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The Truth About Hiring "Rock Star" Developers 487

snydeq writes "You want the best and the brightest money can buy. Or do you? Andrew Oliver offers six hard truths about 'rock-star' developers, arguing in favor of mixed skill levels with a focus on getting the job done: 'A big, important project has launched — and abruptly crashed to the ground. The horrible spaghetti code is beyond debugging. There are no unit tests, and every change requires a meeting with, like, 40 people. Oh, if only we'd had a team of 10 "rock star" developers working on this project instead! It would have been done in half the time with twice the features and five-nines availability. On the other hand, maybe not. A team of senior developers will often produce a complex design and no code, thanks to the reasons listed below.'"
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The Truth About Hiring "Rock Star" Developers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 31, 2012 @05:41AM (#41187755)

    I'm not sure about how unions work in America, but in Germany the purpose of an organised workplace is to have a forum between workers and management. The union wants the company to be productive because that secures jobs and usually results in higher wages. The management want the workers to be happy because then staff turnover is reduced, productivity increased and honesty maintained.

    The UK and the USA are falling further behind as they put short-term executive profit over the needs of all classes of people.

  • It's an art (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheCouchPotatoFamine ( 628797 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @05:47AM (#41187783)

    it's the lack of a single, piercing intellect who is given the power to do their best. You need SINGLE intelligence to coordinate complex maneuvers, and many minds to search out the plain of solutions like hunters of old. Coding is actually quite holistic, occurring in natural stages. Maybe the problem isn't that there too many or too few people; a good software team should be inspirational, allowing the members to spend time for excellence, even if its not obvious (to you, the hiring boss).

    No surprise efficiency is an issue in some places; if one builds a "well oiled" machines for it's consistency of action, trouble us not about these tiny changes (in all honesty) that leave managers hoping humans can be better machines. The art you are looking for, and the people, aren't found where that idea lives.

  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @06:26AM (#41187947) Homepage

    I don't. []

    Looks as if Germany's GDP is managing just fine.

  • by Ash Vince ( 602485 ) * on Friday August 31, 2012 @07:45AM (#41188317) Journal

    Well, in America "unions" mean very powerful quasai-political entities like SEIU or UAW which basically make american labor unprofitable (see the insane costs of auto-workers). These "unions" extort huge fees from their often-unwilling constituents and in turn donate large sums to our Democratic/socialist party.

    Source: my uncle worked in Detroit from high school-> retirement. He loves American cars but told me it's one of the most corrupt systems out there.

    Not all countries unions work the same way. I know that here in the UK unions are very different from unions in the US and also different to unions in Germany.

    The fact that the union system in the US was infiltrated in organised crime does not mean that happened anywhere else. I think it might be one of the only developed western countries where this happened actually, it is certainly not the case in the UK.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @08:18AM (#41188525)

    Unions in the United States needs massive reform. However no one is really wanting to admit it. When ever someone says to the Union "Dude, you have some major problems, you need to fix them!" they go back and spout all the good stuff they did in the past. Weekends, Overtime, Vacation....

    The problem now the Unions main goal is to increase the size of the Union. So I have seen Unions agree to something similar to the following example
    Lay Off 50% of the IT Staff (say 10 People at an average of $70k a year), and Expand Factory workers by 20 average $30k a year. To save $100k, for the company. But the Union ends up getting more money out of dues.

    Also because the Unions are structured there is a deep dislike towards Outside Consultants and Contractors for temporary work. (For example the Auto Union hired workers to do nothing until there is a surge in work, so they sat around all day and watched TV except for a few time a month or year) Because they would get more unioned members vs. hiring contractors to pick up the extra slack when it is needed, but they are not paying union dues so they are not welcomed.

    Union shops tend tries to make sure no one does anyone elses job. You request and get approved for a whiteboard. The board is shipped to you. If you hang it yourself your are in trouble, you will need to wait an other week to get a Unioned employee to take 5 minutes to hang it for you.
      I once got in trouble from the union because I was consultant commissioned to create a Web Application for them. The commission came from the Application Development group, I did the work to the best of my abilities... Apparently it pissed off the Web Group because my application looked better then what they could do, and they demanded more tools so they can make their apps look better then mine...

    There is also a fear amongst union members to bad mouth the union. When I was taking my MBA class, and the Unioned Professor trying to teach how to deal with collective bargaining, she would close the door and talk quietly. When I use to work as a consultant, I was told to avoid these people because they are big in the union, and if I did anything to make them look bad there will be a lot of trouble.

  • by PerMolestiasEruditio ( 1118269 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @08:33AM (#41188637)

    Definitely a lot of organised crime in relatively strong Australian unions.

    In the days of strong militant unions in New Zealand OC in unions was a big factor (surprising considering that New Zealand is nearly the least corrupt place on the planet), but unions were thankfully mostly broken in 80's, (with partial exception of waterfront), at the point where they had come close to destroying the economy with uncompetitive labour practices and the Labour govt of the time was left with no choice but massive reform.

  • by Teckla ( 630646 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @09:41AM (#41189297)

    Except they/we are rockstars because they get the job done

    The problem with rockstar developers is they often write code that mere mortals cannot read or maintain.

    Sure, they can whip out version 1.0 or impressive enhancements quickly, but if it becomes a maintenance nightmare later, isn't the cost just being shifted from up front to later? Rockstar developers are often more trouble than they're worth.

    Good, solid, dependable non-rockstar developers are better, in my experience, because they're more likely to write code that their colleagues can actually maintain later.

  • by WarmBoota ( 675361 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @10:12AM (#41189659) Homepage

    Rock Star Developers, seriously? None of them are that good.

    Agreed. Rock Stars suck as developers. And most of them suck at rock, as well.

    There's not great at astronomy either.

    Tell that to Brian May! (

  • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @11:14AM (#41190491)

    I work in the entertainment industry and am a brother with an IATSE local. Our board of directors are all people who work and have established careers, our organizers and field reps are attentive and always available for questions, the union holds regular meetings and mixers, I have good wages and excellent benefits and even though our health plan's been taking a hit lately, the leadership's been very communicative and always has time to talk to people about the negotiations.

    To each his own.

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced -- even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it. -- John Keats