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Rudeness in computer science?


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#21 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

Posted 19 January 2013 - 08:59 PM

Average is relative of course, since the average programmer, or even the average person seriously interested in being a programmer is smarter than a normal person.

 

And with this the problems gain a bit more light; the belief that everyone is some how above 'average' who happens to be interested in programming and on this I call bullshit.

This depends on how you define programming and serious I suppose. I refer later to how people who are considered dumb and pushed away from programming for being considered dumb. I  was even making the point that more people would be into programming seriously if not for that. And indeed the argument stands whether or not programmers are really above average. The whole argument is about how perception and not reality is what matters.

The (incorrect) belief however is what fuels the problem; people sit at home, on their own, they code and they think they are so great at everything, they inflate their egos and then, when faced with others and in many cases the truth they AREN'T all special react badly to protect their ego.

This is certainly true.

The proof of this is quite simple really; if the world was full of above average programmers then these people would be solving their own problems and not asking questions that maybe a few minutes to an hour or two of logical thought might solve. Instead they run to a forum and ask for help without trying to use their brain.

The world is not "full" of above average programmers. And are above average programmers programmers who program above average or people who program and are also above average?

If this had been 20 years ago then yeah, I might have agreed with the statement a bit more as back then if you wanted to learn how to program you got a book, learnt the basics and then tried to fix your own shit because there WASNT a forum sitting around to help you with your trivial problem. (And yes, I am of this generation; my learning was done with a couple of books and example source code which I picked apart, often laying on my bed for hours going over printed out MC68000 assembler code.)

Now what is the difference between a person telling you and a book except that using a book doesn't absorb another person's time?

So, no... people interested in programming aren't all above average when it comes to intelligence.

A quick trip around the forums will show you this and if you've been out in the world working you'll also come across them.

I said people seriously into programming. How many of those people stay for months or years on serious boards because they are committed?

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't look down on these people or anything like that - about the only problem I have with them loops back to my original point; they sit in their room, convince themselves they are great and then when told they have done it wrong or their assumptions are incorrect react by having a go and then declaring the person who knows more is wrong and blindly carrying on along their foolish path.

(And yes, I've seen this many times on here too.)

I have seen this, I'm sure we all have.

Personally I know where I stand in the grand scheme of things and I listen to those who are better than me and know more than me in a certain area because that's how clever people learn.

If people are saying those who know more are "geeky snobs" (or words to that effect) then it's pretty safe to say they aren't above average themselves.

I disagree. That is the point of my argument. Being smart at something doesn't make you less likely to be an egotist. After all aren't we talking about brilliant arrogant people as the topic of this thread?

After all, you only get better by playing a better opponent...



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#22 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9599

Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:02 PM

Arrogant code monkeys, I know plenty of. Arrogant computer scientists, far fewer.

 

Anyone who manages to complete a grad degree in CS, without having their arse handed to them in at least one course, is probably justified in arrogance...


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#23 Shaquil   Members   -  Reputation: 815

Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:51 PM

Personally some of the most humble people I have met are in the mathematics department not the computer science department... I would ask if programmers have such high IQ's like they think most of the time, perhaps they should be doing something harder then programming

 

Maybe the problem is that you think that 'programming' equates to 'computer science'.

 

Hint: it doesn't.

 

Haha and you know it's these kinds of random snipes from the rafters that annoy me, personally. Honestly, it added little to the conversation and was just disrespectful. Not to mention that you just flat out made an assumption. What he said implies that he thinks programming and computer science are the same, but as he made clear afterward, that's not the case. And then there's the fact that most undergraduate computer science majors are, uh, programmers. So his statement still makes sense. I just don't get what fun people derive from tossing in something like this comment. In this case, it's not even that bad. But when I'm asking a question about something that isn't obvious, like a quirk I might've found with the comma operator in C++, and someone has to make a snide remark, it pisses me off.



