Misc What have I learned?

Toxicity in the world of Software Developers


It’s been a long time since I wrote an article, but a bad experience on Stack Overflow this weekend has made me think. I have read about the subject and I see that I am not alone in the matter that I expose in the title.

As I say, I have read about it, I have suffered it more times, I have seen it as a simple spectator, and I will give my humble opinion of a beginner developer but with a certain age to have drawn certain conclusions from my social interactions, and my short experience as a programmer.

Computing world is, like any other where humans are involved, full of different people. Many times I found talented people willing to help, but many others I found those who give programmers the fame of being individuals who are not able to communicate and have healthy human relationships (and thus, they are much more bad programmers or engineers than they pretend to be).

Lot has been said about the toxicity of developers´ platforms like Stack Overflow , where you can find examples of all kinds of people described above. Usually the experience is great, at least for me, but even they are aware of the problem with some kind of software developers.

I am not a very experienced developer but I always try to remember who I am, and who I was. For me, a developer is a perpetual learner and no one is dumb because he/ she doesn´t know how to difference an array from an object. I remember the days when I struggled with that. Also I remember the days I thought I was better than others just because I had a certain ease for something or I just had more experience. Fortunately I was young and life taught me to be humble.

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A lot has been said algo about the (supposed) big ego of developers, and well, that is for me one of the biggest problems in the computing world, the big egos of some people with maybe advanced technical skills but a total lack of social and soft skills. And I am not only talking from the perspective of a new developer: Usually, the most rude and condescending people don’t know how to talk to a customer, they don´t know how to extract requirements the clients need, they don’t know how to work in a team. That is why many times their bosses are people, maybe not so tech-skilled but with many important skills they don´t have. I would definitely don’t want them in a team if I had to hire someone, or if I had to work with them.

For me, rude answers usually come from people who usually try to cover a lot of self esteem issues and should look for help, because trying to subjugate people in one field that you are good at, tells more from you than from that person you answer to, and is not good.

I see it simple: if you are in a community but don’t want to help, simply don´t answer. You are no one to tell anyone he/she is asking a dumb question. Even if he/she does, maybe is only a newbie, has a bad day, or yeah, maybe is a lazy one (this of course annoys most of us). But there are tons of ways to point things, and maybe he/she  realizes by him/herself  it was a dumb question with your kind help. Or maybe is a dumb question for you now as experienced user and you forgot the dumb questions you did at the beginning of your career.

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Rude answers are not a way to make a community like Stack Overflow (or an office, or an start-up, or any place) more efficient, just make it more toxic; because when you do such, you are not trying to help, you are just trying to convince yourself that you are better than you internally think you are. Is like an answer in front of a mirror.

To conclude, I would recommend humility, because when you need help, they may treat you as you treat others.


Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images found in Pixabay