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How To Find Bad Programmers 359

AmberShah writes "The job post is your potential programmer's first impression of your company, so make it count with these offputting features. There are plenty of articles about recruiting great developers, but what if you are only interested in the crappy ones?" I think much of the industry is already following these guidelines.


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How To Find Bad Programmers

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  • Crappy programmers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:20PM (#31790704)

    Go to India?

    • by infinite9 ( 319274 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:29PM (#31790844)

      You got modded down for this, but it's true. You get what you pay for. Just low-ball the salary or billing rate. The people who are worth anything will be kept by the employers who know better. And you'll just end up bottom-feeding. There's a reason Indian programmers are cheap. I've worked with many. Some were awesome programmers. But by far, most were just cheap. And this is true regardless of whether they're Indian or not. Cheap people are cheap for a reason.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        A close acquaintance of mine hired an Indian web developer to build his site. Granted, it was a very simple site I could've done in a day, but the Indian guy did it way cheaper for the whole package - including domain name and hosting. A year later, the site spreads malware (blocked by FF) and the Indian guy is nowhere to be found. My acquaintance can't even get his password to login to the site and disable the malware.

        You get what you paid for.

      • nope, the people who are worth anything are thrown out the door first prior to or right after merger/acquisition, the cheap rate tards are left behind.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Grishnakh ( 216268 )

          And the REALLY good people aren't available, because they've gotten sick of the crap and found a new career doing something entirely different.

      • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:36PM (#31791908) Journal

        I've never had a problem with Indian programmers. I've often had problems with programmers working in India. Partly it's the time zone difference that makes every little thing a pain in the ass, but there is also a tendency for companies to bring the best to America. While this is finally starting to change, it's still quite rare for a senior guy still working from India to be better than average.

        So, yeah, the market does tend to sort out the whole price v quality thing in the long haul, but race doesn't really enter into it.

        • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @02:23PM (#31792682)

          I've had a consistent problem with indian programmers.

          Regardless of quality level, they say "yes" to the most insane requirements by executives.

          We had a project which three groups had internally estimated at 2400 to 4000 hours (and a couple million in new hardware).

          The VP said, "it's a 600 hour project without needing new hardware!"

          They said yes.

          They did about $600,000 work on it- and now everyone (including the executive) is quietly ignoring it. It will never see production. It's "complete".

          The indians *never* stop the executives when this comes up.

          And the executives are happy because
          a) they were not told no.
          b) the people who worked on the project are anonymous or gone/transferred elsewhere.

          Meanwhile the company just dropped 2-3% of the annual budget down a hole.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by fleebert ( 232999 )

            This is true, and it's a problem which needs addressing. Keep in mind that they didn't say "yes" because they're ignorant, stupid, or bad coders. They may in fact be some or all of those things (which is a different issue), but those things are most likely not why they said "yes"; they did it because they're Indian.

            Note that I say this not as an Indian but as an expat who's been in India for a bit more than a year now. There are ridiculously complex reasons why this behavior exists (it's a multi-thousand ye

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by houghi ( 78078 )

          I have had problems with Indian programmers. But then it was not their fault that they did not understand the fact that in Belgium things need to be done in two languages.
          We have this great CRM system for you that you can use for Marketing.
          * Where does it indicate the language like we asked?
          You can send it in any language.
          * We can only send it in Dutch or French
          Yes. Isn't that great?
          * We need to be able to send it in Dutch AND French
          Yes, that is possible as well. You can send it twice
          * We can not send Frenc

  • Start a MU* (Score:4, Funny)

    by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:20PM (#31790714)

    You want bad programmers? Start a MUD/MUX/MUSH and advertise for coders, you'll get the damned scum of the earth, a Mos Eisley cantina of crap coders

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      One of the programmers on the Chrome team used to be a coder for a small-time MMORPG, so there's some evidence that it's possible that the occasional Jedi will wander in. But, yeah, that would have to be one heck of a filtering process.

