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DevLiquidKnight

Rudeness in computer science?

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way2lazy2care    790
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.

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szecs    2990
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

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AoS    935
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.

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ApochPiQ    23000
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.

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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

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kop0113    2453

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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Hodgman    51222
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

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swiftcoder    18426

[quote name='Shaquil' timestamp='1358653893' post='5023390']
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.[/quote]

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.

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wintertime    4108

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

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Glass_Knife    8636
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
I can't type

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ApochPiQ    23000
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.

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way2lazy2care    790
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. 

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Cornstalks    7030

*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

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SuperVGA    1132

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

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JonathanJ1990    167

I know a lot of rude programmers as well it kind of comes with the fact that  it's not a major many people understand or appreciate. because in general the mass public thinks all programmers are geniuses i have met a lot who kind of take that position and thinking too far.  then it's funny because In my experience the more skilled the programmer the more rude they are to other killed programmers. at my last Job we had a very intelligent UI programmer and a very intelligent A.I. programmer who couldn't see eye to eye . they never agreed on how to do something and if the game broke it was always the others fault ( even when it was neither of theirs) .   

 

I don't know I red somewhere that because the mass public sees us as wizards in general or uber nerds with untouchable brain capacities( no i don't agree with that) it makes computer science majors seem like wizards and usually the only people who can correct a computer science major are....other computer science majors.

 

Just a few weeks ago I went to a local game industry meet-up event and I met a very intelligent young programmer who basically blasted every other type of programmer...on the basis that he knew how long it took the computer to process a Hash-table. I'm not exaggerating , he literally stroked his own ego at the fact he knew how long it took to sort or process hash-tables and how to optimize code to reduce compiling times by milliseconds even going on to say how pitiful it was older programmers did not appreciate or maintain that same knowledge .  He was  also laughing at the simplicity of other programmers who were excited that they could make " mario-clones"  .  i just nodded and let him enjoy his night. he certainly considered his mind to be greater than others and who am I to disturb that belief?

Edited by JonathanJ1990

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ChaosEngine    5185

Christ, another one of these threads? 

 

A few years ago, I worked for a company that had very strict code reviews. Every time you checked in some code, it was automatically assigned to a senior engineer to review, and would not be committed until approved. One day two separate pieces of code came across my desk for review and both were terrible. I sent both back, with notes explaining why they were fundamentally flawed. One of the authors came over to me and asked if I had some time to go through the problem with him and see if we could find a better solution, the other went to my manager and accused me of bullying. Guess which contract was renewed?

 

Yes, some programmers are rude. Yes, sometimes advice you get on forums will be terse or even dismissive. 

 

Get over it.

 

Seriously, out in the big bad world no-one is going to hold your hand. No-one is under any obligation to be nice to you, especially if you are the one asking for help. People are busy and you should be profoundly grateful that they are using their own time to help you for free. 

 

Now, all that said, I generally try not to be a dick to people. It's part of my "don't be a dick to people" overall philosophy. But if someone interprets something I've said as rude, I won't lose any sleep over it.

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AoS    935
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."

You were trying to help programmers on a relatively more similar level to you than he was to you or them. Anyone who has worked in a group has had that partner/group member where you just had to say fuck you and ignore them. How much time did you REALLY spend determining whether that was the case with you? It may absolutely not have been, but did you even think of that and work through it?

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Dwarf King    2126

Why use bad words when you can tell a person this is not possible and then show or explain why it is not possible? One of the greatest traits of a CS student/ CS post graduated should be patient and humbleness. That will lead to respect and higher learning speed. Ignorance and arrogance will always be the doom of a man.

 

Also if people start to show symptoms of anger one will not die for asking "did I say something that offended you here?".  Communicating in a civilized way is a must if one shall be able to work with others. That means all kind of bad words must be removed from the conversation and pure logic and rational argumentation is to be used. Also by using a little humor the ice can be broken tongue.png

 

Now I am perfectly aware that some people strongly believe that a piece of paper that says they are CS graduated grant them the right to be arrogant and harsh to people without this piece of paper, but in the end they are simply just ignoring the very fact that each year new students and self taught people will enter this business and they will be damn good and often better than the people with the exam paper. I still remember one project where a student would explode in anger in front of a professor because the professor was outright wrong(and he was) and kept on denying that he was wrong. Later on he tried to fix it by finding some material about it(not very good by the way). I ended up finding the material for my fellow student and all seemed fine then. The lesson learned here was that this highly educated professor would not admit that he did not know enough of this topic and had to go back and make some research first so he took a chance and told us something wrong(bad style), and got caught in this by a very sharp fellow student. It seems that rudeness and arrogance are a cover shield by some CS graduated after all biggrin.png  

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Glass_Knife    8636

[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1358724374' post='5023673']
You were trying to help programmers on a relatively more similar level to you than he was to you or them. Anyone who has worked in a group has had that partner/group member where you just had to say fuck you and ignore them. How much time did you REALLY spend determining whether that was the case with you? It may absolutely not have been, but did you even think of that and work through it?

[/quote]

 

Not really on topic anymore, (sorry OP) but it wasn't that he didn't like me, but worked well with everyone else.  No one on the team could work with him.  He would yell and scream at people in the hall all the time.  I didn't know a single person that could work with him.  So I don't think it was the case that you pointed out.

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AoS    935

You were trying to help programmers on a relatively more similar level to you than he was to you or them. Anyone who has worked in a group has had that partner/group member where you just had to say fuck you and ignore them. How much time did you REALLY spend determining whether that was the case with you? It may absolutely not have been, but did you even think of that and work through it?
 

 

 

Not really on topic anymore, (sorry OP) but it wasn't that he didn't like me, but worked well with everyone else.  No one on the team could work with him.  He would yell and scream at people in the hall all the time.  I didn't know a single person that could work with him.  So I don't think it was the case that you pointed out.

That's not relevant unless there were other programmers of a sufficiently similar skill level to him. And since you didn't say that there were, I assumed that there weren't.

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