Mr. More Jason 11 May 2006

44 comments Latest by Jough Dempsey

Do you know Mr. More? Of course you do.

He has a great resume. He has a great smile. He’s well versed in 6 languages. He’s been everywhere you haven’t. He never says “um.” He’s got a few degrees after his name too.

Mr. More looks great on paper.

But when you meet Mr. More, well, you realize that Mr. More isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. Mr. More is exhausting, annoying, and makes you feel uncomfortable and anxious. Mr. More is frustrating.

When you walk down the hallway with Mr. More you notice he doesn’t let you get in front of him. Mr. More has places to be that are more important than the places you need to be. And Mr. More needs to get there before you do because Mr. More’s time is more valuable than yours.

When you talk with Mr. More you notice he finishes your sentences for you and corrects your grammar. That’s Mr. More’s way of reminding you he’s smarter than you.

Mr. More corrects your facts, reminds you it’s “fewer” not “less,” and follows up your stories with “that’s great, but I’ve…” and “I already know that.”

When Mr. More picks up the tab at lunch he makes sure you see that he has a American Express Centurion card. Mr. More also puts the keys to his Bentley on the table so you can’t miss ‘em.

You wouldn’t want to hang around Mr. More all day, would you? You wouldn’t want to hire Mr. More, would you? You wouldn’t want to send Mr. More to represent you, would you?

Then don’t build bloated, complex, too-clever-for-its-own good software. When you build software like that you are subjecting your customers to the same experience they’d have if they had to hang around Mr. More all day. Software shouldn’t make you feel stupid. Software shouldn’t make you feel less important. Software shouldn’t get in your way.

Personify your software and fire Mr. More.

44 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Mike Toreno 11 May 06

i bet in the brave new world of “we know everything you need and if you don’t like it, buzz off”/”we’re not saying we’re better than everyone else (OK, we are), but everyone else is a moron” software, no programming text editors will have support for unpopular languages (like ruby until 2004-2005 or so).

also, it is annoying when compilers for strongly typed languages detect possible bugs and alert you to them. it makes me feel “stupid” to have that done. compilers shouldn’t work hard to optimize code or detect errors or anything, else they’d be too smart for their own good. it would be insane—a crime against the church of steve jobs—if you could ue high-level programming constructs in computationally intensive problem domains thanks to optimizing compilers. i could go on.

there’s more to software than mundane internet-based data processing and what is a good idea in one area isn’t a good idea for everything. why are you perpetually driven to make blanket statements regarding areas you have no experience in, mr. fried?

JF 11 May 06

why are you perpetually driven to make blanket statements regarding areas you have no experience in, mr. fried?

Because it annoys you.

dave rau 11 May 06

Mike, the better question is why do people like yourself, who clearly know the focused 37 position and philosophy, critique it against your own focused perspective?

I really like the idea of giving software a personality (no, not mr. paper clip!) I like to approach graphic design this way. Same with art. Sure it’s abstract, but I’d like to think it creates a personal relationship with people. It always means putting yourself in there.

All digital products could really benefit from having more personality!

Ben Kittrell 11 May 06

Is this a gag? Mr. More himself is the first to comment?

I can appricate the warm fuzzies you get when you can compile and WAR up J2EE a project and deploy it with much confidence. I can’t say I don’t miss that when working with RoR. However I can also appreciate how freakin easy RoR makes it to write webapps, and I don’t feel dirty about it.

david 11 May 06

This was a great bit at Gel, and I’m glad it made it to SvN.

Natalie Ferguson 11 May 06

ha ha I was just thinking ‘Man I hate those people’ and almost missed the point fo the post. Yep, there is nothing to be gained from making people think they are stupid. Software that makes them think they are smart, and software that is fun to use is the only way. We have trouble trying to convince our customers to use excellent web 2.0 office tools because their past experiences have made them feel dumb and now it all seems too hard.

Tom 11 May 06

“Corrects your facts”? Oh no! Who needs correct facts? Tells you about it when you make embarrassing, childish word choice errors? Back off, Mr More! We don’t need your book learnin’!

Dave Churchville 11 May 06

Interesting point, but is there an inherent contradiction in opinionated software that isn’t “too clever for it’s own good”?

Less is more doesn’t just say to build simple things, it also encourages us to take a position so that the user doesn’t have to. Often this will mean being “smarter” than the user in order to save her time and thought.

So I guess Mr. Less has to say things like “Yes, I know you want that feature, but really, it just doesn’t matter”

Pretty sure Mr. Less gets slapped only slightly less often thatn Mr. More ;-)

Arik 11 May 06

I personally don’t like Mr. More cause Mr. More makes Mr. Specialized feel inadequate to work with a team of other specialized developers.

