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Josh Bruce
Josh Bruce

Posted on • Updated on <time datetime="2019-03-20T05:26:24Z" class="date">Mar 20, 2019</time>

You're doing it wrong culture

Not sure why you’ve dragged up a 7 month old conversation, but your build process should be the same across all environments.

Gulp is for building front-end assets (CSS, JavaScript), the paths of which shouldn’t change across environments.

I hopped onto a forum to ask a question and noticed I had an unread notification...from two years ago. I read it and was sort of caught in a limbo of responses.

Part of me was thinking of starting a response with, "Well, if you think 7 months is bad, try two years later. Listen here..."

That's the angry, taking it personal side. To the point of the argument, I was searching on something related to something I was developing that was similar. I wanted to have one set of gulp scripts that could manage the assets for three or four different sites; therefore, each one had their own .env file and variables.

But that's not the point.

I do tend to agree that the build process should be the same across environments: local, testing (if you have one), staging (if you have one), and production. However, the environment variables within a .env file (or other config file) should not be the same, especially if, like in Laravel, there's an app key unique to the site.

The Gulp thing is interesting, it reminds me of a lot of other things. Cars, for example, are for getting from point A to point B in an efficient manner compared to the alternative of walking or using a horse and requiring less daily maintenance than either. However, someone decided to break that rule and have cars go in circles, at high speeds (inefficient), for the purposes of entertainment; multi-million dollar industry. Gulp, near as I can tell, is for manipulating and watching the file system; copy-paste files, compile files, and so on.

With that said, what's with us?

Why does it seem like on Stack and various other forums that our first response to any question is:

  1. Why do you want to do that thing?
  2. You shouldn't do that thing?
  3. You're doing it wrong? Here's the right way.

I don't know if it's the quantity necessarily, it's just the quality. My stock response has become something like:

Not sure this "you're doing it wrong" answer is helpful.

I've seen a few people who say, "I don't recommend doing it this way but it's the way you say you want to and here's why it's a bad idea."

That^ is so much better than coming off as demeaning and confrontational. And this isn't about thin skin - I was an art major and for four years straight was subjected to a jury of my peers for everything I created (like a code review with the whole team, only other students are competition). I literally had someone yelling in my face, "I don't understand your stuff, I mean, seriously, why are you even an art major" (that was a fellow student, while the professor sat on the sidelines saying nothing). So, yeah, thick skin, and I can dish what I'm served.

But I don't want to when it's berating and destructive criticism.

And that's the rub. I'm not looking for flowers, rainbows, and campfire singalongs. But maybe entering into the conversation with the notion that the other person isn't intentionally trying to be an asshole and does know a thing or two, just maybe not on that particular subject.

Maybe my phrasing seemed confrontational and the other person felt the need to escalate instead of asking for clarification like, "Text being the absolute worst form of communication, I would like clarification, are you being aggressive right now? Because X, Y, Z makes me think you are." Or even, "This feels like an aggressive trap laying."

Anyway. Just something that always hits me hard when I see it because I've seen what happens when we're being awesome to and with each other - the alternative is sheer terror.

Discussion (5)

jheijmans profile image
Jeroen Heijmans

Interestingly, back in 2005 Alex Papadimoulis (founder of wrote this piece, where he's basically asking why people aren't saying something about bad ideas. Have things really turned around, or is this just really dependent on the forum? Personally I like the "I don't recommend doing it this way" approach, BTW

joshbruce profile image
Josh Bruce Author • Edited on

To the first example in the article, my phrasing would be something like, "What constraints are keeping you from using a hammer?" In other words, assume the other person is creative and intelligent and maybe has a good reason not too...which may be as simple as, "I didn't know hammers existed."

In the case of frameworks specifically this can happen a fair bit of the time. "Oh, I didn't know the Firework Framework version 2.0 could do that, wow!"

There's a difference in tone. One tends to feel like it comes from a place of superiority, "Stupid noobs, messing things up for everyone." The other feels like it comes from a place of collegiate curiosity, "I might learn something from you (your way is 500x faster than the way I do it today)."

kayis profile image

At least I have the feeling it's getting better in the last years.

Now we just have to wait that the "new people with better culture" getting more senior so they can help us with our problems and we don't have to talk with the A-holes anymore 🙃

jbristow profile image
Jon Bristow

The main disconnect happens because there are fewer answerers than askers.

This is exacerbated by StackOverflow due to its obsession with attempting to police question policy. Early on, they realized that people weren’t doing research before asking questions, and because of that, google was starting to fill up with SO articles that were effectively “bad idea traps”.

Also, there’s not many points to be gained by engaging in a comment thread, so the likelihood that you’ll get a helpful response is pretty low.

As someone approaching “old”, I wonder how people get these harsh responses. In my experience in the heady heights of SO, I asked many questions and received many answers, but it was a vanishingly low percentage that were confrontational.

The few times I got “you don’t want to do that”, it turned out that they were right, and the real question was much earlier in the causality chain. Perhaps it was the quality of answerers in the Java and SQL tags?

I spent a brief time trying to answer questions, but you spend your time drowning in “do my homework” questions, things answerable by quoting the docs, and “I want to do (insanity)”. Everything else is a duplicate that the bots are racing to close so they can get points. (And even then, deletion is usually double checked.)

joshbruce profile image
Josh Bruce Author

It's not the quantity, as I said, I think it's the quality. The harsh responses are just so harsh...the punishment does not match the transgression. To step away from SO, as this is about culture in general just using SO as a collection of it, consider Linus's outburst regarding Microsoft and Linux:

And his later apology:

In the example from the post, the assumption from the poster is that I was doing it wrong, as environments should be the same, instead of maybe trying to accomplish something I didn't articulate or in a way they had not considered. Which, unfortunately, does seem to be kind of normal.

Maybe we should start a finishing school for software developers (without the gender restrictions).