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Real developers don't ask for help

devdrake0 profile image Si Updated on ・1 min read

You've probably been in this situation; you have been programming for years, but you still have to ask others for help or Google the same simple thing every day.

So you sit there and wonder "am I ever going to be a proper developer, if I'm still asking others for help or using Google every day?".

The answer is no.

  • Real developers don't have to ask for help.
  • Real developers don't use Google.
  • Real developers memorise everything. It's inefficient to have to keep looking everything up.

That's bullshit!

Of course everything I said above is complete bullshit. The truth is the complete opposite.

Good developers ask for help.

Good developers ask for other people's opinions, even when they think they know the answer or have come up with the best solution.

Good development teams work together, even on simple problems.

Let me tell you - if you ask others for help, or Google the same thing ten times a day, this does not make you a bad developer.

It makes you a real developer, who is happy to admit what they don't know or need help with.

There is nothing more dangerous than a developer who thinks they know everything, refuses to ask for help, or will only work on their own.

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Si

@devdrake0

Husband & Father. Founder, Owner, Lead Developer, Writer and Reviewer of Code Tips. Senior Full Stack Software Developer.

Discussion

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Couldn't agree more. I just left a startup run by ex Microsoft employees who seem incapable of understanding that good developers don't know everything but know how to research and find information. They however expected the title of Senior developer to involve a knowledge of everything including redundant and dead technology like Knockout.js. Thankfully Im in a much more progressive place now with real developers.

 

Unfortunately the senior title does come with expectations sometimes.

As a senior, I try to combat this by being the one to ask the "stupid" questions in meetings.

I don't know everything. I never will. My hope is, by asking the stupid questions, I'll help create a culture of honesty.

 

It does indeed but as someone who everywhere else they have worked has been a Principle or Lead developer I know that even the most Junior of developers can teach us a thing or two. Thankfully, I'm out of that dreadful role now and somewhere that appreciates my over 10 years of experience in software development . Equally Im still conscious that we always have more to learn and would never pull up a developer on a lack of knowledge on a particular topic.

Absolutely. Every person in a development team can teach someone else, regardless of level.

Unfortunately, there are places that create a culture of "seniors are god's" which puts unnecessary stress on the seniors and stops others from offering alternate views.

 

Spot on

good developers don't know everything but know how to research and find information.

 

Hahaha. The good developer doesnt memorize everything. Good developer has a good skill to analyze and breakdown what the problem to be a micro problem and solve one by one.

Beginner programmers usually googling with their big problem topic and finally they cant find the solution.

 

Man, you hit it on the nose. One thing I tell beginners all the time. Break your question up into smaller pieces first. No one is going to tell you how to develop your entire app and there's no tutorial for the whole thing either

 

// , I've seen this pretty often. I bet I've even done it once or twice accidentally, when I didn't realize the size of a problem.

Luckily, all such incidents on my part have, no doubt, been lost to selective memory and rose-colored glasses.

 

Ask for help, reply and help - three activities that make a good developer and...a good person, too :) Thanks for the post, Si!

 

Thanks for your reply, it's always nice to get positive feedback :)

 

You're welcome! :)) It is a pleasure for me to find like minded fellow developers!

 

I can't agree more. Sometimes, we're so confident about our idea so that we cannot see the flaws in it. Asking, brainstorming, or googling doesn't only help us to consolidate our idea but it also help us to build a mindful characteristic.

 

// , There's another side to this, though.

In any job, not just programming, there are a core set of facts and skills that help immensely to "just know".

The syntax for for-do loops in Pascal is not one of them.

But what a loop is in the first place, that's something to commit to memory.

Another example: If I work on Linux, and manipulate its filesystem manually every day, I should know the ls command by heart. But that doesn't mean I should know the right flags to add to that command to list all of the files in reverse order of their creation date.

There's a balance to be struck here, and I don't think you want to give the impression that so-called StackOverflow driven development is OK.

 

That's not really what I'm talking about in this post. It's saying it's ok if you have to look stuff up or ask for help.

Of course, the more you do something you'll commit it to memory

 

I love this, man! So true, I'm learning this very quickly. Asking for help, advice, guidance, or googling for things is a great efficient way. I've also learned so much from taking other's points of view, or recommendations. Real valuable - thanks for sharing!

 

Nice one!
Every time I see the kind of dev that just keeps things to themselves, I feel like: "OK mate, you won't be less experienced or professional by sharing your wins nor struggles!". It doesn't matter how silly your question is, just ask it!

 

We should also be careful to consider that sometimes this behaviour is systematic of a bad culture.

It's possible that Dev has been in a company where mistakes are penalised, instead of learnt from, and has had to keep everything to themselves for job security.

While it's a bad trait, and damaging to teams, we should also be looking to help and educate instead of ostracize.

P.s. please don't take this as me accusing you of doing this, I just decided to use your comment to provide some more info. Perhaps I should add an edit to my post with this 🤔

 

I think this is part of why I have so much difficulty getting through CS coding tests. They don't give us enough time to even properly look up our own notes, let alone Google things (when Google is even allowed). My memory is terrible. :(

 

Just keep going.

It gets easier. You'll naturally retain information the more you do it, so keep practicing and you'll get there.

 

My problem is those on my team that refuse to ask for help...

 

If people won't ask for help, and you think you can offer an alternative point of view, ask them to explain it to you.

Their ego won't be damaged, because you're asking them, and maybe you can show them that talking things through can help.

 

Thanks for the reply.

I try every trick I can think of, but as I'm sure you're aware, there's often a small contingent that continue to march to their own drum.

Most often, when I ask this small contingent to think of other ways, or to explain their thinking, it suddenly develops into a circular conversation where they simply reiterate the same buzzwords no matter how questions are posed.

I'm slowly working on them though, very slowly.

I do feel your pain. I'm sure everyone else respects your attempts, unfortunately you can't please everyone.

 

They had us in the first half, I'm not gonna lie

 

I was genuinely expecting some really angry comments, from people that only read the first half, but so far - none!

 

I disapprove SOLID principles and a lot more programming techniques. They were all brought up by good developers.

 

You disapprove of SOLID ?