Asking for help

Generally, and I’m pretty sure exclusively  so far on this blog, I’ve written about technical topics. This time though, I’m going to switch it up and write about an issue that I’ve been dealing with at work — asking for help.

Being a relatively inexperienced developer working on a dinosaur of an app (still running rails 2), I run across a bunch of different issues everyday. Most of these issues could be solved by the more experienced devs in minutes. Turns out it helps to have years of experience working with the app in question. My issue is to try to balance the amount of headbanging I go through against how annoying it is for those guys to stop what they’re doing and help me.

Now there isn’t an exact answer to this question, but I have come up with a one way to know if it is finally time to call in reinforcements if I can’t come up with the solution on my own (which is still the desirable outcome).

All I do is imagine that the person who I’m going to ask the questions is already standing next to me and I have to justify all of the things I tried and make sure that I have an answer to all of their questions. Obviously this doesn’t always work. If the issue is truly one that you don’t know, you can’t phantom prepare for, you aren’t going to get it right. But making sure you go through a phantom question session makes sure you’ve covered all your bases, as well as letting the other guy know that you’ve given a good effort.


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