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The Moderately Enthusiastic Programmer 533

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-get-to-that-after-dinner dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "Developer Avdi Grimm posts about the trend throughout the software industry of companies demanding that job applicants be 'passionate' about programming when hiring into ordinary development jobs. Grimm says, 'I love code. I dream of code. I enjoy code. I find writing high quality code deeply satisfying. I feel the same way about helping others write code they can feel proud of. But do I feel 'strong and barely controllable emotion' about code? Honestly? No. ... I think some of the people writing these job ads are well-meaning. Maybe most of them. I think when they write "passionate" they mean "motivated." No slackers. No one who is a drag on the team. But sometimes I worry that it's code for we want to exploit your lack of boundaries. Maybe it's fanciful on my part, but there's a faintly Orwellian whiff to the language of these job ads: excuse me comrade, I couldn't help but notice that man over there is not chanting the team slogan with sincere revolutionary conviction.' Is it realistic for employers to expect us to be passionate about software we're hired to build? If they're looking for the head of a major product, then maybe it's warranted — but for everybody, even the grunts?"
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The Moderately Enthusiastic Programmer

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  • Dreaming of code? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JLennox (942693) on Friday January 31, 2014 @01:55PM (#46122127)

    I don't get this psudo-nerd bragging right. I've worked jobs I hated and had dreams about them, too.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:02PM (#46122193)

      You know what makes workers happy and proud to work for your company and chant its slogans? Bonuses, good salaries, good benefits, reasonable metrics, pizza during long meetings and seminars, holiday parties; you know, all that shit that costs a few extra pennies that most corporations don't want to spend.

      More likely is that corporations you're working for are pissing on your head and telling you its raining.

      -- Ethanol-fueled

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:27PM (#46122465)

        Actually, that's (proven) not true. Money only works up to a (surprisingly low) point. Beyond that, what matters is that they enjoy what they're doing, and think they're making something worth selling. Investment in the product is what matters really.

        • by mbkennel (97636) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:34PM (#46122569)
          | Actually, that's (proven) not true. Money only works up to a (surprisingly low) point

          I've heard a CEO say exactly this in response to questions from an employee about bonuses and stock compensation.

          Notably, it didn't seem to apply to him, when applied in much much larger quantity.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I believe the grandparent was refering to the TED talk that research showed that money is only a motivating factor up to a point. After that, motivation comes from other sources like mastery of a subject.

            Here's the entertaining RSA Animate version of the TED talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc [youtube.com]

          • by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:02PM (#46123939)

            I've heard a CEO say exactly this in response to questions from an employee about bonuses and stock compensation.

            He should realise that money isn't what motivates a developer to do good work. But money is what motivates a good developer to work for _his_ company and not the competitor.

          • Re:Dreaming of code? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by KingOfBLASH (620432) on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:15PM (#46124053) Journal

            Well, sort of.

            I once had a job that paid twice what I make in my current job. It was so horrible (I was on call 24 hours a day) I referred to it as "selling my soul" when people asked me what I did. I got the big raise because I told them I was quitting, and I literally was the only one who could (or would) do the work.

            I ended up quitting and finding a job with more reasonable hours that let me come home and actually be happy.

            Money is a funny thing.

            If you make too little of it, you'll be unhappy. Even if the job is nice, if you are underpaid enough, you'll be miserable.

            But, on the flip side, just throwing money at people will not make them happy. If my old boss had addressed some of the quality of life issues like getting called on to do work at midnight on a friday night, I might have enjoyed the job and stayed. There was no real reason I needed to field calls at midnight except upper management in a different time zone wanted to be able to wait until the end of their day to give me a call.

        • Re:Dreaming of code? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:15PM (#46122935)

          Actually, that's (proven) not true. Money only works up to a (surprisingly low) point.

          Yes. Moreover, it's one of those issues that tends to be either neutral or bad: being perceived as underpaying is a big black mark, but being perceived as paying the going rate is just average and doesn't earn extra credit. On top of that, it's a relative measure, as employees are comparing with their peers at their current job and with what they could achieve elsewhere if they switched jobs, not with some absolute scale where paying $X is stingy but $Y is fair.

