Doing It Wrong?

I’ll be the first to admit that I love memes and that I love picking on some of my closest developer buddies – some of them live a few miles down the road, some of them live hundreds (or even thousands) of miles away.

We all work in a variety of different technologies in a variety of different cultures. Some of us are self-employed, some of us work for non-profits, some of us work for small businesses, and some of us work for large corporations.

But the one thing that we all have in common is that we love to code.

Applications Love Code

Give it to ’em. Give it to ’em good.

And, honestly, the majority of the people with whom I interact with on Twitter are programmers, too. Generally speaking, I wouldn’t have read half the stuff I’ve read online were it not for someone else sharing a link to their – or someone else’s – stuff.

The Internet is awesome like that, you know.

With all of that said, one thing that I can’t stand seeing is someone telling someone is that they are doing_it_wrong outside of talking with their personal friends, or their friends that they chat with online.

doing_it_wrong is Doing It Wrong

The reason that I bring up fellow developers that I know both personally and via the Internet is because, honestly, there’s one way that we talk with our friends that we don’t necessarily talk to those who don’t know or that we don’t know as well.

It’s common courtesy, right?

On top of that, there are things that are said in open conversation on mediums like Twitter or perhaps even blogs that are being read by other people are are simply lurking, who are likely younger and curious about the development community, and who are curious about what it is that we – as developers – are doing so that they can get a picture as to what our profession is like.

Furthermore, writing code is awesome. For those who do it for a living and love it, you know there’s few things that are as fulfilling as taking an idea and turning it into something usable and that solves a problem for someone else.

It’s an awesome career.

But man. Sometimes we eat our own. And one of the most common ways that I see people doing that – at least publicly – is by telling another person that they are doing_it_wrong.

Bad Programmer. No. Stop doing that!

Bad Programmer. No. Stahp doing that!

And the truth is, maybe they are, but what’s the point in telling someone that in that way?

It’s Condescending

People take criticism in all sorts of different ways. Some are thick skinned, some are incredibly sensitive, and the rest of us lie somewhere in the middle.

For those who have grown up on the Internet, you’ve likely developed some type of thick skin simply because in order to survive you’ve gotta learn that haters are gonna hate and if you want to continue being happy with the work that you’re publishing, you have to keep moving forward and ignoring some of the noise.

But my telling a friend face-to-face whom I’ve known for years while sitting in a room with him is far different than me calling someone out publicly via Twitter or their blog when I don’t really know the person.

We lack context online and no matter how we intend for our words to come across, they’re not guaranteed to be received that way.

They May Not Know Better

Perhaps the greatest danger is that someone has finally gotten their first programing, web site, or whatever else working, they’re looking for feedback, and one of the first things that they hear is that they doing_it_wrong.

Even though that may be true, is that really constructive criticism?

No – not everyone is going to know the proper way to do things as they are learning the ropes of programming. And when it comes to programming, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been at it for a year, ten years, or forty years (well, at least I can only assume that ;)), learning the ropes, standards, and processes for a new language is always going to have it’s fair share of challenges.

If a person is doing something wrong, don’t call them out on it like that. Hopefully not ever, but definitely not publicly. Leverage some of the tools that we have available such as CodePen to show how to do something.

It’s Against The Spirit of Community

Regardless of if you’re into open source or closed source development, the truth is that there is a community around the language, the tools, and/or the software that you use.

Just browse through Meetup.com to see all of the people who are getting together to talk about software regardless of its license. Look at all of the various projects that are on GitHub, or the blogs that exist to simply share someone’s journey as they are working on a project, or learning something new.

We all call for people to share and to be open about these experiences:

  • “Put the code on GitHub!”
  • “Blog about it!”
  • “Tweet about it!”
  • …and so on

But then, when people do, someone is inevitably going to come along and pick apart the problems with whatever it is that’s being shared.

What is with that?

What is with that?

So yes, haters are going to hate and trolls are going troll, but surely those of us that care more deeply about writing code and bringing others along for the ride won’t be the ones that are doing this.

The Dilemma of Learning To Code

Right now, there’s a movement that evangelizes that everyone should learn to code. Personally, I have mixed feelings about it – but I do know that if someone is curious about learning to write code, then I am more than happy to try to help them do so.

But here’s the thing: We invite all of these people to learn a language, the attend to a camp, to learn to build things, to share it with the world, to open source it, to talk about their journey in doing so, and so on.

Then some people come along to tell these people who we’ve invited into this culture they are doing it wrong.

Makes no sense.

This may be a little too hippie or rainbows and butterflies, but what I’d love to see is less of the community telling others that they are doing something wrong and simply show them how they can be doing something right.

It’s absurd to tell someone to come along for one of the coolest careers that exist and then shame them when they haven’t had a chance to progress to the point wherever you are.

Besides, someone is always in a position to tell someone else if they are doing it wrong (or doing it right). But, please, let’s quit slamming our own and invite people into continuing doing good work.

And if they aren’t, then help them learn! Were it not for people that offered constructive criticism, critique, pull requests, and comments, I wouldn’t know what I know now and I wouldn’t be able to pay it forward.

Even more so, if others were to stop offering helpful pointers, I won’t know any better in the future than what I know now and that’d be a shame.

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