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This seems to become one of the hottest topics about the socials of software development.

After last weeks' posts by Ayende on whether Microsoft should target "Mort" instead of the Alpha Geeks (and all the other post about that topic around the community), Scott Dorman said that there is an even worse problem: the "mass market developer":

A "mass market developer" is usually at the low end of the developer spectrum.A more frustrated code monkey, ibid. They have no formal training and are what could generally be considered to be a "code monkey", but in the derogatory sense. These are the people who stitch together snippets of code found on the Internet and in books to make an application, without having an appreciation or understanding what the principles behind the code or the concept of coding are.

And Scott also expresses his frustration noticing what everybody has probably already seen itself: "monkey questions".

The trend that I have been seeing is the increasing number of discussion forum posts by individuals claiming to be developers (mostly professional developers) asking what I can only call "monkey questions". These are questions that are so basic that they really shouldn't even be asked. Questions that show a complete lack of understanding of programming concepts and the programming language as well as a sheer lack of initiative to learn.

Last week there was an intense thread on the NZ.NET mailing list, and one of the messages said more or less:

[I don't like idea of moving the ML to a public accessible repository because] then the ML will be spammed with questions by n00bs from India, China, pick-your-spam-country, asking "How can I do basic xyz? It's urgent!"

Is this becoming more and more a threat for the professional developer? Or will companies be smart enough to understand that "good developers costs a bit more then bad ones, but are 10 times more productive"?

Here is the original post: Programming for the masses.

posted on Saturday, June 30, 2007 12:34 PM

Comments on this entry:

# re: Too many Code Monkeys joining the developer community?

Left by Simon Philp at 6/30/2007 9:03 PM

Hi Simone
Another good post which touches on this suject can be found over on sql blogs


# re: Too many Code Monkeys joining the developer community?

Left by LorenzoC at 6/30/2007 11:18 PM

Well I guess this topic should be submitted to the recruiting agencies that have people with degrees in leterature or whatever who do interviews to "sopposed to be programmers" based mostly on a checklist and the money the candidate ideally should get (of course lower as possible).

IMHO monkey recruiters recruit monkey programmers.

# re: Too many Code Monkeys joining the developer community?

Left by Andreas Kraus at 7/1/2007 8:36 AM

Good point Simone! This is a big issue and it mainly depends on the marketing.

I just visited a possible customer last week who bought an "Online Shop" for 70.000 EUR. The Shop was built in ASP (not .NET) and pretty much outdated, horrible code, etc. When I asked him why he chose them he said: They sent me an offer, it looked good, they sounded confident ...

It's pretty hard to fight something like that as most people have no clue about quality coding and all that stuff.

- Andreas

# re: Too many Code Monkeys joining the developer community?

Left by Jacob at 7/7/2007 12:45 PM

The thing that people are most apt to overlook in supply and demand is that demand can move at lightning speed and supply often can't. This is the case with software developers right now and it closely matches conditions in the early 1990s when I first entered the software development market. Since my degree is actually in literature (I'm looking at you, LorenzoC), I'm just as happy that anyone who could code was encouraged to do so.

And yes, this makes for a lot of fumbling around and developers who are, eh, incompletely trained. It also leads to a lot of questions that are beyond basic and scorn from those who know better. None of which I'm saying shouldn't happen. Derision is a good teacher of those who actually want to learn (as opposed to those looking for someone else to do their work).

I'll add that a) supply will catch up and b) any of the current n00bs who haven't taught themselves enough to be valuable will be the flotsom found in the post-2001 bubble burst. Even if it doesn't happen as dramatically as it did then, it is more or less inevitable. Frankly, that filtering is happening as we speak, it's just hard to notice around all the new n00bs coming in all the time.

What I'm saying is that those who don't prepare to be at the top of their game by the time supply catches up should be filtered out by the market and will be (if not sooner).

# re: Too many Code Monkeys joining the developer community?

Left by Will Asrari at 7/11/2007 2:31 PM

Very good article and interesting comments. I personally won't work for anyone again that isn't a programmer (well, if the team was great). I can't tell you how frustrating it is to have a non-developer tell you that software "either works or it doesn't." Avoid teams with this mentality like the plague and you will learn a whole lot more.

"What is this? List less than string greater than?"

"Here's your problem: this 'using' line is deadlocking Sql Server because you didn't write cn.Close(); Yeah. you need to close your connections. What if you get an error? It'll deadlock."

"What do you mean Data Access Layer? We're not reinventing the Taj Mahal. Look, here is some code that Some_Previous_Idiot wrote. Just copy-and-paste this into your app and call it done. If it worked before it'll work again."

F**k no.

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