          For a typical software developer, paying at or slightly above an honest market rate will go a long way to attracting and retaining decent people. It's a job, and they want to pay the rent/mortgage, look after their kids, take the family on holiday, and so on. Once they can do that, bonuses and profit share schemes and stock options and the like are all generally welcome, but sometimes it's more because they recognise the contribution the employee has made and the value of their work than because of any particular amount of money involved.

          It seems strange, but it's often just as important or even more so that employees receive genuine compliments from peers and managers when they deserve them. Yes, they're just doing their job, but they're doing it well and no-one likes to feel their hard work is taken for granted. An honest appraisal that recent performance was good, or a sincere offer of support if some things need working on, goes a long way.

          Even dumb stuff like a "meaningless" job title bump so it's the same as others in the industry with similar skills and ability can make a difference. I once worked with someone who only had a few years of experience out of university but who was smarter and more productive than average, and he left a role that was otherwise OK just because this didn't happen. The employer's HR department had a strict system where effectively your job title was tied to years of experience with very little flexibility. The developer was worried that his CV was starting to look underpowered if he wanted to move on later, because he still didn't have "Senior" in front of his job title when in most places he would have by then. He jumped ship for little more than a bumped title, and the previous employer lost one of the smartest guys I've ever worked with because HR's computer said no. Coming back to the original point, I think he actually took a slight pay cut to make the jump, too, which puts the money vs. recognition thing in perspective.

          • Re:Dreaming of code? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by curunir (98273) * on Friday January 31, 2014 @04:21PM (#46123495) Homepage Journal

            It seems strange, but it's often just as important or even more so that employees receive genuine compliments from peers and managers when they deserve them

            Yep. I work for a Fortune 100 company and one of the surprises when I moved to management was that the budget for salaries is actually 110% of what developers think it is (i.e. if you added up all the salaries that developers think they make, there would be an extra 10% left in the budget.) That last 10% is intended for managers to dole out as awards, which can be taken either as bonus pay or in grossed up gift cards. It was explained to me that the company found that employees were happier making the same overall amount when a portion of the pay was doled out for something they did well. That attachment to a job well done made the pay more meaningful to them than it would have been had it simply been added into their paycheck. And the encouragement to take the money as a gift card also helped associate the company with the spending of discretionary money, which is something that people find pleasurable.

            The whole thing was an interesting look into how HR departments are using psychological research to help retain valuable employees. I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about it...on the one hand, it's deceitful that this is being done without employees realizing it. On the other hand, it's making them more happy in their jobs. It's almost like a doctor prescribing a placebo pill...if the patient gets better, does it really matter that it's actually due to a psychological phenomenon?

          • I've taken interesting jobs that don't pay well in the past (ie not the going rate) and even though I've enjoyed those jobs, I find that eventually I will become resentful. I don't want to, but when you see other people in the same market making substantially more than you it's hard not to. Nowadays, I look at the salary surveys and ask for the median for the position and experience. No more, no less, and I explain to the interviewer this is why I'm asking what I'm asking. So far, this approach has been rec

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by easyTree (1042254)

        I see a lot of job ads and 'enjoy' deciphering recruiter-speak.

        For instance "Excellent Opportunity" invariably means "shitty pay - the only way is up."

  • What about me? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xevioso (598654) on Friday January 31, 2014 @01:57PM (#46122145)

    I'm 40. I love what I do, I love building websites and I love doing front-end development. Do I live and breathe it? No. I go to work, work on great sites, and then go home for the day and enjoy my evening doing non-coding things.

    • by schlachter (862210) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:12PM (#46122295)

      ...but when i do...i prefer to do it with passion.
      stay passionate my friends.

    • Re:What about me? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lgw (121541) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:17PM (#46122357) Journal

      I'd agree that's normal. What's more, this "passionate" is without a doubt a code for "exploitable".

      Here's why: for various cultural reasons, self-taught geeks who code from the love of coding are a far higher percentage of American-born coders, than of e.g. India or China, simply because "software developer" has a far higher social status (and relative pay) in other countries, such that parents push their children to become developers there in the way that some American children are pushed to become doctors or lawyers. Therefore, if you actually filtered on "loves to code" instead of "good at coding", you'd be illegally discriminating against a protected class, in a way that's not-at-all subtle to anyone who spends time on hiring in the field.

      The goal of this "passionate" business isn't crypto-racism (it would be too obvious, if nothing else), but simply trying to find people who are not only good, but willing to work far longer than a professional work week at management insistence, and those qualities can be found in young and/or desperate people from anywhere.

    • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:17PM (#46122359) Homepage

      I'm 40 --

      Thank you, we've heard enough. Next applicant please.

      • This is major bullshit. I bought into that /. ageism paranoia until I got on my first dev team (I used to be in infrastructure...yuck)...most of the people are over 40...just had a guy retire from the dev team. This is at a very young, small company with high dev standards.

        • Re:What about me? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by JoeMerchant (803320) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:46PM (#46122701)

          Depends on where you go, I've seen age-ism cut all four ways, for and against me, in my 20s and in my 40s.

        • by Salgat (1098063)
          Hiring older folk is awesome because you know they aint ever leaving because who else would hire their old ass? (in all seriousness, older folk do tend to stay with the company longer, which is an enormous benefit)
          • by technomom (444378)

            Bwahahahaha!

            Not so much. Got my best job offers at 45 and 48, took 'em both! There are a lot of companies that pay big money for experienced programmers, especially ones that can point to actual products they had a hand in.

            But if it makes you feel better to believe that, go ahead.

          • by Dodgy G33za (1669772) on Friday January 31, 2014 @06:26PM (#46124623)

            That's only because perception of time changes as you age. They think that they have only been there for a few days and bang, retirement hits them.

    • I love what I do (Score:4, Insightful)

      by petes_PoV (912422) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:48PM (#46122713)

      All of this stuff is merely emotional inflation. These days you can't just like something, you've got to love. Likewise, if something displeases you a little, you are said to hate it. Personally I find these extremes: black or white with no middle ground to be rather childish - like TV villains who are only bad, or heros who are only good. It might work in programmes where you only have 1 hour - or rather: 40 minutes + advertisements to introduce, flesh-out and conclude a story, but real people aren't like that and adopting TV-style dialog into real-life is misleading.

      So to say you "love" programming is pointless. I'm sure people are drawn to some aspects of creating new software (though doing the documentation and the testing never seems to be those aspects) and occasionally actually like the feeling of creating something. But is that love? No of course it isn't. Love is (break out the violins) all-conquering, an emotion you would go to extreme lengths to preserve and protect.

      If you really did "love" coding, you wouldn't have to be paid to do it. Maybe that's what employers are really looking for.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        I love programming, but that does not mean I love all programming or even like what I am programming for my job.
        Look at it like art. One can be a lover of the arts, have gone to school to study art history, but then be bored and noncommital about a job creating greeting card images. Or you love literature but your job is writing technical publications.

    • Re:What about me? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:48PM (#46122717)

      The last time I was "passionate" about a job, they called me argumentative and difficult to work with, and insisted that I need to be a "team player". Make up your fucking minds. Do you want me to care, to really care? Or do you want me to just shut up and do the job? Because you can't have both.

      • Re:What about me? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sperbels (1008585) on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:44PM (#46123169)
        They want you to care...and obey. Basically, you should love doing what your betters order you to do.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      The problem is that the vast majority of programming jobs don't do a lot of programming. Most of it is bug fixing obscure stuff written by someone no longer at the company, documenting it all, coordinating with testers, lots and lots of meetings, etc. It is relatively rare to just sit down and start coding. When I work on my own private projects at home then that's fun, when it's at work it is sometimes only one day a month. There are things I'd love to do at work but I can't because those activities ar

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @01:58PM (#46122157)

    If you don't eat sleep and breathe their corporate paradigm at all times you're not the person they're looking for. They don't want you to forget that they own you, even when you're not physically at the office: your personal work belongs to them, your future employment opportunities (non-compete) belong to them, your personal activities (social media et al.) belong to them... And they wonder why people get disgruntled.

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      Are the Accounts Payable people passionate about writing checks? Are the secretaries passionate about answering the phone? Are the Helpdesk people passionate about resettiing passwords? If so, then I guess they should required the programmers to be passionate about programming.
  • by SirLurksAlot (1169039) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:00PM (#46122169)

    I feel this way about the current codebase I'm working on right now, but they only give me the nerf-type of weapons, so no one needs to worry.

  • I feel you. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rinikusu (28164) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:01PM (#46122183)

    I like software development. But when I go home, I do other things than write more code (write/record music, write/shoot/direct/edit short films, cook foods, breed fish, exercise/martial arts, spend time with my SO, etc). Apparently, to some developers, this means I don't take my job seriously and I shouldn't be in the industry because I'm not spending every moment living and breathing code. I don't even own a github. And frankly, if that's the expectation, I'd rather not work in that sort of environment.

