re: Moving Past Tutorials: a course on problem solving for programmers VIEW POST


This is great, looking forward to reading this.

One thing I see new devs do quite often is try to figure everything out themselves. There is a balance here. On one hand, yes you should try to problem solve on your own. But to me there is a difference between trying to understand something by yourself and solving by yourself. I don't believe you should just try to understand things on your own. Why? Because that's what senior devs on the team are for. They probably built it, they should be able to explain it. Asking tons of understanding questions will challenge everyone to ensure they all know how a thing was built. If they can't, there's an opportunity for learning from other members of the team. This is a great way to build shared knowledge and I encourage people new to a team to ask away.

When it comes to problem solving, say being tasked to fix an issue, this is where you may want to go on your own before asking. If it doesn't require business knowledge or know-how of the codebase, this is good to explore on your own organically.

I haven't put a ton of thought into this but it could be termed intrinsic knowledge versus extrinsic. Intrinsic knowledge is internal to the team or business domain. You should absolutely ask tons of questions to understand the context you're working in. Extrinsic knowledge would be things outside the team, either simple or complex knowledge. Rote things that are a Google search away all the way to solving a complex problem. That spectrum is wide but I'd encourage you to feel safe getting help for the complex issues and to tackle the rote/procedural stuff yourself. Being able to know the difference is important and comes with experience but you should always feel safe leaning on others to help solve problems. Being a lone wolf sounds enticing but can lead to you going down a rabbit hole that ultimately wastes time and causes the team more angst than if you had seeked help earlier.

This is a incomplete thought but maybe it helps!

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