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Egoless Programming: The Ten Commandments

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The following text is not mine; it's a summary of Weinberg's essay on
egoless programming; read it and realize how true it all is.

The Ten Commandments

1) Understand and accept that you will make mistakes. The point is to find
them early, before they make it into production. Fortunately, except for the few
of us developing rocket guidance software at JPL, mistakes are rarely fatal in
our industry, so we can, and should, learn, laugh, and move on.

2) You are not your code. Remember that the entire point of a review is to find
problems, and problems will be found. Don't take it personally when one is

3) No matter how much "karate" you know, someone else will always know
more. Such an individual can teach you some new moves if you ask. Seek and
accept input from others, especially when you think it's not needed.

4) Don't rewrite code without consultation. There's a fine line between "fixing
code" and "rewriting code." Know the difference, and pursue stylistic changes
within the framework of a code review, not as a lone enforcer.

5) Treat people who know less than you with respect, deference, and patience.
Nontechnical people who deal with developers on a regular basis almost
universally hold the opinion that we are prima donnas at best and crybabies at
worst. Don't reinforce this stereotype with anger and impatience.

6) The only constant in the world is change. Be open to it and accept it with a
smile. Look at each change to your requirements, platform, or tool as a new
challenge, not as some serious inconvenience to be fought.

7) The only true authority stems from knowledge, not from position. Knowledge
engenders authority, and authority engenders respect—so if you want respect
in an egoless environment, cultivate knowledge.

8) Fight for what you believe, but gracefully accept defeat. Understand that
sometimes your ideas will be overruled. Even if you do turn out to be right, don't
take revenge or say, "I told you so" more than a few times at most, and don't
make your dearly departed idea a martyr or rallying cry.

9) Don't be "the guy in the room." Don't be the guy coding in the dark office
emerging only to buy cola. The guy in the room is out of touch, out of sight, and
out of control and has no place in an open, collaborative environment.

10) Critique code instead of people—be kind to the coder, not to the code.As
much as possible, make all of your comments positive and oriented to
improving the code. Relate comments to local standards, program specs,
increased performance, etc.
Oct 1 '18 #1
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