Eyes Above The Waves

Robert O'Callahan. Christian. Repatriate Kiwi. Hacker.

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Nastiness Works

One thing I experienced many times at Mozilla was users pressuring developers with nastiness --- ranging from subtle digs to vitriolic abuse, trying to make you feel guilty and/or trigger an "I'll show you! (by fixing the bug)" response. I know it happens in most open-source projects; I've been guilty of using it myself.

I particularly dislike this tactic because it works on me. It really makes me want to fix bugs. But I also know one shouldn't reward bad behavior, so I feel bad fixing those bugs. Maybe the best I can do is call out the bad behavior, fix the bug, and avoid letting that same person use that tactic again.

Perhaps you're wondering "what's wrong with that tactic if it gets bugs fixed?" Development resources are finite so every bug or feature is competing with others. When you use nastiness to manipulate developers into favouring your bug, you're not improving quality generally, you're stealing attention away from other issues whose proponents didn't stoop to that tactic and making developers a little bit miserable in the process. In fact by undermining rational triage you're probably making quality worse overall.