The need for more web developers means that new faces will enter our industry every day. Awesome resources like freeCodeCamp keep the barriers to entry low. My hope for any newcomers is that they succeed in this field and enjoy the work they do.
These newcomers are going to meet a variety of personalities in the web development community. Some are cool, some not so much. I want to take a moment to zoom in on some of the poor attitudes out there. Why? If we categorize these bad attitudes, they become easier to identify and correct.
Disclaimer: The truth is that we are all guilty of most of these behaviors. I also am not calling out any particular individuals and neither should you. In fact, the point of this lighthearted theme is for us to self-reflect, laugh a little, and improve.
Like many of your company’s senior developers, a Flintstone has been developing web apps since the last century. However, they use this seniority to be poor leaders.
The Flintstones found the tech stack that they like years ago. They use that as a reason to dismiss anything new. Sometimes, they will even end a conversation by listing their seniority.
When a peer of mine first encountered a Flintstone, it really bothered him. He wanted to become a senior developer at his company (and is crushing it), but not a Flintstone. He ended up writing the following letter to his future self to remember how to interact with new developers:
”Don’t kill someone’s enthusiasm or ideas. Appreciate the work, gauge if they understand the problem before assuming they don’t. Let them make their pitch and have an open mind, maybe you haven’t thought about it before. If it’s what you expected, be gentle, offer coaching or follow up.”
The downside of a Jetson is that they don’t take the time to weigh the pros and cons of the new tech. They also don’t consider why the solution has not been done before. Maybe the new tech was really a new idea, but it could also be that people found a problem with it in the past.
A Butt-Head loves being on Twitter and web dev subreddits just like the Jetson. The problem is that they are not there to find new things to try. Instead, a Butt-Head seeks mystical internet points (upvotes, hearts, and likes) from peers. This means they will say anything to get those points.
These characters can be the worst for the web dev’s online communities. They put down posts without properly evaluating the information shared. Just because you are negative about something in the web dev community does not make you a Butt-Head. Butt-Heads are the ones quick to comment regardless of context.
Lisa is a talented developer with too many extracurriculars. She spends a lot of time on side projects, conference talks, and blog posts (cough, cough). This leads to a Lisa neglecting her share of actual team’s work. Her team is supportive of all that she does. They just wish she would be as bought-in to the whole teams’ goals.
Dexter is super-smart, but works on his own in his lab. He never writes documentation for others. There is no helpful README file to get started or inline comments to explain his code. Newcomers on the project struggle the most with a Dexter, no matter what level of experience.
The Princess Bubblegum
This one is a favorite of mine because I have heard about it countless times in the corporate world. A Princess Bubblegum loves having her kingdom (team) dependent on her. She never writes documentation like the Dexter, but on purpose. Her number one goal is to ensure job security and importance. Princess Bubblegum chooses obscure technologies for projects that nobody else knows. She is also horrible at making the effort to train peers.
Everything is a fight to a ThunderCat. Their technology needs to make the other technology seem obsolete. The ThunderCat believes their tech or way of doing things is the only way. It is also a tragedy to a ThunderCat if a teammate has a different way of writing CSS classnames.
A ThunderCat gets swept into the adrenaline rush of a good fight. Civil debates about how to do things within a team and the industry are healthy. What is also healthy is taking a step back to consider what is important in the debate.
A Rugrat has imposter syndrome and is too scared to ask for help. What they tend to forget is that everyone else also struggles. After all, web development is a huge area with many topics. You will never be an expert in all of web development! Rugrats are usually associated with new web devs, but can really be anyone.
Smurfs only hang out with and lift up other Smurfs in their industry. A “Light Smurf” only interacts with and helps Smurfs that use similar tech or hold the same opinions.
The most dangerous Smurfs only give attention to Smurfs of the same gender, race, and other discriminatory values. This is terrible, because web development gets the most innovative ideas from a diverse and empowered community. If we do not proactively push for minority representation, our industry will stagnate.
Did these ‘toons bring back bad memories? Do you resonate with some of these characters? Got any other bad behaviors you think should be acknowledged? Please share them in the comments or tweet me them at @seejamescode!