in Hacks

Bad programmers, good programmers

The whole story begun with a post on the joel on software board.

“After reading the disgruntled posts here from long time programmers and hearing so much about ageism and outsourcing, I’m thinking of leaving the industry. What is a good industry to get into where your programming skills would put you at an advantage?”– Bob


Our pay is great. There’s no other career except Wall Street that regularly pays kids $75,000 right out of school, and where so many people make six figures salaries for long careers with just a bachelors degree. There’s no other career where you come to work every day and get to invent, design, and engineer the way the future will work.

Despite the occasional idiot bosses and workplaces that forbid you from putting up dilbert cartoons on your cubicle walls, there’s no other industry where workers are treated so well. Jesus you’re spoiled, people. Do you know how many people in America go to jobs where you need permission to go to the bathroom?

Stop the whining, already. Programming is a fantastic career. Most programmers would love to do it even if they didn’t get paid. How many people get to do what they love and get paid for it? 2%? 5%?”– Joel Spolsky

Stopover. Somebody is anxious about outsourcing. Joel put the advantages in the foreground: great pay; invent, design, engineer the future; love and get paid.
I’m totally agree on Joel’s opinion but what’s about the “normal” programmer who’s programming for the paycheck?

“There just aren’t enough people in the world to find a passionate person to perform every single task. And I’m not saying that grossly incompetent people shouldn’t leave the software industry, but I have known plenty of good developers who want to leave work and not think about programming until the next day. […]
So to say that people who don’t love programming need to find new careers, well, that is just silly.
“– Justin Etheredge

Stopover. Justin says that not everybody is passionate in software industry and that he know great developers which work 9-to-5. Moreover he says that there are enough jobs.

Programming: love it or leave it. […] I’m talking about the Daily WTF crew. People that actively give programming a bad name, and you, as their coworker, a constant headache. […] But one of the (very) few bright spots of the previous bubble was that it weeded out all the people who didn’t truly love software development. […]
The only people left applying for programming jobs were the true freaks and geeks who, y’know, loved this stuff. […] I mean this in the nicest possible way, but not everyone should be a programmer. How often have you wished that a certain coworker of yours would suddenly have an epiphany one day and decide that this whole software engineering thing just isn’t working out for them?”– Jeff Attwod

Stopover. Jeff talks about the problems bad programmers causes to great programmers, to the project.


What are the reasons for outsourcing?

  • “Cost savings.
  • Improve quality.
  • Knowledge.
  • Operational expertise.
  • Staffing issues.
  • Reduce time to market.”


So, imagine you’re a software company with great developers, would you outsource anything and why? Except from cost savings time reducing could be a point. But, you know one of the most important facts of The Mythical Man Month.
Nine women couldn’t bear one baby in one month.

So what’s about a company which hasn’t so great developers and these developers working in the “corner programming”? There are easy to outsource. They may not achieve the requirements and they worse than Indian programmers. Bye, bye.
One book which is suited for this topic is My Job Went to India: 52 Ways to Save Your Job by Chad Fowler.

Great and mediocre programmers


“I still think it’s more efficient – this is just an old Lisp programmer’s standard way of thinking – if you have two really good people and a very powerful tool. That’s better than having 20 mediocre people and inefficient tools. ArsDigita demonstrated that pretty well. We were able to get projects done in about 1/5th of the time and probably at about 1/10th or 1/20th the cost of people using other tools.”– Philip Greenspun (Founders at Work)

“OK”, you would say, “but these really good programmers are really well paid.”

“A great programmer might be ten or a hundred times as productive as an ordinary one, but he’ll consider himself lucky to get paid three times as much.“– Paul Graham


Jobs. Jobs. Jobs?

The industry is searching. Many positions are open. In the year 2007, 43,000 positions were unfilled. Many projects are dying because they hadn’t enough professionals. This will may decrease but I think you’ll find a job with a college degree.

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Quality, further education and passion?

We’ve seen great developers are more productive, they make better software and they are happier. But they’re rare. The problem isn’t new. Makers (Architects, hacker, painters, writers, composers) need freedom for masterpieces. I think that works great with really passionated people. But the others may be overwhelmed and stop working semi productive. It’s a problem with the ratio. Eight great developers and one mediocre one will work fine. The great programmers will push the mediocre one. A ratio of one great developer to ten mediocre will be harder. The great developer can improve the working process but only if he/she really wants to, otherwise she/he simply changes the working place.

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