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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Programmers and Dogs

A couple of years ago, our Scottish Terrier, Magaidh, dug up and killed a mole in our backyard. She was so proud of herself! Not only had she fulfilled her inbred drive to kill small, furry animals, but she had actually provided a useful function for her family! Bless her heart, I'm afraid that Heather Marie and I didn't exactly react in a manner that acknowledged her great achievement. We just really didn't want her to bring the dead thing inside, so we freaked out over it a little bit.

I think I gained some insight today into how she felt at that point.

Despite the conviction many people hold that software developers derive pleasure from inflicting pain on users, quite the opposite is true. We actually really want to build things people will enjoy using -- things that will be useful to them, and that they'll benefit from. We don't always succeed, and we know that, but when we fall short, good developers genuinely want to impove.

Remember the dog or cat bringing a gift to their master that may actually be gross or distasteful. That's how we feel sometimes. We thought we'd done a good (or at least passable) thing for you, our users, only to be greeted with frustration and disinterest, if not outright anger and disgust.

So my message to software users is this: Have some faith in us; we really do want to give you something good. If you don't like what we have built for you, by all means, tell us. Please do so in a cooperative, collaborative way, however. Help us to make something better for you.


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