Let’s provide positive feedback

Photo by Matthew Henry on Burst

It’s easy to let our emotions run amuck when reviewing someone else’s code. I see comments like these often on Twitter or a blog post:

“This is just bad.”
“This creates a poor UX.”
“What were they thinking?”

I understand where these thoughts are coming from. People are passionate and care about the web. They give a damn about user experience and making sure we, as an industry and community, create the best possible products for everyone out there, the user. However, it’s these types of comments that get me a little down about how we criticize work that someone else likely spent hours of their life, early in the morning or super late at night, to create. They put their heart and soul into this thing that they love, only to have it shot down because perhaps they misused an aria-* attribute or added the latest CSS animation to showcase something unique but could cause motion sickness.

Before being critical of someone else’s work online, put yourself in their position. Perhaps they’re new to web development. Maybe they saw something online which claimed, “This is how you do it!” Or maybe they’ve been around for years but are now adding something new to the toolset, like accessible HTML or the latest JavaScript feature. Now, they read someone’s harsh criticism from a community they’re trying to break into and showcase they’re latest creation. How would that make them feel? How would you feel?

Instead of being overly critical with passive aggressive undertones and code shaming, let’s be positive with out feedback. We could phrase our suggestions as something like:

“Interesting approach! I’ve never considered this before, though this could lead to some difficulties for [x] user group because [reasons]. Perhaps try this instead!”

Then, jump into some code and share your vast knowledge with this person. Help them understand why this might create a difficult user experience, how your code suggestion would help to turn things around. Chances are, they’ll learn something new and thank you for sharing with them. You might even consider forming a bond with this person, as a mentor or sponsor style partnership. Encourage them to learn more and to reach out for advice or a code review!

Let’s move the web forward by encouraging those around us with positive, constructive criticism by sharing our knowledge in a meaningful way! 🙂