10 Ways to Communicate Badly with Developers

October 18th, 2010 by Mike Wilcox

Are you a boss, owner, client, or colleague who really wants to waste a major portion of my development work day, break down the team concept, bring productivity to a complete halt, or just piss me off — but you’re having difficulties finding exactly how to go about it? To assist you in being more inefficient, here are the top ten ways in which you can communicate badly.

10) I don’t know how to recreate the bug.

As much as I want to say “It works for me”, I’m still standing in awe at your brilliance in finding a bug in our application and I’m busy planning for the party to congratulate you.

9) No, I don’t know what browser I’m using.

I’ve just written a cutting edge AJAX application that makes use of HTML5 and has a different view for iPhone, iPad and Android. And you’re using IE6, and it’s a really old browser, made like, before my son was born. I’m just saying, if you drive a Model T, you might guess that has an impact on your driving experience.

8) Send me an email thread 20 pages long with the instructions, “FYI”

So for the last three weeks you’ve been corresponding with the client and nine other people. Let’s see, what’s going on here… oh! FYI! I can’t imagine how lost I’d be without those helpful letters!

7) Never reply to your emails

Seriously, I’m not sending you an email of Fat Chicks From Wal-Mart, I’m asking you about something relevant to our business. If you can’t reply to a freakin’ email, you better learn some time management. Exception: When I reply to your “FYI” with “WTF?”, I don’t expect an email in return.

6) Don’t set your IM to detect you’re idle.

Just so you know, responding to my  question four hours later with “Y” changes the name of the chat program we are using to “WheneverIgettoit Messenger

5) What’s taking so long? It’s just HTML.

Your kidding me right? Yes, it is just HTML — and 320,000 lines of JavaScript, because you want your web application to be the next Google, Facebook, and YouTube all in one.

4) I need it yesterday

If the highest priority task is always the last thing you’ve thought of, that means you don’t have a plan, and you are either Bipolar or have A.D.D., and that’s how you’re forcing me to write code. I have 20 unfinished features going at once. I’m not your personal secretary — get yourself a daily planner. And by the way, the reason I’m not rushing is because the last twelve things I gave to you yesterday still aren’t being used.

3) Can you make me a logo real quick?

Companies like Microsoft and Adobe treat their branding very seriously, and will spend six months and a million dollars to get their logos just right. Of course, I don’t expect you to spend that much money or time, but think about it — by offering me 100 dollars to do a logo for you — it will mathematically be ten thousand times worse than Microsoft’s.

2) I can’t find the EPS. Just grab the logo off of our site.

Sure! And here’s a bill for $1000 to recreate the logo for you from a 60 pixel JPEG to replace the one that’s probably sitting on your desktop that has so many icons that it scrolls for 40 pages. Or more likely, you had someone in Bangkok make your logo 6 years ago and you never asked for the source file. I love tracing your logo. It’s the reason I went to college.

And the #1 poorly communicated thing to say to a developer:

Make it pretty for me

Can I? I live to make your lazy-ass ugly crap look pretty.

Alternate ideas

If you need more than ten ways to communicate badly, here are a few runners up that just weren’t bad enough to make it into the top ten:

11) Don’t tell me the problem — tell me how to write code.

I’m very thankful that you’re sparing me the trouble of having to think, but I can’t write code that “copies the Internet onto a CD” for you, so you may need to tell me what it is you want, and let me figure out the solution.

12) We can just outsource that

Oh, thank you for making life easier by having support calls at 10:00 at night to talk to Timbuktu. And while you’re at it, please be sure and not do thirty candidate interviews like you would locally — hire the first guy you find on the Internet that’s cheap and speaks the least English.

13) It works for me

I’ll be sure to inform the client that the bug is not reproducible on your localHost. I’m sure they will be so thrilled they’ll write an extra big check!

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