Several years ago, I had a boss that scolded me for replacing a faulty cat5 network cable between an expensive server and a switch without shutting the server down first. He yelled at me saying "You never unplug ANYTHING from my servers without shutting them down first!!"... then I laughed at him which made him even more furious =). How he got it in his head that it was necessary is beyond me, but it still cracks me up every time I think about it... hee hee... what a knuckle-head. Nonetheless, from that point on, I turned of his computers every time I needed to plug in a mouse, or some USB device, or anything, and then

I quit that job after about 3 months.

Have you ever had a boss/co-worker/friend who dogmatically believed some assumption they made was a fact, when in reality they had no idea what they were talking about? I have encountered many people like that in my life, and sometimes it is amusing, but most of the time it's really annoying. It's especially difficult when they are in a position of authority over you, and you don't feel like you should call it to their attention at the risk of offending them.

When I was younger, I used to be that annoying guy, without even realizing it. Until I had an epiphany one day. I was a passenger in a car and I thought I knew exactly where our destination was. It was in an area where I grew up and the other people in the car were pretty unfamiliar with it. I insisted that their directions were wrong, and that they should turn left instead of right on a certain street. When they kept asking me if I was sure because their directions said they should go right, I kept insisting, emphatically saying "I grew up around here, I know where it is!". Turned out I was wrong, but the people I was in the car with didn't really say anything, they just kept their mouths shut, made a "U" turn, and we rode in silence to our destination.

I felt like a complete jerk. I got this queasy feeling in my stomach, and I was so embarrassed by how bumptious I had been. I didn't even know these people very well, and none of them have been knocking my door down to be my friend since, so I'm pretty sure I didn't make a good impression.

Since then, there have been times when I thought a certain thing was true, and someone challenged my assumptions, but now I usually try to find some evidence to back me up before I get all assertive about it. Indeed, sometimes while I am trying to prove that I am right, I find that I am wrong, but at least I don't embarrass myself like that anymore. Who knows how many times I should have been embarrassed and didn't even realize it. In hind-sight, my over-confident, arrogant attitude is probably a big reason why I had so few friends as a youth.

I have been programming for a while now, and I think have a pretty advanced understanding of ColdFusion, but there are still people out there that know more than me. As I have been more involved in the ColdFusion community over the last few months, I have come to the conclusion that no one person out there really knows "EVERYTHING" about ColdFusion. There are all kinds of little nuances, and specialized areas that may be used by certain people daily, but others have never even read the documentation on, because they have never needed it. And I have been pretty impressed by the good natured way that the ColdFusion blog community shares knowledge, and even the most revered developers have a positive attitude when responding to peoples comments that point out little errors in their sample code, or ask for clarification on ambiguously written sentences and such.

However, last Friday someone left a pretty insulting comment on a post I wrote. They mocked my sample code and seemed incredulous that I would even think of doing such a thing. Based on their comments, I am pretty sure they didn't read the post, or the original post that this was a continuation of. It seems like they just made an assumption about what I was doing and decided that I was stupid and placed an anonymous comment to mock me.

Of course even though this person put a fake email and an ambiguous name in his comment, I still had his IP address. A simple tracrt on his IP revealed to me the company he works for, and that he works in that companies location in Irvine, California. Irvine is close enough that, were I a vengeful person, I might drive over there and try to find this person so I could let them know they are not as smart as they think they are, but instead I decided to just delete their foolish comment and move on with my life.

It's still been bugging me all weekend though, so I figured I would just write this entry to tell "s0mus", and anyone else that reads my code or examples, that if there is something wrong with anything I am writing, or if they don't understand why I am doing it, please feel free to comment and share those thoughts in a constructive manner. I will then either explain why I did what I did, or I will see that I did something wrong and correct it. Then one, or the other, or both of us will have learned something new.

If you just want to write an anonymous insult to me, then expect your comment to be deleted and ignored. I could sit there and trade insults with you until my keyboard wears out, but I would prefer my blog to be a place where developers get together to discuss ColdFusion and help each other learn more. If you want to trash talk, go log into an AOL chat room or something and have at it.

A little humility goes a long way in life. You won't be able to learn much if you think you already know everything.

Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
Dan's Gravatar I enjoy your Coldfusion posts. I'd blog about Coldfusion more, but even after 3+ years I still feel like a newbie compared to the existing CF bloggers out there. Have a great week! :-)
# Posted By Dan | 2/19/08 8:15 PM
BJ's Gravatar Scott, great post. I've been coding CF for a while but I know I need to learn a lot more. I've been thinking
about starting a blog to just put out things I've done and problems I've had, but one of the things that stops
me is what others may say when they see how I did something.

Thanks for your help in the past and probably the future.
# Posted By BJ | 2/20/08 5:42 PM
Andy Sandefer's Gravatar It takes a brave person to stand up and start a conversation or try to teach others how to do something. I applaud your attitude and I enjoyed reading the article because I too have to police myself on a daily basis to avoid being a jackass (sometimes I don't do a very good job!). You, along with the Ray Camdens and Ben Fortas of our little corner of the web (and many others) have done a great deal to pass your knowledge along to others and I for one appreciate that and have been able to evolve as a developer because of it. Keep up the good work!
# Posted By Andy Sandefer | 3/31/08 12:59 PM
Doug Hughes's Gravatar @Dan: In all seriousness, we need more "newb" bloggers. People who talk about what they're learning and why it's important to them. I never write out small issues I overcame 5 years ago, but 5 years ago I might have needed the knowledge that would be in such a blog entry. So, I encourage you, go start a blog and start writing about things you run into and what you did to solve them. You'll help people and you'll learn more than you ever expected and, as a bonus, you'll get higher rankings (and salary) when looking for jobs (in my experience).
# Posted By Doug Hughes | 5/20/08 1:22 PM
Scott Bennett's Gravatar That is an excellent point, Doug. Most of my blog entries have centered around challenges I had to overcome for some project I was working on. For example, I have been pretty good with JavaScript and AJAX for a while, but I had never used the Ext libraries until CF8 came out. When I started working on a project that used those new features heavily, there were many times where I had to dig into the underlying ext objects to handle something that ColdFusion didn't do on it's own. When I found solutions to problems that I thought others might run into as well, I shared the solutions on my blog.

Also, once I started blogging, I then started getting questions from my readers about unique situations that they were facing and needed help to figure out. So I got opportunities to find answers to other peoples challenges as well, which just increased my knowledge even further.

The stuff I write on my blog is not necessarily stuff I already knew, but sometimes it's stuff I am learning while I am writing it. Blogging and answering other peoples questions on various forums is a great way to increase your knowledge as a developer, and I would definitely encourage everyone to take part in the sharing of knowledge.

Also to Andy's comment: I am not sure if I am "brave" for writing these things, but I appreciate the compliment. This particular entry was probably more a rant more than anything, but as I admitted in my article, I have a historical tendency towards a feeling of over-confidence as well. This is a flaw in my character I noticed many years ago, and it is still something I have to constantly temper so that, externally, I only appear confident about the things I really should feel confident about. However, I do find that my superiority complex has actually benefited me by being a strong driving force to push me into learning new things and constantly expand my abilities. If for no other reason than simply to prove the world that I am as great as I think I am. =)
# Posted By Scott Bennett | 5/21/08 2:46 PM
Daryl James's Gravatar Scott,

Thanks for taking the time to share a personal side. I certainly appreciate the human-ness of your frustration and your taking the time to address such ignorance. IMHO this post just makes bloggers like yourself all the more valuable a resource for the rest of us (I don't even have as much newb as Dan!).
# Posted By Daryl James | 11/16/08 6:25 PM
 
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