Friday, August 08, 2008

Interesting thought...

I read this yesterday...

Got me thinking about Q&A sites...

I believe the author there has something - if you introduce a barrier to entry, it will have it so that only those that really want in - are in.  I don't know that metafilter is better/worse/same as reddit and digg - I do know that I used to follow digg, then it became a "not as good place" for me.  I follow reddit - but it is becoming very much the same.  I've never used metafilter (on my todo list now) so cannot compare it.  But the *idea* proposed, the concept - it does seem to have merit.

It would be neat to know if this has ever been studied before - does anyone know?  Thoughts?


ps: I'm not thinking about doing this in asktom.  I was asking in general for "social sites" like digg, reddit and the like.  Sites that start off nicely with a small focused community but then turn into a bit mess when they become 'cool'.



Anonymous Ben in Boston said....

Have you ever considered moving Ask Tom inside Metalink or something else that required Oracle support? That might be a bit extreme, but it would certainly become a barrier to entry... Just a thought.

Fri Aug 08, 10:12:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

What I liked about this idea was that anyone could come and read - the barrier was a barrier to "write"

I would not want to remove the ability to read and search something like asktom by the public at large.

(also, I cannot imagine doing this to asktom, way too many issues with doing it - I'm just curious about the idea itself)

Fri Aug 08, 10:15:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Brian Tkatch said....

Tom, you are getting old and cranky. :)

The temptation to put a barrier to entry is great, but it also is seclusive. If you have a group people that *want* to be alone but have some rite of entry for people to prove their dedication, a barrier of payment, approval, difficulty, or whatever are all good solutions.

However, if the purpose is to raise the bar so some people will go away, it is more likely to drive the people you want away. No one likes seclusionists, and no one likes having the difficulty.

I think this issue can be approached by first delineating the targeted groups.

At first there are two groups. Readers and Contributors. We can ignore the Reader group other than having a good search functionality and free access to the absolute wealth of information your website has. The second group, the Contributors, has three sub-groups which i will call: A, B, and C.

Group A consists of people who are trying hard to understand things, and ask for help due to sheer ignorance or a mental block. Group B consists of are people who try to understand only what they need to know, and ask when the going gets tough. Group C consists of people who need to get things done, don't care to understand, and want to spend as little time as possible working on it.

Group A members will follow a good source even through some barriers. Group C members will go wherever is easiest, and will ignore sites with barriers as long as some exist without them. Group B members have a varying level of tolerance, and will fall into either A or C depending on their interest and the barriers met.

I think the idea is to bar C without causing B to run away. A barrier may not be the answer. I don't know what is.

Fri Aug 08, 12:41:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous David Aldridge said....

I recall reading that in the early days of Some Foreign Country's colonisation (it may have been Australia, it may have been the US), land was given away to settlers at virtually no cost. The effect was that is was poorly farmed and became exhausted, and the settler would move on. When the government introduced a price for this unfarmed land then the land became more productive as settler were encouraged to invest in efficient long-term faming techniques.

The lesson: people do not value that which is free.

Fri Aug 08, 02:00:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I do not get it.

The link says: "Error establishing a database connection" - was THIS the thing you wanted us to read?

Fri Aug 08, 03:15:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Drew said....

Hey, you have to type in a word to post a comment - I guess if you really want to post a comment, then you'll type the word.

Fri Aug 08, 03:32:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Kevin in Colorado Springs said....

I got that too and thought it was funny. But Google has it cached if you want to read it. I like the concept. It would be nice not to have to filter through so much to get to the well-reasoned and thought out content. Sometimes I'd settle for non-incendiary content.

Fri Aug 08, 03:36:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....


The moment you have to pay to write on a Blog you have a right to expect high quality content. And whilst Ask Tom IS high quality, your Blog is pretty mediocre stuff, by comparison.

Drop the Blog and stick to what you know best.

Sat Aug 09, 02:44:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Tom said....


Speak for yourself. I like reading about Tom's musings. AskTom is not the place for most of it, and you don't have to read his blog if you don't like it ;).

Sat Aug 09, 11:29:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Helma said....


Your site is for the serious DBA, so a barrier of some sort is IMHO a necessity .
Several good scenario's were mentioned, let's add one more:

My thought: Put the read/write version of Asktom in Metalink, and copy a readonly version on the public internet.

