Tom Sawyering

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Tom Sawyering is a Gen2+ method of talking Gen1 developers into building a feature into one's site.

While this method may go against the principle of "Build tools for yourself" it often fits into the category of the importance of UX and UI, particularly when the pain point is one that is felt by many community members when attempting to implement it on their sites and even more so when "Building platform-agnostic platforms".

The phrase was originated in the Indieweb context by Lillian Karabaic at Indieweb Summit 2017 during the Demos on day two:

"I spent the entire day Tom Sawyering Ryan, David, and Aaron. Thank you all very much for being my in-person tech support. Tom Sawyering means I just complained until people helped me and did releases and make things work to solve a problem."

-Lillian Karabaic

The phrase harkens back to the eponymous title character of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer who convinced his friends that whitewashing a fence was the greatest experience in the world when in fact he felt it was painful work and just wanted to get out of doing it himself. 1

Note: Tom did not complain outwardly at all, quite the opposite, he pretended to be enjoying himself so much that others were attracted into helping out as well, convinced that they must be enjoying themselves since Tom was. However the verb "to Tom Sawyer" is broader than that, and applies to the situation as described by Lillian Karabaic.

See Also