The Most Talented Developer or the Most Helpful Developer

30 Jan 2024 16:09 UTC

Which from the title would you rather be.

I ask because I consistently continue to learn how much I don't know. I see y'all talking about stuff and I'm constantly like "I have no freaking clue what y'all are talking about!"

That said I'm confused at how I'm able to navigate myself into positions of what I'd call success in work and in my career. But slowly I find myself sharing more about my experience as a Python Developer and less about advanced topics in tech.

I want to bring this to the attention of folks that think they don't have anything to contribute to the conversation due to lack of knowledge.

Is having the best opinion the right answer

Take for instance a question that my colleague PamelaFox asked on Mastodon.

when/do you all used named tuples in python, versus simple clases/dataclasses?

Now if I were to answer this, I'd likely say that if I need something that is incredibly simple, classes don't need to be strictly enforced and I'm likely referring to this class as a tuple but would like some level of naming that helps me identify what the components would be.

That said I'm not sure how valuable that answer is in the grand scheme of things. I also am not married to this policy and would happily change my mind if someone that knew more could explain to me why this is not a good strategy.

For that reason, I didn't answer this. I favorited and boosted and then questioned my ability as a Python developer. (Not to blame Pamela for my loathing) I also think that while Pamela was likely using this to evaluate a decision that she was considering making.

Meanwhile if the question was asked "Why should folks wanting to get into tech give conference talks?", grab a drink because we're going to be there for a while.

Being the most helpful developer

My opinions regarding the benefit of contributing to the community as much as possible with code or other skills you possess including presenting on stage are firm and unwavering. I believe that folks can contribute to the conversation at almost any skill level as long as they are invited to share and are encouraged to share their knowledge and experience. I think those that have more knowledge and experience then have the blessed opportunity to provide different points of view that will be helpful.

The only time that I truly felt I wasn't good enough to be a Python developer was when someone looked at my admitingly bad code (also some of the first lines of code I ever wrote) and told me that my code was bad while proceeding to fix the code without explaining why it was bad and why the changes being made would make for more readable, easier to maintain code.

Two days later someone would take the time to make and make those explanations but more importantly would encourage me to keep working on that project as it sounded interesting and something that would be helpful to folks. That was the day I decided that I would be a Python developer.

Bringing what you have to the table

A mentor told me something to the effect of "We don't need better developers in Python, we need better communicators". I used to want to show people that I knew things. But I'm finding more and more that I honestly don't know all that much about programming and instead I know how to learn things when I need to learn them.

I believe the thing I do best is create opportunities to show people they know more than they think they do. I don't think I can contribute to those PhD in Comp Sci level conversations, but I can create a platforms where those conversations can be had. I think a question then becomes, "Is this a valid contribution to open source?"