It took me several years to realize that I have serious issues with a particular kind of evangelists. This is not only about computer software evangelists, but a more general conclusion about evangelism in various aspects of real life, including computers and software. In general, I should clarify that I am not against evangelism. Actually, I consider it our normal response to situations that we get overexcited about various things on which we spend our free time or things we work on professionally.
As I see it, problems begin to arise when people start evangelizing for things they hardly know. Many people “spread the word” without previously having attempted to go even through the basics of those things. I believe this mostly happens because it was not those things’ technical details that had attracted them in the first place, but their involvement was due to the fact that those things happened to comply (partially or in whole) with their religious or political views or their perception of the world in general.
Regarding free software, one could easily assume that I am mostly against new users, who, right after installing a Linux distribution for the first time, they raid the forums, blogs and technology-related social sites writing dithyrambic comments about how much better free software is compared to proprietary solutions and how much they hate particular proprietary software vendors. Obviously, such behavior is rather driven by those people’s ambition to convert others to their ideas and philosophy than by their personal experience of the advantages of the actual use of free software in the everyday computing.
Evangelism is necessary. But, evangelizing for things without previously going through their technical details is useless and might become dangerous under specific circumstances. This does not imply that we should become experts on all the things we talk about, but, at least, we should have a general view of their advantages and disadvantages prior to spreading the word and trying to convert others. I cannot claim that I have never evangelized for things I had not had a good knowledge of or any knowledge at all. That would be stupid as it is very easy to make that mistake and almost everyone might have made it at some point in their lives. Nevertheless, no matter how common this mistake is, such behavior is still useless and should be avoided.
The Greenhorn Evangelists by George Notaras, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.