If posting here is frequently frustrating and irritating, why do I keep doing it?


Appreciator wonders, if I find posting here frequently frustrating and irritating, why I keep doing it anyway?

Imagine I announced one day, "This is too frustrating and annoying. I'm going to stop now." To the rest of the world, this would "mean something." People would discuss in hushed tones—and for the Internet, hushed tones means in a normal voice, or perhaps even louder than normal—what this "means" for blogging, for Microsoft, for whatever. People would start speculating as to what pushed me over the line, maybe muse about what this means for other bloggers, or question my actual motivations. "Is this really a cover so Raymond can quit Microsoft and work for another company?" It's easier just to avoid becoming news by not doing anything newsworthy.

I guess I could stop if I made up some bogus but less controversial reason for stopping, say, because I wanted to "spend more time with my family."

Generally speaking, change is news. Contrapositively, no-news requires no-change. I prefer not to be news.

(In the same way that if I decided to change my policy and start opinionating more, people would make more of the change than if I had been opinionated from the beginning. I often envy Michael Kaplan for having established himself as an opinionated blowhard early on, which gives him the freedom to spout off on whatever he wants without creating much controversy.)

Comments (50)
  1. Matt says:

    I think you think that people think more about this blog than they actually think about it. If you stopped writing it, people would miss it but they wouldn't think anything other than "Raymond no longer writes his blog. That sucks."

  2. mpz says:

    The reason why Michael doesn't create controversy is because nobody reads him.

    Kidding, kidding ;-) I read his blog with great interest and sometimes post comments too.

  3. Jon says:

    You could quit now and we wouldn't even know about it for two or three years if you keep your queue going. When the final post rolls around saying that you stopped feeding the queue and were done blogging a few years earlier, it will be old news and the speculation won't really matter. But don't use that as an excuse to quit! I love your blog and would be very disappointed on that day :-P

  4. Skyborne says:

    The thing about Internet commentary is that either 1) it's not on your site and you can disclaim all responsibility / generally avoid looking at it, or 2) you can delete the crud and leave an enlightening conversation behind.

    You do need to be able to more-or-less ignore whiny frustrated comments like, um, some of my past ones here.  (Yes, I should STFW before opening my big mouth.)  Receiving a bad comment used to ruin my whole day, but then I gained the power to leave behind that feeling.  github.com/…/optimism.md

  5. Eric Fournier says:

    I've been reading "The Old New Thing" on a daily basis since 2006. It is the only blog that has managed to keep my interest that long, which is even more of a feat when you consider I haven't had to do any Windows development since 2009. Thus I am quite saddened to hear you say that what keeps you going is not an interest in writing your useful, insightful and oft amusing posts, but a desire to "not be news".

    I guess internet trolls are even impervious to thermonuclear devices.

  6. Don Reba says:

    You just wasted the "spend more time with my family" excuse, you know. If you use that, everybody will recognize it as code speak for: "this is too frustrating and annoying. I'm going to stop now."

  7. Chad says:

    How is this very post not "news?"  Because you picked Appreciator's question from the Suggestion Box using your highly regimented, predictable process? Raymond, the cat's out of the bag and has been for years: You don't particularly enjoy blogging yet you do it anyways.

    Don't do the blog because you fear high school homeroom gossip. Don't do the blog because you feel you have a Nietzschean reputation for consistency to uphold.

    Do the blog because you want to do the blog.

    It really is that simple.

  8. Falcon says:

    Your last paragraph reminded me of blogs.msdn.com/…/9902148.aspx

  9. Ishmaeel says:

    So, the one thing that keeps you enduring the ongoing frustration and annoyance is the prospect of a one-time, temporary period of frustration and annoyance.

    Suits me nicely. Whatever floats your boat.

    This blog is one of the awesomest things on the Internet and a certain part of the awesome stems from your unique stance against The Frustrating and The Annoying.

    So don't ever stop or else I'll tweet all over the place about it.

