Andy McKay

Sep 01, 2010

Person X is...

Many years ago when I was at ActiveState we had a new manager, I got one of those every month or so it wasn't a big deal. One of the things he said was - he would never use the excuse that a decision will be made because person X said so and they know best. It was 9 years ago, so I can't remember the exact wording.

What he was saying is that all decisions can be questioned, things need to be explained and we shouldn't be just blindly following some people. He was also saying that this is bit of elitism, putting other people down. This came back to me a few times as a manager when I made decisions and was questioned. But it really hit me home in slightly different circumstances on the Django mailing lists - and I will point out, this is a rare exception.

I've seen at a couple of times people say something like: "our code was written by X, so i doubt there's a bug there", "this was designed by X who has quite a reputation...".

Each time, it's felt a bit like the "person X knows best" card has been pulled out and people can't argue with it and it grates a little. As the questioner it would put me down.

There are many people on the Django mailing list whom by following their comments and decisions I've come to respect a lot (Russell, Jakob, Karen, Graham etc). The problem is here that people come into the situation phrasing their issue incorrectly and it comes across dis-respectfully. They haven't realized how smart and (generally) right these people are.

They assume that something is broken and how can we all be so stupid for not seeing it or fixing it. It can be tough not to pull out the card in this case and say "X is right because they are the god of Y".

If you are about to write that in the mailing list, maybe there's another way of phrasing it that will keep Django one of the friendliest and nicest communities out there.