Building in public

“Rubber ducking” isn’t just for solving problems by yourself—it can help your remote engineering culture too.

Here’s how:

On our team at Blissfully we have dedicated public Slack channels for rubber ducking. Mine is called rd-duncan.

It can be intimidating at first to put yourself out there like this. But when it’s the norm for all engineers, you don’t feel that way so much.

I’ll often start my day by writing my goals and to-do’s in the channel.

Then I’ll work through them, stating my assumptions and the questions I ask to myself.

I introduced this habit during onboarding onto the dev team, to provide feedback and uncover blockers.

My manager didn’t have to ask himself, “How’s the new hire doing? Are they stuck?”. And I didn’t have to explain problems on a call with him.

If I get stuck and need to lean on someone for help, I’ll just at-mention them.

The channel includes all the context that led up to the problem. If it’s a simple answer, they’ll leave it in a thread—or it’s an easy jumping-off point for an impromptu meeting.

And it also acts as a resource for the future—my rubber-duck sessions will come up in keywords searches in Slack when someone else has questions about something I’ve worked on.

This post was originally a Twitter thread as part of Ship 30 for 30.