Sometimes a concept comes across that in hindsight is so crazily common sense that you wonder why you didn’t learn about it in kindergarten. Welcome to the Beginner’s Bubble!


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So this came from an op-ed in the New York Times, Skeptics Say, ‘Do Your Own Research.’ It’s Not That Simple. Yes it’s about Covid and politics but the Beginner’s Bubble (aka Dunning-Kruger Effect) really caught my imagination – especially when it comes to my experiences in open source. We often talk about Imposter Syndrome in the community (n.b. Dunning-Kruger vs. Imposter Syndrome: Battle of the Century) and I think there is a good reason why.

Open source is by its very nature self selecting legitimately curious folks who know they can be and on occasion will be wrong. That’s a great way to prevent the whole Beginner’s Bubble Bullies (BBB) in the first place. There is just the tiniest bit of friction that really separates folks. You need to proactively get involved, with good reasons, and some rationale.

Ok, you’ve made the leap to contribute and get involved. Day to day, being a BBB is also discouraged. If we look at how code, for example, is commented upon and committed, there are ump-teen experts reviewing, following up, and creating. It becomes easy to learn what is expected, how to do things, and who to reach out to for excelling. You can’t be a BBB, since there is a community of experts and growing experts. You can’t be a BBB because someone will (typically/hopefully nicely) call you out. You can’t be a BBB because there is a level of hierarchy that you need to get through and can’t B.S.

This whole discussion gets to a point that many of us in open source take for granted. On the whole, being a part of open source make us better people. Personally and professionally.

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