you can tell me why i suck

Sometimes, when I start hanging out in a new IRC channel, or spend some time with programmers I’ve only talked to on mailing lists, I hear people make new cutting remarks about other widely respected programmers. Often, the new group will have some well-established group opinion about someone I respect, and that opinion will not be entirely flattering. This is always a strange experience. I’m usually a bit put off by nasty talk about anybody, especially people whose work I respect. Then again, the criticism is often reasoned and makes me see people in a new light that helps me more critically assess their work and their claims.

So, apart from the sort of general “don’t be a jerk” advice that more people should take more often (see Ovid’s recent blog post), what I take away from this experience is the lurking suspicion that somewhere there is a clique of people who think that I suck. Of course, they might be right! I just wish they’d tell me. After all, if all correct and potentially constructive criticism is kept secret, people aren’t likely to improve.

So, it’s okay. If I suck, you can tell me. Preferably, though, not by pointing me at the blog post you’ve just written on the subject.

Written on August 8, 2008