"I'm just a pixel pusher, a bit flipper, a browser jockey.
How can I achieve something more?
Why do I feel so meaningless in my job?"
You're not alone, my friend - and you've come to the right place. Let me introduce you to the concept of coding kindly.
What is Coding Kindly?
Kind Coding means using your software talents to make the world a better place.
Believe it or not, your actions as a web developer, software engineer, or server admin can make a big difference.
1. Be Kind to the Earth
Did you know your code can improve the environment?
- Reduce waste: Every byte your code processes and transfers uses energy. By reducing website size, app transfer, and server operations, you're cutting energy used by the routers, datacenters, computers, and phones that power them. Another way to reduce waste is to power down your servers when not in use. Do you really need multiple servers running during off-peak hours, or can you set up auto-scaling?
- Green infrastructure: Did you know that if the internet were a country, it would be the sixth most polluting country in the world?[src] As managers of your server infrastructure, you can choose whether this energy is powered by green renewable energy, or by gray CO2-emitting sources. You can check this by checking with your datacenter, and the Green Web Foundation maintains a list. Keep in mind being powered by green sources directly is much better than simply buying carbon offsets.
Every job is a climate job
Sustainable web design
Website Carbon - test your site
2. Be Kind to Community
There are various ways that your coding expertise can help others around you.
- Help learners: From your technically-challenged grandma to your team's new hire, there's a lot you can teach others. Take a few extra minutes out of your day to explain how things work, mentor a colleague, and look at the next "Can you fix my printer?" request as an opportunity to give back.
- Donate code: Contribute to open source projects, or offer to help a local business or non-profit with some of their tech challenges. This could be as simple as submitting a bug fix (many open source projects already have lists of known issues), or as answering some questions (most early organizations don't know how to get started).
- Give to charity: Our profession is blessed with higher salaries than most. You can afford to donate some of your income to a non-profit. Find a charity that means something to you, and consider a monthly donation.
Finding ways to contribute to open source
3. Be Kind to Users
Your users are more than just visitors and clicks, they're real people - treat them kindly.
- Protect their privacy: Harden your servers and code so their sensitive data cannot be leaked. Better yet - question what data of theirs you absolutely need, and handle only that. Be honest with them about this.
- Provide joyful experiences: A slow, confusing user experience is frustrating. Optimize common use cases to load fast and be easy to use, and reduce the overall stress in this world.
- Consider diversity: The world is a wide place, full of differences. Take care in using inclusive language and making your products accessible to all, including those with disabilities.
Ensure your site and your users' data is secure
Improving site performance
Google's Accessibility Tips
4. Be Kind to Yourself
It's easy to forget about taking care of yourself. Our profession is not a dangerous one, but it is not without risks.
- Physical health: Sitting at a desk all day is terrible for you. Make sure you're taking frequent breaks. Get up and move every hour, and give your eyes a pause from all screens. Find a workout routine that you can stick to, even if it's as simple as daily walks.
- Mental health: Tight deadlines, remote work, fixing major outages, imposter syndrome, and the speed of the tech industry can cause stress as a developer. Focus on a healthly work/life balance, and consider meditation, counseling, and setting hard boundaries to keep you sane.
- Cultivate relationships: Many of us are introverts, and that makes it hard to find new friends. But it's important to share experiences with others. We must go out of our way to connect to colleagues, join social groups, and reach out to family. Doing this in person instead of digitally will be more rewarding.
10 Best Stretches for Office Workers
Open Sourcing Mental Illness
Mental health routine for developers
Ready to get started? Pick 2-3 ideas above that speak to you and put them into action. You're talented, and you're making this world a better place. Thank you!
Want to continue the conversation? Hashtag #CodeKindly to spread the word and share examples.