  • Step 1 (Score:5, Funny)

    by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:21PM (#31790728)

    Step 1: Create an Ask Slashdot looking for (ironically) *good* programmers
    Step 2: Identify all self-identified good programmers


    • Re:Step 1 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:05PM (#31791398)

      There's definitely some truth in that. It seems like 80% of Slashdotters think that 80% of programmers suck but they're not part of that 80%.

      • by elnyka ( 803306 )

        There's definitely some truth in that. It seems like 80% of Slashdotters think that 80% of programmers suck but they're not part of that 80%.

        It is called the Slashdot Paradox.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Which just shows that Slashdotters are better at self-reflection than most. 90% of people think they're in the top 10% of drivers.

      • That could work, I guess, if only 20% or so if coders read slashdot.

        More likely, I think you are saying, is that some of those who think their code-don't-stink are fooling themselves.

      • Re:Step 1 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by forsey ( 1136633 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:49PM (#31792126)
        Most crappy programmers I know don't read Slashdot, nor do they read anything else that could be considered "industry material". Hard to stay crappy if you keep learning.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by natehoy ( 1608657 )

        Welcome to Slashdot, where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the programmers are above average."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by adisakp ( 705706 )
      I remember one slashdot post where the guy claimed he had written a million lines of code without a single bug. However, he had about twenty spelling errors in his post. When I pointed that out though, I was down-modded for being a grammar troll but I think it was relevant to point out the ridiculousness of someone who claims to write a million lines of perfect code who couldn't even get through a sentence without spelling and grammar errors.
  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:24PM (#31790780) Journal

    Use a recruitment agency.

    Most of them just do buzzword matching on CVs rather than actual filtering by skill, so you'll get some really rubbish dregs turn up with inflated CVs.

    Also, try to get one going through a relationship break-up (especially an expensive divorce), or one with criminal/drug addict children / wife. These will increase their productivity as they will want to stay in work.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by oldspewey ( 1303305 )

      Recruiters are a great source of entertainment.

      Week 1: "Technology XYZ is really hot right now. If you can put some of that on your resume I can get you all kinds of interviews."

      Week 12: "Technology ABC is really hot right now. If you can put some of that on your resume I can get you all kinds of interviews."

      Week 24: "Say, do you know anything about technology QRS? I was just talking to the program director at one of my biggest clients and ..."

    • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @02:21PM (#31792654) Journal

      My favorite result from a recruiter - and this was an "in-house" recruiter, which are often the best - is this story. We were building a Windows appliance, so I was looking for a UI programmer with Windows experience and any kind of background with industrial automation or appliance UIs. Any experience with blade server management a plus.

      I got resumes from guys who had done industrial automaiton for ... manufacturing window frames ... and turbine blades. There really is nothing going on in these guys' heads: it's just keyword matching, nothing more.

    • by oatworm ( 969674 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:06PM (#31791432) Homepage
      The problem isn't about whether it's hard or not for those that don't wish to use proprietary software to open Word docs. The problem is that Word docs are not platform neutral - the font that you used on your resume' might not line up with the fonts that I have installed on my system and vice-versa. Plus, the version you're using might not be the same as the version I'm using and might get rendered differently if you use any sort of fancy-ish formatting (tables, columns, sections, etc.). This would be an issue whether the person on the other end wanted a Word doc, an ODF file, or any other non-trivial word processing document. Realistically, if you want to submit your resume' and have it look as good as possible, you want to know that the person on the other end will be able to see the same thing that you see when you created it; if they're making that functionally impossible by requiring it in a non-print safe non-vendor neutral format, it shows they don't understand such issues, which hints strongly at how well they pay attention to such issues with the rest of their work.

      Put another way, imagine working for an employer whose corporate culture can be summed up as "Works for me", then imagine how much fun it would be to fix the consequences of such an ethos when a major customer or the CEO finds something is broken.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lgw ( 121541 )

        I always insist on Word format. I'm filtering out programmers who will refuse to follow simple, clear shop standards just because they personally disagree with them. You know, sometimes I don't care what your arguments are about whether we should drive on the right side of the road or the left - the important thing is that we all use the same standard!

