Bryan Hughes on intentions


Bryan was a former member of Node.js’s Technical Steering Committee. He left the project in 2017 with some specific insight that I think is broadly useful:

I do not believe Rod did this intentionally, or that he is a bad actor in the classical definition. Rather, his bad behavior stems from ignorance and an unwillingness to learn. Rod’s intentions don’t really matter though. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

This explains more than a few interactions I’ve had online. I’ve struggled here to articulate and reconcile the idea that someone isn’t being intentionally malicious, but their actions are still destructive.

My biggest open question is still whether willful ignorance also counts as deliberate, malicious behavior itself. I’m thinking it comes down to awareness and agency: whether someone is ignorant because they don’t know better, or whether they’ve put the effort into avoiding it despite knowing their behavior is damaging. The latter is inexcusable, and the former is increasingly difficult to defend given how much information is readily available.

Related, Merlin Mann’s comment from RecDiffs:

I don’t think they deserve my struggling this much to understand their motivation.

Author bio and support


Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

The site is powered by Hugo, FreeBSD, and OpenZFS on OrionVM, everyone’s favourite bespoke cloud infrastructure provider.

If you found this post helpful or entertaining, you can shout me a coffee or send a comment. Thanks ☺️.