Iris Classon
Iris Classon - In Love with Code

When You Get a Lot of Comments on a Pull Request or Merge Request

When You Get a Lot of Comments on a Pull Request or Merge Request

This morning after having my morning coffee and dropping the kids off at kindergarten I opened up my merge request to check the status. I had 22 unresolved issues, which means that I had 22 suggestions or comments from my colleagues. I was genuinely happy to discover this, and it dawned on me that my stance on merge requests and pull requests has changed.

In the past, I would frequently experience intense anxiety when it came to receiving feedback on my code, to the point where I would feel physically ill whenever I had to create a new merge request.

I think a part of that was that I felt exposed, and my inexperience with getting public feedback magnified the feeling of being exposed. I had also experienced working at companies where the feedback I received seemed harsh and I faced difficulty in not taking it personally.

I don’t know if that was merely my interpretation, or if the comments back in the day truly were harsh. People on Twitter argued that it was my responsibility to ignore how the message was delivered and focus on what had to be done. My team at the time had a discussion and we agreed on team best practices for merge requests which consisted of: • Assume good intentions • Differentiate between nitpick and important stuff • Be kind • Do one-on-one reviews for code that has completely missed the mark It helped somewhat, but I still had anxiety every time I pushed my code.

The comments I get on my code today, at a new company with new colleaguess, are matter-of-factly, plain suggestions, or added information. There is always room for suggesting something else.

Maybe the comments I received many years ago were of the same kind, and it’s the way I look at it that has changed?

I’ve grown a lot as a developer and an important part of that growth is to embrace feedback from your colleagues who are, after all, working on the same code. Maybe not at the same time, and maybe not in the near future, but whatever you write, at some point, it will affect the rest of the code. In other words, we are in this together, my team and I.

The reason I’m writing this post today is because I realized that I’m actually happy to get feedback, which is a new milestone of growth for me. It’s genuinely fun to make changes and I never assume I’m done when I create a merge request. I’ve accepted the fact that I don’t know the full code base (I’ve only been here a year), that I still make mistakes and forget things. And more importantly, the collective mind of the team can always improve the code. I truly appreciate the time that my colleagues spend reading my boring code, which is more fun to write than to review, and the comments and suggestions they make show that we are a team. We create and improve together, as cheesy as it sounds, and we park our egos at the door when we go to work.

If you feel anxious about merge requests and code reviews, know that you aren’t alone. It’s okay to feel that way, and maybe the feelings have merit. Invite your colleagues to discuss this, find a way that works for all of you, and with time you might even enjoy the endless suggestions.

With that said, I better get to work. We have a release to finish, and I have a lot of work to do.


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Last modified on 2023-11-22

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