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.
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
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
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.