        Also, you'd be amazed how many places still OCR resumes and send the text around. Word's Times font is what all the OCR software (in this domain) expects,

        • by oatworm ( 969674 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @02:42PM (#31792974) Homepage
          Fair enough - there's definitely value in having clear shop standards, so I can certainly understand wanting to weed out those that are too inflexible in their own ways to work properly with a team. Personally, I keep my resume' in a variety of formats so I can "play along" anyway, so it's not a huge deal; that said, I'll have to remember to create a Times New Roman vanilla formatting version one for companies like yours.

          This being Slashdot and all, though, I will note that binary Word docs are neither simple, clear, nor standard, even among versions of Word, much less non-MS products. I'll also note that allowing Word docs as your only standard opens the door to a ton of undesirable and unintended flexibility, such as using complex sectioning, versioning, and incompatible fonts, which might freeze up your OCR systems. Given what you've stated thus far, a far more simple and clear test of shop standard adherence would be just requiring plain-text resumes, which I've seen many places do quite successfully.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by lgw ( 121541 )

            If you're smart enough to recognize the problems inherent in Word, you're smart enough to preview your doc with WordPad and use only the two Microsoft ur-fonts (Arial headers over Times New Roman body). You can produce a very professional resume with just those two fonts (miserable as they may be), good use of white space, and moderate use of bullet lists. Man I'm tired of sans-serif resumes with tiny margins that are nothing but bullet points (usually for 8 pages, not that I ever read past page 2).

  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:43PM (#31791094)

    The really classy HR and Recruiter turds put down requirements for years of experience greater than the time the technology has been in existence. For developers, 16 years J2EE required! 10 years .NET a must! 8+ years Red Hat Enterprise Linux deployment!

    Bonus points for confounding distribution release numbers and internal software version numbers, or assuming only RedHat distributes GNU/Linux.

    • A SURE sign is when you get calls from recruiters about jobs that are 500-plus miles away:

      1) The job is so shitty that we have asked every recruiter on the planet to try to fill it.

      2) Or else there are 50 openings on a project that is so utterly f-ed up that no competent person would want to work on it, and it will take 50 incompetents to just keep it from imploding under its own mass.

      3) Or recruiter is geographically clueless. My resume clearly states that I will not accept any jobs outside of bicycle comm

    • by kgo ( 1741558 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:15PM (#31791546) Homepage

      I'm hunting right now. The best case of this by far is:

      Visual Studio .NET 2008 - 5 years experience

      (1) DO THE MATH! (At least when people were asking for ten years of web development experience in 1995, the web wasn't called WWW-90)


    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Godai ( 104143 ) *

      Sometimes you get the reverse as well. A buddy of mine was one of the people behind Qualcomm's Brew and they put him in charge of co-op hiring. He was very entertained when -- 3 months after Brew was released -- he got a resumé submitted to him that indicated the student had "2 years experience with Brew". I remember he was very excited to meet that fellow, and was looking forward to quizzing him on his 'deep Brew experience'.

      And, of course, sometimes there are other mistakes in the requirements. I got

  • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:45PM (#31791118)
    Knowledge of 6+ OSes and at least 15 programming languages, developer experience in everything from industrial controls to web apps, etc. Hire the applicant who looks like he's fresh out of college. There's your bad programmer.
    • Careful! (Score:4, Funny)

      by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:20PM (#31791630) Homepage Journal

      Some people here could fill that job!

      1. DOS
      2. Windows
      3. Linux
      4. MVS
      5. HP-UX
      6. Solaris


      1. Java
      2. JavaScript
      3. HTML
      4. XML
      5. C++
      6. C
      7. Tcl
      8. Natural
      9. Cobol (Gah, my eyes!)
      10. JCL
      11. Perl
      12. Lisp
      13. Visual Basic
      14. x86 Assembly
      15. ARM Assembly
      16. VHDL

      Okay, I have to write this to get past the lameness filter. But listing too many languages is likely to get you a very experienced engineer, not a bad programmer.

