About naming names
When I read Ciaran’s blog article on good karma, it reminded me that I have one post on my todo-list for a while: the question why I do not name names in this Blog. I have been very critical and often, when reading close enough (and be knowledged about the startup scene, especially in Berlin), you know exactly who I am talking about. But I do not give the name. And I have two very good reasons why:
First of all, it isn’t about the ones I name. Whenever you write a blog post about someone and you point them out, you easily get into a hatred mode or start bashing them, especially when that is common in your circles (like about PHP in programming or the Samwa-Brothers in the startup scene). But that also means you pin down your critique onto that special name and connect them with each other. And aside from, that you are not in their position and as such always fall short to see it from their view (and might have done the very same thing in that situation) you also make it look like as if when that name is removed things would be better. And that is rarely the case.
When I criticize something, I criticize an attitude, behaviour, idea or concept not a specific person or company. They might be doing it that way, but the odds are they are just the tip of the ice berg and what needs to change is the underlying characteristics. There is no point critizing PHP but there is a point in critizing programming ethics that lower the barrier under what should be done, because that exposes major security flaws (encouraged by the language or the framework) and a lot of people writing very bad code. That behaviour isn’t PHP specific and won’t most certainly be gone, if PHP disappears.
Secondly people - and therefore companies - change but the internet never forgets. If I criticize someones behaviour, like in the article of “Passwords are so 2007”, I should always give the opportunity to improve. By pin pointing a name to that I make that much harder. Isn’t it much better when three years from now I’d reread my article and wouldn’t even be able to name, who I was talking about because they changed away from it? Yes, it most definitely would, but pin pointing a name to it you always make people focus on their flaw they had back then, though it might not be true in that case anymore. And that is simply unfair.
Last but not least there are cases where I give names. For e.g. at the beginning of this article, I used it to give credit, like I also did in the article about HTML5-Mobile-Apps. Another way is when I try to explain a broader concept and use a specific case that happened to do so, as in “Why you won’t be the next instagram”: it is no critique but merely an explanation of the facts of our business very visible in this specific case.