The post by Jacob Kaplin, entitled I refuse to tolerate **holes (19th may 2012). Caught my attention.
After reading Jacob’s post, it struck a chord with me. Without a doubt the type of behaviour described does indeed exist. The strange thing is that, this type of behaviour is not acceptable in any other profession. So why is it that this kind of egotistical attitude be accepted in software engineering?
There may perhaps be a few reasons as to why this is the case, in my view:
- Bad individuals exist in every community, the software development community is thus not an exception.
- Software engineering is a relatively new field, as such “rock-star” programmers is something we have allowed to evolve.
- They are just living up to their “hacker” stereotype.
- They are introverts, have unresolved childhood issues.
- The community lets them.
For me, in my mind all the above are perhaps valid reasons why the individual acts and behaves in the manner that they do. The last point for me is the most important one. Rather than get angry let us examine one of the root argument:
“If you didn’t run code written by a**holes, your machine wouldn’t boot.” – Ben Elliston
Is this really true? Can this the world of software engineering not solve certain problems without the need for “Geniuses”?
No it’s not true. Unlike say the world of physics, where an “Einstein” comes but once a lifetime. A genius whose works shapes our very understanding of the universe. Software engineering does not need geniuses.
There is nothing, in software engineering that can’t be done by other “non-genius” programmers. Further no one developer is greater than a community of developers.
If we look towards true geniuses, we can recognise that these giants are the symbol of humility (they very opposite of an a*hole). A true genius recognises his own limits. Only mediocre people behave without humility.
The world can live just fine without a-hole developers. It matters not how smart they are, they will never exceed the intelligence of the community of developers. Our field is new, we are the shapers, a-holes will continue to exist, until we collectively stop them. But first we need to stop perpetuating the myth that our computers will not boot without them.