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In my team, we are only two : Jack and me (Franz left the company a few weeks ago). Jack and me are both technical people, and I am younger than Jack (25 years old, he is 35).

We both work from home, and see each other and the other teams every month. Often, he will come up with claims that he thinks are true, but he will never have more arguments than : "this is a convention". Most of the conventions he's talking about are not verifiable, and are totally strange to me. Whenever I ask whether he could explain why exactly it would be good to use that convention, he usually doesn't come up with more arguments than the convention argument.

The other teams seem to agree with me that he is not always right with his conventions, but they don't seem to want to take position against him. Since I'm younger than my coworker and we are only two in my team, I don't feel good to impose my decisions. It was much easier at the time when Franz was still there, because he liked to know the reasons behind things.

Also, very often, he participates in conversations with other teams and gives propositions which do not make any sense (because he doesn't understand/know the whole context of things).

Our mother language is not English, and we use some communication channels where we have to speak in english. In those channels, Jack is even less clear and it makes communication very difficult sometimes.

I don't think that the behavior of Jack comes from bad intent, but it makes my work less interesting than before, since I always have to argue with him that his conventions are sometimes wrong, and a lot of decisions are left pending since we are only two to decide and we can't find an agreement.

I really enjoy my work here (the subjects are very interesting), so I don't feel about quitting yet.

Is this something I can talk to my manager, and how could I explain him the situation ?

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    This is a common issue with developers and one of the reasons I find it irritating in general to work with other developers :( – pay Sep 13 '16 at 14:13
  • Yes, it has happened in lesser extent at other jobs, but this has never had such an impact on my morale. – John Sep 13 '16 at 14:15
  • How much harm is done if you just accept his "conventions", however annoying they might be? – Masked Man Sep 13 '16 at 14:30
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    It's hard to understand this without concrete examples. If the convention is "best way to do this is using x design pattern" that's something to discuss. If the convention is "the best way to eat cheese is with a hammer" then less so. It could that he is right, even if he isn't good at giving an example, but the text is too abstract. – The Wandering Dev Manager Sep 13 '16 at 16:28
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    Tell your colleague that explaining your reasoning and choices is a convention, which you feel to insist on. Since technical work is based on reasoning, it will be hard to weasel out of this without looking... unreasonable. But, try not to waste more time, as you say. Difficult case. – user37746 Sep 13 '16 at 17:27
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Conventions are not universal best practices, they are a set of practices that a group of people documented as a guide for others to provide common structure and practice. It is up to the individual company and sometimes groups to decide which conventions and practices they feel make the most sense in their business environment.

The first thing I would do is ask the senior, and your lead or manager if there is a place where the conventions and practices your are expected to follow is documented. Your group may not have that documented but it may be documented higher in your organization if it is large enough. Or it may not be. If it is not you might want to ask your manager if that is something that your organization could benefit from, and should try to put together.

If the manager does not want to spend time on that then it is probably time to have a talk with them about your colleague's behavior. If they do then they should set someone in charge of defining and documenting those conventions that you and your group will follow. If it is you that is in charge I would recommend finding a document that has already been created on the internet as a starting point, and modifying it to fit your groups needs. Get feedback from the other groups and your colleague as appropriate and ideally get their buy-in on the new standards.

Then in the future when your colleague says something about a convention or standard not being followed you should ask them to propose a change to the organization standards.

  • Most of the conventions he's talking about are not verifiable I think that meant that even in the company, this is not documented and it is not even acknowledged by the others team which are likely to have some senior developers too. It's just sound like this one wants to impose how it works and make others adapt to him and not the opposite. – Walfrat Sep 16 '16 at 6:44
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    Yep, shop standards aren't used because they're the best, they're used so that anyone in the shop can look at your code and understand it. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Sep 19 '16 at 12:50
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My experience with people like this is that they don't really know the best way to do things so they make up conventions as they go along to justify whatever they did, but if challenged can't back it up and become aggressive instead. If this is the tone he takes then you know what you're dealing with.

Once you know what you're 'really' dealing with you can work on strategies to mitigate against it. Seeing as you are not in a position of authority to force what you want you basically only have a couple of recourses, and since management doesn't seem to care I'm not sure how realistic the first is and I would take the second, but I'll give them both.

Option 1:- Take your issue to management, cite cases and try and explain how difficult this makes it for you to work. Unfortunately this can give no results or even backfire if management see's the other guy as more important than you. Best case scenario is they talk to him and have some sort of auditing of conventions put in place. But I see that as unlikely, usually developers in tiny groups like this are expected to sort their field of expertise out between themselves like professionals rather than need intervention.

Option 2:- Carry on as you are taking extra care to document everything you do so that if the 'conventions' make things fall to pieces the blame is fairly and squarely pointing at the other guy. This is what I would do, I document everything as a matter of course anyway and make sure my own back and work is covered. I don't let myself get frustrated by others, and if they want to dig themselves a hole I let them, I just make sure I'm not falling in their hole with them when it's ready.

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