Criticism

When you're creating something you intend others to see, you should want feedback from people on how you're doing. No man is an island, as the saying goes, and I know that I always prefer having other trusted sets of eyes pass over my pieces (by which I mean things I'm working on, not things I'm "working"). In addition to helping you out, it makes the other person feel like they're contributing positively to what you're doing. Sadly, not everyone feels the same way.

Criticism, assholes

I don't know how many projects I've seen totally ruined by cutting off constructive criticism at the source, and it makes me sad. Not sad for the people working on the projects; they're the ones who cut off their solid feedback machine, so fuck them. No, I feel sorry for the things they were creating, which undoubtedly had loads of potential, but now must sit in the pit of half-finished ideas and rot for eternity.

As you must know by now if you've paid any attention to me at all over the years (holy shit, I've been writing these articles for almost five years!), I'm a web developer by trade. And I'm a damn good one, too: I've designed systems used by the likes of Symantec, built systems for the likes of The Home Depot, and fixed critically flawed systems for industry leaders. No I won't link to the actual systems, because they're for internal use and I'm not a fucking idiot; I'm just dropping some names because they prove credibility: I build big things for big companies, and getting constant feedback is a key to my success.

One day, I went to the website of one of our smaller clients - a website they'd paid a fair chunk of money for - and found they had replaced it without telling us. Now, the site we'd provided for them was visually appealing, with a custom Content Management System tailor made for them, that did exactly what they wanted and presented it in an intuitive and organized way. They replaced it with a Word Press blog.

The fuck?

See, the problem is that there was one person (let's call him Idiot) who had the ear of the CEO, and who had convinced the CEO that he (Idiot) was the be-all and end-all of web creativity, and that they should move away from the system they'd paid significant money for not six months earlier in favour of something he (Fucking Idiot) could manage himself. And with nobody to bounce his (Stupid Idiot's) ideas off of who might actually have said how fucking stupid they were, and with nobody for the CEO to go to for an objective opinion (because coming to us was verboten, what with our system being all expensive and already paid for and everything), they just went ahead and did it. And now their stock is worth 12 cents.

Another time, my boss got called in by a company to review their customer website and offer feedback on how they could improve it. He went over the site, made a bunch of notes, made his presentation, and was promptly told to go fuck himself. Why? Because he told the truth, and the truth was that their website was a confusing piece of shit that said things that weren't true, pretended he'd done things he hadn't actually done, and was really badly coded and designed. And rather than listen to him and ask if he knew of any ways to fix these problems, they clapped their hands over their ears and started shouting so they couldn't hear him any more.

Valid Criticism

Not all criticism is constructive. This criticism is valid:

  • That link doesn't work
  • The colours are too close together
  • It would look better shorter
  • It needs to be more widely spaced
  • I can punch through that with one finger

This criticism is not valid:

  • You're a worthless piece of shit
  • You can't do anything right
  • This sucks, fix it!
  • You're stupid like your father
  • Eat a dick and go die somewhere

This site is valid criticism made up to look like invalid criticism. Get it?

See, what people don't seem to understand is that provided it's constructive, the harsher the feedback you get, the better. Nothing ever got better by people saying it was great. That's why I hate asking family to provide feedback on things, because they're all but obligated to tell me they like it whether they do or not. You don't learn anything by winning, and you can't do anything useful without people telling you all the problems they have with it. If you don't know people consider them problems, how the fuck are you supposed to decide what to do about them?

In a world filled with self-important assholes who were coddled and never got the shit spanked out of them, where positive reinforcement is the only valid response from a parent, and where any toy that might actually be fun to play with must be deemed unsafe because holy shit it has moving parts, what you end up with is a bunch of self-entitled pieces of shit who are convinced they can do no wrong, and that the world must come to them because they are the most important item in it. And that means anyone who thinks they've made a mistake must be wrong.

Fuck that shit.

If I think you're doing a shitty job, I'm going to tell you you're doing a shitty job. If I think the colours you painted your house make it look like a troll smeared shit on the walls, I'm going to tell you so. And if you ask me if that dress makes you look fat, I'm going to say yes whether it does or not. If you want to make it anywhere useful in this world, you need a thick skin, and you need to learn how to take criticism. Now stop crying and go do something useful you self-righteous asshole.

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