Blasphemous technical writing

This is so, so, so wrong! I want to hold back but I can’t hold back no more!

This article from Petapixel appeared in my daily news feed last week. When I saw the title “Seagate performed best in Backblaze’s 2020 Hard Drive Failure Report“, I literally jumped. My immediate thoughts were “This can’t be right“.

Labelling Seagate as the best performer in a Backblaze report not only sounded oxymoronic. It was moronic. For those of us who have the industry experience, we know enough that this cannot be true with just a one fell swoop statement.

Petapixel misleading article title

Backblaze report

Backblaze has been releasing Hard Drive Stats and Report every quarter since 2013. For many of us practitioners, the report has been the de facto standard and indicator of hard disks reliability. Inadvertently, it defines the quality of the hard disk drives associated with the respective manufacturer’s brand and models.

Backblaze goes through a lot of hard disk drives every year, and in the 2020 report, it has over 160,000 hard disk drives in operations. The first column I always look at is AFR (annualized failure rates), which is the last column.

Backblaze Hard Drive Failure Rates 2020 Report

First of all, this report was released in January 2021. I did not understand why Petapixel only published their article on the report in April, 3 months later. This was old news.

Secondly the reporting of the 6TB Seagate disk drive having the “best” AFR % is also wrong. Running through the rows of the table, WDC 14TB (the last row of the table) has an AFR of 0.16% versus 0.23% of the said Seagate 6TB drive, which meant that WDC should be the better performer.

I hate to be nitpicking but the title of the article riled me up so much that I had to be pedantic about what and how it was written. At lot of the content felt like it was “copy-and-paste” with a few comments inserted. The content felt regurgitated from another source.

Outdated information

Besides this Petapixel article boo-boo, there was another one while gave out the inaccurate information. Back in January 2021 another article, this time by Solution Review which I did not agree. It showcased the “The 14 Top Hyperconverged Infrastructure Vendors for 2021“. The problem was one of the 14 vendors, Stratoscale, has shut down 13 months ago before this article was published.

Stratoscale on Solutions Review

The Solutions Review article which rated Stratoscale as one of the top 14 vendors but appeared unaware that the company has shutdown over a year ago. Even the Wikipedia page said so.

Damaging thoughts

Both the articles from Petapixel and Solutions Review are not good for the storage networking industry. Giving out the wrong and inaccurate information is doing the industry a great disservice. And when such articles are written by outsiders that do not have the DNA and the technology vibe of the industry, it pains me to see these misinformation widespread over the technology readers’ community.

In Bahasa Malaysia, or Malay, there is a proverb called “Seperti ketam mengajar anaknya berjalan betul“. The crab walks sideways but it is just hypocrisy when it teaches its younglings to walk in the proper manner. This proverb is apt to describe the technical writers of these 2 articles that do not do justice to the readers seeking consultative advice with accurate and correct information to learn. To me, as an industry pundit and practitioner in the storage networking industry of almost 30 years, it is blasphemous.

In the end, I believe Seagate would be very pleased with the free promotion


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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 30 years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because those are my areas of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to know the facts and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and between 2013-2015, I was SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently employed at iXsystems as their General Manager for Asia Pacific Japan.

One Response to Blasphemous technical writing

  1. Pingback: How to Mislead Readers with Technical Writing - Gestalt IT

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