#24 BambooCatfish   Members   -  Reputation: 130

Posted 19 January 2013 - 10:05 PM

Lol this reminds me of a quote from Frank Zappa:

 

"Anyone who spends the formative years of thier life mastering an instrument, is going to have deficincies in other areas."

 

Same thing to me with programming. Some people just don't know how to talk to people, others use thier superior knowledge to cover up for something else (my opinion). I feel as if I am good with dealing with people, I work in the food industry while I am in school and have to deal with all sorts of a-holes. The other day in fact a customer told me "I was the nicest person they had talked to" at the place I work. I'm not all fluffy and bubbly, just polite, and I took my time with them.To me it really doesn't take that much effort to take a couple extra seconds and be polite with somebody, your time isn't that valuable. Besides, it's probably less about what you know than who you know to get ahead. Be a person that people want to help succeed.

 

.02c



#25 tool_2046   Members   -  Reputation: 962

Posted 19 January 2013 - 10:16 PM

Are there a lot of rude people in the software industry?  Yep.  I'd love to tell you that all other industries are only full of shinny, happy people, but I have years of anecdotal evidence that says otherwise.  
 
For example, I worked a few years ago with a brilliant scientist.  He did things with code that were amazing.  But no one will ever know it, because he is an arrogant prick.  He told me once that if I couldn't use his undocumented, untested, constantly changing functional API, it was because I was too stupid.  He didn't have time to explain how brilliant it was.  And it was amazing code, but no one used it.  No one will ever use it, I imagine, if he keeps the same attitude.  He will have wasted his carer, in my opinion.
 
But those people are in any career field you will choose, and the bottom line is that there isn't a damn thing you can do to fix them.  That is their journey to make, and their lessons to learn.
 
So I say, learn how to deal with them (because they aren't going anywhere), and don't become one.

Yep. Programmers tend to be a temperamental bunch. Inflated egos are a given. Weeding out the good from bad is tough. I have no interest in managing a team again.

#26 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 19 January 2013 - 10:17 PM

Arrogant code monkeys, I know plenty of. Arrogant computer scientists, far fewer.

 

Anyone who manages to complete a grad degree in CS, without having their arse handed to them in at least one course, is probably justified in arrogance...

That's a fair point. I don't know a lot of people with graduate degrees that are nearly as cocky as others with their opinions.



#27 szecs   Members   -  Reputation: 2094

Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:11 AM

I red somewhere that average programmer has IQ of around 150 and regular average person has IQ of 100. This is indication of above average (very much). In some people these 50 are missing in other areas probably. biggrin.png
My IQ is 128 (not official, but the measurement was almost official, but I had head start in the logical and pattern type tasks), and I wouldn't think I'm a below average programmer at all (okay, you can argue what to call programming). I'm below average in many other things (such are arguing, thinking about life things, understanding peoples explanations, making myself understood, and sadly in my main field, mechanical engineering too).
I think IQ covers too much, so statements like the quoted don't mean too much.

Edited by szecs, 20 January 2013 - 03:13 AM.


#28 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

Posted 20 January 2013 - 04:00 AM

I red somewhere that average programmer has IQ of around 150 and regular average person has IQ of 100. This is indication of above average (very much). In some people these 50 are missing in other areas probably. biggrin.png
My IQ is 128 (not official, but the measurement was almost official, but I had head start in the logical and pattern type tasks), and I wouldn't think I'm a below average programmer at all (okay, you can argue what to call programming). I'm below average in many other things (such are arguing, thinking about life things, understanding peoples explanations, making myself understood, and sadly in my main field, mechanical engineering too).
I think IQ covers too much, so statements like the quoted don't mean too much.

There is no way the average programmer has a 150 IQ.

Not that IQ is that useful when all the rich people abuse it just as hard as they do the SAT.



#29 ApochPiQ   Moderators   -  Reputation: 14283

Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:21 AM

The problem isn't that experienced programmers are "rude" or "arrogant."

The problem is that too many people have fragile egos.


