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Emma Humphries
Emma Humphries

Posted on • Originally published at on

The virtue of boring

Everyday african urbanism yasser booley 61198

Yasser Booley CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At some point I’ll finish that essay on how toxic masculinity derailed the web, but Robin Rendle’s essay on restraint in development made a few things clear.

Rendle mentions diagnosing a performance problem that’s harming your users who can’t load your site to know if they will be affected by power cuts in part because of all the third party scripts it loads:

But fixing that problem? It requires going through each script, talking to the marketing department, finding out who owns what script, why they use it, what data is ultimately useful to the organization and what is not. Then, finally, you can delete the script. The solution to the problem is boring as dirt and trying to explain why the work is important—even vital—will get you nowhere in many organizations.

This is not exciting work. It’s not work that gets solved with a single heroic pull request, replacing the site’s templating with a new JavaScript library, or a whole new feature.

Over the past few months we’ve been cleaning up old metadata in Bugzilla. It takes video calls, emails, and working shared documents with long runs of comments to get to a consensus to turn off a field. But all those fields removed are that much more cognitive overhead removed from people reporting, triaging, planning, fixing, and verifying bugs.

It’s sorting the pantry so the cooking spices you use every day are always to-hand when you need them. Searching the pantry or the show bug page is gets in the way of getting work done. New cabinets and new UX might be engaging, but it’s expensive and not incremental.

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