On contributing to a community

Bring your inexperience to a conference

In August there will be the 7th International Software Craft and Testing Conference in Soltau, Germany. For me, the SoCraTes is the most important event in my profession every year, because I get to so see so many inspiring people.

But it’s not only the high concentration of incredibly skilled professionals that gather in this remote location in northern Germany that provides so much value to me.

It’s the Newbies as well.

It might not be obvious to you as a first-time attendee or if you are new to the field of professional software development: you have something to contribute, too!

Since 2016, tickets for the SoCraTes are raffled and this provides a much higher influx of participants which haven’t attended any conference before that focuses on software as a craft. If you are one of those, I’d like to encourage you to offer a session, ask for support on a topic (this is called a pull session), and not to hesitate to offer your opinion during other sessions.

Because your are adding value, even by asking a question!

Your How? questions are making us better teachers. Being a Software Craftsperson one of the most important goals is to become great at explaining the value of certain behaviour or technique. Because we loathe dogmatic application of "best practices" but strive for developing an understanding of the underlying principles of software development, so we can find the best solution for a problem, not the most obvious one. We can’t expect this from our peers, if we fail to explain it to them.

Your Why? questions are making us more effective. There are many biases that favor repeating decisions that have worked in the past, but in a chaotic market this strategy of our mind is not always a good fit. Being confronted with an honest question about the reasons for a certain decision forces us the make our oftentimes only implicitly known reasons and assumptions that lead to that decision explicit. It’s very helpful to shake one's belief system openly once in a while, because we are then challenged to do this honestly.

You get to do all what's mentioned above (offering knowledge, asking questions, challenging decisions) in a safe environment which is very unique to the Software Craft Community: everybody understands that there is never only one good solution to a problem, because in Software everything depends. Therefore you will never hear someone dismissing an idea as wrong, even if their own idea about it is highly controversial to what they are presented.

They will offer their advice and experience in a non judgemental way. And that’s why the SoCraTes and this community is awesome for Software Craftspeople of every skill level.