But perhaps i prefer the $5 entry fee, so that oracle-students without metalink account can still enjoy your splendor.

Sat Aug 09, 06:48:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Aren't some people both dim and lacking in global perspective? To those who think charging a fee to read Ask Tom, consider the poorer nations, where $5 is the same as $50, $500, or $5000 to you.

Sun Aug 10, 01:33:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Helma said....

"Aren't some people both dim and lacking in global perspective? To those who think charging a fee to read Ask Tom, consider the poorer nations, where $5 is the same as $50, $500, or $5000 to you."

I've spend almost 2 years in an african telecom company doing the Oracle work there. For what i have seen, it's not the amount of money what is really important - most of the people who can't affort $5 for asktom can't afford internet anyway. But most people there just don't have credit cards to pay on the slow and unreliable internet there.

But still i think it's good to raise some shield against anonymous contributors who's substance is all to often found in the emotional realm.

Sun Aug 10, 02:20:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

The problem with barriers is they presuppose the motivations of posters. If the presupposition is wrong, it may not have the intended effect. Presupposing a single motivation is almost certainly going to be wrong. And as others pointed out, an arbitrary value may also be interpretted differently.

The interpretation of why the barrier is there may vary too. Poll taxes, internet cabals, Grid Control marketing are just a few examples of hot button issues.

Some of the issues with online fora may simply be a life-cycle, or faddishness.

Personally, I think barriers suck. Having just taken the kids to Disneyland and Knott's, I can't see any replacement for them, just twiddles and tweaks. One interesting twiddle Disneyland has is their fast-pass - you get assigned a certain time to go on a particular ride, instead of waiting in line for hours. Unfortunately, we got one splash ride assignment for 10:20PM - which effectively meant never.

The metafilter idea seems transient, at best.

word: wqsdihym
word 2: thhrkytj

Sun Aug 10, 03:35:00 PM EDT  

Blogger scubajim said....

I get the problems with Digg and Reditt. Often you get attention vampires and trolls there. So it drives away serious people.

With ASkTom I don't think we have that problem. AskTom is a more focused web site and so I have not seen the Digg type interaction. (which is good)

I wouldn't put ASkTom in Metalink even for those to post. (public read, Metalink account to post) The reason is that the customer expectation would change dramatically. My guess is that the customer expectation would be along the lines of "I am paying for support, this is on the support site, why can't I ask a question...."

That would just be a nightmare. If you want a barrier to enty for asking questions ask for a donation that would go to a charity. (have a list to choose from of vetted charities) Make the donation optional. I think you could do it through Amazon and thus not have to do a lot to the site.

Just a thought.

Sun Aug 10, 04:20:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Gary Myers said....

The only 'barrier' I'd favor for Asktom is a 'questionnaire' requiring the poster/reviewer to put in which oracle versions/editions they use and number of years Oracle experience.
No defaults or anything that makes it too easy to 'click through'.
I wouldn't object to registration either. If it had happened in the early days, it would probably now be quite a badge of honour to be 'AskTom Reader since 2002'.

Sun Aug 10, 06:59:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Darren said....

Not so sure about making people pay to be able to post comments on Ask Tom, but I think the ability to post Anonymous comments should be pulled.

Though I don't think it will stop posts like the following. Gotta Love this one (really hope it's a piss take):

Makes you wonder if it would be a good idea to include barriers. I can't help but laugh when I see questions like that.

I must say one of my favourite past times, when I've got down time at work, is to trawl through the Q&As.

Waiting with baited breath for Toms book to turn up on Thursday :)

Sun Aug 10, 09:44:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

You haven't worked in every country, and so don't know what circumstances people of all nations are in. Why not support the "err on the side of caution" approach? i.e. no barrier.

As for the emotional realm thing: some of the most emotional, silly, and laughably schoolyard fight-like stuff ever posted on the inernet (by adults) appeared on Ask Tom (search for "Predictive Reorganization") and none of the 3 biggest contributors was anonymous!

The easiest and most obvious choice is to ... er ... vet the posts before they get seen. Thus, all get a shot at asking, which is like it is now. Other sites do this and I think it's fair enough.

