Educate Yourself

There are a lot of things that are true about the software development community. Some of it good, some of it bad, but one of the thing that constantly rubs me the wrong what is software developer arrogance.

During my talk at WordCamp Atlanta, I stated the following:

When it comes to development, know that there is always someone better than you.

If you’ve been involved in any kind of development community for any amount of time, then you know that developers are opinionated people. In fact, the truth is that some are simply arrogant. They are more concerned with showing what they’ve done than hearing about you or learning form others.

Sure, everyone has their stereotypes and it sucks that we’re subjected to them, but acknowledging that someone is better than you – or that you’re better than someone else (in a certain area, that is) – doesn’t have to be an act of arrogance.

During the course of the talk, I tried to convey that acknowledging exactly this can be a very liberating thing.

We’re Better Than Each Other

When it comes to development, there are a number of things that I think that we should all be doing that help us level up our skills in what we’re doing.

Sure, it’s easy to read comments on blogs, public source code repositories, or forums and see the various people who end up on hating on one another. And I’m not above admitting that sometimes it’s funny, but the problem is that this often times devolves into conversation that isn’t constructive.

With that said, I freely admit that most of you are far more talented than I am in this space which is why I’m glad to see you guys commenting on the blog, but I also recognize that there are a number of you who are also looking to get into this space.

And for those, it can be a challenging task.

So in recognizing that some of us are better than others – or, more honestly – some of us are further along than others, there are several things that I try to do in order to make sure I’m learning as much as I’m contributing.

Share Often

Software Developer Arrogance

I took a selfie of my own blog. How’s that for arrogance? :)

Obviously, I use this blog as a place to share things I’m working on, questions I have, and ideas that I want to share all for both conversation and critique.

I do this because I recognize that there’s more for me to learn from discussion with you guys than I ever would working in a vacuum not sharing anything.

Sure, this can come with criticism, but given that it’s respectful, it’s always appreciated. And this is something that I urge everyone to do especially in the development field, but in a variety of industries.

Read A Lot

Pocket App

My reading list in Pocket.

Half of becoming a better developer is reading the work that others have shared.

Used to, this was typically done in the form of reading books that others have published, but now we have access to blogs, tweets, and even source code from others that can provide us with more guidance than books ever could.

Find a Team

8BIT

A team can help you go further, faster.

One of the best things that I’ve done in my career is partner up with other like-minded people who are stronger in areas where I am weak. Granted, I may be the lead developer on the team, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn a thing or two on project manage, business development, or design.

Additionally, the quality of code that I write not only affects the quality of the product, but our customer’s experience and the bottom line of the business we’re trying to run.

Being held accountable for your work by other people skilled in areas that go into making a product can greatly increase your desire to level-up your skills.

But We’re Better Together

Sure, this sounds a bit kumbaya, but isn’t that what a community – at least to a degree – is supposed to be about?

It shouldn’t be about priding ourselves on who’s better than who, or who is smarter than who, it should be able us helping to refine one another’s skill sets so that we can ultimately work together to create better products.

This is especially true in the open source community when all of us are either building products on top of an open source foundation like WordPress or contributing directly back to WordPress.

Finally, the full context of the quote in my talk was this:

When it comes to development, know that there is always someone better than you. Many of you in this room are better than me, and the truth is is that I’m better than some of you.

But the point is that we can learn and benefit from one another.

And that’s the truth, isn’t it?

So if developers would spend more time admitting their faults than parading an air of arrogance, we’d likely get more done. But this may be a pipe dream.

Who knows.

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Join the conversation! 6 Comments

  1. Great TOPIC! I think every developer reaches a day when they realize, “oh crap, I don’t know stuff”. That day is when they become a GREAT developer. “You learn much more from listening than talking”. I had my moment early in my career and unfortunately in an interview, “What would that function return in Internet Explorer?” “It would return “, “Actually, it won’t.” “Yes, it will, type it in, watch!” (Yes, I was arguing during an interview, another lesson I learned painfully NOT to do). He responded, “It SHOULD return that, but it doesn’t and there is a bug I’m working on right now to fix that behavior in IE”. Insert HUMILITY here. I’ve worried about freelancing because I work SO much better with other people, feeding off of their intelligence, inspiration, and it is just more fun with people. SO my question is this: How did you “find your team”? And what tips do you have about finding a team to work with as a freelancer?

  2. Regarding non-constructive conversation, I was talking with a peer yesterday about Twitter and said that there are enough positive people in the developer/designer/WordPress universe that there’s not a need to follow or interact with the negative people.

    Keep stuff moving forward.

    Agreed on the reading part. I love using github like a library of amazing toys. There’s so much to learn. I also enjoy reading other developers speak on topics not relating to code, so I hope more developers get into writing and sharing their thoughts.

  3. How to Win Friends, 101.

    Nothing better than a dev who isn’t full of himself/herself, who hasn’t forgotten they were once code-numpties too.

    I live in fear of someone who knows their stuff actually seeing my code.

    Thanks, Tom. Am nowadays using your boilerplates, so that is a good step towards improving.

  4. Great read! I agree 100%. I’ve been in the software world for many years 17+ and I still don’t know it all…not yet! lol j/k . I am all about the sharing of ones experience and knowledge as it not only helps you but others around you. I recently quit a contract because of a self righteous and condescending developer. This guy I swear thought he was a god when it came to programming. He constantly talked down to everyone around him and he was always right and you always wrong…..funny thing is, is when I asked why they don’t use “var” in the code and he says it created too much over head and that things must be strongly typed…. sigh, ignorance is bliss. I moved onto a better position where the world doesn’t revolve around a self proclaimed C# god :) I figured I’ll let the guy type his fingers off cause he’ll have arthritis before me. :)

    But it goes to show you just how true this post is.

    • Great read! I agree 100%. I’ve been in the software world for many years 17+ and I still don’t know it all…not yet!

      I consider that a compliment coming from someone that’s been in it that long – so thank you very much.

      I am all about the sharing of ones experience and knowledge as it not only helps you but others around you.

      As am I – clearly ;).

      I recently quit a contract because of a self righteous and condescending developer. This guy I swear thought he was a god when it came to programming. He constantly talked down to everyone around him and he was always right and you always wrong…..funny thing is, is when I asked why they don’t use “var” in the code and he says it created too much over head and that things must be strongly typed….

      That kinda sucks. I hate hearing of experiences like that not only because of the negative affect it has on fellow developers, but how it makes the development community even look.

      Anyway, it is nice to hear you’ve moved on to a new position. Props for that, Josh :).

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