Bashing Code and the Similarities to Bullying

Some developers on my team like to bash code that was written by one person in particular who has left the project 1 year ago. It still seems something they enjoy doing, preferably in groups. I’ve called them out on it, especially when a new person came into the project who had never even seen the person who supposedly wrote the bad code, but joined the ‘bashing time’! I thought it was ridiculous! I can’t help but see the similarities it has to bullying. High school shit.


Why on earth would people feel the need to keep bashing code one person wrote, over and over again?

The one thing I could come up with it’s that it’s bonding, for some reason. There is a shared opinion: this code sucks. We can make fun of a person who isn’t there. What a grand time.

The only problem for them is: that person is my friend. I still see him because I also worked with him years ago and we became friends. And I, for one, think it’s awful to hear people bash your friend over and over. It gets old quick.

As I said before, I called them out. I said that while I may understand their frustration, I think it’s very bad to bash a person’s work who is not there to defend and explain themselves. It was very awkward, but they seemed to understand. It hasn’t helped though. We were mob programming the other day, refactoring some of the code my friend wrote and it kept coming back: “argh, this sucks so much”, “crappy code”, etc.

Maybe there’s something I’m not seeing here. Is it a relief to say such things? To me, it’s pointless because it doesn’t change the situation when you say the situation sucks. That’s what we’re changing, by refactoring.

I just don’t know what to do here, what my options are. Is it possible to get them to see that’s it’s at the very least not helpful to bash code other people wrote and at the worst destructive and bullying behaviour? Any tips from fellow software engineers?

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