Otherwise known as, better etiquette for answering questions on stackoverflow.com and conversation in general.
All sass (and not the compilable kind) aside, I’d like to share what I think makes a good developer a great developer: humility.
I used to work with this guy, Geoff Berger. He is one of the smartest guys I know. And not the “I’m a few steps ahead of you” types, but the kind that you think may have been composing music and writing theories of physics when he was waddling around in diapers kind of guys.
The thing is: He’d never admit it to you. He is the most humble person I’ve ever met.
If someone went to him with a question, he’d sit down and somehow in his gentlest way start by asking if you’re familiar with some concept about your question, and in a way that made you feel on equal footing with him, not in a belittling way. Then he’d step through and explain how everything was working together, all the time doing it with passion and excitement.
Whenever anyone described Geoff the two words that always surfaced were humble and smartest. He was always the smartest guy in the room, and he was always humble about it.
These qualities seem like no brainers, but they’re the ones that make for great developers:
At the end of the day, we all go home to something, we’ve all had experiences, we all have baggage. We also all start from somewhere right? I am not the developer I was last year and I’m not the developer I will hopefully be next year. So I want to try, like Geoff did, to treat people that way. To find where they are and work from there. Not treat them as inferiors because they’re not where I am.
The technology field is hot, and it’s a great time to be a developer from a “doing great work” standpoint, but it doesn’t release us from the responsibilities of remembering that our peers are human beings. They exist after the experiences they have with us, and those experiences shape their journey as much as it shapes ours.
P.S. If you read this entire post and at this point felt like you were being belittled, take that feeling and tuck it away for next time you’re on my side of the discussion.