Software Community and Toxicity

This week, I read this blog post titled “kindness and code” authored by Max Kanat-Alexander on his blog, Code Simplicity. The post is about the toxicity of the software development community and Alexander is trying to help improve it by explaining the importance of kindness and treating fellow developers with respect. I chose this post to write about because I am interested in improving the typical harshness people tend to deliver to each other on the internet. As somebody who plays a lot of remarkably toxic video games such as league of legends or call of duty, its easy to see how that type of bad behavior can also exist in software development. In fact, you can find horrible behavior common in any field regarding random community communication on the internet.

I believe people tend to lash out over the internet more often than in real life. This is because they are mostly anonymous and care less about good manners or reputation when it involves somebody they may not ever meet again. This allows somebody who is given any slight reason to judge you, the justification to barrage you with hate. This type of behavior is pointless as Alexander writes “There is no value to being cruel to other people in the development community” as it seems like an instinctual reaction for some people to point out anothers flaw just to make them feel bad about it. Take an example of any normal person trying to learn something new for the first time, either with a video game or in software development, and they make a mistake. If another person online is able to see their mistake, they might be aggravated by it enough to insult and verbally abuse the poor person who is just trying to learn.

Usually this occurs when somebody more experienced looks down on a newer person however, not necessarily. As the internet matures like an older brother, more and more experienced people are picking up the habit of lending healthy advice down towards the still learning user, and that is what Max’s blog is about. Coming from an experienced point of view, he offers techniques of constructive criticism to the software development community in hopes that they will help each other rather than judge each other. While today it is common sense to simply ignore and accept the inevitability of horrible comments on the internet, it is becoming more of a growing trend that not everybody on the internet has something hurtful to say. That means progress! Even though it is difficult to imagine an internet without any angry anonymous trolls waiting to insult your every move, I believe the internet community is getting better and better every day.

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