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Adam Nathaniel Davis
Adam Nathaniel Davis

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Thank You For Your (Worthless) Comment!

I think one of the things that defines a "programming mindset" is the desire to improve processes (for example: automating them). When a programmer sees manual work being rotely repeated, he has an innate desire to streamline it. This often takes the form of writing more (or just... better) code. But it can manifest in other ways.

For example, when I noticed that I would often get the same inane questions from recruiters - often, in relation to "opportunities" that I had no desire to pursue - I reworked my LinkedIn profile to speak directly to those questions. Hopefully, so that I wouldn't need to keep answering them over and over again. I then built my CV/portfolio site with many of the same objectives in mind.

Granted, this doesn't stop the stream of inane questions. But I have noticed that it does in fact limit them. Some recruiters still pay no attention to what's on my LinkedIn profile, or what's on my CV site. But many others have read what I've written before we even have our initial conversation. And it's saved me both time and aggravation.

So, in a similar fashion, I'm writing this article as a way to "automate" the process whereby some "Dev Bro" leaves a snotty and unhelpful comment on one of my articles. Going forward, I'm not gonna engage the jerks anymore. My only response will be to drop a link to this article... and then leave it alone.


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The Dreaded "Comments Section"

There's an old truism about the web. It was probably coined as far back as the early 90s. But it's still completely apropos today. It simply states:

Never go into the comments section!


It seems that the comments section is where the swarthiest sector of the web spends most of their time. For example, on the website for my local paper, I long ago realized just how loathsome the comments section can be. Every alt-right redneck in my southern city feels shamelessly empowered to share their deepest darkest thoughts on our local paper's articles. I've encountered some of the most racist/sexist/homophobic comments that I've ever heard after I scrolled just a bit too far down the page on our local news articles.

So, on most sites, it's a good rule of thumb to simply close your browser tab or click off the site once you've reached the end of the article and you're starting to see the user-generated feedback. But why am I talking about this here, on Dev.to? Am I claiming that Dev.to's comments are anywhere near that bad? Thankfully, not at all.


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The Dev.to Community

When I decided to start cranking out articles on Dev.to, I did so, in part, because of the sense of community that I witnessed while reading the articles of others. The authors represent a wide range of skill sets, backgrounds, and experience levels. Of course, I've stumbled across my fair share of articles on this site that I would classify as, ummm... not good. But I usually have the sense that the vast majority of people on this site are truly trying to help one another. (Even if, occasionally, their articles are a bit misguided.)

I've always been particularly impressed with the quality of the comments on Dev.to articles. When some newbie posts an article with glaring flaws, I rarely see the commenters attacking him. Yes, they may challenge him. They often correct him. But on a large majority of comments, it does seem (to me, at least) as though the community is honestly trying to help each other.

For this reason, when I began writing my own articles, I made a conscious decision to make every effort to engage my commenters. Sometimes this takes the form of a simple "thank you" for their reply. Occasionally, it becomes a follow-on discussion - something of an "appendix" to the original article. No, I don't reply to every comment. But whenever it feels appropriate (or necessary), I try to acknowledge those who've taken the time to leave comments.

I can't even count the number of times that someone has challenged something I've written here and their input has led me to reassess and/or reformulate my own views. Sometimes, commenters simply point out typos or logical flaws in my article. (When that happens, I typically go back and edit the article to correct the error - after leaving a note thanking the commenter for the insight.) Other times, commenters have shown me really cool new ways to accomplish something - methods that I'd completely overlooked in the original article.


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Malcontents and Dev Bros

This doesn't mean that every comment is helpful. Nor does it mean that all comments are left in the spirit of "community". Dev.to couldn't possibly enforce any kind of sweeping "don't be a jerk" policy. And if you write even a handful of articles on this site, eventually you'll run into a few of those jerks.

Of course, one "answer" to this problem would be to simply ignore the comments altogether. But for the reasons stated above, I believe that would be a sad mistake.

Another approach is to simply grow a thicker skin. Blogging is one form of putting yourself "out there". And whenever you expose your thoughts/feelings/ideas to the teaming cesspool that is The Interwebs, it's inevitable that, occasionally, some snotty little Dev Bro will get his jollies by taking a swipe at you.

