Tim Dietrich

Custom Software Developer

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The FileMaker Community’s "Bad Apples"

I’ve often said that one of the things that makes the FileMaker platform so strong and successful is its sense of community. We’re lucky in that, while we have a relatively small community compared to other platforms, there are a lot of really cool, really amazing people in it. It's full of people who are more than willing to help each other out, to share what they've learned, and to give back when they see opportunities to do so.

Some of us are trying to help move the FileMaker platform forward, and one of the ways that we’re trying to do so is by increasing awareness of FileMaker. Increased awareness will help to grow the user base and the community. That growth will benefit all of us, because it brings with it new ideas and new opportunities. And it’s that growth that will continue to fuel FileMaker Inc, providing them with the incentive and resources that they need to provide us with the next generation of the platform.

But sadly, our community has a few "bad apples" in it as well. And for whatever reason, they seem hell bent on holding the platform back.

The people that I’m referring to can be found online, especially over on Twitter and in the forums. (I’m not on FaceBook, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happening there as well.) They're easy to spot, because they are full of negativity - and in some cases, they also seem full of pent up rage and frustration. It's as if they’re going to blow at any moment.

You see them squashing ideas that others are sharing, or the contributions that others have made. Rather than providing helpful, constructive feedback, they spew insults instead. And in doing so, they discourage others from sharing their ideas and contributions. This suppresses creativity, and harming both the community and the platform.

And then there are the cases where someone has asked a question on a forum and, rather than getting the help or guidance that they were hoping for, they were belittled or mocked instead. This seems to happen most often when a newcomer to the platform posts a request for help. This is particularly worrisome because when that happens, it has the potential to make the newcomer feel unwelcome, and it discourages them from seeking help in the future.

Similarly, there are attacks on members of the community who take time to answer questions and provide assistance. In those cases, the “attackers” seem frustrated because the solution that was provided isn’t the solution that they prefer. (Perhaps they’ve forgotten that there is often more than one approach to solving a problem.)

I haven’t been able to determine what the motivation is that drives the “bad apples” to do what they do. I hope that they are behaving this way without realizing it. However, I know for certain that some of them are fully aware of what they are doing. They’ve been publicly called out on their behavior before, and yet they continue to do it. 

And I’m not sure what to do about them, either. They’re very much like bullies. Do you ignore them, and hope that they'll go away? Or do you confront them, and hope that they’ll stop?

This was a difficult post for me to write, because I’m typically non-confrontational. I tend to keep my head down and my mouth shut when people do things that frustrate me.

But based on what I’ve been seeing, things seem to be getting worse instead of better. And in speaking with other FileMaker developers, I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I was tempted to title this post, "Don’t be a dick," but that seemed a little harsh. So I’ll make it the tl;dr instead. Here goes...

tl;dr Don’t be a dick.