That was essentially reader Gabriel posted on my post Suppressing repeating values in SQL.
At first my reaction was just to ignore it as I felt it was too odd. But then use FarMan posted a complete opposite “Dude, you just saved my life. Thanks so much!”. Could the same post really get so different reactions?
Gabriel’s question was:
“The above is a neat trick, but only for the purpose of showing off. What’s the use? Please enlighten me, because I’m totally missing the point why you would waste your time and talent on this.”
At first I didn’t think much of it and just took it as a comment about some feature not being what Gabriel needed. But while it was probably not what Gabriel was asking, there may be a reason to question if blogging is just a way to show off?
After thinking about it, I’d say that yes it probably is a little bit. Anyone writing a blog does it out of interest to attract readers and to share their knowledge or experience in some way. But is an interest in writing and sharing ones knowledge necessarily the same thing as bragging?
I dont think it is, but I think there are blogs that does just that. You know the ones, I know the ones. However, I do not intend to point them out by name. The ones that does not share knowledge. A blog that just claims a point and states that the author can fix it by applying their special magic. Especially when claiming things other people rarely see or even think is a problem, but with no test case, no data, and no shared approach it is hard to prove otherwise. Even if such a blog would be correct, there is nothing anyone else can learn from it. Such posts clearly serves to boost the ego of the writer without letting other people learn something.
However, blogs written following Tom Kyte’s teachings on “Do not trust anyone, prove it to yourself” where all claims must have an appropriate testcase with setup, expected result, and explanation for how to fix the problem are not bragging. those are the ones that allows everyone to take the tests and run them and if the conclusions are faulty an engaging debate about how to better evaluate and troubleshoot the issue. Such posts rather puts the author at risk of being humbled by the masters of the field in case their claim is based on a misunderstanding.
I also object against the idea that showing a way to use a technology in a way that has no apparent immediate application to be bragging or just useless. I think that surpressing values has a great application in “some” cases. But even if you do not, the suppression testcase shows how you can relate one row to the last one and base operations in the SQL on it. Clearly that can be useful if the data has a relationship that is useful to the intended result of the query. Seeing a way today for how a certain feature works or some obscure way to use SQL may very well solve a problem you didn’t know that you’ll have tomorrow.
That is exactly why reading blogs is useful. When you need a feature, you may have read about it in a blog a few months earlier. It may even have been mine and you could have thought “what a waste, there is no need whatsoever for this feature”. Then one day you realize that your problem can be solved by using that obscure feature you read about a while back. Hopefully Gabriel will one day find a use for suppressing values and may then remember the post he read about it. Or maybe someone finds a much better way to do it and then through a comment here we’ll all learn of that way to implement suppression.