For the longest time within the medical profession, new physicians have taken the Hippocratic Oath (or some variation of it) in which they swear to uphold a certain ethical standard. With the great responsibility resting on these individuals, it makes total sense to do this.
As developers, our actions can sometimes have massive impact on other people’s lives, but yet ethics is not something discussed much in software development circles.
What follows is an adaptation of the Hippocratic Oath, but for web developers:
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those developer giants whose blogs I’ve read, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those newbies who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of all project stakeholders, all linting rules that are required, avoiding those twin traps of over-engineering and premature optimizations.
I will remember that there is art to web development as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and continuous learning may outweigh the developer’s current framework preference or build tools.
I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to create a Stack Overflow question when the skills of another are needed for a project’s successful outcome.
I will respect the privacy settings of my end users’ browsers, for their logins to my app are not disclosed to me to insecurely store in plain text. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of code reviews. If it is given me to approve a PR, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to decline the PR; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own code under review. Above all, I must encourage diversity.
I will remember that I do not style a button, implement an algorithm, but provide a digital experience, whose outcome may affect my users’ family and mental stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for my craft.
I will prevent bugs whenever I can, for continuous improvement is preferable to rewrites.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow nerds, those sound of mind and body as well as those suffering from imposter syndrome.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy fast internet and cross-browser consistency, respected while I code and remembered with affection when I become a project manager. May I always develop so as to preserve my end user’s valuable mobile data and may I long experience the joy of coding apps that are accessible as the open web ought to be.
In all seriousness, as a developer, next time you implement a new feature, create a GitHub issue, write a blog post or deliver a meetup talk, consider the impact of your actions on other people. Behind the code, there is a person.