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Asking For Help


September 10, 2014
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Aug 12

9PM EST

Sigh. I really hate this place.

I’ve decided to build a feature, and I’m trying to decide how to approach it. The options seem endless. And by endless, I mean confusing. I have a short list of criteria I’d like my final solution to meet:

- something I can control and customize
- something flexible that doesn’t lock me down into a system or framework
- something that’s not gross-looking

That final criteria is, obviously, the most important. I’ve been digging around, tab count exploding, and every new option or advice I read on this topic just adds another layer of confusion. And just when I think I’ve made progress and it’s down to 3 choices, I read another thing and I’m back to square one.

Like I said, I really hate this place.

It’s that place we all reach in every coding project, where I have to decide, do I keep banging my head against the wall, or do I ask for help?

I find that decision easier to make when my goals are clear. For this particular feature, my goal is less about learning and more about having something up as soon as possible. Time was the biggest factor.

So I let myself do a few hours of digging and researching, and I laid out the exact questions that were still confusing me.

After my legwork, it was clear that I was missing a key concept. I knew that once I understood that single foundational piece, I could do more specific queries and get more successful results.

So in this situation, asking for help made the most sense.

But what makes it hard to actually do is that it feels so much like giving up. It feels like I couldn’t do it on my own so I had to find someone to give me an answer. And there’s that really annoying part of my brain that wonders if a more experienced developer would’ve kept going, and would’ve figure it out.

Sometimes, I wish my brain would just shut up.

Deciding when to ask for help is definitely more of an art than a science. It’s a combination of your goals, your progress, and how much head-banging you’re willing to put up with. But one thing it shouldn’t be about is pride. You won’t get very far in your learning if you make decisions on protecting your pride.

How do you decide when it’s time to ask for help? Tell us on the chat, Wed. Sept 10 @ 9PM EST.

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Aug 12

9PM EST