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XP is just a number

monastic wargames

by mkmcconn (Chaplain)
on Oct 30, 2001 at 23:44 UTC ( #122180=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I don't know how much others think about this, so I'll post this as advice to myself and invite you to improve it.

Posting questions, code, and advice is what makes this place run, and it's a fast path toward improved skills. Perl Monks helps to evaluate the usefulness of those contributions, as an aid and motivation in learning. The community teaches clarity, pertinence, precision, thoughtfulness, helpfulness, inventiveness and humor, in an environment of safety: all very powerful attributes in the workplace as well. It also provides appropriate discouragements. Experience Points are just one of the many tools by which the community helps people to learn Perl
(p.s. ...and to learn how to teach it)

XP is therefore also a study in social engineering. The anxieties it is capable of producing in me, even at my age (mid 40s), are very real and surprisingly strong. If my code is criticized or ignored, if I make a serious mistake and I'm then upbraided for it, if I watch my reputation shrink the emotions can be dizzying. It's almost comical that all this internal turmoil is caused in an environment where nothing harmful to me can really happen.

The more conscious I am of this effect, XP anxiety obscures the goal to learn. I become reluctant to post questions, hesitant to answer because I am not merlyn or a wizard by any other name. Even in this safe environment the greatest obstacle to productiveness and even to honesty, is anxiety; and if it is also my strongest driving force, this anxiety will certainly drive me into a wall.

The analogy to what my career would be like, if it were to follow this pattern, is poignant. I am glad to have discovered this fatal threat in the war-games of XP, before I ever met the real thing in the trenches.

What will ensure that your frontline skills in programmng aren't overwhelmed from the rear, blind-sided by anxiety? Here is my arsenal - real weapons for real life - a token of which belongs on the board of the war-game exercises of Perlmonks.

  • Duty - numb adamancy of purpose in a single direction.
  • Helpfulness - the duty to know how to be useful to others.
  • Joy - the delight in the purpose to which you are committed, and in its worthiness: in my case, learning how to solve problems, how to think effectively. This is the iron that makes a sense of purpose inexorable.
  • Humor - The sense of proportion that puts the "numb" in "numb adamancy".

What would you add?
Update: what chromatic lists here, is what really matters. Adopting his attitude might be hard if I'm still trying to learn the difference between code that sucks and code that does not.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: monastic wargames
by chromatic (Archbishop) on Oct 31, 2001 at 02:42 UTC
    I'll take the pragmatic approach. XP is meaningless -- I could pick out people with much less XP who are both better programmers than I and are better at Perl. Contrariwise, I could point out some higher level monks who still don't seem to get it. Don't even ask for the latter.
    • Efficacy -- does your code do the job? Is it sufficiently efficient and effective?
    • Extensibility -- when requirements change, how much work is it to add new features?
    • Maintainability -- to what degree can you or someone else fix bugs and keep the code running smoothly?
    Fill in your own definitions for all of the adverbs. When you're satisfied with your progress on this front, you'll be well on your way.

    A side note -- very few good programmers are worried about hurting feelings in code reviews, for good or evil. At the risk of prematurely associating myself with that elite group, I'll just say I want software that doesn't suck. I'll try to be nice about it, but I'm not going to mince words if you have a security hole or are (ab)using a feature too much. Now if you repeatedly demonstrate that you don't get it, you will get it. :)

    Update: Higher level than *most* people, not me. Those four most definitely get it.

    A reply falls below the community's threshold of quality. You may see it by logging in.
Re: monastic wargames
by VSarkiss (Monsignor) on Oct 31, 2001 at 01:36 UTC

    Very nice writeup, quite thoughtful. It took me a couple of reads to understand it, but I think I got your point.

    I would add to your list:

    Leave the ego by the door when you log in. Downvotes and upvotes don't reflect on you as a person. If you get downvoted, consider whether it was deserved: could you have done better? If so, learn from the experience.
    XP is a figment of vroom's imagination. Don't get hung up about it.
    There are a lot of monks out there, new and old. You may be unjustly downvoted or upvoted, sometimes for reasons entirely unrelated to the quality of your post. Live with it; it's easier to change your attitude than the behaviour of 12,000 monks.

    I did ++ the node, in case you were wondering. ;-)

      I said it here once before, and in light of your sentiment with respect to Humility, the way **I** feel is:
      ... When speakin' expect to be spoken to, even if you' gettin yelled at!!
      Suck it up.

      And finally, fix that short fuse, relax and be nice, you'll live longer.

      Reality ... it's artificial !D (no matter how many times I say it, I still wouldn't change a word)

      Disclaimer: Don't blame. It came from inside the void

      perl -e "$q=$_;map({chr unpack qq;H*;,$_}split(q;;,q*H*));print;$q/$q;"

Re: monastic wargames
by jlongino (Parson) on Oct 31, 2001 at 10:51 UTC
    I agree that XP exerts a profound influences on the way that people interact with the Monastery. XP tempers my interaction with the Monastery positively. The more XP I accumulate, the more I feel obligated to:
    • set a good example by carefully crafting my submissions.
    • participate in routine maintenance.
    • offer more assistance than I request.
    I've made some mistakes and felt rather foolish and unworthy, but hey, I'm not a Saint yet. I do the best I can.

    As for the negative side of XP/Rep, the only thing that truly bothers me is posting a goose egg (you know, a node that stays at zero rep). Does it bother me when I occasionally get --'d? Yes, but only for a moment. I remind myself that there's no point in dwelling on it. It's going to happen from time to time but the positive will outweigh the negative in the end.

    So what does one do to cope besides fulfilling the obligations listed above?

    • Have fun when possible. Let others know that you have a personality and sense of humor.
    • Participate fully exercising your best judgement.
    • Try to learn from the contributions of others.
    • Let the XP fall where they may.
    The Monastery cannot help but be enriched.


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