Monday, June 4, 2007

Code Smells - Developer Literacy

Continuing on the subject of interviews, if I could give one piece of advice to people job-hunting, it's this - proofread your resume. It isn't hard, honest. If I could give another piece of advice to developers actively writing code, it's this - proofread it.

When hiring time comes around, I have no trouble whittling down the candidate pool. A middle-of-the-road candidate is getting tossed if their resume has misspellings or glaring grammar errors. My grammar's awful enough that I wouldn't know a dangling participle if it hit me in the face (I know that they're bad, do I win a cookie?) but I do know to avoid tense shifts and other obvious biffs.

But developers write in code, not in English! Surely this is a case of the narcissism of minor differences!

I think it goes beyond that. Misspellings are a code smell for me - if a developer can't be bothered to learn and properly apply the language that they've been speaking for 30 or 40 years, how much faith do I have in their ability to learn and properly apply a language that they've only been "speaking" for 5 or 10 years? So, if I may retort...

If you don't proofread your resume/e-mail, how much faith should I have that you proofread your code?

If you don't proofread your code, how confident do you expect me to be in the fact that you've debugged it?

If you can't be bothered to crack open a dictionary, chances are you won't bother cracking open Google when you encounter a problem. I imagine that you'll instead choose to boldly and blindly rush head-first go into the same tar pit that so many arrogant developers before you have.

I won't go so far as to say that you should go out and get an editor (but the man is on to something), but I will say that you're not showing a whole lot of regard for the person on the other end if you can't spell right. If the person on the other end is me then you're not instilling a whole lot of confidence in the quality and professionalism of your work either.

If the person on the other end of your typo'd code is you (and it probably will be) then why don't you love yourself enough? You need a hug.

If I wrote the typo or awkward grammar, Word was broken and my internet's tubes were completely full of kittens that day so you have to forgive me (and not point it out). After all, I'm just a developer. You must understand - we write in code, not English.

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