My New Pet Peeve

January 24, 2012

GravatarBy Michael Snoyman

Apologies to the targets of this post.

Just wanted to share a new pet peeve I've developed. Suppose someone comes up with a new approach to achieving some goal. The previous approaches have issues that have been clearly demonstrated. The new approach shows that those issues exist, actually break things in real life, and then offers a new implementation that solves the issues.

Are the new approaches perfect? Nothing ever is. But they achieve the goals we have today, and are workable tools.

Along comes someone, doesn't like something about the new approach (has unexpected semantics, or perhaps a name they dislike). They write a blog post, or an email to Haskell cafe, or a Google+ post, or a Reddit comment explaining how this new approach is broken/unsound/yucky because of X. Full stop.

This critique irks me, because:

  • It's often times based in someone's lack of understanding of the problem at hand.
  • It ignores the fact that in the real world, the complaints haven't actually caused serious problems.
  • There's no explanation of how to fix it, besides some vague hand-waving.

I'm all in favor of healthy discussion, but throwing around these words without hard evidence is meaningless. If you must say something vague, tell everyone that you're being vague!

  • "I can't say exactly why, but this approach feels wrong."
  • "This doesn't fit with the semantics I would expect."

And your comments will have far more of a holding with me if you can actually show that your goals are achievable.



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