Oh, I knew about that
Now this piece of wisdom is actually not mine, but from a colleague at ibuildings. He basically states the following; “If a client or user ever finds a bug or a security hole, then don’t ever say ‘Oh, i knew about that’.”
Now the observation here is that sometimes while you are reading older code you will see a bug or security leak. Often enough you will think “Oh well, this is old code and has been running for years”. That however is not the right thought to have.
The right thing to do is to estimate how many hours would be needed to fix it and what the impact of the problem is. If you then have enough time, you fix it. If you don’t, you register it and escalate it to the person responsible of the project.
At least then, you don’t have to say “Oh, I knew about that”. This phenomena is closely related to that of the broken window effect*, which teaches us that it is human nature to not fix the window. It is therefore wise to always keep the above in mind, and consciously force yourself to do the right thing.
So next time you see a bug, don’t say to yourself that you will fix it next week, because we both know that will probably never happen.
* This effect is wonderfully described in the book ‘the pragmatic programmer‘, required reading for any programmer if it was up to me.