    • by rlwhite (219604)

      These ads make me feel this way too. To me, leaving coding at my job and doing other things in my off time is very important to avoid burn-out. Pursuing something else I'm passionate about is refreshing, and being knowledgeable in other subjects should further a programmer's career because programming is ultimately about codifying knowledge. This career field is fundamentally cross-disciplinary.

    • Some jobs maybe not, but experience from my outside interests have proven highly valuable to my "day job" on many occasions, and has also helped me land new jobs on occasion.

      If you're 19 years old and didn't start coding until you were 17, sure - live, breathe, sleep and dream code - you need to to get up to speed. If you like that lifestyle, I think EA is still running their revolving door....

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:02PM (#46122199)

    People will do things for love that they won't for money, including endure abuse, or attempt the impossible.

  • Well You Know... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TemperedAlchemist (2045966) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:07PM (#46122229)

    What management actually means by, "We want people who are passionate!" means that they live in a fantasy world where truly passionate people will come work for them for meager pay, lousy benefits, and an average work environment. It's the ultimate delusion of entitlement. Because why should talented people settle for them?

    There is good management. But most of the time you see poor management who blame their own inadequate and incompetent leadership abilities on their employees. Many seem to look at subordinates as nothing more than a monkey there to churn out code -- like it's such an inconvenience that they have to deal with actual humans who have like, squishy innards that need nourishment and rest.

    Add it to the list...
    "Fast paced work environment!" We're understaffed.
    "Opportunity for advancement." We have a high turnover rate.
    "Flexible hours!" You'll never be able to predict the next week's schedule.

    • Re:Well You Know... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by RobinH (124750) on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:12PM (#46122915) Homepage
      "Fast paced work environment!" actually means that we change our specs a lot, even up to the hour before delivery, and we don't want you to complain because we're "fast paced"! :)
  • by Dracolytch (714699) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:09PM (#46122241) Homepage

    So, when managing, I'm always looking for passionate developers. Here's why:

    Where I work, there are no grunts. There are no people who mindlessly grind out code. We're not building yet another website: We're solving hard problems, and we want everyone to contribute. To contribute with value, you need to not stagnate in one technology for half your career. You need to be well-read about software. And while we work very few weekends, sometimes there are longer days (like anywhere).

    When I mean I'm looking for a passionate developer, I'm looking for someone who cares about their craft, not just someone who shows up to close bug tickets and collect a paycheck.

    • by zenasprime (207132) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:13PM (#46122311) Homepage

      Yeah but are you willing to pay for that level of commitment?

      • by Dracolytch (714699) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:26PM (#46122449) Homepage

        I work for an academic non-profit, been there about a year. Happier here then I've been anywhere else in my career.

        The salaries are on the low-end of competitive. However, there is a point at which more money no longer truly motivates me, and I passed that years ago. Now, there are other cultural things which do motivate me. They include:

        I'm not the only person who's at the top of their game. It's nice to be able to really learn from others.
        I get to go home on the evenings, and the weekends.
        I can work from home when it's practical.
        I don't have someone hawking over me.
        I have a large amount of freedom to execute the work in a manner which makes sense to me (This is why people who care about their craft are important!)
        I have interesting and very difficult problems to solve.
        The problems I solve aren't just about lining someone's pockets with money. There's more purpose here.

        There are lots of places that survive off of hiring mediocrity, and have controls/standards in place to help hedge that (Extensive code standards, technology restrictions, other bureaucratic controls). Some people are VERY comfortable with that level of constraint. In those kinds of places I have quickly grown frustrated and unhappy. Of course, those places that survive off of mediocrity ALSO think they want passionate developers... But very often they don't really, they just want people who will work super extra hard but not ask questions nor challenge the system. It's up to the candidate to distinguish between the two.

      • by SirGarlon (845873)

        This makes me realize another good retort: "Are you (the hiring manager) passionate about management?"

        Are you always looking to drive the project to success? Do you know how to enable your team to meet expectations in a normal, 40-hour work week? Are you committed to professional development for your team members so they can chart their own courses for their careers? Do you consider offering average salary and benefits "not good enough?"