Computers are brainless. Communicating with them requires an obscene degree of blunt and precise formulation of everything you want to say. It's easy to think that programmers just let this spill over into their human interactions; and while that may be the case sometimes, that's not really the root cause of what you're perceiving as harshness.

Rather, experienced programmers know that you have to have a certain mindset and disciplined focus to be successful as a programmer. We're not being snippy, or abrasive, or short. We're trying to guide people into the correct mentality. There's a huge difference - not necessarily in the way the words lie on the page, but in the motivation behind them.

I hear this kind of complaint a lot on internet groups. The difficulty is that all you have to see are words; and human communication is vastly richer than just words. I can say the exact same words to you in three different ways and you will come away with three very different emotional responses. This is lost in online communications, which is a problem, but not insurmountable.

I used to sit next to a junior programmer (technically SDET) and we'd constantly correct each other during the day. It wasn't some kind of dick-measuring contest or antagonism; in reality, we were sharpening each other and holding each other to extremely high standards of precision and concision in communication. We got along perfectly fine and actually had a great time working together, but if you just isolate out the right subset of our interactions, it'd sound like we were really pissy all the time.


I have a general rule for online communication. You can never accurately judge someone's intent by reading their messages. That means that the reaction to their words is entirely up to you. A lot of younger people seem to not understand this - particularly people who grew up around texting and internet forums and whatever else. It's a shame.

Here's a mental exercise. Next time someone on a forum says something you want to be offended by, stop and ask yourself why you're rubbed the wrong way. Obviously there will be cases where people are deliberately trying to provoke; ignore those for the sake of argument.

For me, 99% of the time (barring blatant trolling), if I'm annoyed or insulted by a post, it's my own problem. I used to routinely get incensed in online discussions until I realized that my own self-absorbed ego was the issue. Walk into a forum with a little humility and suddenly people seem a lot less rude. Funny how that works.


TL;DR: we're not acting this way because we're assholes. We're acting this way because we're trying to treat you like adults who can handle it.

As a wise man once said: anyone can have a run-in with an asshole during the day. If you're having run-ins with assholes all day long, maybe you're the asshole.

#30 DevLiquidKnight   Members   -  Reputation: 834

Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:58 AM

Rather, experienced programmers know that you have to have a certain mindset and disciplined focus to be successful as a programmer. We're not being snippy, or abrasive, or short. We're trying to guide people into the correct mentality. There's a huge difference - not necessarily in the way the words lie on the page, but in the motivation behind them.

I agree with some of your post, the idea that communication is not well interpreted online, which is perhaps why it should be better worded when engaging in online communications. This goes for all areas of the internet not just computer science/programming/technical forms.

 

However. I think there is more then one mindset or even a correct mindset of an experienced programmer, or computer scientist. If there was not anyone to think differently no advancements would be made. While communicating and thinking bluntly works for a computer its not very good for human interaction.


Edited by DevLiquidKnight, 20 January 2013 - 06:59 AM.


#31 Cambo_frog   Members   -  Reputation: 692

Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:59 AM

ApochPiQ, I would so up vote your post if it wasn't in the Lounge.


For the love of god, please tell me that you've just omitted your error checking code for brevity, and you don't really assume that all those functions succeed.

#32 Karsten_   Members   -  Reputation: 1453

Posted 20 January 2013 - 07:07 AM

There is certainly a culture in OS kernel development (especially in OpenBSD) where to an outside observer it looks as though everyone is being rude to one another but in reality, they just want to spend less time flower coating all their sentences, and more time developing awesome software.


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#33 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 27647

Posted 20 January 2013 - 07:43 AM

The problem is that too many people have fragile egos.

That may be completely true, but it's also true that a large number of people are quite lacking in tact.

 

As well as realizing that you never know what the other person is thinking, and maybe they're just tactless instead of being intentionally rude... we also need to look at our own posts and ask whether they're likely to be misinterpreted as insulting.

