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The DEV Team

Share your experience with feelings of embarrassment during code reviews

graciegregory profile image Gracie Gregory (she/her) ・1 min read

The format of DEV's first official podcast, DevDiscuss, begins with an interview and ends with commentary from the community.

For this week’s episode, we want to know...

Have you ever felt embarrassed or inadequate during a code review? How have you used that experience to improve the code-review process for junior developers?

If you'd like a chance to be featured in the episode, please send us a voice memo or leave a comment below by next Wednesday, July 8th at 5 PM PT (8 PM ET, 12 AM UTC).

Details on how to participate:

  • Call our Google Voice at +1 (929)500-1513 and leave a message 📞
  • Send a voice memo to pod@dev.to 🎙

OR, if you don't want your voice recorded...just leave a comment here and we'll read your response aloud for you 🗣

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graciegregory profile

Gracie Gregory (she/her)

@graciegregory

Content Manager @ DEV. "You know what this sentence needs? An Em dash!" - Me to me

The DEV Team

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Discussion

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I once forgot to squash my commits and was told my variable names were too descriptive. And that I didn't comment some code that a lead didn't understand because he'd never seen the JS code that allows you to monitor changes in HTML node attributes. A colleague called Olivia actually egged on some negative banter as I left the office. I didn't mind. I'm more mature than that.

I did feel embarrassed and her comments were wrong and out of place but I still don't mind.

 

I'm working in a nodejs + typescript + JavaScript app, as full stack, in a WIP commit I just saw I tried to access process.env.NODE_ENV in the front end, I'm writing from under the bed ,🤦‍♂️

 

Something I feel is important, especially when reviewing for junior devs, is to leave nice comments too. For example, comment on something they did well. It doesn't need to necessarily be pointing out all of their mistakes, some positive comments would go a long way. And when leaving criticism, don't make it personal ("you should have done this..." etc.), instead of the word "you", be careful with the language and say something like "I think this could be done differently", or "a better approach to this could be..."

 

this is wat build people up and teaches them 🙌🏻

 

I haven't had any embarrassing review moments in my company. We have a blameless policy in our team which works very well, that means even with very stupid mistakes, which certainly happen :D, you don't feel any negativity or anything like that.

 

Who hasn't, right? If you don't get constructive feedback, you're going to struggle progressing. But in the same vein, getting criticism on your carefully crafted work can automatically be embarrassing, especially if it's a mistake you've done several times.

In my opinion, good code reviews are a catalyst to success amongst closely nit teams, you just have to learn how everyone reacts to feedback and make sure you are helping them, not scaring them or making them feel uncomfortable.
This is obviously not the case in open source because you don't know who you're working with and likely haven't had much interaction with them, but for myself I'd grown a thicker skin by the time I started contributing to open source haha.

 

Working in a senior only department I realized how offended people can be when you word things wrongly.

Today I’m the lead of a group of intermediate and juniors devs.

When embarrassing things happen in PRs it happens to us, not a single person.

The difference in how well feedback is received when saying we’ instead of you’ and asking questions instead of pointing out mistakes is day and night. :)

 

A couple of years ago I went for a development job where the tech test was to read and write data to a file. Nothing complicated, but my brain totally froze.

I'd had a couple of years off development at that point with a career side track into a non-technical role, but felt really embarrassed by not being able to do something so simple off the top of my head.

A quick Google later and it came flooding back. Didn't finish everything on the test but still got the job.

 

Two days ago we had a flaky test fail from timezone issues that I threw a quick fix for (required the test to expect if it was July 1st vs Jan 1st based on current date but the expectation variable was flaky).

Then yesterday I had to code review another PR on that same file since my quick fix failed a day later because it set the variable to July 2nd 🤦 🤦 🤦 WHOOPS

 

Google Voice still exists?!?!

I've never felt embarrassed. I love receiving feedback that forces me to improve. Any time I've ever felt like something was unfair is if I was blatantly misunderstood. That hasn't been the case with my current job.

My biggest concern is making sure I don't come off as condescending. If I see something that looks off, or something I don't understand, I'll ask questions so the other person can explain themselves. Sometimes it results in me saying "oh ok," and other times I may say they should've done things a different way. Ultimately, if I don't agree with what they did, I want to make sure they've had a chance to explain their side and to offer an alternative without my teammate having a negative experience.