January 26, 2009

Seven Habits Of The Status Quo

I was just reading through the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Programmers. All was well until I hit this gem:

There is Such a Thing as a Stupid Question

Really, there are lots of stupid questions. [...] Asking for clarification about a specification shows you know how to find and read the spec and your ability to detect ambiguities. [...] Let everyone know that you read the documentation and googled the subject.

This seems like a perfectly reasonable statement. If some script kiddie n00b can't be bothered to RTFM, they aren't worth the time of day, right?


Consider this: how many programmer-hours are wasted every day reading man pages, library documentation, language references, and so on? To paraphrase: ask a stupid question once, shame on you. Ask a stupid question millions of times - well, you can't. That's the point. If I had a dollar (yes, even a Canadian dollar) for every time someone asked a question about the intricacies of UNIX find...

The above excerpt says less about effective programming than it does about the programmer mindset: developers first, users second. Let's collectively ask ourselves a question. What if, instead of rejecting these supposedly dull-minded inquiries, we tabulated them and created a centralized, easily searchable FAQ? This forks a handful of stones and slays an entire flock of birds with them: less experienced developers would stop asking stupid questions, and the seasoned soi-disant experts could respond effectively to any stray requests in constant time by directing the wayward souls to said FAQ.

Until that happens, happy man-page reading!

1 comment:

  1. yes.

    i just got a note from jeff stuart today (i think you remember him?) saying that his life feels less fulfilled when he doesn't have me asking him random linux and scripting questions ;)