You Know You Area Real Programmer When

Posted several years ago (worth remembering I think):

 In <01bb8372$e1078f20$1e9979a8@default>, "One Hair)" <impu@mindspring.com> writes:
 >Hi,
 >        Can anyone tell me, when do someone figure out he or she's a
 >programmer? I've been learning C language for sometimes and learned a lot
 >of stuff; however, I'm not sure if I'm a programmer yet. Don't tell me
 >that if I program something then I'm a programmer. Well, as we all can
 >sing, but we aren't singers (or we all brush our teeth, but all of ours
 >teeth aren't as shiny), we cannot become a true programmer if we just
 >program some stuff. Dear Masters, please tell me how did you all realized
 >that you'd been blessed?

Some are born programmers, some become programmers (through hard work), and some have programming thrust upon them. (ie: "Jenkins, there's a new thingymajig that's supposed to make us all rich and famous... It's your job to make it work by next week or your fired!... have a nice lunch.")

> The other day, I told someone that I'm a programmer (I was shy as ever).

Real programmers never claim to be, only wannabees. To find a real programmer, you must go on a pilgrimage to a dark corner with a strange blue glow, following the trail of ho-ho's and jolt can's... You may ask the programmer there if he is, but he/she probably won't speak in a language you understand. If the response is incomprehensible, you've found what you're looking for. Another good test is to ask the correct time and date... the most profound programmers hate clocks, calendars, and shun all time references... This coupled with the fact that they often don't see daylight leads them to misinterperate questions about time and space. If you ask the time and date, and the answer is off by a day or more plus a few hours then you've probably found one.

>Please understand that, I program completely bulk necked while listening to >hard rock(just as the Gurus would do), I often mix shampoo with my beer and >I manage to be avoided by women, but I still don't feel quite programmer

Contrary to popular belief, simply being avoided by women does not guarantee that you are (or will be) a programmer. Personal hygiene problems and psychotic ravings are often indications of programming, but they are not a guarantee as there are other ailments which lead to these same conditions.

>Thanks in advance for you help. Until then, I'm One Hair) looking forward >to join you guys soon.

If you truly want to know if you're a programmer, you must find within yourself that you see the world differently. When you begin to see all events in the world as part of a great algorithm, and the solutions to all problems as procedures, then you have begun your journey. The rest is syntax.

-madscientist@micro-neil.com
-- ThaddeusOlczyk


RealProgrammer or just someone who likes CowboyCoding?

If you see the movie "TheMatrix" and say "HA! I knew it all along!", you're either a real programmer, or you have a more serious ailment. ;->

Except that MrPlato saw it coming 3k+ years ago in Greece.

How do you think MrPlato earned his title as one of the SoftwareGeniuses?? ;)
I guess I have a serious ailment then. No, wait... I meant, I guess I'm a real programmer then. Yeeesss..... -- GavinLambert


From the TaoOfProgramming?:

 Thus spake the Master Programmer: "When you have learned to snatch 
 the error code from the trap frame, it will be time for you to leave."


http://www.wilk4.com/humor/humore17.htm

This is a piece with an interesting little history. Somehow on the 'net it got reformatted into a sort of epic-poem style, with none of the text being changed, only the line breaks. This happened without the original author's knowledge, but later it got back to him and he expressed his approval. That version can be found in the JargonFile, and really reads much better. -- DanielKnapp

It's the StoryOfMel?
YouKnowYouAreaRealProgrammerWhen you can code in C ;-)

No. When you use C to write your own assembler, and then write production code with that assembler, then maybe you're a real programmer.


I always thought being a programmer was like being a hacker. You aren't one until someone who's better than you says you are. The response message was kind of pretentious. A "real" programmer, in his description, is someone who will deliberately confuse you. It's almost always possible to frame your job in terms someone can understand. -- DaveFayram

No, a programmer is anyone who programs. It's when superlatives are applied that you're not supposed to be vain enough to thus describe yourself (hacker, guru, wizard, master programmer, etc), and should instead let others judge for themselves and call you that themselves. This is primarily a matter of social etiquette, but of course it also aims to keep poseurs from successfully pulling off fraud.

(I.e. there are gurus who call themselves gurus; it may be contrary to etiquette, but it doesn't destroy their skills to be a bit vain. :-)

This page seems moderately incoherent to me, but it seems to me that the gist of it has to do with "real programmer" in the sense of "the story of Mel", which is a very mixed term, since Mel was extraordinarily talented, but in a cowboy coder kind of way; his stuff was unmaintainable. On the other hand, he was the only one who could get the job done. On the other hand, he was a prima donna who refused to do the job if he didn't feel like it. On the other hand, he only refused when he was asked to do something unethical...blah blah blah, it's complex.

Other than in regard to Mel, the phrase "real programmer" doesn't have widespread connotations of any kind; it may come up in conversation to distinguish a professional from a hobbyist, just like one might refer to "a real gardener" as opposed to a hobbyist, but that's not a buzzphrase, it's just plain old English.

