Best practices and standards exist for a reason. They encompass the wisdom of crowds, tried and tested approaches or just well-thought-out scenarios. Standards should never be enforced religiously, as contexts vary and technologies evolve.
The standard is best agreed upon by those who implement it. Optimally, it fits the current and particular situation, and is under constant review and scrutiny. Most importantly, these rules should never be based on a single person’s unquestioned opinions.
The mere existence of best practises is not sufficient. Somehow, they must be obeyed.
enforcing the standards #
Sooner or later, manually enforcing standards gets tedious and frustrating. To some, detecting errors conflicting with best practices are infuriating. Others, they couldn’t give a single fuck. A perfectly valid remark at the wrong time can be extra vexing, and creates friction between the people involved.
The best kind of standards enforcement is one automated to the tits. When non-humans make the remarks and comments, there’s no need to get personally infuriated or otherwise mad. And when the automatically checked rules are decided in unison, there is no animosity towards the configurer of said automation. “That damn jshint” or “damn that computer”, is more acceptable and less mentally consuming than “damn that Joe”.
Complaining about obvious errors feels like a waste of time, even more to the one doing the complaining. He himself is first pondering whether to take action, if to waste someone else’s time. Or fix the problem themselves. All the while this time wasted was likely saveable by automation.
Automation is friend. A kind reminder. The tool we might not want right now, but the best one we have.
discipline & change #
Less decisions, error detection, or analysis equals more time and freedom. It’s less time spent fantasising or hoping for automagical change. Some best practises are impossible to enforce, and at this point personal discipline is helpful. “Discipline equals freedom”, as Jocko Willink says. Checklists. Rules. Routines.
That being said, standards are best when malleable. They must never be absolute. While disciplinary enforcement of best practises is important, the process should include their continuing reassessment.
Dream up the simplest rules possible. They are then much easier to change without messing backwards compatibility. More options when moving forward is freedom, too.