A lot of time there’s talk about how to not let trolls upset you. Or how they’re “hurting inside” and need compassion.
That sounds great, but trolls are actually useful and shouldn’t be ignored, nor psychoanalyzed. Trolls don’t need my compassion. Trolls don’t need to be ignored. Trolls are just tools.
Sometimes trolls help you get better, but sometimes they don’t. Also, this is NOT a take “take it as constructive criticism” piece of advice.
The secret is this: Trolls are NOT used for getting better at what they’re complaining about, they’re used for helping you understand optimization better.
Trolls help you determine your optimization points. – Truth Cake
The more optimization points in a subject, the more trolls. The most notorious of trolls are found in the construction industry. Are all the people in construction just terrible ‘hurting’ people and that’s why there’s so many trolls? No. It’s because that in construction there’s several optimization points. Those points are: 1) Safety of Individual, 2) Quality of work, 3) Speed of work, 4) Cost of work, 5) Skills required / Ease of Execution, 6) Beauty of finished product, 7) Functionality of finished product, and 8) Durability / Longevity of product.
Notice how I didn’t mention Accuracy or Correctness in there, that’s because…
Being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is a philosophical debate, not a factual one. -Truth Cake
You could say it’s “wrong” to not use safety glasses, but that speeds up work. And you can say it’s “wrong” to be overly cautious and safe because you’ll never get anything done (ie. slower Speed of Work). You could say it’s “wrong” if people don’t follow building code, but someone may be optimizing for Cost of Work because they’re broke and can’t afford the marginal added safety of using a bracket for the massive savings in time and cost.
Getting stuff done fast? “Sloppy craftsmanship and dangerous!”
Making a flawless product? “They’re going way over budget and taking forever!”
Using the best building practices and skills? “No one can freehand a straight line like that!”
You can’t win against trolls – and you shouldn’t want to. Trolls just help determine the list of optimization points so you can become crystal clear in regards to what attributes of your task matter most, so you can clearly optimize for certain points. Also note that optimization points are not binary where they only optimize for one thing and then nothing at all for everything else, it could be that someone optimizes for A, B, C primarily, a bit for D, E, and none for F, and G.
What criticism have you heard that you took personally but should have just realized that they were optimizing for different attributes than you were?