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No joke. Early in my career many people I worked with were middle aged and all their kids were either grown up or they had a stay at home spouse who handled everrrything. My daughter was running a fever and had to be picked up from school. I told my manager I needed to leave and why, and replied I’d be online in about an hour to finish from home. His reply was “what’s your husband doing”? I was in shock. My husband didn’t have flex time or a WFH policy, but what does it matter what he’s doing. My daughters sick and needs to go home. /endrant.


Special needs dad here. I know exactly what you mean. So much guilt-tripping about leaving work to accompany my kid at the hospital, therapy, whatever. "Isn't your wife with her?" Yes, but that's not the point. My family is more important than my job, but so many people have that backwards.


so much YES! And it's joint person can't always be responsible!
Cheers to fighting the good fight

As if your contributions to a company could ever map back to the literal time you have your butt in the chair anyway.

Now come on Ben, obviously you would have done a better job coding that thing at 3pm in the office instead of 6pm at home after picking up your kid from school.

...Oh wait.


I'm not even a parent and this made me angry for you! My partner used to work for a particularly unpleasant employer whose response to any request for a day off/early finish to deal with some house/pet/family thing was "Why can't your girlfriend do it?" "Um, because she's done the last three things so it's definitely my turn?"

Guilt about having any kind of life and commitments outside of work, really.


That makes me really angry. The question is so thoroughly inappropriate. It's shocking.


There's this image of the ideal programmer. Someone who invented a language, created a framework, creates all sorts of useful open source projects. They have strong opinions on everything, the more contrarian the better. Maybe they've invented a new concept that changes the way we think about software, and have their own buzzword. They go from one impressive-sounding job to another, or founded their own company. They may claim not to know where they're going, but they always know how to get there. They know all the other ideal programmers. They use a language that's sexier or more hardcore than yours.

I'm not that person. I used to think maybe I would evolve into that person, but so far it hasn't happened.


And don't forget that the ideal programmers code at work, in their spare time, they also code while sleeping because coding is great and they love doing it! God forbid, you have some hobbies other than code, true coders' hobby is coding


Hmm, part of that kind of sounds like my life...

I think you're confusing two classes of people though. A lot of the ideal programmers I know aren't doing it to make things great. They're doing it because they like doing, enjoy a challenge, and maybe can help somebody.

Alas, most technology ends up with adherents and fanboys that behave in less than favourable ways. You can't necessarily attribute that behaviour to the guy that created the stuff (sometimes you can).

This parallels virtually all human endeavours. If you play any sport somebody will bring up the name of somebody awesome. If you start any small business, somebody will bring up the techniques up some business mogul. Attempt to draw a picture: yup, somebody brings up some better way to do it.


Linus Torvalds fans have a lot in common with Justin Bieber fans. I recall reading the response to a somewhat tongue-in-cheek jab at the FOSS folks and the reaction was so extreme. Us humans love creating deities.


I’ve definitely been questioned about programming languages. “PHP isn’t secure” or “I’m sorry you use PHP” gets old. Just because I use PHP doesn’t mean I don’t know how to program. Programming skills are transferable and you shouldn’t be judged by one language and it’s public stigma.


PHP has its uses, much like any other programming language. I'm with you on people shouldn't be judging others by their choice of programming language. Don't be afraid to speak up on things like this!


Pieter Levels built a business that makes over $50k a month using a single index.php file. Yet another lesson that code is not important.


Yup me too, and I think it's mostly self-inflicted guilt. But lately I've just been trying to focus on shipping and delivering a result for the client. Sure, if messy code is preventing you from thinking through a problem, by all means clean it up. Give anything enough time, and it will eventually become messy. That's the good old second law of thermodynamics for you


Not unit testing all of the things. It's funny because most of the guilt doesn't even come from people who have managed me (they often went the opposite way). Oddly enough, I got the guilt from reading books on unit testing and seeing job postings where they tout "extreme" programming practices. So I thought that's what I needed to do if I wanted to get ahead, and I couldn't have been more wrong.


Macros. I love them in C++, and even wrote stuff with M4 before. You can try to shame me all you want, but until a language has them it'll be incomplete! I'll never feel ashamed of having clean simple code as opposed to redundant bloat!


Not having a degree for what I do. A former boss told me I'm not a "real programmer." I have an Associate's in computer networking, but I'm employed as a full-time Java programmer. Until I get a Bachelor's in programming, however, I will never be assigned a better title than the super-generic "Web Developer," or so I have been told.


That's very heartbreaking. I'm curious with the future wave of bootcamps how this has evolved.

