Discussion on: The New Golden Rule of Programmers

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Scott Hannen

I'm with the headphone rule in spirit. But it's like attempting to combine two unrelated values into one property or field. One property can't specify "I do|don't want to listen to music" and "I do|don't want to be disturbed." What if I don't want to be disturbed but I don't want to listen to music either? A "do not disturb" flag is good. Having to wear it on my head - not good. I'd prefer a literal flag or indicator on my desk, combined with a Slack/Teams/Skype status indicator.

A few related suggestions:
If you need something from me and you message me, just say what you want. If that feels impolite then preface it with "Hi, Scott." But please don't just send me a message that says "Hi." Now I can't help you because I don't know what you want, but I also can't resume what I'm doing because I know your actual message is coming in 10-60 seconds. (If you really want to send the greeting as a separate message then consider typing the second message in Notepad and copying it so you can paste it right after you send the greeting.)

If you're a manager or Scrum Lord, never, ever tell me that I need to go to someone else's desk and stand behind them to get them to do what I need them to do. If that's how you interact with others then you go do it. I don't stand behind people and pressure them. If you have to go stand behind them then perhaps you'll figure out the underlying reason why it's difficult to get things done. That's ideal, because as a manager it's your problem to solve anyway. Telling me to stand behind them isn't a solution. It's an admission that you've accepted failure as the norm and surrendered. (I'm writing a whole blog post on this.)

Don't whistle in or around my workplace unless there's something seriously wrong with you. It's very distracting. Do you know that we can hear you? If you can't survive a few minutes at a time without the sound of your own whistling then please record it in a more appropriate setting (which is not the men's restroom) and then play it back for yourself with headphones.

And please keep your headphones at a private volume. If you can hear them when they're not on your head, everyone else around you can hear them too. The point of headphones is to play music privately without disturbing others. They're not portable speakers that sit on your head for convenience. You'll just go deaf and then you'll turn them up even louder.