  10. Joshua Ganes says:

    I've got to agree with Chad. Don't worry about what a bunch of silly people gossip about on the internet. In a couple of weeks they'll move on and forget all about this week's big news. Write this blog because you enjoy doing it, or recognize that it is no longer where your interests lie and compose a suitable exit.

  11. Billy O'Neal says:

    Don't listen to the assholes Raymond. Your blog kicks ass and the "silent majority" would be sad to see it go.

  12. John says:

    I find this blog entry both hilarious and depressing.

  13. Ray says:

    I, too would miss this blog.

    I like the time machine articles.

    I like the funny Microspeak ones.

    I skip the Seattle Orchestra ones, because I don't live in Seattle.

    I try and comprehend the advanced programming ones, and if I don't, I try harder.

  14. Avi says:

    I note that you never actually answer the first part of the question.

    I hope you don't find blogging too annoying or frustrating.  MS takes a lot of crap.  Some deserved, most not, and a lot gets directed at you.  I've only started reading your blog in the past half a year or so, but I went back and started from the beginning.  Like Ray, I love the time machine posts the most.

    [You're right. I really answered the question "Why don't you stop" as opposed to "Why do you keep going?" I keep going because there are topics I want to write about. I do this despite all the frustration and irritation.-Raymond]
  15. James says:

    This sounds like a time for a whiskey from my well hidden stash at work.

    Too bad you Raymond live so far away.

    Many at my work know about my stash but not where it is. I've told them if they can find it they can have a glass.

    So far no one have found it. Many have tried and failed.

    I like your blog the way it is, more or less. ( Could be more blog posts with code about shell programming )

    Inserting ones own opinion into informative blog posts is just unnecessary noise.

    If you ever decide to get more opinionated, age can have that affect, create another blog for that, please.

  16. Simon says:

    Exactly why do you feel frequently frustrated and irritated ?

    Is it due to all the people expressing their own frustrations and irritations towards microsoft in the comments ?

    [If they were expression frustration and irritation towards me, then at least I could do something about that. It's the off-topic rants that bug me the most. -Raymond]
  17. ZLB says:

    Well I for one am glad you do keep your blog! It must take a fair amount of commitment and imagination to be able to write an average of an article per day for several years.

  18. Danny says:

    "Generally speaking, change is news. Contrapositively, no-news requires no-change. I prefer not to be news." </quote>

    Well, this post is not your normal post so is a change, therefore is news. Now you're news. You blew it :P

  19. Anonymous Coward Anonymous Coward says:

    If that's your sole reason, then for your own peace of mind it would be better to stop. Even if for us it would suck.

    However, I suspect it isn't. Most of life is frequently frustrating and irritating, but occasionally rewarding too. I do hope that such moments exist when you write The Old New Thing.

  20. Me says:

    It's the off-topic rants that bug me the most

    Why haven't you long since gotten used to it? Everybody knows the internet is full of trolls and the SNR is very low. Just filter them out and disregard them, they're not worth being bothered by.

    That's life.

    And even xpclient was funny last week, must be a new record. ^^

  21. me2 says:

    Look, you're clearly autistic.  Interacting with humans (especially trolls) is going to be frustrating and irritating.  You know that.  Just skip reading the comments if you find it so unmanageable that you can't resist being bitter about them in your main posts.  Most people read the main posts but not the comments, anyway, and they get a negative impression based on your attitude.

    And believe it or not, the DJIA will survive Raymond Chen quitting his blog :-)

  22. Mark S says:

    Holy Christmas and I thought I overthought things…

  23. Matthew Dixon Cowles says:

    I value The Old New Thing and I'm glad that you continue to write it.

  24. Blake Householder says:

    I read all your posts and I appreciate all the work you've given to the world.  Thank you.

  25. chentiangemalc says:

    This blog is one of the best things on the internet. The trolly comments remind me…I am not alone, even the great Raymond Chen is trolled. The day blogs stop here will be very sad day indeed. On another note: wow, so there are other people who read Michael Kaplan's also amazing blog.

  26. Doug says:

    I’d say you’ve already got the reputation you desire.  That’s a compliment, I promise!