For the most part, that just comes with the territory. If you can't handle the occasional jerk putting his oh-so-witty commentary on your articles, then... don't write articles for public consumption. And to be clear, I practice this approach of "skin thickening" on a near-daily basis. At this point in my blogging life, and at this point in my overall career, I no longer have "skin". I have a tough, leathery hide.

I will also freely acknowledge that my particular style can sometimes invite the Dev Bros to sharpen their knives. I'm opinionated. I make bold assertions. I enjoy calling out the many different flavors of effery that I've encountered over the last quarter century. The articles I write, while not obscene, are not designed to be presented, verbatim, in a corporate board room. And when I write in such a fashion, a certain subset of malcontents feels empowered to showcase their Keyboard Commando skills. And when they do, I make every attempt to simply ignore those jerks.

Nevertheless, every so often I feel compelled to engage one of them. And that's why I'm writing this article. Consider this my "final word" on any Neanderthal who thinks he's gonna raise himself up by taking me down a notch.


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Ohhh... The Delicious Irony!

One of the funniest aspects of these Dev Bros is their utter inability to grasp the irony that's often present in their own comments. I've covered many different topics on this site. But if you read even a handful of my articles, you may notice one theme that pops up over and over again.

Often, I'm not railing so much against any particular piece of tech, or any particular aspect of coding life. Instead, I'm railing against the jerks who can't discuss such things in a rational, professional manner.

Like... maybe you love TypeScript. And you're convinced that our next project should be written in TypeScript - and not JavaScript. OK. That's fine. I may not entirely agree with you. But I'm more-than-capable of having a rational discussion with you about it. In the course of that discussion, you can present your case. I can present mine. We can talk about the pros-and-cons of either approach. We can loop in other team members to gather their feedback on it. And at the end of the day, we can come to some sort of consensus on a logical approach.

And when I say "logical approach", that's not a snide code word for my preferred solution. Just a few months ago, at Amazon, I had this exact same debate with another senior dev on our team. He wanted to use TS. I wanted to use JS. We hashed it out. We talked to the rest of the team. And you know what we decided on? We decided to use TS. And guess what??? I was fine with it!

But when some Dev Bro leaves a nasty comment on your article, he's "outing" himself as one of those jerks who's incapable of having this kind of rational conversation. Not that he cares, of course. He only cares about feeling like he's just put you in your place.


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Smarmy Tech Douchebags

At this point, you may be thinking:

OK, fine. There are some idiots who put snotty comments on blogs. But why are you writing an article on a tech/programming website, about commenters???


To be fair, you don't have to be in software development to experience jerks in your life. Douchebags exist in every industry and in every corner of our daily lives. But I'm a firm believer that software development fosters a certain outsized population of douchebags.

No, I'm not claiming that all programmers are jerks. The vast majority of my past-and-present colleagues are very nice people. Smart. Funny. Genuinely interested in doing a good job and getting along with their coworkers. But I do honestly believe that, if we woke up tomorrow and every "jerk" was painted neon green, there'd be a higher percentage of neon green people in software engineering than you'd find in many other career fields.

Software development has a way of rewarding douchebags. You see, programmers are problem solvers. And once you've solved enough problems on enough critical projects, it's easy to fall into the mindset that you've got all the answers. It fosters mindsets like these:

  • "I used to work on an Angular project that was an absolute nightmare. And now you want to use Angular?? Mannn... you must be an idiot."

  • "I've been doing this stuff for decades. And now the New Guy thinks he can just step in with a better suggestion on how to solve this problem? Give me a friggin break..."

  • "You've done decades of work with SOAP and REST, but you've never used GraphQL? Then there's obviously no way you could work on this team."

  • "Oh, you didn't fit well with your previous team/employer? Hehehe... Sounds like you must be the problem!"

  • "I know why you're not a fan of pair programming. Cuz you don't want another dev to see that you suck."

  • "I wrote that solution in an hour. It took you two hours?? Sounds like you're just not cut out for this team."

