“Sorry, but the post is awful.”

I’m in my early 40s, but this morning I got momentarily pulled kicking and screaming back into a shy little kid. And it sucked. Let me explain.

I have an old blog where I used to focus on technical topics. In one of my most popular posts I try to explain how OSGi works without relying on the extra tooling that OSGi usually needs, just as a teaching exercise. I’ve gotten some great feedback on it.

This morning while I’m making coffee, a WordPress alert popped up from “vasya” saying, “Sorry, but the post is awful,” along with some technical arguments.

Discussion’s great, but this kind is not.

For some reason, as an industry, too many of us (still) freely intermix technical opinions with subjective judgments on people’s work products (as happened in my case) and sometimes on people themselves (Vasya didn’t go that far here). This is industry where there no absolute standards; mostly we’re just advocating our opinions on what’s technically good and what’s not. Too many of us take that subjectiveness far beyond technical facts, however, which means many of us will be reluctant to be our most creative selves and put ourselves out there to try to solve problems.

It’s not just blogs, I bet it’s happening in your company right now. How are your code reviews, for example?

This lack of professionalism and collegiality deeply damages our effectivness as individuals, as teams, and as an industry. You can write it off as Vasya’s immaturity or lack of professionalism, but there’s a lot of these folks — not just out here in the wild but inside our corporate walls too. You probably know a few of a few personal examples.

When we talk about safety and empathy, this is an example of it. I’ve been involved in litigation, and it’s generally more professional, collegial, and curteous than this industry is. It’s time to mature.

This was just a minor comment. I’ve been around long enough to have developed thick enough skin that Vasya’s comment gave me a good chuckle once I had a few sips of my coffee. But it reminded me how damaging this crap was to me personally and continues to be for our industry.

As a tech lead, I’m putting it on you and me to fix it.

As for Vasya’s comment, I approved it because he’s got interesting technical points but also to respond to him on this point (and to offer him some free tech lead coaching). (And yes, I know my subject line perpetuates the very thing…!!!!)

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash


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