This week I was somewhat saddened and irritated to see how intolerant and unpleasant people can be on the web.
It concerned a developer relatively new to the community who was enthusiastic about learning and improving themselves in their chosen craft. This is a great attitude to have and is something I'm particularly passionate about in my career;
although it really applies to just about anything in life.
The developer has a blog which has been getting some attention on the web and they are using it to both learn more about development and foster debate on a variety of topics and in turn help other new developers learn.
What saddens and irritates me is that instead of applauding the efforts of this developer and help them on their way, some people have been sniping at them, berating their knowledge and general approach to improving themselves. What I can't truly understand is why?
It's a form of technical snobbery which, I have to admit, I sometimes have. It serves no purpose other than to discourage and put down someone who doesn't know the things they know. Pointless, negative and mean.
We're all born stupid
When we enter this world, we are naked, blind and stupid. Fortunately we don't stay that way for long. The same applies metaphorically when we encounter something new for the first time, and we have to start at the beginning.
Most of us are fortunate to have great resources at our disposal from parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, friends and later in life bosses, colleagues and communities to help guide us in our journey from ignorance to enlightenment.
The journey we all make
My own technical journey started with encountering the early web on both the Lynx text browser and the snazzy NCSA Mosaic. It was pretty basic as far as today's web was concerned but I was hooked right from the start. I wanted to know how to make these magic sites and... wow I could even use something amazing called gif images on my gray pages!
I started learning as much as I could, each topic I read would lead to 10 more, I never got tired of it and I never stopped. Many years later I have amassed such an amount of information about computers and computing that it is easy to forget what it felt like to be new to it all.
Learning comes in many forms
I was never much a question asker, preferring instead to read articles, books and code so perhaps that is why some people might think that asking for help is somehow a shortcut to the homework required or a form of cheating long hours. It isn't, its just another form of learning which some prefer.
I never had to put up with people telling me how little I knew though and that I should just give up because I'd never be able to learn, people seemed friendlier and the web was a smaller place.
I owe my knowledge and my livelihood to the countless people who took time to write OSS code, books and articles, create podcasts and tutorials, answer questions, mentor and help teach me.
Take a minute
Next time someone asks a question which you think is basic or trivial, instead of dreaming up something derisory and nasty to show how much smarter you are than them, try to remember that you were once them and instead do something positive.