  • Resume in Word (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Selfbain ( 624722 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:45PM (#31791128)
    Personally I love it when they ask for this. Nothing pleases me more than writing a resume whose formatting seems to change based on what version of Office you're using...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Personally I love it when they ask for this. Nothing pleases me more than writing a resume whose formatting seems to change based on what version of Office you're using...

      I think you should probably change your default printer. Word files should not change formatting due to what versions. HOWEVER, the minimum margins are determined based on your default printer. If you are like me and have a wide range of printing devices, (or did) then you need to be careful that you have wider margins before you start typing.

      1) I have the drivers for a Phaser 7500 printer which can print up to 12.6 by 47.25 inches. I can set my margins to 0" in Word. I create my document

    • If your recruiter asks for a Word doc and you are actually interested, just rename a *.txt file to *.doc.

      I actually just have a hard link on my web site, my resume.txt is the same file as my resume.doc.

  • Requiring resumes to be in the proprietary and platform-specific Word .doc format, instead of .pdf, .html, or .txt formats, is a nifty little test early on in the hiring process.

    I can't remember when I last worried about .doc compatibility. It has been about five years since I had a real problem with converting basic .doc documents in OpenOffice, and when making them myself I can't recall a serious problem in even longer. I have never seen "must be in .docx format" (which can be a problem) and 99% of HR drones wouldn't be able to tell the difference anyway. HTML and (potentially) PDF* are just security risks.

    This guy is either using a very dated joke or is a massive zealot.

    * Not to

  • You have definitely come to the right place!
  • Simple (Score:4, Funny)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:55PM (#31791248) Journal

    Interviewer: "Do you code exclusively in PHP?"

    Answer: "Yup! Been using it ever since I gave up VB6."

    Interviewer: "You're hired!"

  • Wanted! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:00PM (#31791324)

    Immediate need for programmer with 10 years experience developing Objective C 2.0 for the iPad. Experience with developing for Intel i9 based Mac Pros is a major plus!

    • Pre-iphone, putting words such as "Cocoa" and "Objective-C" on your resume caused HR to expedite it to a trash can. "Your last work experience was this 'Cocoa' thing? Where did you work, Starbucks?" It was really hard to be a career Objective-C developer.

      I know your post was meant to be funny, but that HR departments acknowledge the existence of Objective-C is a sign of progress.

      • HR departments tend to not know anything other than what the department manager hands them. The department manager asking for 10 years experience probably read about Objective-C on ZDNet (or worse Forbes) and thought he should get on the band wagon. HR, however, will likely trash resumes containing "Cocoa" as it doesn't match the words handed to them by the department manager.
    • Immediate need for programmer with 10 years experience developing Objective C 2.0 for the iPad. Experience with developing for Intel i9 based Mac Pros is a major plus!

      I've seen that sh*t too. Back in 1995 I was applying for a VB 3.0 job and got rejected because I didn't have 7 years of experience (VB 3.0 was less than two years old, and the whole VB line wasn't 7 years old at all.)

      Move the clock forwards to 1998, same deal, got rejected at two applications: one for not having 7 years of experience in Java and another one for not having 8 years of experience with C++ STL. 1998 people!!!. And then in 2001, same again, but this time it was 10 years of Java experience. How

  • Ummm... post a programming question in the Ask Slashdot section?

  • Put out a government tender for software development.
  • Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by warGod3 ( 198094 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:37PM (#31791928)

    Let HR write the job requirements, conduct the interviews and hire, all without the input of ANYONE that knows how to do more with a computer, than just turn it on.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by natehoy ( 1608657 )

      Listen, buddy, I don't know how you did it, but my company's lawyers will be contacting you shortly.

      There is no way in hell you should have gotten a copy of our hiring procedure through any legitimate means, but if you did you had to have signed the NDA that came with it.