Of course, I could go on (and on, and on...), but you probably get the point.


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Developer Subspecies

When someone leaves a nasty comment on your blog, they don't realize it, but they're usually signaling that they belong to one (or more) of these nasty subspecies:

  • The Fanboy - They love Package X. You've never used Package X. Or maybe, you prefer Package Y. So of course, you're stoooopid. This can also apply to broader dev practices. Like, they love TDD. You haven't used TDD. Or you have critiques of TDD. So again... you're stoooopid.

  • The Corporate Apologist - You didn't have a good experience working for Company X. You write about your negative experience, but no matter how you explain the scenario, everything that went wrong was obviously your fault. And if you weren't such a crappy developer, you would've done just fine in your previous role. You can describe a situation where you delivered a bug-free product that went live five minutes after the expected deadline, and that your employer responded by caning you until you fell into a bloody coma, and The Corporate Apologist will tell you that a "real" developer would've had the solution deployed on-time and that you're just not fit to work on software.

  • The Code Nazi - There's one way to code - and that's exactly how The Code Nazi does it. If your code doesn't mirror his, you don't know what you're doing and you're not fit to work on his team.

  • The Time Cop - In The Time Cop's world, there are two classes of problems. There are "easy" problems - meaning, problems that he's already solved before. And now he can crank out the solution with incredible speed. And then there are "hard" problems - which are just... problems that he hasn't run into before. If it's an "easy" problem, then you're expected to code the solution in the time that it would now take him to do the same thing. If you take longer to solve the problem (even if it originally took him DAYS to solve it), you're not good enough to code on his team. It doesn't matter if it took him six hours to code his first binary tree search. Now that he can do it in 30 minutes, he expects that any "quality" coder should have already encountered the problem, and should be able to do it in 30 minutes as well.

  • The Benchmark Troll - He once spent an entire weekend running a massive series of performance tests on for() loops versus .forEach(). And now that he knows that for() is 0.2379% faster, you're an absolute idiot if you ever use .forEach().

  • The Speed Reader - He's a busy man. He's incredibly important! So important, in fact, that he can't be bothered to take the time to read your article. Which is fine, but curiously enough, he seems to have plenty of time to comment on your article and, in a display of sheer arrogance, correct your article. It doesn't matter that he merely skimmed the first 7% of the article. He now feels compelled to write up a "correction". In fact, sometimes The Speed Reader will boldly acknowledge, at the beginning of his comment, "I wasn't able to read most of your article, but...".

  • The Snarkster - You've written a 10,000-word magnum opus on a new coding technique involving React Hooks. Not only have you explained the concept in excruciating detail, but you've also laid out numerous coding samples, and you've even linked to several working CodePens that demonstrate your approach. Because he's so epically enlightened, The Snarkster leaves a single mind-expanding comment like, "Wow. This is ugly." <SlowClap/>

  • The Opinionator - You've written a pure opinion piece. You've gone to great lengths to make it clear that this is just your opinion. You've even admitted, numerous times in your article, that you may not have all the info and there's room for competing opinions. Despite all of this, The Opinionator still feels compelled to drop his comment stating that your opinion is... stoooopid.

  • The Dogmatist - You've written an extensive article on a new way to do two-way data binding in JavaScript. You may have even acknowledged that two-way data binding isn't everyone's "cup of tea". But for those who want to pursue it, here's one approach you can take. The Dogmatist absolutely must comment to let you know that two-way data binding is BAD and you should be kicked off the interwebs for even having the gall to propose such an approach. He won't give you one iota of constructive feedback on the actual details of what you've outlined. He's just gonna browbeat you for being stoooopid enough to even suggest the idea.

  • The Entertainer - The Entertainer paid a whopping $0.00 for the privilege of reading your article. And if he's not thoroughly entertained, he's gonna let you know. He'll be quick to label your article as "clickbait". He'll whine about how boring your article is (as though he was strapped to a chair and forced to read it). The one thing he absolutely will not do is provide any kinda substantive feedback on the content of your article.

