I’m a big movie fan. Not the kind that makes me think deep though, I do that enough already. I like the kind that’s entertaining, the kind that makes your mind go blank. My favorite genre is romcom. One of my favorite romcoms is Music & Lyrics, starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. The reason I’m bringing this up is that Hugh Grant plays an over the hill pop star (clearly inspired by Wham!) who does “Pros and Cons” with his manager for each (somewhat) important decision he has to make. I find those bits very amusing, and if you have no idea how “Pros and Cons” works, check out http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0758766/quotes?qt1306578.

I’m mentioning “Pros and Cons” here because it is also one of my favorite blends of Wiki articles.  Another thing you need to know about me is that I have a thing for the underdog. Combining these two pieces of information, you will understand why I wrote this particular article. In this article spotlight, I want to highlight one of my own “Pros and Cons” Wiki  articles. You’ve probably seen heated discussions about .NET vs Java, Hungarian notation, Windows vs Linux, Windows vs Mac, and the list goes on and on. As a developer/architect/consultant, I work with SharePoint every day, and if I’d have to identify one single topic that is susceptible to heated discussions, it’s the use of folders. Nowadays, the use of  olders in SharePoint seems to be considered “not done” by civilized people. I’ve searched around a bit and gathered some quotes to give you the idea…

“Everybody who works with SharePoint will tell you that you shouldn’t use folders to manage your documents”

“Folders in SharePoint document libraries - Why???  This is something which happens everytime again when you look at users who start working with SharePoint. They start creating folders within document libraries. NOOOOO .... metadata is the way to go in SharePoint”

“Don't use folders in SharePoint!”

“Folders don’t work well on the web.”

“When someone first shows me how they’re using SharePoint I look for a sure sign whether they understand and have implemented the SharePoint paradigm to document management—I look for a folder. Granted using an occasional folder here and there is not the end of the world and doesn’t prove someone doesn’t know how to use SharePoint effectively. But if folders are used in a similar fashion to one’s hard drive it is indicative in a lack of understanding”

Folders are seen as very old school”

“I think folders are an antiquated way of storing and retrieving content, and I’m not alone in this.  Google agrees with me.  Yes, the multi-billion dollar organization has a singular hive mind – and this massive mind agrees with me.”

I could have found more quotes, I could have listed the authors, and I could have listed the sources. I didn’t, the list is long enough to illustrate the point, and the quotes are easy to retrace, but I didn’t write this blog post to start a new discussion about SharePoint folders, therefore, I deemed it wiser to refrain from becoming too personal. I do happen to  believe that folders have their place in SharePoint world, therefore I started the following Wiki page: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/8680.sharepoint-2010-best-practices-folders-not-necessarily-considered-evil.aspx (the title is in clear reference to Dijkstra’s famous “Go To Statement Considered Harmful”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Considered_harmful).

I like this Wiki page a lot, and I like the idea of Wiki “Pros and Cons” pages a lot, because it accomplishes two things:

  • The result is an organic page that allows you to exchange arguments and reach a deeper understanding of the discussion.
  • It filters out all heated emotions.

To verify the second statement, compare my Wiki page to a lot of the posts out there about the same topic. These posts generally get at least a couple of furious comments that indicate that the author may have suffered a (temporary) lack of judgment. The discussion surrounding the Wiki page however, remained good natured throughout. Why is that? I guess Wikis aren’t so much about being right or wrong; they’re about sharing and improving information.