    You’re obviously a nice guy, and you’re worried about how people perceive you.  You don’t need to; those that understand what you’re saying understand what you’re saying perfectly fine, just the way you say it.  The rest don’t really matter.  You’ve earned the right to talk on technical – and musical – matters.  (I’m not a baseball follower, so can’t judge those posts…)

    You can’t make everybody happy all of the time.  I stopped trying a while ago and, although my wife might disagree, life is just easier this way.  Doesn’t mean you’re a d**k, you just have to pick your battles.

    I’m in the same boat as Eric above.  Your blog is my longest surviving link, and the first I restore when I new machine comes my way.  I learn something new every time you post technical stuff and look forward to that “unread” notification.

  27. Josh says:

    Yes, your blog is the rock that keeps Microsoft's stock price stable. Keep blogging lest you disrupt the global recovery.

  28. Ben says:

    You could moderate the comments. It's extra work that I'm sure you don't want, but trolls and off-topic ranters would move on.

  29. > this post is not your normal post

    You must be new here :-)

    In my experience writers don't write because it's fun, or because it's cute, or even because it puts bread on the table.  Writers write because we *have* to.  It's an irrepressible urge.  We'll be sitting down at the dinner table, or taking a shower, and an idea will pop into our heads for a story or a post or a whathaveyou, and then it becomes *impossible to function* until the idea is written down and sent on its merry publishing way.

  30. Worf says:

    Raymond's blog serves as very valuable documentation on Windows – and not just the times he explains APIs or shows examples of how to use lesser-known APIs, but on the WHY of Windows. Why are things the way they are? How did a decision 20 years ago affect us today?

    Raymond knows. And all too often, that documentation is missing from the official documentation. Heck, sometimes explaining why makes the API set easier to understand…

  31. Peete says:

    I'd like to think that you keep doing it because you enjoy it, and that there are enough commenters who let you know how much they value this blog (and hence, you).

  32. Andreas Rejbrand says:

    Greetings from Sweden! I just wanted to tell you that The Old New Thing is the only blog I read, and I really enjoy reading it. I got your book, too. (Hoping for a sequel!) I must admit that this post of yours confused me a bit, but I'll skip the psychoanalysis. If I were you, I'd actually take great pride in maintaining such a high-quality blog for so long.

  33. asdbsd says:

    Raymond is a tsundere. "It's not like I'm writing these posts for you! I've just written too many of them"

  34. kire says:

    Thank you for braving the frustration every day to bring us our blog posts.

  35. kire says:

    Thank you for braving the frustration every day to bring us your blog posts.

  36. Steve says:

    Keep going Raymond! Don't let the nit-pickers get you down, this is a valuable and entertaining blog which I raed every day even if I don't understand all of it :)

  37. silly says:

    So, time for another suggestion box then? :)

  38. DWalker says:

    @Matt (First comment):  I think you're wrong; I disagree with your first sentence.

  39. xpclient says:

    You opinionate less? :P

  40. DanielPharos says:

    Just to chip in: I've been following your blog for over 2 years now, and even bought your book to support you. Don't let the trolls win!

  41. Neil says:

    2 years? That's nothing. You know you've been following this blog for (too?) long when Raymond writes a whole post correcting one of your comments!

  42. Jim says:

    I have nothing insightful to say, but I'll just add to the chorus of people saying that I enjoy your blog and I'm grateful for its continued existence. (Even though I haven't done Windows programming in years.)

  43. John says:

    I'd miss this blog if you stopped writing it, it gives me hope at the end of the day that there is actually someone else out there that cares about their job enough to take it as a personal failure when something they worked on doesn't behave as expected. Too often I feel I work with those who have complete apathy towards our product and its end customers, yet when I read a blog like this it gives me hope that even at a company as big as Microsoft someone actually cares.

  44. Marcwl says:

    I've been reading this blog daily since 2004… uh, it's been 8 years already!? Wow, there must be something to it that I keep coming back ;-) Greetings from Germany, thanks and keep it up

  45. Anonymous Coward says:

    @Ben: Part of the reason that Raymond sometimes gets frustrated by off-topic comments is that he has a different idea of what off-topic means than most people. I haven't figured out his definition yet, and I'm not sure I want to know because I've read many comments which Raymond would probably consider off-topic but that to me seemed apropos and interesting. So I hope he won't follow your advice.

