Add people to email chains, because that’s going to solve the problem!

There has been a systematic issue with one of our CI jobs that runs automated Ui tests. I have sent out an email to all users who hit this issue when it was triggered for their commits, stating that we know of the problem and it’s being investigated and it’s highly unlikely that the problem lies with the failed tests. One of the people I’ve sent this email to actually added the owner of those tests because he didn’t see how his changes could have affected them. I had to explain once again that the issue is systematic and it’s currently being looked at. I also started a discussion with the team managing CI jobs so we could look at the problem together. After some time, the new guy replied to the original thread, and of course added some other people because they should be also involved. This was the third time that I had to explain what was going on, and that we were working on the issue. I also attached the other thread I had with the build team, just in case.

I feel that there’s this fallacy that talking about problems will get them resolved. Talking is more effective if more people do it, so it only makes sense to broadcast everything, even though there’s no chance others can help actually fixing the issue or even if all possible actions have been taken towards finding a resolution. These then cost people working on the actual fixes time and effort, hindering getting it done. But since all these people felt involved, they also think they were part of the fix too. It’s an ego and visibility boost.

The very same thing happens when a client’s request is prioritized and actively looked at, but they insists of having daily catch ups, because sure, that’s going to speed things up! There are hard problems that take time and concentration; continuously interrupting people doing creative work never have helped in human history. What I don’t actually understand is why people doing creative work still do this to others. It’s like they think rules/suggestions/recommendations only apply to others, never to them!

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