Kicking off a series of posts criticizing history podcasts is in a way a breach of style in this blog. It is my rule to write what is good about the podcasts I write about; if they are bad it is better not to write about them at all. Yet, as I also said in the interview at When Diplomacy Fails, I would love to sit down with any podcaster and shape them up a bit. The ultimate goal is to improve.
There is a parallel with my day job. I work in QA, that is, quality assurance, you can call it software testing, but the goal is not simply to find the bugs. Especially these days when software is rolled out at high speed. This is called continuous development, or even continuous deployment; new software is installed and patched up all the time. It is accepted that there are bugs with the end users, the idea is that the fixes come immediately. The role of QA is less clear in this constant flux, but we still search for the bugs and we report them so that they are fixed before reaching the end users.
The way I see it, one must report the bug, but the real goal is to make the developers do a better job. We must train them to dot their i's and cross their t's; to close their objects and clean the garbage. And this is what I need to establish as a reviewer to the podcasts.
For this I may come across as a grumpy man, but I am really pushing for better podcasts. I hope that as a reviewer I have the same authority as I have as a senior QA professional and my reports of what is wrong is taken seriously.
The reason I am aggravated and worried is that some of my criticisms apply nearly across the board. Almost nobody is doing it right and established podcasters are giving a bad example. I am worried that this can mean the death of history podcasting.