  46. Ben says:

    @Coward

    "Part of the reason that Raymond sometimes gets frustrated…" 

    I'd suggest that it's more likely to have something to do with commentators reinterpreting statements, ignoring the topic at hand to present their personal vendetta, and sometimes thinly veiled abuse. I think a certain level of civility and decorum is sorely missing from too many commenters. It is very rare that I see comments adding much of note to the article. The bad apples (I was going add the adjective "few", but sadley it is not appropriate), have already moderated the content that Raymond presents. For example, we see far fewer "advanced" articles than once was the case. Potentially "volatile" articles are pre-filtered to avoid the unnecessary harassment. In light of this, to moderate or disable comments would be the far lesser evil. When did blogs become a platform for "free and unregulated speech"? 

  47. Ian Boyd says:

    Love the posts.

    Bought the book.

  48. Anonymous Coward says:

    @Ben: Are you reading the same TONT as I am? Because most of the comments seem to be on-topic and abusive comments seem rare. And if Raymond is filtering ‘advanced’ articles because they specifically attract abusive comments, then that doesn't make much sense to me. People who just want to wage a vendetta don't need the advanced content to do so; I have been a long time reader of this blog and so far I haven't seen advanced articles attract particular abuse.

    And I think that blog comment moderation beyond basic spam control should be extremely rare. If you get criticism you have to argue your case, not just delete stuff or lock threads. And if you can't argue your case you just admit that you're wrong. But don't just go about censoring comments; it's a matter of decency, professionalism and honesty.

    [I delete the off-topic comments after letting them get some sunshine for a few days, which is why you don't see them on older posts. Actually, I like the super-advanced topics because the comments there tend to be very high quality. It's the general-audience stuff where the comments are more likely to be rubbish. (See also: Parkinson's Law of Triviality.) -Raymond]
  49. Ben says:

    @Coward

    Now we get too the nub of your displeasure. 

    "If you get criticism you have to argue your case, not just delete stuff or lock threads. And if you can't argue your case you just admit that you're wrong. But don't just go about censoring comments; it's a matter of decency, professionalism and honesty." 

    On this principle I fundementally disagree. There is no such requirement, and it would be pointless to try and "debate" with every individual who doesn't like certain changes in Windows, or specifics about how an API was implemented. Here is aggravation for no net benifit to anyone. The "tips" articles being a prime example of posts that attract such comments. Are you seriously suggesting that Raymond debate the pros and cons with every slightly unhappy Windows user? This is Raymond's blog! He should be able to do exactly as he pleases. Engage or not engage, have comments or no, moderate or not moderate. In my opinion moderation improves the ecosystem as the trolls/ranters aggravate more than just Raymond. On the topic of the advanced articles, I was not actually referring to the comments in these. Rather a general trend that I thought I had perceived and was putting down as due to Raymond's frustration. I am probably wrong on this, please ignore that comment.

  50. Anonymous Coward says:

    @Raymond in re comments on advanced articles: That certainly confirms my suspicion and with it evaporates that part of Ben's argument.

    @Ben ‘There is no such requirement’: Yes there is. Decency requires it. Honesty requires it. Filtering criticism is just as bad as making propaganda. By deleting negative voices you're creating an image that is unduly positive; it's a form of lying. And if you go ‘just start your own blog somewhere’, well, we both know which will have more exposure. And that there is no net benefit in negative comments is ridiculous; that there can be a difference between what people need to hear and what people want to hear is nothing new.

    And yes, this will mean that if you don't want a frustrated Windows user to have the last word, you'll need to reply. So what? If he's right you can simply say ‘I agree, that sucks.’ and if he's wrong you should be able to argue your case. And if you can't, chances are you're wrong.

    [Can you get in a room with the people who say "It's your blog, you can do what you want" and figure out what the correct answer is? I'll wait. -Raymond]

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