Mon Aug 11, 01:12:00 AM EDT  

Blogger rama said....

Tom, there are 2 perceptions to that thought.

1. like you said, introduce a barrier to entry, it will have it so that only those that really want in - are in. Typically a person would have to do something to get access; like pay a fee or get certified in something.


2. Make it exclusive; few selected people belong; the rest don't. You belong by invitation or knowing someone who already belongs. Google did that with Gmail when it was launched.
"Powerful tribes aren't open to everyone. The exclusivity makes it work." -- Seth Godin. Rest of his article in this blog..

I agree that access or membership based on a pre-qualification of some sort aims at quality of the content and the forum overall. It seems much easier said than done though :)

Either ways, I respect your intentions in not considering it for asktom. It serves a wide range of topics and people of different skills from different countries and backgrounds. Introducing a barrier to access you on that forum would defeat the purpose of the forum itself.

As a silent reader on asktom, I would like to thank you for a wonderful job you have done there. Your patience, above all, is commendable.


Tue Aug 12, 04:17:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Chris Seymour said....

I'm not a huge fan of it in general. I'm 27 and hardly the pimply faced kid. But internet sites are a dime a dozen. If one requires me to put in a credit card to post, I personally am going to skip it and move forward. The $1 won't break my bank, but its just one more opportunity for my identity to be stolen. And for what?

Granted that is the entire point of the article that its good to slim down your community to only the good ones, but it also narrows your customer base. Social sites like those mentioned benefit from the network effect - if you eliminate the number of people who participate, I think the worthiness may go down as well.

Take my favorite - Facebook. I use it, I like it. I would not pay for it b/c I dont derive enough benefit from it. Facebook is good b/c of the number of people who use it - if I suddenly start to see all my friends dropping off it, I'm likely to jump ship as well.

IMO its a risky move to charge on the internet.

Tue Aug 12, 06:05:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said.... has been down for most part of the day.

Tue Aug 12, 10:57:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I don't think it is just pimply faced kids to blame for trollish behavior, and I'm not sure paying to post, or banning anonymous posts will solve the problem.

Some people may feel personally threatened by a site or a blog. Consider some of the controversial posts to asktom.

Others may think they have something to gain by disrupting a blog or forum.

Consider this:

Here a blogger describes an unsuccessful SQL injection attack on his site, and the first commenter leaves an inane comment just to stir up rebuttals. The commenter identifies himself. He clearly wants you to know who he is. He would probably even have paid a small fee to register with the site.

I hope you leave asktom and this blog open to anonymous and free posts.

Wed Aug 13, 12:02:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

The link on the last post was cut off, it should have been:

Wed Aug 13, 12:05:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Fortunately DasBlog doesn't use a database at all, rather a bunch of XML files for storage.


Wed Aug 13, 01:17:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Did you ever give a thought of letting your site go 'WIKI' like ??

Perhaps you should seriously consider it, going forward..

Wed Aug 13, 07:31:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Michal Pravda said....


Waiting with baited breath for Toms book to turn up on Thursday :)[/quote]

There is another Tom's book comming? I haven't found anything neither on Amazon nor Apress :(.

Thu Aug 14, 02:32:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Darren said....


Nah, I've finally got myself organised and ordered the book.

It has been delayed though, so I won't get it until next week now :(

I was so hoping to spend the weekend reading it rather than going out ;)

Thu Aug 14, 07:44:00 PM EDT  

Blogger P. HARRISON PICOT II said....

Linda Ronstadt once pointed out that she needed barriers to keep her (adoring) public off because she had only so many hours but 10,000 fans "only wanting 20 minutes each were more than she could talk to. She said that the problem with barriers is that the nice people she would love to talk to accepted her need for some privacy and only the people she would least like to talk to figured out a way to get past. There is a cost to any barrier and, as in Linda's case, it may be the reverse of what you want.

Fri Aug 15, 02:39:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Drew said....

Linda needs a "friends" list...

Fri Aug 15, 04:43:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Skipjacker said....

Regarding the wiki comment... I don't think AskTom needs to be wikified... there's an Oracle Wiki afterall.