        Or you really just asking for more from your people than you are willin

    • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:21PM (#46122405)

      I'm always looking for passionate developers. Here's why: Where I work, there are no grunts. There are no people who mindlessly grind out code. We're not building yet another website: We're solving hard problems...

      But that's what they all say, including the companies just building yet another website.

      Not to mention, there are 10 "yet another website" companies for every 1 "solving hard problems" company, and even programmers who start out passionate lose that passion if they end up at one of the former.

      • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:29PM (#46122491) Journal
        This is true. I used to be like the guy above, who only wanted 'passionate' programmers. But then I met programmers who weren't passionate, but were still very good at what they did.

        Now I look for programmers who are good at what they do. I would rather have the guy with a good work ethic who is committed to completing a task; not the guy who passionately writes a thousand lines of code, working into midnight, but gets disinterested when it comes time to debug (both real people I've met).

        Basically you want someone who can do the job, that's all that matters. People who say they want passionate programmers say so because they think only passionate programmers can do the job. I used to be one of those people, but it is a sign of lack of life experience.
  • by tempest69 (572798) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:09PM (#46122255) Journal
    Honestly, most managers would be clueless as how to deal with a passionate programmer.

    The meetings, conference calls, the coding conventions, the documentation, making hard choices that hurt the deeper beauty of the finished product. This is poison to the passionate programmer. Other people doing substandard things to her code. This isn't ok to do to someones passions. It would be like letting a person bring a pet to work, and the staff kicks it at a whim.

    They want people who pretend to be passionate. But really their looking for employees that want a paycheck, and a good portfolio when they leave.
    • by Akratist (1080775)
      I completely agree with this. When I started at my current place, I was like "Hey, we can fix X, change Y, and implement Z," all of which would have slashed the time spent on maintenance. As a result, I got off on the wrong foot with my boss, who is conservative, almost cautious, about changing code. I understand his perspective, that they are happy with a system that works, and that incremental improvements are what people are used to and want here. One of the other guys I work with here is the same wa
  • Build Mastery (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:11PM (#46122293)

    Mastery and Passion go together. Without Passion, Mastery will not result.

    I've been writing code since the '60s. I'm still the best in any team I join. When I'm not, I refactor, relearn, rebuild, etc. my skills. Then I'm the best again.

    This doesn't diminish the other dimensions, but this is where it's at. If you're not passionate, you won't think about it night and day, and you just won't reach that level of Mastery.

    Nor will you gain the satisfaction from having done so.

  • by wcrowe (94389) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:13PM (#46122305)

    I think this is being read the wrong way. There is a huge demand (sometimes real, sometimes perceived) for coders out there. Companies feel like they need to attract coders who, in most cases, already have a job. A lot of these coders are in jobs that are not very challenging, and/or they have bosses who are like the PHB in Dilbert. Basically, a lot of coders are unhappy. Their jobs are tedious and they don't get recognition for doing good work. By using words like "passionate" employers are creating the illusion of a job that will be more challenging and exciting than whatever job the coder is currently in. In reality, businesses could care less whether you are "passionate" about coding or not, so long as you can get the job done and you are halfway competent they're okay. There's nothing really Orwellian about it. They're just trying to use language that will catch the attention of potential candidates.

  • by netsavior (627338) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:15PM (#46122343)
    Anyone with any lick of coding ability is passionate about programming. This is equivalent to hiring an artist to draw logos and saying they must be passionate about art, of course they are, or they wouldn't be an artist.
    Compare that to other "less creative" positions... The average call-center person is probably not passionate about call centering.
    Consider this:

    public String getSum(int numA, int num2) {
    if (numA == num2)
    {
    return "" + numA*2;
    }
    return ""+(numA + num2);
    }

    If that was painful for you, congratulations... you are more passionate about programming than 99% of people are about their job.
  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:18PM (#46122373) Homepage

    What they're saying they want is people who will happily be in the office 100 hours a week, plugging away and barely stopping to eat.

    In other words, it's a red flag, and I'll pretty much reject out of hand a contact from a company that makes a big deal about it.

