No #No - more #Less

· May 25, 2015

Twitter is a wonderful forum and I owe much of my knowledge and progress from sparks found in tweets and from following interesting people and threads. But according Spiderman wisdom it, like all thing powerful;

yada yada yada ... great responsibility

I have seen many of my good friends being bashed, or they themselves lashing out towards people on Twitter. A couple of times I have been hit by just a small portion of that and it hurts. I’ve considered quitting it altogether a couple time. As many of my colleagues has done.

In this post I wanted to examine a Twitter phenomena and see what I can learn about how I communicate. Please join me.

Someone said:

The best thing with Twitter is that it's only 140 chars. The worst thing with Twitter is that it's only 140 chars.

This is very true. And I think this is the reason that we jump to simple, powerful statement that can be misunderstood. The word “tweetable” is both great but also a bit dangerous. If it’s tweetable it’s most likely very “misunderstoodable” too. Or at least “interpretable”.


Never does this shine more than in the use of hash-tags. This is a very clever way to tag tweets per topic. At the Yow West 2015 conference everyone can tag posts with #yowwest15 for example and easily find everthing related. Or we might us #tweetAPictureYouCannotExplain to get some really strange photos.

Sometimes entire movements and communities has been created this way. And in order to sum up what they stand for they might come out a little bit hard. #NoSQL is such movement. It didn’t start as a hashtag (I think). It at least very hash-tag-friendly. #NoEstimates is another. #NoCV, #NoProject and #NoManagers is others I’ve seen and followed from time-to-time.

And in every single instance of the #No-tags above, there’s a bunch of people upset. “NO SQL - HOW ON EARTH WOULD THAT …”, “Well explain to me how my customer could do without …” or “No CV? NO? CV? How would we be able to …” And maybe that was the whole idea; spring animated discussions into life.

In most of the cases I mentioned above the creators of the tags / movements spend the rest of the life-time of the movement trying to explain that it “didn’t mean absolutely no SQL / relational databases ever… it’s more like not only SQL”.

It’s a little bit like the Pirate Laws of The Pirate of the Caribbeans:

The Pirate Laws are more guidelines than rules, actually


Because “No” is an absolute. Very few people deals in absolutes. I have done sometimes and I always (see what I mean!) regretted that and had to change my mind afterwards. There’s no room for discussion with a No. Since it’s absolute.

“No Managers!”

“But what if …”

“No! I said No and I stand by it. No means 0!”

…would no one I know tweeting on the #NoManagers reason. Because they didn’t mean no, most likely. They wanted to challenge the status quo. But the tag does mean “No!”. Because that’s what it says: #NoManagers.


If I got to define a tag… hey I can!… I would be very careful using absolutes like #No. I would rather use some kind of relative term like Less.

This shows the intention, will surely spark discussion anyway and in most cases, that I’m aware of, better communicate the true meaning of the tag in the first place. #NoSql - #LessSql. #NoEstimates - #LessEstimates. #NoManagers - #FewerManagers (because #BetterGrammar) etc.

Now that I see these listed I might try to challenge myself and see if I instead of a #Less-oriented tag, can come up with a more positive toned version…

“#NoManagers -> #LessManagers -> #MoreLeaders -> #MoreFellows” I don’t know. Maybe it’s impossible.


I have a little bit of a problem with things that is defined by what they are against. They sole reason to exist is to be against something else… It feels a bit angry and dare I say hateful I think. For evil I’m ok with it maybe, but other than that… doesn’t sit right with me.

Woody Zuill (ironically, for this post, the creator of the #NoEstimates hash tag, I know) once told me that the way they discovered mob programming as a way to work in his team was by doing great retrospectives.

“Ah I see.”, I said. “Identify good and bad. Trying to do more of the good, and take away the bad. Things like that?”

“Well… we only did more of the good if I remember correctly”, was his mellow response.

I like that. Focus on the good parts. Focus on the goodness I (we) can add rather than the badness we can destroy.

The Salvation Army is “at war” with evil. Has been since 1865, when it was founded.


We try to make the world better for the people in the greatest need through our ministry. Has done since 1865.

Which is nicer? Does it say the same thing?


I want No #No tags.

I want more #Less tags.

I think that will show the intention and meaning equally well and give a little bit more positive tone.

And will never make absolute statements again! Never ever!

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