I'm with Jeremy Wright on this one. What's with the Joel fan club in Toronto? (There are currently 29 members.) Are there clubs like this for other major metro areas?

Can someone enlighten me a bit here? What am I missing? The guy runs a software company in New York, once worked for the Evil Empire, and blogs now and then. What's the deal?

It's not like he's JWZ (blog) or anything...

Posted by jzawodn at November 08, 2003 08:05 PM

Reader Comments
# JWZ said:

What's Jeremy Zawodny's middle name? It doesn't start with a "W" does it?

on November 8, 2003 08:21 PM
# Luke said:

I don't get it either. It's like a personality cult or something.

on November 8, 2003 08:30 PM
# CIAwallst said:

Joel is a good guy. There are lot's of pretenders out there. He is not one of them. Joel reminds me of an old golf adage. "If you want to be a good putter, hand around good putter's". A simple saying like that can convey a lot of meaning. Joel is very easy to learn from, and that's another rare commodity. The guy was involved in writing code from the ground floor up on the worlds most popular and best spread sheet tool (Excel)...for the richest corporation on the planet. Then parlayed that knowledge into owning his own software company. I think it's safe to say he's a pretty good putter. Don't get me wrong, I think the whole "fan club" thing is hokie too...but JOS is the real deal.

Ok Joel.... where's my 50 bucks ;^}


on November 8, 2003 09:17 PM
# Jeremy C. Wright said:

Yeah, but he's not the only one Joi Ito has a very popular IRC channel, newsletter and following. I mean, I understand a certain level of respect, but really just never got the whole 'blog personality phenom' thing.

on November 8, 2003 09:46 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

A newsletter and an IRC channel?

What the hell?

I've visited his site a few times, and now I'm even more baffled. Maybe it's like Spinal Tap--he's "big in Japan" or something.

Oh, well. If that's how people want to spend their time, so be it. Doesn't bother me. Baffles me, but doesn't bother me.

on November 8, 2003 09:56 PM
# Ned Batchelder said:

I suspect it isn't so much a fan club for Joel as it is a community of like-minded developers. They've coalesced around Joelonsoftware, and find they have a lot in common, an appreciation for JOS being just one of them.

It's like the Python Meetups, or any of the other "we've got something in common online, how about we get together in meatspace" things going on. This one seems more baffling because there's a single person at the heart of it, but it's not the person, it's the site, and the discussions on the site, and the community participating in those discussions.

I hope. :-)

on November 9, 2003 04:57 AM
# Jeremy C. Wright said:

Ned, I considered that, but then I asked myself what I'd do. I mean, say I read a magazine I love (like Business 2.0 or Wired). Would I start a "Wired in Toronto" club, or a "#wired" IRC channel? Never.

Nor would I join one.

Now the funny thing is that most of the people who do this are perfectly logical professionals just like you and me. I guess it's just something I'll never likely understand.

Shoot me if there's ever an #ensight channel though, alright?

on November 9, 2003 06:50 AM
# Courtney said:

Some people have such a lack of self that they need someone to emulate. Others just like to give adoration. Still others, I think, are just bored.

on November 9, 2003 10:32 AM
# Pete said:

Joel's web site has [b]tons[/b] of great info. Wow! Certainly vastly more useful than a one-trick MySQL pony.

on November 9, 2003 11:23 AM
# Eric Hancock said:

Is it stranger that these groups are forming, or that Joel is encouraging them? If that happened to me, I'd be freaked out.

on November 9, 2003 06:51 PM
# Jeremy C. Wright said:

Eric, I feel ill-equipped to answer that question!

on November 10, 2003 08:30 AM
# Mike Hillyer said:

If it happened to me, i would discourage it with a fierceness. I guess that is the difference. While I do like Joel's information, I tend to think he has a tendancy to toot his own horn.Oh, and Pete: If you don't like it go somewhere else.

on November 10, 2003 08:30 AM
# pete said:

Here's a thought... Name an open-source programmer/developer you think does good work. Perhaps you admire this person, or at least think their code is above average.

Now, name a Windows programmer/developer you think does good work. Can you? The only one I could think of would be Joel. Read the discussion section of Joel's site. Windows developers look up to him quite a bit. Granted they think quite differently than open-source programmers, so I can't exactly understand it either...

on November 10, 2003 10:13 AM
# Jeremy C. Wright said:

I can think of dozens of Windows programmers I look up to. The environment you program in doesn't in any way define the quality of developer you are.

Heck, some of the "Windows guys" I know are the same ones who helped start Verisign, helped define SSL, developed the C++ specification, are in senior levels at Borland, etc.

The fact that they are Windows developers has no bearing on their experience, expertise or my respect for them... In fact until you asked I never drew any distinction between "open source" and "windows" (of course there are more groups than this, I would have thought).

So, thanks for ... For what, Pete, for making me ...

Dunno, I'm drawing a blank.


on November 10, 2003 01:33 PM
# saberworks said:

One thing that's really nice about Joel compared to other bloggers (*cough*) is that he actually responds to email.

on November 11, 2003 10:34 AM
# saberworks said:

Also, he has things on there that developers are interested in. He posts lengthy articles on all types of development and business problems. He is respectful of his guests and he keeps his blog focused. He doesn't generally talk about stuff that's not interesting to developers. I followed that link to JWZ and I didn't find one thing on there that was even remotely interesting. I guess the point is, I (and people like me) visit blogs not for the personal ramblings of the bloggers, but for those few that actually have things to say. Do you honestly think I visit your blog because of the personal information about your trips across the world? Or because I like to read about your dad's computer problems? Or because you have a problem with Google and you think they're copying Yahoo all the time? No, I visit your blog for the occasional useful bit of MySQL information that pops up. That's about it.

on November 11, 2003 10:38 AM
# Jeremy C. Wright said:

Yeah, but the question is what takes someone from enjoying a blogger to having a fan club, organizing gatherings in cities (where the blogger won't be), etc?

That's the leap I simply can't understand.

on November 11, 2003 01:33 PM
# saberworks said:

Well, that's because his "blog" is more than a blog. It's not your typical source of useless personal information. Instead, there are tons of programming and business related feature-length articles. On top of that, there are message board areas where visitors can start their own discussions. People have been posting there for a long time and are generally "friends" with eachother. It really has nothing to do with being a fan of "Joel" himself, but rather being a fan of "Joel on Software" - the web site. At least, that's my opinion. I go there now more for the message boards than his postings :)

on November 11, 2003 05:25 PM
# Jeremy C. Wright said:

Again, I still don't get the leap to having fanclubs. I can understand communities. I used to help lead one of 40,000 developers. I can understand a feature-length style blog (:smirk:).

Maybe my problem is that I would never participate in or start any kind of fanclub. Sure, I can understand how others can do it for big stars, I just don't see Joel as anywhere near a big star and don't see how people benefit from a community based around him.

Ergh, eh? *L*

on November 12, 2003 08:05 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Okay, I see what you're saying. It's a little less odd than I first thought, but as Jeremy Wright says, it's still a bit of a leap.

on November 12, 2003 12:18 PM
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