  • by Akratist (1080775) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:18PM (#46122375)
    Truthfully, there are a lot of jobs which basically require a person to show up and write competent code according to decent instructions, then shut it down and go home for the day. There are some jobs which require a high, if not manic, level of commitment to the job, because it's difficult, the tech is hard to work with, the requirements or deadlines are insane, etc. A high-performing coder is going to get bored at a 9 to 5 maintenance job...while an average code is not going to be able to take on the latter kind of job, but will do fine at maintenance. I worked for several years at a place that was a start up with a lot of big dreams and long hours, then it basically folded and I took a job which is a 9 to 5 maintenance job. When I get out of here for the day, I go home and start coding for fun, while keeping an eye out for the next high-pressure, high-demand gig. I get bored in this kind of environment, and so do most of the people I used to work with at the start-up. It's just about the right person and job and not some latest buzzword or ideal about who a candidate should be.
  • by k8to (9046) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:19PM (#46122387) Homepage

    Corporate speak is full of nonsense code words use to mean things other than what they mean. Job postings are nearly the thickest.

    "Need Passionate Self-Starter who is a rock-star team-player who wants to change the world!"

    This stuff has been nonsense since before I was born.

  • by swm (171547) * <swmcd@world.std.com> on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:22PM (#46122415) Homepage

    Most of the code that I see exhibits what I can only describe as a kind of aggressive indifference.
    It's not just that they don't care.
    They *totally* don't care.
    And they're going to make sure you know it.
    And suffer for it.

    After a while, dealing with this stuff is just depressing.
    Especially if you do care.

  • by sinij (911942) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:23PM (#46122431) Journal
    I love sanitizing telephones. I dream of sanitizing telephones. I enjoy sanitizing telephones. I find high quality telephone sanatization deeply satisfying. I feel the same way about helping others sanitizing telephones so they can feel proud. Please hire me so I can buy food and shelter.
  • The message (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spiked_Three (626260) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:25PM (#46122443)
    I saw a big change happen in the industry, while I was briefly at Microsoft.

    My manager, and Microsoft in general was more about delivering a positive message, as opposed to having a positive message to deliver.

    The problem with that is, if you encourage everyone to do it, they eventually begin doing it even to the company and not just the customers.

    "How is that new version of windows going?"

    "It's going great!!"

    And we all know now, it was terrible, horrible, full of in fighting, self promotion, bad decisions.

    "How is that new web site that all America will use, and a presidency depends on?"

    "It's going great!!"

    See the pattern here?

    You really want passionate developers? You are an idiot if you do. As a boss, I did not want surprises, and to me the worse thing in the world a company could do was sell something that was broke. Companies today do not seem to share that philosophy. Consumers tolerate crap and beg for more. So, I guess it really is not just the companies to blame.
  • by floobedy (3470583) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:25PM (#46122447)

    Perhaps this "passion" stuff is just standard bullshit which is not really expected.

    A few jobs ago, I worked for a company which had a job opening. They posted an ad for the job, in which they described the ideal candidate as someone who was deeply "PASSIONATE" about their work. However the position itself was in accounting--specifically, in payroll. Obviously nobody is passionate about payroll. Nevertheless, they asked each interviewee if he was "passionate" about payroll, and each candidate answered that he was.

  • by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:27PM (#46122473)

    I like coding. I don't love it. I have a wide variety of interests in my life, such as family, movies, reading about other topics.

    I have met a very few coders who are really all code all the time. And you know what? I find them insufferable.

    A person should be well rounded and have many interests.

  • Better hurry up while supplies last [slashdot.org]!
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:00PM (#46122827)

    It's worth noting that regardless of how passionate you are about your work and job, your company will fire you in a hot second if it serves them best for even just the next minute.

  • by Slime-dogg (120473) on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:03PM (#46122847) Journal

    I interviewed, scored well technically and got along with everyone in both interviews. I interested them. I didn't get the job. The reasoning? They wanted someone that spent their off-hours doing development work.

    At the time, I was disappointed. They were doing interesting stuff, like streaming video over satellites using the .NET framework. I was a budding mid-level then. I would have been a cheap developer for them. I would have learned quite a bit as well. What I understand now, however, is that they probably wanted to know if they could overload me with work. They were likely looking for someone who was willing to work evenings and weekends, without the extra pay.

    Looking back, I'm glad that I did not get hired. I value my free time, and I do not spend it in complete passionate pursuit of development. I read about stuff every now and then, and do some home projects, but I find that I'm far more useful at work when I haven't been focusing on the same stuff at home.

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:08PM (#46122881)
    Passion is driven by emotion, not facts.