The web is finally taking a turn back to basics and the times when it was okay to be really good at one aspect of the development process. I honestly think to be well-rounded is to be great at one thing and highly aware of everything else.

German 11 May 06

Ok, let’s just get it over with…

“You guys suck, you guys think your are the most smartest smarty-pants in the world. Well, you’re NOT because I have a teeny-tiny niche-like situation at my huge-ass company where your philosophy makes NO SENSE. There! Ha! You’re losers! I may be taking your post completely out of context, but I’ve proven it’s not completely universally universal! And at least in my mind, I beat you! HA! Take that 37signals!”

Whew. There, everybody happy? Can we PLEASE not have 47 similar posts like this now? I in no way agree with everything 37s or the Friedster says, but I at least usually abstain from the moronic posts that appear here everytime these guys express their point of view on software development. Yes it’s different. Maybe it’s not the second coming and they may even be wrong. Get over it.

Steve 11 May 06

I’m not sure I want to spend all day with Mr. Less Is More either.

German 11 May 06

Just a clarification. I don’t say people shouldn’t disagree with what is posted here. Controversy and discussion are always wonderful. Just that the aggressive, moronic and defensive tone lots of people take is usually frustratng and unncesary. Just my $0.02.

Noexes 11 May 06

It’s weirdness like this that makes me love this blog. It’s nice to know that you guys have thought that much about your software that you can personify the things that you are trying not to do. While I personally think that you come off as kind of a jerk here, the world needs Mr. Mores as much as it needs Mr. Lesses, it’s fun to read.

Frank 11 May 06

Just think about it, if all developers took the mentality of building simple software … we all would probably be running some ancient version of DOS or UNIX because no one would be developing complex GUI rendering systems, typography, color etc operating systems.

Essentially, we would be living in an age before Apple’s introduction of the Mac (GUI, typography etc).

Apple builds complex products that are simple to use.

37signals build simple products that are … of course, simple to use because they are simple products.

Ben 11 May 06

I prefer Mrs. Martini to either Mr. More or Mr. Less. But that’s just me.

Jack Straw 11 May 06

Exactly! Thats why I use windows (or mac) not linux. Linux makes me feel stupid and thats not right. Good point.

Michal Migurski 11 May 06

“I’m here to celebrate Mr. Less. We’re not so different, he and I. We get it. We’re not brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We’re not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut, right sir? That’s where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say “I did look it up, and that’s not true.” That’s ‘cause you looked it up in a book.”

Cary Gordon 11 May 06

Somebody has been watching Stephen Colbert…

I know some of you are going to say �I did look it up, and that�s not true.� That�s �cause you looked it up in a book.

random8r 11 May 06

I prefer to get all cozy with Mr. Appropriate. :-)

He’s so sexy, and well just so darned RIGHT for pretty much everything everywhere :-) So balanced. So… awesome :-)

Oh, and Mr. Appropriate tends to get on real well with Miss Connection.

I think they got married and had some kids… Love, Beauty, Balance, and Harmony. Oh, yeah, and the little brat “Cool”. Should see the things he can do on a skateboard ;-)


I seriously love you guys :-)

FredS 11 May 06

Mailing it in today. No worries. Kathy Sierra’s post was forgettable as well.

A friggin’ Bentley? I mean, maybe…maybe a Porsche.

Arik 11 May 06

Mr. More is expendable. Mr. More doesn’t bring anything new to the table. All he/she brings (and has been bringing) is a silly mess of half-cocked or completely uneccessary solutions that really don’t mean anything to the end-user. Microsoft is Mr. More, piling on feature after feature after feature, but yet the productivity of its end-users never seem to get better.

Its not really any longer about how fast and how well you can implement “please everyone” features on bogus budgets, its just about making software that works, that increases productivity and provides iron-clad value. Microsoft is the company everyone settles for, Myspace is the web app everyone settles for, and 37signals just simply brings products and software to the table that actually make its users happy when they use it.

Frank 11 May 06

Microsoft != Mr. More

Why do people insist on believing Microsoft is the root of all evil, bloat … whatever is bad is technology.

Now I’m not a Microsoft advocate per se but I do give credit where credit is due. Microsoft, like it or not, has done much more good in the area of technology and developing new technogoies than bad.

I’m not going to even list why because I don’t want this to start a flame war.

Jeff Croft 11 May 06

Okay, I know I’ve annoyed you guys at times, but now you’re trying to get me fired?!

Damn, that’s cold! :)

Mathew Patterson 11 May 06

37signals build simple products that are � of course, simple to use because they are simple products.

Plenty of simple products are in no way simple to use, Frank. Maybe you’ve been lucky, but I’ve used some really annoying programs just to get something very simple done. I’d prefer not to have to do that anymore.

e.j. 11 May 06

oh, i thought this post meant that Fried was getting sick of DHH finally.

