Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

This is a great thing to consider, and I think this presumption of stupidity bleeds over into other areas of life too.

Developers: inherited code is considered guilty until proven innocent. Or maybe more accurately, guilty until you've rewritten it. Surely the old developer had no idea what they were doing.

The "other faction": Democrats/Republicans, different religions, rich vs. poor people... most generalizations about the faction you don't belong to start off with thinking "they're so stupid". "Look at those Republicans/Democrats. Can't they see that Trump/Obama is just lying through his teeth?"

Bad actors: The presumption of stupidity carries over into the way people think about computer hackers and terrorists and the like. You'll see stories about how "those terrorists are learning how to use cell phones to detonate bombs!" or how "criminals are migrating online to prey on people with phishing attacks!" The underlying assumption is that they're stupid, but getting (dangerously) smarter.

I think we'd make a lot more headway in most areas by assuming our competitors, detractors, and wrong-doers are probably already pretty smart.




> Inherited code is considered guilty until proven innocent. Or maybe more accurately, guilty until you've rewritten it.

I'm facing this dilemma right now, and I find it a whole lot more nuanced. The previous dev definitely had the right ideas, but he also produced XXXXX lines of code. I would take me years to wrap my head around the reasons for all these lines. Is this a bug or a feature? It would take me weeks to rewrite it, drop 75% of the corner cases for which I have no test case / clue why they have been coded. Then become the grumpy old dev that says "no" to 95% of feature requests and keep things simple. At the risk of my job.


Often the reason can also be evolution. Where the code started off doing something specific - but then as it evolved, more features were added, approaches changed, the code evolved to do something totally different.

Also "starters" - people who are good with getting something shippable fast and iterating on features and not the same people as the ones that write truly great code - simply b/c they're driven by different things.

But it's very situational.


You might find value in exploring the idea of Characterization Tests or Software Seams.


or Working Effectively with Legacy Software.




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: