The quote “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist and poet. He wrote it in his 1841 essay “Self-Reliance”, where he argued for the importance of individualism and independent thinking1. The quote suggests that blindly following a fixed set of rules or beliefs, without considering new ideas or changing circumstances, is a sign of a narrow-minded person. Emerson believed that a great soul should be flexible and adaptable, and not afraid of being misunderstood by others.

This quote is applied to a wide field of topics, such as politics, religion, and philosophy. Let’s apply it to the field of software engineering. Here are a few examples that I picked from a list generated by ChatGPT.

Overuse of Microservices: Splitting a system into too many microservices without a justifiable reason, resulting in a complex web of interdependencies, operational overhead, and difficulties in managing the distributed system.

Golden Hammer (or Law of the Instrument): Using a favorite technology or tool for every problem, even when it is not the best suited for the task at hand, akin to the saying “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Framework Overuse: Applying a heavy-weight framework to every project, regardless of scale, which can introduce unnecessary complexity to smaller projects that don’t need the full breadth of the framework’s features.

Strict TDD (Test-Driven Development) Adherence: Following TDD practices to the letter, writing unit tests for every single function without considering the value and cost of each test, which can lead to an excessive focus on coverage over meaningful tests.

Blindly Adhering to Style Guides: Enforcing style guides without considering context or the reason behind the rules can lead to ignoring cases where deviation may be more readable or pragmatic.

I felt ashamed of myself when I realized that I had justified my ideas in software development because of foolish consistencies. Today, the word “consistent” acts as a reflex for me; it makes me cautious.

Thank you for reading my journal.