The Dangers of Misinformation

Marcus Zarra on the dangers of misinformation:

As developers, we are frequently using the internet to help us solve issues. We run across an error code, a crash, or another type of problem and we usually go to the internet. With the vast amount of knowledge that is available, and the incredible search engines that we have at our disposal, it is pretty easy to find someone else who has already run across the issue. Sites like StackOverflow make it even easier to find other people who have experienced the issue we are running across.

The issue is that we don’t really know if the information being shared with us is accurate. The author of that post, or response, may be guessing. They may have found a hack or workaround that kind of works, for now. They may be completely wrong and are treating a symptom as the actual problem.

I agree with the premise of this whole article. It’s so hard in the ever changing world of tech to know what is still accurate and what isn’t. Just today I had to update a tutorial I wrote back in September. The basics of it was the same, but the dependencies changed enough to make it not work and in turn cause frustration for readers.

I’ve noticed in my own searching habits, that when looking for tutorials I always look for the published date. If it’s over six months old chances are it isn’t even accurate.