Fear The Publish Button (For Your Words and Your Code)

For aspiring bloggers, one of the things that we often hear in podcasts, read on other blogs, and in other articles is “Don’t Fear The ‘Publish’ Button,” or we read “just hit ‘Publish!'”

I get the idea behind that mentality – it’s mainly motivation for saying that nothing you write will ever be perfect, so write, hit publish, and you’ll get better as you go.

Embarrassed By The First Version
Embarrassed By The First Version!

There’s a lot of truth to that – you do get better as you go – but I think that this advice (any advice like it) should be taken with a grain of salt.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that if you don’t have some type of healthy fear associated with hitting the publish button, then you may later regret some of the material that you’ve published.

Arguably, there are a lot of parallels in writing a blog post as there are to writing code: Publish too soon, and you have something that isn’t worth reading or using; Wait too long for complete satisfaction and you may never end up releasing anything at all.

Publishing a blog post, just like publishing code, is something for which you should have a healthy fear.

Fear The Publish Button

Despite the fact of how I’m positioning this post, I do tend to lean in the direction that urges people not to fear publishing their content – whatever content that may be – because we need more people out there sharing their ideas, their opinions, their [mature] discussions, and their work.

After all, the exchange of information and the solutions that can be provided are one of the best things about this moment in history.

Yes, I know that the more information that’s pumped out onto the Internet may result in more noise, but I think we all need to aim for more signal – having a healthy fear of releasing something, I think, can do just that.

However, it’s not without one big glaring risk – once something is out on the Internet, I like to assume that it’s out there for good. Case in point: There are times when I’ve received emails about a post (or a repository) that I’ve written years ago based on something I’ve suggested on Ruby on Rails, but it now no longer works for the current version.

Some argue that I should go back and update the post to denote with which version it’s compatible – and I often do – but that doesn’t mean I pull the post down.

It’s paper trail of work that I’ve done throughout my career.

Similarly, opinions and ideas change over time. Something that we write about today may not be what we believe, how we perceive, or how we solve problems in a year from now (let alone six months!), but it will be available for others to find it and use it and/or read it.

That’s exciting, right? But it I think it should be revered, as well.

I'm So Excited, I'm So Scared!
Be a Jesse Spano of your work.

To that end, that’s why I think that having a healthy fear of hitting that publish button is needed.

Don’t Rationalize Your Publication

Yes, more people should blog. Yes, more people should share their content – be it designs, development, content, etc. – and yes, many of us welcome more people exchanging information.

But people have used the “I just hit ‘Publish'” as a rationalization for releasing something that definitely wasn’t ready to be released. And it’s harder to course correct on something incomplete, then to refine something that is.

So whatever it is that you’re considering publishing – another article, another layout, another project – go for it! But don’t rush yourself for the sake of getting it out there.

Do what you can to make it as good as you can for the moment, then publish it.

The ‘Publish’ button can result in the release of something really good, but it can also result in the opposite the latter of which can have ill effects on us as the authors.

So let’s fear it. At least just enough to make ourselves pause and ask “Is this the best that I can do right now, really?”

2 Replies to “Fear The Publish Button (For Your Words and Your Code)”

  1. Good insight, Tom. I’ve been guilty of lazily publishing shoddy content in the name of just putting something out there. Can think of a few posts in particular that would’ve landed better if I put the time in.

    Thank you for the reminder not to fear the “Publish” button, but not to abuse it either.

    1. Thank you for the reminder not to fear the “Publish” button, but not to abuse it either.

      Of course :).

      I think that publishing for the sake of publishing is something that’s dangerous, and, like you said, it’s something we shouldn’t abuse.

      Plus, I’d like to think readers would be able to detect when we’re pushing out content that isn’t as well-developed and thought out as much as some of our other content.

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