Turning Off the Know-it-all

The new year is here in less than 4 hours, and I have been thinking about how I want to improve in the coming year. One of the biggest problems I have had even since elementary school is being an intolerable know-it-all. My nickname back then was encyclopedia brown after the kid detective novels. When someone says something I think is incorrect, I almost can’t help myself.

I work as a web developer where the world is exact to those working in it, and sometimes a giant cloud to people outside of it. To illustrate this, let’s discuss something that really bothers me but doesn’t matter to users: what is a bug.

Bugs vs. Features

A user named Prince is trying to put their name in a contact form, but is getting an error message that last name is required in red. Prince doesn’t have a last name, so he tweets the company that their form has a bug. (read about mononyms here)

The requirements for the developers state that first and last name are required. From a developer’s perspective, they have fulfilled the requirements set forth and are blameless for this miss in user experience. A bug implies blame, a feature denotes an improvement to the system. Is it a bug? Is it a feature? My first reaction as a developer — as an engineer — is to try to classify it as a feature.

Is that helpful to Prince? I think not.


My goal for 2017 is to spend less time correcting people and more time helping them because it is better for everyone.