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Forced Pair Programming considered unproductive

I just read a blog post by Blaine Buxton describing the phenomenon of Forced Pairing. In a nutshell, pair programming has to take into consideration the human factor when programming. Some people need their own space to code well.

On reflection, this makes sense. When I have pair programmed, I have usually been supportive of the idea and want to share my thoughts and ideas with the person that I pair with. However, communication of thoughts and motives is at best an imprecise art. From what I have seen, pair programming can have issues at the ground level under the following circumstances:

  • If one person in a pair is not willing to communicate with the other person
  • If one person cannot express intentions well to the other person
  • One person is moving too quickly and will not slow down enough for the other person to keep up (This is not fun at all)

I cannot imagine an environment where pair programming was taken so seriously that is has been codified as a law but if they do exist then Forced Pair Programming is definitely something to watch out for. However, I do believe that pair programming is an effective strategy for getting multiple developers up to speed on any codebase and avoids the Only One Developer Understands this Code syndrome.

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