Another excuse to stay up until 3 AM.

The Double-Edged Sword of Group Ownership

While looking at code reviews the other day, I was struck by some developers’ inaction over various issues with the code base. That got me thinking about the idea of group ownership and how it can perceived by individuals. I think the ideal when a problem occurs is:

Group ownership → we all own it → I also own it → I’ll try to fix it.

But many times that doesn’t seem to happen, and instead I think the following logic is used:

Group ownership → we all own it → people other than me also own it → they can fix it.

Which, of course, isn’t much different than a lack of group ownership in the first place. In the end it seems that merely repeating the mantra of group ownership isn’t enough- what’s really necessary is an understanding of what group ownership actually entails, and the responsibilities developers share as a result.

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