Or if they're deliberately insulting, we need to stop being a jerk biggrin.png

 

 I don't think that trying to speak plainly and quickly is any excuse for lacking in tact. It takes no effort, and is plainer.


Edited by Hodgman, 20 January 2013 - 08:11 AM.


#34 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9599

Posted 20 January 2013 - 08:25 AM

Haha and you know it's these kinds of random snipes from the rafters that annoy me, personally. Honestly, it added little to the conversation and was just disrespectful. Not to mention that you just flat out made an assumption. What he said implies that he thinks programming and computer science are the same, but as he made clear afterward, that's not the case. And then there's the fact that most undergraduate computer science majors are, uh, programmers. So his statement still makes sense. I just don't get what fun people derive from tossing in something like this comment. In this case, it's not even that bad. But when I'm asking a question about something that isn't obvious, like a quirk I might've found with the comma operator in C++, and someone has to make a snide remark, it pisses me off.

If you tell a man flat-out that he is wrong, he'll dig his heels in and argue - whether or not he is actually wrong. Giving him a gentle nudge in the right direction is a far more effective tactic. I added a touch of sarcasm to make it harder to outright ignore...

 

And guess what? The OP didn't appear offended, and replied with a very suitable response that demonstrated he was indeed aware of the point I was making.

 

As they say on the interwebs: effective communication technique is effective.


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#35 wintertime   Members   -  Reputation: 1601

Posted 20 January 2013 - 08:38 AM

I find pointless topics like "Why are all [insert huge group of people here] so [insert unproven accusation that incites huge thread of selfdefense]?" or "Tell me the best of all [insert group of things], even though I dont want to give details (so it cannot be answered as theres never a single best but only things more suited to specific problems)" or "Here is a bunch of code I copied together, now internet people do my work and find all my bugs for free cause I'm too lazy to learn debugging!!!11" are more rude than people giving concise answers to point out something that needs to be improved by someone asking. Though at least the first and second seem to be universal in all internet forums.rolleyes.gif



#36 Glass_Knife   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3458

Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:14 AM

You, Glassknife, may not have the free time to deal with every mediocre person trying to suck your time and knowledge, but I bet you dollars to donuts(damn I've always wanted to say that) that that guy you think is a total self absorbed arrogant jerk feels the exact same way about you!

 

 

Of course he did.  This guy hated me.  The difference between us was that while he tried to make sure everyone knew how smart he was, I was busy helping the other programmers in the group get the job done.  I left years ago, and both of us wrote a lot of code, and all the code we both wrote is still being used years later.  

 

I recently read a book (I can't remember the title) where the author pointed out that being a programmer was like being a doctor, and the patient the customer.  While you need to give the customer what they want, sometimes you shouldn't listen to them.  The author's example was a patient who suggested that washing hands before his surgery was a waste of time, so don't do it.  It is the doctor's responsibility to not kill his customer, and so he doesn't listen, he does what is right, and washes his hands.

 

The same goes for a project manager that suggests testing code is a waste of time, so don't do it.  Depending on the job, it may be the programmers responsibilty to ignore the manager and do what's right.  This is just an example, so don't take it as carved in stone.  But hopefully you see my point.

 

The same can be said for bedside manner, which is similar to a programmers ability to speak to others about the programming craft.  While some doctors may believe that bedside manner is a waste of time, it is what separates a good doctor from a great one. It is a huge cop-out to say "The reason I can't talk to people is because f*** you.  I'm too busy to learn how to communicate effectively."


Edited by Glass_Knife, 20 January 2013 - 10:16 AM.
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#37 ApochPiQ   Moderators   -  Reputation: 14283

Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:35 AM

I certainly don't mean to suggest that there do not exist people who lack in tact. That's not my point. Sure, probably all of us can use some refinement in our communications. (I'm known for being pretty blunt around here and other online fora.)