  • by Jiro ( 131519 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:54PM (#31792214)

    For instance, requiring that prospective hires know how to use Linux, Unix, and Solaris. Or require knowledge of Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio 2008. An alternative is to require just one such thing with the implication that you'll throw out all the others, so your job posting says Visual Studio 2005, leaving the guys who used 2008 wondering if their resumes are going to be thrown out.

    Another is to be overly specific. We don't just want SQL, we want this brand of SQL from this company and this year. Yeah, they're not all exactly the same, but still. You can do this for non-language requirements too. "Experience with data driven applications involving medium-sized distributed computer systems which process customer orders in Swiss French in the used wristwatch industry. Swiss German not acceptable."

    Also, I could never figure out why companies who want C++ and not C always say "C/C++".

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @02:19PM (#31792626) Journal

    I know how to find one bad programmer at least. Hire the guy who wrote that article.

    Yes he does have a point, but he goes overboard and on several point shows a complete lack of being able to work within the system. No job environment is perfect.

    1. List a String of Acronyms for Technologies

    This is indeed bad, but you also need to be clear about what you want and the clearest way to list what technologies are needed for the job is to make a list. The list ain't bad, a long unfocused list is bad. If a job doesn't have a short list of what is required then I know they don't have a fucking clue what they are looking for. Only apply if you wish to hold their hand on every decision making process, which will turn out to have a lot of similarity with a random number generator.

    2. Put an Arbitrary Number Next to Each Skill

    Yup can be pretty bad but how else do you attempt to make it clear you need someone with experience with HTML, not just someone who has seen the acronym once? Personally I would use the experience level you must have for the job rather then years. Because years don't mean anything. I have used databases for 20 years now, but am not a DBA'er (I once talked to a girl after all).

    3. Say Nothing Positive About the Position

    Yeah, I do notice that. The old "what we offer" seems to have gone missing in action. But on the other hand, am I the only one who hates the boiler-plate "fresh and young company with an informal attitude"? Only put things here if they are relevant and true.

    4. Use Euphemisms for the Negative Aspects of the Job

    Oh boy. Don't forget the "flexible" one. Means: We are going to screw you every which way but whine like a girl if you ask for a single thing back. Basically, jobs are like girls. Nobody who doesn't have a multiple personality could ever hope to succeed.

    5. Require Resume to be in Word doc Format

    I like this one, good way to avoid MS shops. ALWAYS look for the desktops being used. All MS? Then run. Fast.

    I am actually working on a little site myself that will advise people on how to buy a website. How do you handle the process? How do you determine your true requirements so you don't get hussled? What can you do to avoid becoming the dreaded "scope creep" client and the huge costs that come with it?

    What the article/site will mostly focus on is trying to educate customers about the product they are buying and a LOT of companies hiring programmers don't have a clue about programmers or the job they are supposed to do. And this is odd, because if you are going to buy a car, you bring that friend who knows everything about cars. But anything to do with IT and those Luddites from HR can surely handle it. Would you let the guy who doesn't drive handle purchasing the company cars?

    So, here is my own list of how to find a GOOD programmer.

    1. Determine what it is you need. This is NOT a case of just listing every tech that ever been used in the company. If you need a web-developer it MIGHT sound reasonable to list everything from the server to image manipulation but really, what human can truly be an expert on all of them? Jack-of-all-trades, master of none. Yes, it can be handy for your frontend guru to handle his own images, but should he also know how to handle obscure database crashes? If the job requirement becomes to wide, then you either need to split up the job, use external expert services or maybe accept that what you need is a couple of juniors who are still looking what area to go for rather then a specialist in a certain area.
    2. Determine what kind of company you really are. Not every company is young and dynamic. Sure, you are advertising your company but that doesn't mean you have to sell it like Axe. Be realistic unless you want to attract the kind of person who falls for commercials. If you are a MS shop were everything is MS, don't try to sell yourself as an anything goes company, because your new hiree will run when he has to file a request in triplicate to h

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel