Job postings on newsgroups

Recently (July, 2006) I've been getting increasingly frustrated with recruiters posting on technical newsgroups. Rather than letting my annoyance go unnoticed, I tend to email the recruiter involved and let them know my thoughts on the matter. Usually the agent involved backs away fairly politely and apologetically, but by that stage it's already taken some of my time (with the hope that it will prevent future annoyance, at least from that particular agency). This page was created so that instead of arguing my case each time, I can do it once and just mail a URL in future.

Job adverts don't belong in technical newsgroups

The primary purpose of this page is to persuade you that job adverts are about as welcome in technical newsgroups as double glazing salesmen knocking on your door while you're hosting a dinner party. If you already accept that, then the chances are this page isn't aimed at you.

Technical newsgroups are only as useful as the discussions which take place on them. Just as email has become harder to manage over time as levels of spam have increased, so newsgroups become harder to derive value from as the "signal to noise" ratio decreases. Now, you may think: "Well, one advert now and again doesn't hurt." Who gets to decide which one job advert is reasonable to be on a group, and which ones aren't? At the time of writing, shows over a thousand jobs in the US alone matching the search term "C#". If every job were to be listed in the C# newsgroup, it would become incredibly awkward to wade through those adverts in order to get to the interesting bit - the technical discussions. If one C# job advert is appropriate, why not all of them?

Do you want to alienate potential clients?

If I were looking for a job, I wouldn't look in the C# groups. I'd look on, I'd sign up with a recruitment agency etc. Does anyone think that people read the technical newsgroups with an eye to jobs? No - anyone reading a technical newsgroup is there for technical discussions. At that point, someone posting anything other than a technical discussion is instantly a distraction. Worse, because recruiters don't tend to have much technical nous (as adverts requiring longer experience with a product than that product has actually been around prove on a regular basis), there is a sense of an invasion of privacy.

I know, I know - the newsgroups are public. There's no privacy to start with. That's absolutely true. Now suppose you're having a drink with some friends in a public bar. A loudmouth comes in and interrupts your conversation, saying he's got this really good opportunity. Would you not feel a certain annoyance? The bar is just as public as newsgroups - what's being disrupted is the sense of community. In the case of the bar, the community is your direct friends. In the case of a newsgroup, it's the technical peers who ask and answer questions.

If I were in the market for a job, I'd not only not respond to a newsgroup advert - I'd positively avoid that company. By demonstrating a lack of netiquette, the company has shown that either they hold the technical community in contempt and don't care about how useful their resources are to them, or that they don't know anything about netiquette in the first place. That's not the kind of company I want to be associated with, and I believe the same is true for many other developers. (Certainly the reaction to job adverts in technical newsgroups is usually hostile.)

So please, leave the technical newsgroups for technical discussions. That's what they're there for.

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