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Can junior developers ask too many questions?

tl;dr: no. Keep reading to learn about some exceptions.

Last week on Twitter, Donna Amos asked:

I’m curious, can a junior developer ask for help too much? If yes, how can you tell?

Let’s look at this from two angles:

  1. Senior developer responsibilities
  2. Junior developer responsibilities

Senior Developer Responsibilities

I often see junior developers who are afraid to ask questions, and senior devs who are too arrogant or shitty to help. Both of these situations suck.

Junior developers are still learning, and asking questions is super important to their growth.

Senior developers: if you can’t be bothered to help junior developers grow into their role, YOU’RE NOT A SENIOR ANYTHING.

Mentoring others is part of your fucking job. Do it.

So in this sense, no, junior devs cannot ask too many questions. But there’s a caveat.

Junior Developer Responsibilities

It’s helpful—important for learning, even!—that people who are learning take a few moments to try to find the answer themselves.

Google. Dig through the code base. Try a few things.

Learning how to find answers is a critical dev skill (way more so than actually knowing things)

If, after getting comfortably setup with the basics, you’re always just asking questions before trying to figure out a solution yourself, you’re robbing yourself of learning and doing yourself a disservice.

Similarly, if you keeping asking the same kinds of questions over-and-over again, something’s up.

It could mean you need to keep better notes, document your code better, or relearn some basics.

I could also mean the senior devs around you are a shitty teachers.

Like so many things in life, there’s a lot of nuance here.

In conclusion…

Generally, no, you can’t ask too many questions as a junior dev. But…

  1. Try to find the answer yourself first, and
  2. If you keep asking the same questions a lot, something is up (could be you, OR your teachers)