Don’t play with matches in a dry wooded area. Don’t put a detailed rant on Hacker News unless you’re prepared to start a fire.
An anonymous pastebin post from this weekend slammed the MongoDB database architecture and in particular the support from 10Gen, the AlleyCorp company with deep ties to MongoDB. It quickly raced to the top of Hacker News and from there around the developer community.
The screed got a ton of attention, to the point where 10Gen CTO Eliot Horowitz jumped into the comments on Hacker News and addressed the complaints point by point. Mr. Horowitz conceded that a lot of the issues where known complaints about MongoDB, but also highlighted the fact that many details from the post didn’t match up to any of what 10Gen offered or any of their customer records.
In fact, deep in the comments on the Hacker News post, the “originator” of the pastebin post appeared to claim he was just a troll testing the masses to see who were sheep. “My intention was to troll as many hipsters as possible and make them a little more aware of how easy to manipulate they are, without even providing the slightest bit of evidence. It cracks me up that there are startups out there right now, making foolish architecture decisions based on the FUD i’m spreading. Start thinking for yourself!”
This begat a new cycle of finger pointing and skepticism, as the comment board rushed to determine if the troll taking responsibility truly was the original offender or simply an anon seeking attention. Meanwhile folks like Harry Heymann from foursquare and Wedge Martin from badgeville posted about their personal experiences with 10Gen.
“I run engineering for foursquare,” wrote Mr. Heymann. “About a year and a half ago my colleagues and I and made the decision to migrate to MongoDB for our primary data store. Currently we have dozens of MongoDB instances across several different data clusters storing over a TB of data and handling 10s of thousands of requests per second (mostly reads but the write load is reasonably high as well). Have we run into problems with MongoDB along the way? Yes, of course we have. It is a new technology and problems happen. Have they been problematic enough to seriously threaten our data? No they have not. MongoDB is a complicated beast (as are most datastores). It makes tradeoffs that you need to understand when thinking about using it. It’s not necessarily for everyone. But it most certainly can be used by serious companies building serious products. Foursquare is proof of that.”
Eventually a post appeared on Read Write Web wondering what the damage to 10Gen and MongoDB’s reputation might be. This seems a bit much, given the poster was only pointing to known issues and had several inconsistencies in their story. The powerful reaction does point to a very real debate about MongoDB and where the future of database architecture is headed. But the community knows a troll when they see one, and rallied to push 10Gen CTO’s Eliot Horowitz’s response to the top the Hacker News thread.