Chad 12 May 06

oh, i thought this post meant that Fried was getting sick of DHH finally.

I was thinking the same thing. I read the post as though Jason was “getting real” & “simplying” things by firing DHH.

One can only dream of terminating arrogance.

marvinlewis 12 May 06

mr. more in “the ivy league drop-in”
some people like to drop-in the name of their alma mater when you pass them the ketchup.
“what are you thinking about getting for lunch?”
“i’ll probably just get a chicken sandwich.”
“you should’ve tried the chicken sandwiches at harvard.”
it’s been your pleasure…

Greg 12 May 06

I�m not sure I want to spend all day with Mr. Less Is More either.

Sir, I am here solely to point out that this amazing zinger did not get lost in the shuffle.

Also I think the point of this post was to tell me not to write asshole software? Maybe I’m just not getting it, but while Mr More sounds like a total prick, is that really so bad with software? The guy who pointed out the compiler issue had a good point - I mean, the software isn’t being a jerk, it’s just telling you when you’re wrong. Every error message ever is supposed to do that.

Again, I think I might be missing the point completely.

tom 12 May 06

Mr. More corrects your facts, reminds you it�s �fewer� not �less,�…

I don’t see why these two things get lumped in with Mr More’s more assholey requests which end up generating asshole software.

Software can have a personality, and also be correct. Facts should be correct. Sometimes, it is ‘fewer’. I find it frustrating that, by lumping these in here, you’ve indicated that these may be assholey tendencies. Software with an engagin persona doesn’t have to have crappy language errors and factual inaccuracies.

I find it more frustrating that, having preached hiring ‘designers who can write’ - an ideal I vehemently agree with - you then brush off the whole less/fewer argument (which you guys end up in a lot on here, you know) every single time it comes up…

Mr. More 12 May 06

I may be a pretentious ass, but sometimes someone like me is useful to have around to deal with the millions of other Mr. More’s at the major companies you’re trying to sell to.. We do a lot of business at the golf course to which we drove our Bentleys, you know..

Mrs.More 12 May 06

So he is really a bitch?

Luis 12 May 06

I’ve met several Mr. More’s in my life and they were all pretty much full of crap.

I prefer Mr. Zen.

Mike 12 May 06

At least he picks up the check.

Not sure about the Bentley choice, though. Sounds more like a BMW driver.

Mr. Zen 12 May 06

Someone called?

Let’s just……be.

Haiku anyone?

Alex Bunardzic 12 May 06

Jason, you outdid yourself. Hats down to you for this marvelous post! There is so much wealth, so much applicability in this post, I don’t even know where to begin my praise.



Daniel Morrison 12 May 06

They, there’s nothing wrong with correcting grammar…

This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put. - Winston Churchill

Anonymous Coward 12 May 06

Mr. More corrects your facts, reminds you it�s �fewer� not �less,��

I don�t see why these two things get lumped in with Mr More�s more assholey requests which end up generating asshole software.

+1 for Tom.

The “less vs fewer” think seems to be Jason’s pet peeve, and while he was painting a picture of someone he doesn’t like, he figured he’d throw it in the bag. You know, add a little more to his post?

The “corrects your facts” thing was bizarre. There’s a polite/meaningful and a rude/trivial way to do it, but checking facts is, in general, a good thing.

RS 12 May 06

Mr. More corrects your facts, reminds you it�s �fewer� not �less,��

I don�t see why these two things get lumped in with Mr More�s more assholey requests which end up generating asshole software.

There’s a difference between being correct and being effective. A novel with perfect grammar and a terrible plot is dead in the water.

Mr. More can’t see the forest for the trees, so he nitpicks details and drags everyone down.

Arik 12 May 06

RS, I don’t think you could have put it more eloquently.

tom 12 May 06

A novel with perfect grammar and a terrible plot is dead in the water.

You’ve missed my point. A novel with good plot but lousy grammar, appalling spelling - that’s salvagable, but it’s still shit.

My point is that grammar is not ‘details’. It is raw foundation. Nitpicking grammar isn’t about choosing how many cherries the cake has, it’s about how many eggs you put in at the beginning.

You should be both correct and effective. And, more to the point, you can be both, and still not sweat the small stuff. Your analogy falls down, because you suggest that good foundations are merely ‘nitpicking’.

Jough Dempsey 13 May 06

reminds you it�s �fewer� not �less,�

I posted a one word comment to this post ( last week, and received email from some helpful SvN readers who told me that because there are an uncountable number of features, that it really should be “less.” Uh-huh.

Anyway, I had originally added some XML tags around my comment ([pedant]Fewer.[/pedant]) but they were stripped out by the system, so I guess the comment came off as more dickish than I had intended.

I suppose I hit a nerve.