Be positive, even if you want to be critical

After certain events in recent weeks I thought it was worth putting up a post trying to encourage people to be more constructive in their criticisms.

Take, for example, a conversation I had with a developer a few weeks ago who came from a Symbian background;

Dev : I’m looking for a code examples for things like… how to change screens using a horizontal finger gesture on the screen on Android.
Me : I’ve not seen one have you tried looking at the docs?
Dev : I don’t want to wade through docs, I just want to see how to do it.
Me : There aren’t examples for everything. How did the documentation for Symbian cover things like that?
Dev : Now you’re just trying to taunt me.
Me : No, I’m trying to understand what you’ve seen, what you expect to see, and identify what can be done to help people coming from Symbian.
Dev : No, you’re just trying to taunt me.
[Dev goes off to talk to someone else]

I doubt either of us came away with anything from that.

What was missing is an example of where things have been done the way he wanted. It could have been that he needed a pointer to a site like Stack Overflow, or another site with snippets, or maybe he was actually expecting an example piece of code for every piece of functionality he could want, I’ll probably never know.

So people, if you’ve got a criticism to make, try to be positive about it. Give the other person an example of a good solution, or give them some pointers to where to look for ideas on how to create a good solution, but, for everyone involved, don’t just say “That sucks” and expect everything to get better by magic.

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