  • The Last Senior - If The Last Senior isn't tickled pink with your article, he'll cough up one (and only one) retort: He'll call you a "junior dev". He has a massive stamp on his desk that says, "JUNIOR". When he decides that your article doesn't meet his Holy Standards, he literally mashes the stamp against his own monitor. Then he sits in the dank basement of his mom's house, laughing uncontrollably for the next 45 minutes, because he's in awe at how he massively PWND you by calling you a "junior dev". The whole escapade concludes when he posts the screenshots of his sweet dig on 4Chan. When he's not branding inadequate bloggers as "juniors", he spends the rest of his time repeatedly checking his DMs, waiting for that magical moment when Dan Abramov finally agrees to hang out with him.

This is far from an exhaustive list. But again, you probably get the point.


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Just... Don't Be A Jerk

You may have heard before that, before you say anything, you should always ask yourself:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it kind?
  3. Is it necessary?

The defining feature of a Dev Bro is that they never go beyond point #1. (And sometimes, they don't even make it that far.)

There are a lotta ways to benefit from the Dev.to community. Some people just lurk. And you know what? That's fine! Some people write their own articles - although no one's forcing you to go that far. And of course, you can always comment, if you're so inclined.

And I'm not trying to tell you that all of your comments must be sugar-coated. Occasionally, someone writes something that just really needs to be... challenged. There's nothing wrong with that.

But if your "challenging" comment can't be bothered to at least consider those three questions, then you're not contributing anything at all. You're just screaming to the Dev.to community that you're an asshat.

Top comments (24)

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bouscs profile image
bouscs

Wow. This is ugly.

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bytebodger profile image
Adam Nathaniel Davis

πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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johncarroll profile image
John Carroll

Really hard to interpret this comment. This is a (rather long) article that can be boiled down to "commenters should be kind and constructive." It's possible that you're agreeing with the article, and reflecting on the fact that the current state of internet commenting "is ugly". Or it's possible that you're doing exactly what the article is asking commenters not to do, which is to respond with a rather unhelpful and derisive comment...

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bytebodger profile image
Adam Nathaniel Davis

FWIW, I took it as tongue-in-cheek, because he's literally using a direct quote from the body of the article.

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bouscs profile image
bouscs

Jokes aside, great article! I love your writing style 😁

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devmehta profile image
Dev Mehta
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ecyrbe profile image
ecyrbe

Just for the LULZ, here is how chat GPT reacted to this article (you need to add it to sub species) :
Comment 1 (The Fanboy): Ugh, I can't believe you didn't mention how TDD fanatics like myself never leave nasty comments on articles. We're clearly superior developers and your article is stoooopid for not recognizing that. πŸ™„

Comment 2 (The Corporate Apologist): Honestly, if you can't handle the pressure of negative comments, maybe you're just not cut out for the software industry. Real developers can handle criticism and use it to grow. Your article is just whining. 😏

Comment 3 (The Code Nazi): The formatting of your article is all wrong! If you can't even get that right, how can we trust your opinion on developer behavior? You're obviously not fit to write about this topic. πŸ‘Ž

Comment 4 (The Time Cop): I've been in this industry for years and I've never encountered these so-called "developer subspecies." It took me only five minutes to realize your article was a waste of time. You're clearly inexperienced. ⏱️

Comment 5 (The Benchmark Troll): I ran some tests on the load time of your article, and it's 0.2379% slower than similar articles. Clearly, you don't know how to optimize your content for performance. πŸ“‰

Comment 6 (The Speed Reader): I skimmed through your article and I'm pretty sure you're just making up these developer subspecies. If you had actually done your research, you'd know that there's no such thing as a "Code Nazi." πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ

Comment 7 (The Snarkster): Your attempt to categorize developers is just... adorable. It's like watching a child trying to understand the complexities of the adult world. slow clap πŸ‘

Comment 8 (The Opinionator): This entire article is just your opinion on how developers behave, and I have to say, it's stoooopid. You're trying to create drama where there is none. 🀨

Comment 9 (The Dogmatist): Categorizing developers into subspecies is just wrong. We're all unique individuals with different perspectives and strengths. You should be ashamed for perpetuating stereotypes. 😠

Comment 10 (The Entertainer): I came here expecting a hilarious article about developer personalities, and instead, I got this boring piece on "subspecies." Next time, try to actually entertain your readers. 😴

Comment 11 (The Last Senior): This article just shows that you're a junior dev trying to make sense of the developer community. Someday you might understand the nuances, but for now, just stick to what you know. πŸ˜‚

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bytebodger profile image
Adam Nathaniel Davis

OMG, this is #Epic. Thank you!