What I'd like to see is allowing the community to tag posts sometimes I search for a wait state and I get lots of hits where waits are listed in a report but where there's no exposition on the meaning of that wait event. If the community could tag the posts, the wait event merely listed over and over in a report probably wouldn't make it to a tag.

Tags could be an optional search component. You could search with the tags, without the tags, or only the tags.

Mon Aug 18, 10:41:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Ajay said....

Hi Tom,
I have 10 similar tables in two schemas and they have to be refreshed frequently. Tables contain billions of records, so I want to select the latest updated records from source and update in the destination schema table. The updated_dt factor can be used to fetch the recent updated records. If we use the update statement its consuming huge time, which delays all the process. The table name will be passed as a parameter. Can you help me with code? I have tried with execute immediate by using bulk collect but was unsuccesfull. The subprogram should be generic and can be used for any table.

Tue Aug 19, 10:38:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Tom, I read your article on triggers in the recent Oracle mag and agree with you. However, I have a problem which I can't think of a way to solve it which would not involve using a trigger.

I have a schema with say 1 master table to many details and they are all protected by OLS. However, if I update the master table, say changing security label to a higher level, then I need to do the same for all the detail tables that hang off it. How can I do this without trigger?

Your article got me kind of thinking about the structure, and perhaps I might be able to embed all the detail tables as NESTED tables instead. But NESTED tables gives me headaches with its restrictive nature for certain queries.

Wed Aug 20, 03:21:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I wonder if CNET charged people, would they have caught this one?

It may be a little off topic, but it is unbelievable. This writer makes an attack on Larry Ellison's pay based on incorrect data and refuses to admit he was wrong. Then he accuses detractors of being "suck-ups to corporate greed" and "trolls".

Maybe the medium of blogging, Web 2.0 and all that is inherently flawed. Or maybe there is some other solution.

Unbelievable. Everyone should look at this. This guy is still writing a column for CNET.

Wed Aug 20, 03:35:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Gary Myers said....

"Maybe the medium of blogging, Web 2.0 and all that is inherently flawed. Or maybe there is some other solution."
I'd go the other way. The "Web 2.0" comments correct the article and inform future readers. Web 1.0 static text (or old fashioned newsprint) would have left the original errors intact and visible.

Here in Aus, the government has created a website called grocerychoice to 'help' people compare supermarket prices. Rather than go a Web 2.0, lets let people record prices, service etc for individual supermarkets, they've stayed old school. Supermarkets are grouped into regions, some covering hundreds of miles, and into the two big retailers, one small discount retailer and a 'everyone else' category. It is so generalised as to be useless because it ignored the potential to let people contribute.

Wed Aug 20, 07:20:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Matt T said....

If OTN forums charged people there would be a lot of unhappy customers right now.

Whats happening over there in the US? I haven't been able to access OTN forums since the upgrade to Jive 5.5.

Jive isn't talking.

Wed Aug 27, 08:35:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

hope i'm not out of order here but you should change the posting frequency message on the asktom home page to reflect the fact you're posting less frequently these days :)

Tue Sep 02, 04:16:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....


How ironic ....

You, a database guru "read this yesterday..." ......

And today ....

"Error establishing a database connection"

I think you can say ...

"I believe the author there has something"

again !

Sat Sep 13, 05:42:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Kobie said....

The $1 free is interesting. For example - you throw a party and give out reservations to 20 people, 5 may show because they have nothing invested. Ahh but charge $5 and the attendence goes up to 80%

Same for weddings. Out of tow guests who have had to make reservations almost never cancel while those in town are mor likely to.

The $1 fee does not seem like the answer. What if I had to spend a dollar for each post on AskTom? What if, after working with databases, I did not want to use a credit card or Pay Pal account?

I understand the need to filter, just need a better solution. One comedian wanted to give every driver a toy dart gun that fired darts saying "Stupid". When you see someone turning left from the far right hand lane you hit their car with one. Now when a cop sees a car with five or ten stupid darts they pull them over and give them a ticket.

All joking aside what if your internet id kept track of good and bad points. Where good comments get good points and bad comments get bad points. Simple? No. Newbies rarly make good commnets buth they are the ones most in need of help. To ask "Why did you think that??"

Wish I had an answer, I just have thoughts .


Mon Dec 08, 03:14:00 PM EST  


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