Thursday, June 7, 2007

WTF exactly is wrong with The Daily WTF's site rename?

Ladies and gentlemen, a new pithy tenet of the software development world has been born into life.

Before, we had to slum it with lame old one-or-two-liners like...

The first 90% of development will take 90% of the time. The last 10% of development will take the other 90%.

Perl is write-only.

Java is the new COBOL.

But that's so pre-web! We need to get with the times and have something that goes down easy in our RSS readers! So we have a new one!

The Daily WTF sucks now that the WTF stands for "Worse Than Failure."

Has the quality of the postings gone down? I don't think so. With new editors there and the 3 posts/day that they're churning out, there's bound to be some that don't quite fire on all cylinders, but I get a chuckle or a sad shake of my head out of something most every day there (still). That said, I can't lie and tell you that I'm some sort of sophisticated gentleman. I play video games and laugh at fart jokes so I obviously don't know from quality, plus I might have licked my old Voltron toys to get them to stick together better when I was a kid so I might be a little (OK, a lot) retarded.

Is there really that much in a name or is there more to it? Obviously, I think there's more to it, and here goes.

When it was The Daily WTF and the WTF stood (spoiler alert!) for What The Fuck, it was nothing more than a freak show. Only in the place of the bearded lady and the world's largest horse, we had the programmer who overloaded booleans so he could enumerate FILE_NOT_FOUND! Ha ha ha! They're so much dumber than I am! Can someone around here give me a big high five because I solved FizzBuzz in Erlang the other day? Paula Bean LOL!
Now that it's Worse Than Failure, could it be that it cuts to the quick of that nagging fear that I've got in the back of my head. Maybe it's in yours too... it says things like "I thought this object model was the bee's knees, but have I gone too far? Can anyone but me support it? Could I have done it a better, simpler way?" Things like "What exactly is the point of all this? There's a metric shit-ton of code and tables, but at the end of the day, does anyone appreciate what I've done?" Things like "Is this what I have to show for the last few years of my life on this?"

Or, to paraphrase Morse, "What hath we wrought?"
It hurts to think critically and realize that the system that you've worked so hard on probably should never have been built in the first place. That those pet classes of yours might look like the Sistine Chapel to you, but to the rest of us they're little more than a house-shaped booby trap constructed out of snot, zip ties and duct tape, waiting to trap and maim us in new and unexpected ways each time we brush up against the walls.

That you've taken a rusty, but perfectly servicable, old DOS application and re-implemented it as a spanking new web app with all the fixins (AJAX! MVC and so many other patterns! Multi-threaded!). You see a success, your users see that you've architected a monumental clusterfuck that's so ornery and unusable that they're keeping around their 386s because you've all you've succeeded in is failing their needs miserably.

That a lot of the time, development feels an awful lot like the Red Queen's Race.

Or maybe I'm missing the point altogether and have no clue what the fuck I'm on about. Has the quality really dropped, are Alex Papadimoulis and his associates sellouts (however that would apply) or should Shakespeare have wondered "what's in an acronym?"

Really, is the world a better, happier place because of what you've done? Are people getting more out of your system than they're putting into it? If your system disappeared tonight, would anyone care tomorrow or the day after that? Is it possible that your successes are such untenable messes that they really are worse than failure?

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