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cubiclesocial profile image
cubiclesocial

I've probably done all of these myself at some point. This kind of post is always a good reminder to me that there are all kinds of devs out there and to be aware of that fact when approaching others.

There is another type of comment that might arguably be called worthless: Genuine appreciation...the person that drops a thank you note but offers little beyond that.

Thank you for taking the time to write this article.

(See what I did there?)

But sometimes we just need to have a little bit of positive feedback to keep us going. You never know when a simple Thank You will make someone's day better! Especially if they had a rough day.

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bytebodger profile image
Adam Nathaniel Davis

be aware of that fact when approaching others

THIS, right here, is exactly what I'm talking about. As much as these people annoy me, if I'm being really honest with myself, have I been any of these guys before?? Of course!!! I can't erase the past. But I can make every sincere effort to avoid repeating it.

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brense profile image
Rense Bakker

The dev bros I usually run into on dev.to are anti-typescript. :P They write flame-articles about it that are several pages long if you'd print it out and they always make it to the top dev.to articles of the week... If they didn't write such articles nothing would happen, because nobody who likes typescript is writing an anti-javascript article or anti-jsdoc. If an anti-typescript person writes an article about all the reasons why they hate typescript, obviously its going to get responses. Nobody ever cared if they use typescript or not, its the anti-typescript dev bros who just cant stand the fact that some (a lot) of devs use typescript.

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bytebodger profile image
Adam Nathaniel Davis

Hmm... interesting point. The funny thing is that I feel I encounter a lot of anti-JS snobbery IRL. But I can see what you mean about there possibly being an opposite effect in the Dev.to universe.

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brense profile image
Rense Bakker

I guess perhaps they are pissed off by anti-JS snobs IRL and come to dev.to to vent? 😁

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bertilmuth profile image
Bertil Muth

I think that dev.to is a much more friendly place than many others, as you point out. On another platform, I was once called a β€œsnake-oil salesmanβ€œ.

As a non-native speaker, I had to google what that even meant. I learned something along the way, so thank you jerk-whose-name-I-don’t-remember!

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manuartero profile image
Manuel Artero Anguita 🟨

Liked it!

Reflection: Will the "nasty subspecies" vary depending on the country/culture? I am European, I have always worked for local companies, and from what I have read, not only from yours but in general, is that the American "internet culture" is more toxic than the Mediterranean one?

Yes, it's difficult to know because the beauty of the internet is that it's universal... and yet...

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bytebodger profile image
Adam Nathaniel Davis

I do suspect that there's something sadly American about toxicity. Of course, it'd be foolish to believe that there aren't jerks in every country and in every culture. But we seem to have a douchebag factory on this side of the Atlantic...

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manuartero profile image
Manuel Artero Anguita 🟨

ah ah , of course there are jerks everywhere!

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codingjlu profile image
codingjlu

I didn't have time to read most of your article, but I have to disagree that comments are worthless.

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devmehta profile image
Dev Mehta

What do you think about this then😏 - dev.to/bytebodger/thank-you-for-yo...

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clericcoder profile image
Abdulsalaam Noibi

Great Author with impressive Article.

I have always enjoyed reading your articles over time.

Looking forward to your final article on the Amazon layoffs.

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bytebodger profile image
Adam Nathaniel Davis

Thank you, but... the final article on Amazon was posted several days ago.

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clericcoder profile image
Abdulsalaam Noibi

OK,I will surely check it out.

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tsukinomegami profile image
Kimberley

No notes. This is perfect and needs to be linked and posted EVERYWHERE.