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Bob & Bob: The Problem with Rockstars

Steve Kuo (Bob) and Mark Mattingly (Bob) talk about some of the problems that occur when a developer thinks that they are superior to others on their team. Bob & Bob call these types of developers “rock stars,” and generally these individuals hold the keys to the kingdom or have the skills necessary to deploy releases. The problem is when these rock stars think they know everything and end up creating a mess, sometimes in a domain specific language that no one else on the team can make sense of.

Another aspect of the problem is that rock stars are also treated differently by others. Maybe they’ve been around the longest or they “know the code base the best”… Because of this perceived superiority, in effect, rock stars sometimes feel validated and continue acting like mavericks–“solving” problems alone, “fixing” the code without any external input, and generally mucking things up. The code may be good for a while, but it generally doesn’t stand the test of time. Code written without a pair, without using test-driven development, without refactoring soon becomes feeble–and that’s when it becomes apparent that rock stars are sometimes more headache than their worth.