I was behind on reading my ISN-related feeds today, including some search feeds I have that alert me whenever someone links to our blogs. What I stumbled across was a quite a flurry of activity involving one of our ISN bloggers reposting one of his own posts from 2003 (Why POSIX Threads are Better Than Windows Threads), but from the opposite side of the argument (Why Windows Threads are Better Than POSIX Threads). This apparent reversal got picked up on Slashdot, even though the latest post is 5 months old, and, well, like most things on Slashdot, it proceeded to escalate from there…
I started getting worried, because Clay seemed like he had dug himself into a pretty good hole, and the Slashdot crowd was piling on. I was getting ready to stage a Blogger Intervention(TM). But deep in the comments on his post, Clay posted an admirable reply, explaining the situation, taking a measure of blame, and basically doing what I think was a great job defusing the
mob tension, while leaving the original subject (Windows vs. POSIX threads) open for continued discussion.
While I tell people all the time that being a little contrary or controversial is a great way to stir up some conversation on a blog, I can’t say that I recommend doing something so extreme. There’s a line between controversy and publicity stunt. I’m not saying this issue was one or the other (I don’t think it was a publicity stunt, because 5 months passed between Clay’s post, and this showing up on Slashdot), I just don’t want ISN to get a reputation for being sensationalist and contrarian just to attract attention. We’ll leave that to Britney Spears and the tabloids.