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Thread started by Dave Winer on Saturday, June 29, 2013.

I fucked up

Why are these three words so hard to say?

Programmers, when they fix a bug, are implicitly saying exactly that.

And the process of building a piece of software involves the constant fixing of bugs.

When I write a piece of code, I write it knowing it has bugs. The first time I use it, I notice things I didn't see when I was visualizing the software before it existed. The process involves lots of I fucked up admissions.

I remember the first time I read the log of a professional tester who was evaluating software I had written. I was shocked, hurt, enraged, disappointed, troubled, felt inadequate, all these emotions -- but after I calmed down, I fixed as many of the problems as I could. Later, when I had my own company I hired people to write these reports for my programmers. Everyone has to face the reality of what their software looks like to people who use it, who don't know how to avoid all the traps. And some people do this so well they can do it for a living.

When I was young there were a lot of foods I didn't like. Cheese, fish, tomatoes, olives, to name a few. When I was 18, I made a conscious decision to try to eat all these things, and find out if it was still true. Turns out there were some things I still didn't like, but others were just the tastebuds of a child rejecting complex or subtle flavors or smells.

I tried the same thing, later, with apologizing and admitting mistakes. Like a lot of people, I didn't like to admit mistakes. I think this was the way I was brought up. In my family, if you admitted a mistake, or even changed your mind, this was used to invalidate your ideas, for years to come. I remember once you said something wrong, would be the response to a complaint. The implication is if you were wrong once, you're wrong now. So I learned not to admit it.

That was a mistake. I fucked up. I'm sorry.

Try it some time. See what happens. I bet with most people they will respect you more for it. I know I will.

No harm in making a mistake. We all do it.

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