It’s no secret that I’ve been fairly active on a couple of SQL forums for a couple of years. In that time I’ve seen all sorts of behaviour on forums, good and bad. By this point, most of that just doesn’t bother me any longer. There is one thing however that still gets me angry when I see it. Blatently bad advice.
Now, I’m not talking about first-attempt solutions that solve half of the query problem, I’m not talking about honest mistakes and I’m not talking about attempted answers to questions so vague they’re near-impossible to understand. I’m talking about advice that’s so bad it’s dangerous. I’m talking about things like this:
Q: My transaction log’s very large. What can I do to fix this?
A: Stop SQL, find the ldf file, delete it and then start SQL
Q: Dropping a clustered index on a large table takes a long time using drop index. Is there a faster way?
A: Run sp_configure “allow updates, 1 and then run delete from sysindexes where id = OBJECT_ID(‘MyTableName’) AND indid = 1
There’s two main problems with bad advice.
Firstly, the person asking possibly doesn’t understand enought to realise the advice is risky, and if they follow it without testing they could end up in a much worse situation than they were. Dependiong on the circumstances they may end up in trouble with their boss, they may even end up getting fired. Whether they realise the advice is bad before or after trying it out, it’ll erode their faith both in the forum and in the person who provided the information. That leads to the the second problem.
The second problem is damaged credibility and reputation. A good reputation is so hard to get in this industry and so easy to lose. Bad advice damages the forum’s reputation and the reputation of the person posting the advice. Brent Ozar puts it very well: “Being an expert means having credibility. It doesn’t matter how much you know if people don’t trust your answers.”
Then, of course, some other person on the forum has to come along and correct the bad advice and explain why it’s bad so that people who find the thread via google won’t think it’s useful
Bottom line, bad advice helps no one and hurts a number of people.