I have never really worried about credibility of sources on the internet. Yesterday's and today's events related to MongoDB on hackerne.ws got me thinking, however. Something evil roamed the interwebs.

The Dark Side of the Force

> Luke: Is the dark side stronger?
> Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.

To sum it up quickly: somebody posted a link to an article titled "Don't use MongoDB" on pastebin yesterday. The whole thing went viral pretty quickly and has probably had a couple of thousand readers by now. The author, who wants to remain anonymous for political reasons (of course), claims that MongoDB has suffered major breakdowns in a very large production system. It's a warning to the reader that MongoDB is a product of the dark side of the force, seducing developers to commit to an unstable technology that is quicker, easier and more seductive, but dangerous in the long run.

Today, the same user admitted that the story was a hoax - which does not prevent the clan of conspiracy theorists to claim the withdrawal is a hoax, but more on that later.

Appealing to Neophobia

The story gained enough attention that Eliot Horowitz posted an official 10gen statement, in which he sensitively addresses all issues in detail. He admits that there are still some rough edges to MongoDB, but he also clearly says that most allegations, especially that MongoDB is randomly losing data are false, and no such issues have ever been reported.

I clearly side with 10gen for various reasons, but maybe the big picture is even more relevant. Let's sum this up quickly:
An anonymous author claims he's had catastrophic problems with a big dataset, but obviously he can't name the company or product. Of course, the author couldn't speak for political reasons before, but to protect his fellow developers he now risks his job or maybe more - yay, he's self-sacrificing himself for us!

And of course, the problem occurred with something new that needs a lot of re-thinking. Let's face it: most people are afraid of new things, they're afraid of change. And when it comes to technology, it's often absurd: doctors in the nineteenth century argued that trains were dangerous because nobody could ever withstand such 'breathtaking' speeds.

Paths to the Truth

It's surprising how easy it is for someone who remains anonymous to damage the reputation of a product and a company in this way - and how little people put such allegations under scrutiny. (Allegedly, that is what the hoax author wanted to prove in the first place).

Of course, this raises the question how a startup can protect itself from such attacks, especially one that develops business critical software?
Transparency!
MongoDB and its drivers are open-source, their Jira is publically accessible and their team is ultra responsive - I have been working with MongoDB for almost two years now, and I have never seen any of the reported issues on the newsgroup or the Jira. And since the code and the discussions are hosted by third parties, manipulation (for the conspiracy theorists) can be ruled out as well.

I believe 10gen's strategy of transparency has worked out in the past and will continue to do so, both in terms of product and in terms of company values.

I hope the whole incident will boost MongoDB's popularity in the end. Which makes me think... Maybe they've even set it up themselves!? Maybe it was Oracle, or the guys from Redmond? Langley?

Anyway, you figure it out while I return to coding - using MongoDB, of course.