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Do novices make quick fixes and experts clean changes?

mortoray profile image edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y ・1 min read

"When debugging, novices insert corrective code; experts remove defective code." - Richard Pattis

Among other things, we discuss this quote in our show this week. In a knee jerk reaction I want to agree, but I think the answer is more nuanced than this.

play pause Edaqa & Stephane Podcast

So what do you think? Is the habit of making quality fixes an expert only trait? Do senior covers even make better fixes?

Discussion (12)

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phallstrom profile image
Philip Hallstrom

Maybe? Maybe not. I think like most quotes there's some truth there, but it's much more subtle.

I would say that seniors have the experience to know that this seemingly quick fix isn't going to work long term -- because they've done/seen it in the past and know it will blow up on them. New developers lack that experience.

I think a more interesting question would be to look at pessimists and optimists and see if there are some interesting data points there.

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mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y Author

I think the pessimist/optimist question is interesting. I agree that the behaviour is more tied to traits of the person rather than seniority.

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kayis profile image
K

Depends on the problem, motivation, time etc.

Sure, I can deliver a clean change, but not if someone asks me to fix something at 23:00, because he just realized he needs it tomorrow. xD

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mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y Author

We need to call in the "Senior Lead Fix Architect" to find the correct solution. :)

I agree it's more about understanding than seniority. A well trained senior has a better chance of finding a good fix, but that doesn't imply a junior isn't trying to do the same thing.

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nektro profile image
Meghan (she/her)

Reminds of 2 articles.

1) I can't seem to find a really old one that talked about the different between builders and menders

2)

I get the sentiment that juniors are probably hacking it together to just make it work, while more senior devs look into understanding the whole project and maintainability. But there's definitely a time and place for both and I don't think its stuck in a junior/senior dynamic.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Sorry for the previously broken podcast embed, it's fixed now.

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mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y Author

Oh, it was broken, it seemed to work when I first tested. The mysterious world of software. We should really create a site where people can talk about their programming problems! :)

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

😄

It was a dependency issue. I think it mysteriously worked sometimes, possibly due to the order of things loaded, making the API sometimes available depending on how Rails magic cared to intervene.

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mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y Author

Ugh, the most annoying defects!

But hey, now I can say during the show, "Welcome to Edaqa and Stephane, the show that helped fixed dev.to's dependency issues." :D

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vinceramces profile image
Vince Ramces Oliveros

Me as a novice - Just glue things the way I want to fix and It'll be good.
Me in the future - Why did I put it there in the first place?

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mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y Author

Sometimes we only end up using better glue instead. :/