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22 insults no developer wants to hear

Peter Wayner | April 12, 2016
Flame wars in the bug tracker might be exactly the right (harsh) feedback your code needs


If you associate fine dressing with power and status, in the programming world, you have another thing coming. After all, only the clueless ninnies who know nothing about computers but want to wade in and manage a project would ever wear a suit. The people who build software wear something more comfortable. A cross between a kimono and kilt might be nirvana -- otherwise, that old Phish tie-dye or a hoodie if you’re younger.

Linus Torvalds once wrote, “if you want me to ‘act professional,’ I can tell you that I'm not interested. I'm sitting in my home office wearing a bathrobe. The same way I'm not going to start wearing ties, I'm *also* not going to buy into the fake politeness, the lying, the office politics and backstabbing, the passive aggressiveness, and the buzzwords.”

If you, as a programmer, even seem to be guilty of one of those, you’ll be wearing the epithet, regardless of how you dress for work.

“Full of antipatterns”

Some call them bad strategies, stupid ideas, or sloppy thinking, but programmers like to toss around the phrase “antipattern” to describe a way of building code that isn’t recommended. It sounds more scientific -- and because science is the religion of the console, saying your code is full of antipatterns is worse than saying it’s bad. It’s saying your programming is immoral.


Long ago when PCs ruled the planet and Apple was almost bankrupt, a few loyal users continued to sing the praises of Apple and predict that the world would one day come to cherish the beauty and sophistication of its products. The PC-lovers dismissed their addiction by calling them “fanbois.”

Though the Apple-loving nuts were right, it doesn’t mean that someone is now paying you a compliment by calling you a fanboi. They mean you’re willingly ignoring reality because of overzealous devotion to a weird principle or idea, such as Perl or maybe .Net, not that we’re making any suggestions.


Computers are fast. As they say in the marketing department, that’s part of their brand. You might even say it’s a foundation of the brand. After decades of Moore’s Law, everyone simply expects computers to get faster and faster.

Alas, programmers don’t always deliver something that’s fast. Many hardware designers like to crow that they’ve delivered their side of the bargain. It’s the software teams that produce bloated, inefficient code that sucks the life out of the faster chips.

Although turning down the temperature and taking your time results in the best-flavored meats, slow-roasting your code is a no-no.


Could anyone be as clueless as a new hire? They would probably spell this with letters and not digits. (See also: “gnubie”: one who doesn’t grok open source.)


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