    .
    I'd want programmers that are driven to write quality software based upon factual reasons, not emotional ones.

    In fact, the last thing I would want in a software engineering department is someone who is overly emotional.

  • by clovis (4684) on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:18PM (#46122957)

    Are (were) these people "passionate" about programming?

    http://www.fastcompany.com/281... [fastcompany.com]

    I don't know; I wasn't there. I think they were passionate about how their product turned out, but passionate about writing code?

    I've known people that were passionate about their "product". They were great to work with when they had a good idea and they got their way, and hell to work with when they had a bad idea, whether or not they got their way. Match one of those up with a boss that has no bs filter, and, well, now you're not having fun anymore.

    Another thing about that sort of question. I do believe that a well-run company would look at the psych profiles to see if applicants (and existing workers) are a best fit for their kind of job. But from what little I know about industrial psychology, it is generally worse than useless to just openly ask people that kind of question with one exception. That exception is if the job requires a bs artist or sociopath such as sales.

    Anecdote: The best programmer I ever knew was highly productive - one of those people who would sit motionless for 10 minutes and then write nearly perfect and documented code for hours as fast as anyone could type. I mean like 10-20 times as productive as the next best programmer in the shop.
    This person would not work after five PM or Saturday except under greatest duress. (Why me? Make the slow people work late; maybe they can catch up.)
    This person was a perfectionist about everything but passionate about coding? Oh hell no.

  • In my experience (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stox (131684) on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:18PM (#46122961) Homepage

    The fastest development comes from a group of motivated individuals who are almost all the same (ie. background, experience, language preference, o/s preference)

    The most robust development comes from the most diverse teams.

    Rarely does fast = robust, or vice versa.

  • by bored (40072) on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:47PM (#46123199)

    The first time I saw that, I thought it was a cold idea.. It filters out the people who can't code and don't have little hobby projects to sharpen their skills.

    Then I got thinking about it..

    My git hub account has like 1 thing on it, my sourceforge has 3 or 4 abandoned projects (a couple with a fair number of downloads too). And I have dozens and dozens that never made it to the see if anyone else can use it stage.

    What does that tell a potential employer? I can't finish projects? Well that isn't what happens at work, I do the fun stuff and I trudge through the boring parts of supporting and maintaining it too. That is why its work...

    Now I have a family, and that seriously eats into the time I have for hobby projects (especially if I work 60 hours), leaving what? The time I'm at work? Unless your google working on a hobby project at work is a major NO NO.

    So, really what are they getting from your github account? That your unemployed and have time to spend maintaining an open source project? That you don't have a family life, or instead of working 60 hours at your job you work 40 and spend 20 hours on a hobby project?

    In the end, I'm betting most of the people who have large active projects on github that aren't their day jobs, don't actually make very good employees.

  • by p00kiethebear (569781) on Friday January 31, 2014 @04:39PM (#46123717)
    In the sushi world we have a word for passionate chefs... It's 'shokunin' You'll find in Japanese dictionaries that it's defined as 'artisan' but the connotation implies so much more. A shokunin comes to work and does the same task every religiously. Relentlessly trying to improve his technique. He cares only for perfection. Where other people see 'work' he sees 'duty.' He wipes his knife clean after every cut. When he cooks rice he removes or adds half a tablespoon of water at a time to ensure the amount of water is correct. He sharpens his eyes over years and carefully learns to identify and pull parasites from fresh fish, making them safe to eat. He cooks perfect folded eggs in a square pan never allowing it to burn at any place and ensuring each layer is evenly folded and cooked. He takes no breaks until the last customers is served. He works because, more than money, more than fun or pleasure, he desires to be better. Not only does he practice the physical techniques, he sees socializing with the customers over the counter as a skill to be practiced. His conduct and comportment do not waiver inside or outside of the restaurant (his temple) At my restaurant I may hire an average sushi chef to make rolls or to prepare fish in the back. But the person I hire for working behind the bar, unless he's my personal apprentice that has learned to work the way I had to, I would only hire a shokunin. When he works there he represents my business and my restaurant and I know he will outside of work in his daily life as well. Passion is important. But I would never pretend to say that passion was required for the easier and less formal jobs, some people just need a paycheck and as long as their work is good, I can respect that. The person who's responsible for putting a face to the company must be a master.

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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