Drinking from the, erm... garden hose?

posted on 6th Feb 2008

So, I finally signed up to dotnetkicks, and submitted my first story - it just happened to be my own "Build Providers: Strongly typed page urls in ASP.NET" post - which is an interesting take on improving productivity by using a build provider to create a strongly typed hierarchy of the files in your Visual Studio project, to avoid mis-typing page locations and improving intellisense.

On the same page

It turns out that Kirill Chilingarashvili was trying to solve the same issue with his solution last month - and while our methods in getting there differ, the end result is surprisingly similar. I only became aware of his method after submitting my post to dotnetkicks - I saw it a few entries down from mine just after I submitted it, and was a little jealous of his title "Auto generate strong typed navigation class for all user controls in ASP.NET web application" - how did I miss those very key words: auto generate and navigation class :)

It turns out that others thought the idea was interesting as well - and I feel the smallest amount of pride at the interested traffic dotnetkicks has sent my way. It's not exactly a deluge, like when you hear about sites getting slashdotted into the fiery pits of hell. No, but the near 500 views in a few days has totally outclassed my other posts which have been sitting there for some time, content rich of course, and earning visits from google.

Lets look at a few of my post stats...

Post Published Views Notes
The Smield: An unobtrusive javascript UI Helping Smart Field May 2007 652 Written 9 months ago, lots of content, indexed in google, most popular "all time" post... (but not for long?)
Building an Age Class in C# May 2007 552 Posted 9 months ago, not a lot of contention in search engines, gained a lot of popularity just before Christmas :)
Build Providers: Strongly typed page urls in ASP.NET Feb 2008 490 Published a few days ago, interesting content, submitted to community site (dotnetkicks).
Programmatically setting the SmtpClient pickup directory location at runtime Dec 2007 157 Recent addition, targeted content, good hit rate from search engines - pretty good popularity rise considering no outward push to gain popularity.

Recent addition, targeted content, good hit rate from search engines - pretty good popularity rise considering no outward push to gain popularity.

It's paltry figures by other popular bloggers standards (Haacked has almost 8,000 subscribers, egads!), but you have to start somewhere right?! It's about this time that you realise the power the community has, and how important it is if you want your 'hard work' and sharing to be seen and, erm, shared.

Originally, I wasn't going to 'push' or 'promote' articles out there. I thought that, if the content was good enough, readers would come to you (queue waynes world, if you build it, they will come, quote). It's still true that if you produce good content, you'll slowly gain readers and popularity. Search engines will slowly help you get there; Seeing that the build provider article posted to dotnetkicks has ousted my 'slow and steady' approach of my previous entries within the course of  couple of days, slow and steady seems a little too slow all of a sudden.

Initially, the thought of submitting a story I had also published seemed absurd, a little too much like 'gaming the system', but upon closer inspection, I saw a few bloggers I read regularly, posting their own content as well - some quite often.

Is this wrong?

From my perspective I want more people to read what I have to offer as I'm trying to fill a gap where I saw no previous content. The community is a great sounding board, it gives the ideas you have validation; how do you know if it's good, bad, works or not or is well-written if no one reads it? Google's certainly not going to tell me, "nice article Dave". It's a robot! At least not yet... I think there was a badly re-constituted analogy about trees and sound, and falling in the woods in there somewhere... but I'm not sure. I'm not regurgitating other peoples work, like what was going down for a brief period on the main feed of weblogs.asp.net after they opened up the blogs, but I wouldn't mind trying to get some of my older posts validated as it may be useful to others - or not. How will we know?

So, when does submitting your own stories to community sites become obnoxious and frowned upon? Technically, the submission is only the first minor step; the content itself draws the votes or 'kicks' and propels it up the list. Validation by popularity certainly sounds above board. Is there etiquette around such things?

It's not a community without you... and you.... and yeah, you too

I'm not sure why it took me so long to join dotnetkicks, but I'm glad I'm there now. If you're a .NET developer, I'd encourage you to sign up as well by shouting you a prized chocolate fish from my youth, but you won't need it once you realise what a great resource you've signed up to. And remember to kick things when you like them!