Okay, seriously, are there some secret question-asking ninja skills i am lacking, or does some people just insist on confusing people and wasting time?

I was working on this small bug. Super tiny. Basically a counter that was way off since it counted some duplicate values. Simple, right?
I decided to ask a clarifying question to the lead dev, since i am still new to the company. Really simple. Do we remove duplicate values, do we ignore them in the count when they occur, or is it actually working as expected?

He decides to answer with a long message on what the issue is. That is not what I asked, so I ask again in a slightly different way, thinking he didn't understand the question.. and he answers the same, in a slightly different way.

We go back and forth like this for 30-40 minutes, until I got tired of it and directly asked "I am asking what solution we want, not what the issue is"..
He finally picks option A. Fine. I made the adjustment and pushed my code. He checks it out, and apparently it's wrong.

After a long series of questions (again), it turns out the solution he now describes is exactly what I listed as option C...
A bug that should take 10 minutes to fix ended up taking over 2 hours. Awesome waste of time.

  • 8
    Some people assume so much that their response makes no sense.
  • 1
    @iiii I have no useful knowledge in that area
  • 3
    Yes, inter-human communication is a skill set.
    You also almost always need to infer how the other person will interpret the question to get the answer you want.
    A mentor or lead will likely try to teach you how to solve it by your own. So by default you don't get the direct solution to your problem on first try.

    Also, whether a counter should count distinct values only or include the duplicates, depends on what it counts and for what the count is used.
    So context really matters a lot. If you fail on getting that across in your question, the is likely to be quite generic.
  • 1
    Often times when someone senior to you gives a longer answer than you’d expect and it doesn’t seem related to your question it is because they think you’re using the wrong frame of reference. It’s often the case as a beginner that your question itself needs to be reframed because it’s predicated on a lack of knowledge or a set of incorrect assumptions that need to be corrected. Without knowing more, it sounds like they wanted you to think a little deeper than just choice A/B/C, so that in the future you can answer such questions yourself. It’s nbd, I’ve been on both sides of this.
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