are, just what skin User X is using. 

But most of the responses were from people who don't want such a program or think such a program is a bad idea. Again: Who cares? If you don't want it, don't download it and use it when it comes out. No one hates Spyware more than I do. I've written on it countless times. But good grief, I'm not paranoid about it. As long as I know what data is being sent and how it's being used I don't care. I run Alexa  -- happily because it tells me how popular a given website is in return. Oh no, knows what sites I visit.

But people just seem to have a reflexive need to give input even when it's not asked for or relevant.

on May 04, 2004
I wouldn't read an article like this one...
on May 04, 2004
I respectfully agree with your statements. But I don't understand why you seem so surprised.
I mean, you have have written software before right? [sarcasm]
You should know of the dumbassery that can ensue with the release of software or even the proposal of changes/new software.

By the way, I like the idea of your utility entirely. I wouldn't use it for religious reasons but I can see it being VERY popular and extremely useful. Considering implementing it with the other OS Customization software you guys have. My recommendations for it would be to have it off by default and to put up some general information on how the info is used and what info is gathered.
on May 04, 2004
I personally like it when a program gives me the option of providing anonymous usage statistics. Winamp is a good example that springs to mind. I only use their freeware version and it is nice to at least give them a little information that costs me nothing to provide. Voluntary information is sort of like giving a small tip to the makers of your useful software.
on May 04, 2004
I wouldn't use that.

BTW... spell checker is over there -->
on May 04, 2004
Brad is right. It is an offensive behavior, tantamount to interrupting a conversation.

I also find that the people who interject have never (well, perhaps rarely) contributed anything to the community. On WinCustomize, they have never uploaded a skin. Here on JoeUser, they are not contributing members of the community

I'm glad that this point was raised.
on May 04, 2004
While I personally don't use skins etc ( as a result of needing more memory and trying not to put anything on my comp atm)
I think it is a great idea. It would make it so much easier for people trying to find the ones they want.
Alot of people use such things as kazaa-lite ..isn't that the same kind of pronciple? The sharing of info?
Sorry I'm not computer savvy.

on May 04, 2004

BTW... spell checker is over there -->

everyone *loves* the spell check guy Frog.

on May 04, 2004
If nobody cares, one mst wonder why there's an article about it:)

Honestly though, I think there's a such thing as OCRD- Obsessive Compulsive Response Disorder. Whatever you read, you suddenly have an irrestible urge to respond regardless of whether or not you have anything of value to say. I should know, I used to have it.

on May 04, 2004

If I see where you're going with this....then you already have in mind what I would want from it.....peer-based multi-source downloading to share the bandwidth cost of WC.

Other than bout making sure it fully analyzes a skin to find what skin it actually is.  For example, with Object Bar, I use Blackcomb, but recolored and reconfigures.   It should be able to detect it as "Blackcomb" and not "Jeremy's BC mod".

on May 05, 2004
Brad, on an unrelated note to the general theme of the article, didn't WB used to do that? Two or three years ago I think? I wasn't aware that you guys removed that feature. I'll definitely use that app, I really miss the stats that used to be displayed on back then.
on May 05, 2004
Some things to think about:

Its reasonably clear that you wanted only a certain sort of opinion about this kind of program - ie. positive/laudatory opinions and suggestions. Yet you seemed to want to galvanize people's opinions right off the bat. You used the words "spy" and "spies" quite overtly and for impact in the first few lines. In the third paragraph you labelled anyone that would not like a program of this nature as "paranoid" when we all know that these days being cautious about what data your computer sends out is simply prudent. You used the label "paranoid" in later posting as well.

I don't understand why you are surprised that a lot of people are cautious about this sort of program and wanted to tell you, A DEVELOPER, what they, AS CUSTOMERS, thought about it and what concerns them. I also don't understand why you think it's a good idea to treat your customers and potential customers so harshly. I'd have thought you'd be welcoming of all input in order to make more informed and intelligent decisions about where your company expends its (considerable) creative talent.
on May 05, 2004

Yes, I wanted to make it very clear right off the bat whta type of program it was so that people who weren't interested would not feel the need to participate.


on May 05, 2004

Brad, on an unrelated note to the general theme of the article, didn't WB used to do that? Two or three years ago I think? I wasn't aware that you guys removed that feature. I'll definitely use that app, I really miss the stats that used to be displayed on back then.

WB 1.0 had it built in.  But, some people had problems with it (modems and such) so we removed t.  The info that was sent only related to WB and only gave anonymous info.  It was very useful, though.

on May 06, 2004
I think the behaviour you describe is a snapshot of a larger, and increasing, phenomenon.

Namely the need for more and more people to dictate what everyone else does. With it seemingly becoming more and more acceptable for the government to dictate social behaviour, people are emboldened to speak out about what they consider the 'right' way; be it the right software, the right language, the right foods, etc.

It's not enough for an individual to pick and choose the software, food, language, etc. that he or she finds acceptable. There is the need to coerce others to their way of thinking.

Even to the point of petitioning the government to enforce their civil will.