Unhandled Exceptions

13 Jul

Why I Don’t Listen to the StackOverflow Podcast any More

As a creator of community content (no, I’m not likening the level of what I do to anything close to what Jeff and Joel have accomplished with StackOverflow), I’m willing to give the community content produced by others the benefit of the doubt.  So I’ve been a long-time listener (from the beginning) of the StackOverflow podast.

When they waxed philosophical about the absurdity of unit testing your code, willfully ignoring concrete evidence to the contrary that clearly demonstrates the long-term value of coherent unit tests in ensuring your codebase doesn’t ossify and crack into a billion pieces over time, still I listened (even as I cringed and died a little inside when hearing such a declaration).

When they spoke from a well-defined position of near-complete ignorance about the lack of concrete value in the SOLID principles (considering them an interesting intellectual exercise for academics but without practical application in the ‘real world’), I kept listening despite evidence that their value system for what constitutes ‘good code’ clearly diverges from my own in significant ways (and again, I died a little inside as these two supposed ‘names’ in software engineering willfully ignored decades of experience of others in OO software engineering).

But after a year-plus of episodes, I’ve deduced that they are (nearly) all the same podcast and they all seem to follow about the same formula. 

Witness the formula

Each podcast, there’s almost certainly an exchange that goes something like this…

Jeff: “We have some new StackOverflow news.”

Joel: “Great — what is it?”

Jeff: “We just implemented a new feature that….” (Jeff then continues for about 10 minutes explaining the complexities of the feature they have just built, the challenges of the problem they solved, how much research into the background of the programming challenge was needed, etc.)

Joel: “You didn’t need to do all that; all you had to do was…” (Joel continues for about 2 minutes explaining that all you had to do was flip this bit or that bit and the ‘massively-complex programming challenge Jeff is so proud of the team having solved’ would have been addressed with one line of code)

Jeff: “Its not that simple, you don’t entirely understand the details of the <insert problem here>.”

Joel: “You’re just wrong.”

…and my other favorite repeated exchange…

Jeff: “Those guys going on and on about unit testing everything aren’t living in the real world.”

Joel: “I complete agree, they’re clearly crazy.”

Jeff: “So in other StackOverflow news, we just solved this really nasty bug that we didn’t have any damned clue was going on in the system…”

After review, I’ve simply concluded that I have better things to do with that hour of my life every week and I’ll be listening to other podcasts that aren’t quite so repetitive and formulaic.

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