David wen avatar
David Wen
Entrepreneur, software developer, management consultant. He used to put thumb tacks on his alarm's off button.
To ask or not to ask

That is the question.  Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the errors and alerts of outrageous code, or to take arms against a sea of bugs?

This is a fork in the road that I’ve been at all too often.  And it’s a tough decision whether to take the road less travelled by or not.  I’m defining the road less travelled by as figuring out a question by yourself, while the road more travelled by is asking someone (since they already travelled it).

By figuring out a question by yourself, you grow not only in understanding the answer, but also, you are likely to understand the answer more fully because you filled in the gaps yourself, and there’s no room to “uh-huh” your way by something.  Additionally, you gain a bit more confidence that any future question can also be resolved by yourself.

By asking someone else you save time.

So what shall it be?  For a long while now, I’ve been trying to figure out some optimizations for my FlyShortcut app.  I’ve been trying and trying and I’ve come to what I thought was the best possible solution.  Then yesterday, at a Ruby meetup, a guy called Caleb Buxton said that he’d be up for pairing if anyone wanted to pair with him.  He also had a cool moustache.  I gave him my FlyShortcut problem and he thought about it for about 2 minutes and gave me an answer that blew me away.  It was so simple, so elegant, that I knew it before he finished.  And yet I wouldn’t have known it if he didn’t start.

So what is a good rule of thumb on which road to take?  The amount of agony already invested?  The amount to gain?  The amount of moustache?

I think maybe the best approach is to do enough digging to know that your question is not a stupid one.  By doing that, you may have solved your problem already, since often questions are stupid (at least mine are).  And, if at that point, you’ve asked your friend Google and he’s not getting it, perhaps there’s no shame in asking.

There’s no right answer.  As Hamlet says, “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t.”

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David wen avatar
David Wen
Entrepreneur, software developer, management consultant. He has built his own two-storey treehouse.