-- DougMerritt

Now-a-days, when I hear "real programmer" I think, "Someone who has some skill." In other words, someone who's code I can trust not to be painful to work with.

The problem with declaring yourself a "real programmer" is that if you aren't one, you're not qualified to decide who is one. Programming, like many other purely mental disciplines, is one where once you know "good" then you're qualified to say why it's good. This alone makes you a better programmer than someone who cannot.

Thusly, much like in the hacker culture, someone who is an established guru (and ostensibly knows what "good" is) will then be someone qualified to say if you're any good or not.

Once someone gets established, then it's just a matter of character if they crow about it or not. :) -- DaveFayram


There is a person of my acquaintance who wrote a program once (actually, two or three), and who refers to herself as "a programmer". She does hard core HTML web page design (no GUI/WYSIWYG builders), but can't bring herself to learn PHP, Perl, or any of the other scripting languages; can bring herself to learn SQL, can't bring herself to learn BASIC, or even the macro languages of assorted desktop database or spreadsheet apps.

I have to use some care in open discussions, as she gets a little wild-eyed if it is said, hinted, or implied that she might not actually be a programmer. She is certainly a power user for a fairly broad selection of app software, but what she does not do is this: the creation of code which, when run, accomplishes an automated task.

I can call myself a "real" programmer for the simple reason that I've made my living doing precisely that for more than 20 years. I might not be a MasterProgrammer, but 20+ years of making stuff work, debugging stuff that others wrote, solving complex problems using a half dozen languages, qualifies me, I think, for the "real" modifier. Even "expert" could be used.

But for someone who does not actually write code that automates a task I cannot bring myself to apply the term -- even if he/she wrote some code in college 15 years ago, and is "good with" computers.

-- GarryHamilton

She's not a programmer at all, despite her neurotic ego and how it causes you to talk to her. There is no need to call her a "programmer" and yourself a "real programmer" when you're not face to face with her (and I presume you have to be careful not to call yourself "a real programmer" when you are around her). She's a wanna-be, and you're a programmer.

This story isn't about "real programmers" or even "programmers", it's about neurotic personality disorder. -- dm


Bah! I was a programmer when I was writing AppleSoft basic programs. I was a programmer when writing 320x200x256 eye candy in QuickBasic. I was a programmer when writing little games in TurboC, and I was still a programmer when writing my first useful apps in Developer Studio. . . It wasn't until learning to make it good enough for others to use and maintain that I actually became a software developer. There is as wide a gap between programmers and software developers as there is between power users and programmers.

You know you are a real programmer when you can't see past it.

-- LayneThomas

I am not worthy. -- gh

I can't tell if Layne is completely joking, or if there really is a distinction between those two terms in the circles he moves in. (There is no such distinction in my little world.) -- dm Yeah, in my circles it's like the difference between someone who can write, and a writer. A writer works at a higher level than just writing -- LT

Real Programmers have it easy, Integer Programmers had to come up with all kinds of tricks. Almost forgot the "Cha-Cha!"

[Hmm. Does that mean that all RationalProgrammers? are RealProgrammers, but not all RealProgrammers are RationalProgrammers?? Then how do you explain UnifiedModelingLanguage?] And of course StringProgrammers? are script writers.

[And what's an ImaginaryProgrammer?]

You wouldn't even joke about that if you'd had to do hair-splitting floating point numerical analysis....

Repeat after me, Doug. JavaNumerics? are your friend. IEEE754 is your friend....

Repeat after me: numerical analysis is a deep, black art involving VoodooChickenCoding. (JavaNumerics? and IEEE754 barely help at all. Try interval analysis.)

Is that positive zero, negative zero, or just zero? I feel your pain...

Thank you. Sniff, sob.


When I started working at company (A former software behemoth, a great place to work may she rest in peace!) I met a RealProgrammer who parlayed his skill into a paradise.

At the time, company did EVERYTHING in assembly. This guy balked at that, so he wrote (in assembly, of course) a ForthLanguage system with assembler, interpreter, editor, etc. He then proceeded to used his new system to develop a major product that won company many competitions and awards and a lot of recognition. Oh, and it sold well and made the company a great deal of money, too.

Of course, only he and a few acolytes could maintain and enhance the product, so he had a job for life! Fortunately (or, if you like Forth, unfortunately), this wasn't the company's flagship product, so the system didn't become an industry standard as some of its others did.

Talk about carving out a niche!

Too bad the principals called it quits and sold off the company piecemeal.

Sometimes, I wonder what he's doing now?

-- BobBockholt

Am I a doctor when I pull a splinter out of my (or your) finger?

No, you're an amateur surgeon. How many universities offer a first degree in computer programming or software engineering?


RealProgrammers can write assembly code in any language. -- LarryWall

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