I’m a fan of The Daily WTF, even though much of the time, they show us things I’ve never seen from co-workers or a client. Sometimes it’s helpful to be reminded just how differently people think. Ordinarily, I join in with the chorus of people singing, “What an idiot!” A recent thread, however, got me thinking.

If you don’t want to go read the thread, here is a summary: both the Product Manager and then the Marketing Directory of some random company don’t want to include build information in the software because the users might interpret Release 2.8 Build 448 as “it took us 28 releases and 448 builds to get it right!” Naturally, what follows are reactions like What idiots! and Support would have nightmares!. Eventually, though, someone pointed out that we could simply use the release date to uniquely identify versions of the product for support. That’s simple enough.

One person responded with this:

These people should not be making technology related decisions. I guess when 99.99% of the world is full of retards, then the last 0.01% are left to do all the heavy thinking… I really think that product managers should be able to be fired by the engineering staff, not the other way around.

I wonder about this. Is this really a technology-related decision? We are displaying information to the end users, and everything we display is part of the corporation’s brand image. This is why we have splash screens and put logos into web forms. If it is customer-facing, it affects how the customer perceives the brand and so perhaps it’s a business decision. In particular, it might be a marketing or public relations decision.

Imagine how far we can take this, though.

Which of these are business decisions and which are technical decisions?

  • Splash screens and logos on forms
  • Build numbers or version identifiers
  • Release notes
  • Information written to log files
  • Defect rates
  • Simplicity of the design