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Discussion on: Describe the worst coding culture you've been a part of

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mcataford profile image
Marc Cataford

I worked as a contractor for a small communications company. Started out as part of a team, and quickly, I was the only one, with the others either leaving or being sacked. Then as I got to have more direct contact with the owner, who was also in charge of general product design, I realized that said owner had no interest in clean or robust code, and was all about quick fixes.

I needed the money, so I wrote shameful, shameful code before ending up being solicited at all hours of the night because the guy had poor time and project management skills and often made technical promises that were incompatible and/or inappropriate for the context.

I eventually fled and that was the happiest day of the past couple of years.

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danki profile image
deko

Absolutely relatable, from my own experiences. Shame that many companies do like this

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perttisoomann profile image
Pert Soomann

I'd say no-one, unless you work for someone with reasonable tech background and actual understanding of ins and outs, will actually ask, nay, demand clean code.

If you offer someone more features, but less clean code, of course they choose quick fixes - purely because managing code is not their pain point, it's yours. They don't understand the complexity, and they probably don't want to, they pay you for that (unless, of course you quit and they have no plan B).

And then it's down to you as dev, do you want to deliver a lot and make employer happy, but potentially paint yourself in the corner, or work with timeframes that allow you easier to manage code, but less features.

I'd say in general you have to make that decision and work your estimates accordingly, and not try to give someone option to choose - because you already know what they will choose.

I'm not advocating for bad code, but sometimes to stay within the budget/timeframe, as developer, everything can not be perfect and saying you aim for "clean" code just because you're a good developer is you just putting unnecessary stress on yourself.

Does that make sense?

Little tip, and I know it's not really proper way to use it, it seems giving someone story-point allowance for week/month/sprint and then having generous estimates is very easy pill to swallow compared to giving someone actual hours breakdown.

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promhize profile image
Promise Tochi

Worked in a similar environment. Mine seems worse though, worked as a UI designer and Front-end developer. Was expected to make UI as I code, or at most design 5 pages in a day and come up with style guides on the fly. Coding up an entire app dashboard was expected to take a day. It was hell, worked late nights and weekends. There was nothing like project strategy, project brief, detailed product features, code review...

It was my first job as a Frontend developer. I rushed into it, and I regret it. I joined in April, and quit in December. Took a one month break, and got somewhere way better.

Did I mention I got owed months of pay? Yeah

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mcataford profile image
Marc Cataford

Dang. Yeah, I stayed for about a year at mine, and until last November, the owner was still calling me every now and then to rant about the overseas subcontractors he'd try to rope into coding for him. Ugh.

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promhize profile image
Promise Tochi

Lol. Overseas subcontractors cannot quite work for him like you and others did.

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mcataford profile image
Marc Cataford

Well, that and apparently they just ghosted when they got enough of him.

Riddle me this though: he hired iOS/Android app developers for PHP work.

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changemyname profile image
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ethanarrowood profile image
Ethan Arrowood

I had a similar experience. When I was in high school I was working as a part time wordpress support programmer for a tiny web dev firm in my town. I was able to install wordpress stuff, fix databases, and write some specialized JS and CSS here and there. Nothing too complicated just what about I could learn teaching myself HTML, CSS, and JS in about a year.

Anyways. . . my boss had no idea how to code or any sort of technical limitations so he would often make customers promises about certain features and such think he could just find some WP Plugin to suite his needs. When he couldn't find a plugin he would then ask me to do it but would always be super disappointed when I had to tell them what he wanted wasn't possible (or was at least far out of my developer skill set).

He still reaches out to me today (2 years later) occasionally asking if I can implement a feature he has promised a client; most of the time the answer is no.

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guidovizoso profile image
Guido Vizoso

I felt so related to that. And my boss even asked me to spy on client's dbs so he knew if they were earning more money to increase the monthly maintenance we did.

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mcataford profile image
Marc Cataford

The job I was writing about earlier had some Wordpress components to it. The owner insisted that we use Visual Composer. ;__; Adding custom code around Visual Composer made me cry tears of blood, truly.

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ben profile image
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mcataford profile image
Marc Cataford

Exactly my thought. It was definitely a learning experience and I learned to have a firm line in front of random demands people make, so it wasn't all bad. Almost six months later, I'm still running after my last check though.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

Any idea how the company is doing now?

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mcataford profile image
Marc Cataford

They got sued because after I left, they failed to find another reliable and competent software developer and fell behind on a project.

Karmic justice, I guess.