Pull Request Etiquette

Dec 16, 2015

I work through a lot of pull requests. Well, I guess that can be debated. There is always someone working with more. I guess I could say that I work with a considerable amount of pull requests. At any rate, I’ve learned quite a bit about handling feedback well. Handling feedback doubles in it’s importance when working remote. It’s easy to come across as a jerk.

The number one thing you can do to come across in a confrontational manner is to just ask a question without context. Not just any question. Not like “Where did you find this amazing code?”. More passive aggressive questions like “Why is this here?”.

Asking a question like that seems logical. I mean, you are simply asking why this one thing exists. But it can come across as “I hate this thing! I don’t why it’s here and I want it removed. Why do we have it!?

A better approach is a statement, followed by a question.

Try this.

This looks very similar to the code in the User model. Are we sure we need this?

Instantly better.

Now your setting up a question with context. The reader can see that you simply think that the code is unnecessary because you think it’s already been written. That one sentence removes any chance that the reader might think that you are questioning his ability, or even his intelligence.