Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Soft Issues

Last week I was forcibly reminded that people issues are sometimes more important that technical ones.
A Cow-orker dressed me down for an alleged shortcoming in my code - a naming issue in an interface.
To be fair, I had not commented the suspect code to note it was re-using an existing call, with different meaning for the parameter, and I had left some unused code in the file. However, the big issue is that I was accused of not just bad coding, but of something akin to thoughtcrime - I was willing to leave API code unchanged (to help the external developers) rather than change it (to help internal developers). The kicker was that the code under consideration was actually correct for the one use - I had re-purposed that call for an internal issue, making things much better for the end user, at the cost of two differing uses for a parameter in the call.

Frankly, the incident pissed me off for almost the whole week, and more so because it was totally due to the abrasive manner of this cow-orker. If I had been approached with a simple questioning attitude, the issue would have been explored and settled with no rancor. But because my technical skills were called into question, I took (understanable) offense, and the incident escalated.

The moral of the story is - never assume that you have the whole story for something in a system when that story involves something you consider stupid and a developer that has significant real experience. Always tread with caution, and a humble attitude will get you farther than arrogance, and will save you from eating crow.

I am interested in seeing if I get an apology.

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