The Parable Of the Hijacked Thread:

The Parable Of the Hijacked Thread:

One time after a town hall meeting, Kristóbal was asked by the people to explain how he viewed the new Tea Party movement.  Some in the audience claimed that the Tea Party was composed of uneducated racist bigots. Still others believed that the Tea Party was made of proud patriots who believe in the constitution and the original vision of the founding fathers. He considered his response carefully. Instead of giving a straightforward answer, he told the following parable:

Once a man named Oregon wanted to find all the photos on his PC, so he searched: “*.jpg“, (less quotes). Everything was going fine when to his dismay he received an error that said:

Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime Library

Runtime Error!


He tried to ignore the error, but to his chagrin, his search would instantly terminate each time he received the message.

Well, he tried everything he could think of, since he was very smart and savvy with computers and technology, but still could not find a solution. That’s when he decided to post to a forum-surely someone else had had the same problem and it would not be long before some helpful soul would post a solution.

Quickly he posted a specific, yet concise explanation of the problem including the error message above. For days other posts came in from people saying they had the exact same problem and asking if anyone had found a fix yet, but there was no reply. Until one day, a well-intentioned, but somewhat naive woman named Florida offered to help OREGON and all the others like him who had been having the same problem. She told them all of a solution that had worked perfectly for her and implored them to try it.

Right away the responses started to come in from folks who had had success with the solution Florida described. But, there was something wrong – the solution was to “Runtime Error! Program: C:Program FilesInternet ExplorerIEXPLORE.EXE” – an entirely different problem that only looked similar! The folks claiming success, also misread or misunderstood the question OREGON had posted, but for some, it was just the solution they were looking for, and they continued to praise her for it.

OREGON and others like him watched in horror as day-by-day, more responses of success with Florida’s solution kept pouring in, all the while wondering what had happened here? To make matters worse, many more people visiting the post felt they didn’t have time to do much if any reading or research on the issue, and misguidedly thought that the solution to the EXPLORER problem had been found, since so many had claimed success on the thread.

Only after trying Florida’s solution multiple times did they realize it was faulty, and now they must start the search for answers all over again. Those who understood the original issue were now in the educated minority, and more desperate than ever for a REAL solution.

Finally, fed up with hearing the wrong answer over-and-over again, and still hoping for a real solution to the original problem, others who understood the difference between OREGON’s problem and the one that FLORIDA had actually addressed, stood up and as one voice they typed

I don’t understand what has happened here. I’m VERY confused how this discussion morphed from one about Windows Explorer to one about Internet Exlorer … Has anyone solved the problem with EXPLORER.EXE ???“, they cried.

The thread had been hijacked, not by trolls or hackers, but by well-meaning folks with good intentions, who thought they were helping. Well, some of the folks who understood the difference between the two issues tried to steer the discussion back on course, but by now it was too late … Somehow, the wrong people proposed wrong solutions to the wrong problem. And the train it wouldn’t stop going – nor would it even slow down.

After he had spoken these words, Kristóbal became very hungry, thus he proclaimed to the gathered masses “I’m hungry – Let’s get lunch!

© 2010 – Eric “Kristobaldude” Hepperle

Date Published: 2010-09-02
Date Updated: 2022-09-05

Eric Hepperle

Eric loves to write code, play guitar, and help businesses solve challenges with code and design.
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