But being offended by a tactless post is just as much a fault as making the post to begin with, IMO. Maybe what I'm driving at is that both groups need to meet in the middle. Yes, try to be a little more polite on the one side; but also, don't be a baby on the other.


I think it's partially a generational thing. A lot of young people today are brought up in this culture that everyone's a winner, the only thing that matters is how hard you try, blah blah blah. I call bullshit. The truth may hurt, but it'll do a lot more good in the long run (if you listen) than being told that you can do no wrong.

#38 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:10 AM

I certainly don't mean to suggest that there do not exist people who lack in tact. That's not my point. Sure, probably all of us can use some refinement in our communications. (I'm known for being pretty blunt around here and other online fora.)

But being offended by a tactless post is just as much a fault as making the post to begin with, IMO. Maybe what I'm driving at is that both groups need to meet in the middle. Yes, try to be a little more polite on the one side; but also, don't be a baby on the other.

Though I'm aware of the sentiment you are trying to get across, I don't think it's the responsibility of the people you're communicating with to think you're not a dick. 



#39 Cornstalks   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6966

Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:25 AM

*sigh* this thread is still going on?

 

Pro-tip: if someone is lacking in tact/coming across as rude, point it out and ask them about it. They're likely trying to help you learn something, and you can in turn help them learn something. Or perhaps clear up confusions, misunderstandings, assumptions, etc. that either or both of you may have had.

 

Threads like this aren't aimed at any particular person, so they're not going to effectively reach the people you want to really address. You have to do that on a case by case, person by person basis. This thread just sounds like people let things bottle up and now they're venting. The key is to not bottle it up, be open about how things are or how they're coming across, and try to resolve any issues before they grow into a thread like this.

 

The world really isn't that bad. There's a few douche bags and trolls, but for the most part people are good human beings. Just like you might need advice on programming or music or playing a sport etc. someone else might need advice on being an effective communicator. If someone lacks communication skills and you just complain about it instead of helping them, you're the jerk.

 

 

 

 

Side anecdote: there have been a few times (note: not a lot; a few) on this site where I've posted something and it rubbed someone the wrong way, came across as rude, etc. And you know what? I'm really thankful for those who were mature enough to point it out and ask me about it. It allowed me to explain that no, I wasn't trying to be a dick, and thank them for helping me to clarify my original intent and learn how to more effectively communicate in the future. Threads like this, however, don't help me because it just sounds like "everyone is a dick and they're mean!" If I'm coming across as rude, tell me. Telling the world a generalized story isn't going to help me or fix the apparent problem.


Edited by Cornstalks, 20 January 2013 - 11:27 AM.

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#40 SuperVGA   Members   -  Reputation: 1118

Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:47 AM

Our co-workers or your boss, older developers such as ourselves may have been initiating the development or IT department many years ago.

Those people have been the sole creators of what remain today. The increasing supply of programmers have changed this around, so more collaboration takes place between developers, but a generation ago, those people were <made up stastistic>one in a thousand</made up statistic> much rarer.

 

It's no wonder that the people founding the frameworks used in the industry single-handedly may look down upon newer developers or be arrogant because their say has been the final say for many years, They've been the only ones able to fix problems because they're the only one who knew their own code.

 

I experience the same from coding alone as a hobby. If i don't hear out other developers and old friends about my code from time to time,

I know that I will grow accustomed of the god role. I think an author could feel the same way. A single person capable of creating something that many other people

enjoy, or maybe even rely upon using?

 

Yes, you find arrogant people everywhere. The world is full of idiots. But I do agree that a person who is allowed to spend time on something alone,

and is then praised for his work is more prone to this feeling (and resulting behavior) than people who is brought up with others of roughly the same knowledge.

 

EDIT: When I talk about frameworks, I mean old, very localized solutions, not new and more common frameworks. But the same thing goes for newer projects created by one person, obviously, where other people will then have to study the source in presence of the original author.


Edited by SuperVGA, 20 January 2013 - 11:49 AM.





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