Something I have always loved about the web industry is the kindness and openness in the profession. We have all learned from each other, we all build on each other’s work. Throughout the history of this industry we’ve been creating things, sharing them and someone else has come along and built on the technique. Or perhaps someone has developed a new method and proved why it works better. Great! We all move forward. We all understand more. We all make better stuff.
A few years ago (pre-Twitter!), if you disagreed with some technique, you had to post to your blog or at the very least write a comment on an article. Blog posts of 140 characters telling someone they are an idiot tend not to get much of an audience. So, one would have to actually write up an alternative point of view, a proper argument. Proper arguments are excellent, they are how we are where we are today. Through reasonable debate we hammer out what does and doesn’t work, and in which context. This is really important because we all have different parts of the picture. Someone who has experience of high traffic, high performance sites, working in a team of 50 developers is going to propose different solutions to the person whose experience is in helping small businesses get their first website online. The correct solution for a person on shared hosting who has very little control of the stack, is going to be different to the person with access to their server configuration. We all see solutions from inside the context we work in and all of that experience is important and valid.
So, argument is good. Disagreement should be encouraged. However, what is not good and what should not be encouraged is personal attacks and one-liner snarky remarks on Twitter. Abusive ad hominem attacks do not encourage good argument, they usually serve to simply entrench positions on either side. They leave people afraid to contribute, and then we all lose out because we lose that person’s knowledge and experience. I know from experience that once you get a couple of personal, nasty remarks about something that you have contributed, it is then very hard to be open to the constructive comments and sensible criticism. It’s easy to go into “everyone hates me” mode at that point. Do we want to be an industry where one has to be thick skinned and aggressive to succeed? I hope not.
We should continue to disagree with each other. This is an exciting time for the web. There are so many new techniques being hammered out, we can do so many interesting things and some of those things don’t have a “right way” to do them yet. There will be disagreement, we’ll argue this stuff out together. However let us not do so by silencing the voices of all but the most thick skinned. Let us be kind to one another, and as an industry give no time and attention to those who try to build themselves up by attacking other people.