Giving feedback

Lucas Rocha shared Seth Godin‘s blog post “the worst feedback is indifferenceon Google+, and I posted a reply.

In the interest of openness and distribution (and actually posting content on my blog), here’s my response:

I was on a call the other day where someone told me that they wouldn’t ever give me negative feedback. I replied: “No! Please give me negative feedback, especially if it’s constructive. Tell me when what I do sucks. If you can, please tell me why it sucks too. If it’s good or great, tell me about that too. Please let me know what you think.”

After working in the FOSS community as a designer for a decade and a half, one must have a thick skin. Us designers often produce highly visible things, sometimes with controversial ideas (sometimes for bad, sometimes for awesome).

I hope all of us in the community can work together and be respectful of each other enough to say when things produced (designs of any sort, code, documentation, etc.) might be good or bad… and also have the courtesy to point out why we hold whatever opinion we may have.

It’s important to have some respect for people when doing this. Even the most awesome people produce the worst ideas sometimes, and that’s fine. It’s all on the path to working together to make things better. We need to foster open communication whenever we can and separate the design from the designer, the code from the coder, the writings from the writer, the managing from the management, etc.

In other words, attack stuff within reason (either with negative feedback or attacks of awesomeness) and elaborate, but be careful not to hurt each other.

13 thoughts on “Giving feedback

  1. Why give negative feedback when after all the negative feedback you still refuse to make a competent user interface and instead make this lazy GNOME Legacy mode which was made in five minutes, is ugly, feels tacked on and isn´t even the default? Turn the dash into a dock, ditch the overview, ditch GMenu, add a start menu and integrate the shell search into that, and stop using keyboard shortcuts and extensions as excuses to ignore massive UI flaws.

  2. And there’s exhibit A. The first comment on this post is exactly the kind of unhelpful and aggressive attack that discourages developers from paying attention to feedback…

  3. Thanks, Garrett, for writing this. I agree completely, particularly with your last sentence. Not hurting us.

    And thanks for the advice on having a thick skin, I’ll try to follow that.

  4. I read the post, I could explain every single way in which the GNOME UI fails but then you come up with excuses like:

    – hot corners (doesn’t fix excessive mouse movement which is the biggest problem with GNOME 3)
    – keyboard shortcuts like the super key (a user should never rely on them)
    – extensions/legacy mode (ditto)
    – you’re going to add tutorials (if you need one, your UI is broken)

    GMenu and the vanishing title bar on maximised applications are just inexcusable.

  5. The reasons why i moved away from gnome are not technical. I was just tired to see one of the project i did care about (just as a user) criticized, so i moved to kde. Since the toxic atmosphere is gone i’m now on gnome-shell again, until the next GTK4 trollfest, at least :)

    Too much criticism can hurt. Maybe you should focus to get some tools to avoid it.

    I guess this still IS negative feedback, so i’m sure it’s welcomed :)

    Also, i know it’s vaguely related, but if i was a community manager i would wait for the next trollfest to announce my new CONTROVERSIAL_DECISION.
    I could be wrong though.

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