Do you have any advice for someone going through something like this? (I know a few people encountering judgement as a bootcamp grad). Thanks!


My story is quite similar. I did not enter a college, followed a fuckton of tutorials instead. I haven't found any (affordable) bootcamps either.

From my experience, this is all I can say: do the thing and brag about it on GitHub. When you lack a degree, your experience and knowledge is all you can offer, so prove you are able and trust in yourself.


I wish I did. I have a feeling the mentality will change as the next generation become managers; the stigma will cease to exist as their friends, coworkers, or even they themselves are graduates of bootcamps.


Whoever told you that you can't advance without a four-year degree is flatout wrong, and if you still report to them, you should consider working for someone who respects you instead. The paperwork being optional is one of the best things about this field. In the past twelve years, I've had maybe three prospective employers care that I didn't have a degree -- including for senior/architect/etc positions -- and each time it felt like a bullet dodged.


That's really terrible. As a person without a degree in programming, who works in a shop full of programmers without degrees in programming, I'll say that there are organizations that don't think of people that way. I hope you find one!

I admit, we all have the same title "IT Specialist". The feds are not creative about technical job titles. But we are programmers, and system owners, and system architects, database devs, backend devs, fullstack devs - on and on and on.


Didn't graduate, aside from governments (degrees score more points with visa rankings) nobody cared in the years I've worked.

Sorry you have been told that :-(


one of my first freelancing gigs: I helped making a pop-under/over that played a video and that would resume playing the video from where it had been previously stopped at each refresh and thereby helping making internet a worse place.


no it wasn't as bad as that. It was mostly a stupid stuff to make sure that the user would hear/see the video entirely at some point... so instead of restarting each time the damn pop up opened, it would resume from the previous stop


Asking for market value salary.

It is guilt-ridden in a number of ways. Software devs make more than average. I've had that used against me in emerging software dev departments. "We can't bring you up to market value because you would be making more than engineers who have been here longer than you." "If we give you a 6% raise, we have to give someone else a 0% raise to balance our raise budget."

Also, there's the responsibility for being in the desirable position of making more than average. I need to use some of my extra resources to help people. Not like this. but more like this or this.


That's a huge red flag! If they're not paying market value for their current employees, what keeps someone there?! Wow.


That was when I discovered my market value was 50% more than what I was making at the time. Can you imagine a 50% raise? I had to leave to get the bump. But I stayed for a while until the interesting work died off.

People stayed because it was a decent working environment and it provided a service to the state. I think underpaying is one of the ways they always managed to win the contract bid.

Sometimes it's the work environment, for sure.

Speaking as someone who has experienced those same circumstances, it can be really rough getting comfortable with jumping from "making enough money to be more or less comfortable" to jumping all the way up to "market value" and making so much more.


Asking about salary upfront at all, really.


Being a white male. My parent's both worked for HP. I have everything going for me compared to others. I stumbled across database development by chance and found it really easy for me to do.

I love it, but try to take every opportunity to listen to others, no matter how colorful in skin or personality they are.


Dont start with "Being a white male". The fact your parents worked at HP is far more relevant to your situation, all you do is hurt unemployed white people with generalities


Why are you jumping on me about this? It's my guilt, not anything based on fact. I think that everyone should be given the opportunity to code if they want to.


Being too slow, although I'm probably not too slow, I'm meticulous and often the people quoting the job have no idea how long it can take to build something well... /rant


I'm still made to feel guilty about the fact that I need to take care of my mental wellbeing, even if it means that I need to take an hour of a day every 2 weeks to go and see my psychologist. Pretty much anything that puts the job in 'not-first' priority.


My team leader suddenly became my manager, another dude was hired and I was now a date engineer on the data team. I had never used anything besides ORMs and Mongo.I suddenly went from a fullstack react dev / 39 microservice hell dev to a developer on some weird ORM-ish "data layer" that was disgustingly sprawling, undocumented, had a terrible dependency injection pattern, had tests that actually broke production databases, and just in general a giant clusterfuck all done in javascript, no typing, using cassandra redis postgres mysql and god knows what else. The big thing I had to do was implement RBAC - role based access control. My manager/.team leader explained it to me using set theory for some reason, so i read the whitepaper where it was expressed as a graph. it would have been sooooooo easy to implement in any tinkerpop;/gremlin provider, probably datastax, but nope, my manager decided to implement RBAC himself and he did it wrong. From there, for months, there were countless bugs, but because the ownership of the faulty RBAC had been thrust upon me, I constantly got the blame for everything. And yet - I couldn't diagnose it. I wouldnt be able to trust any diagnostic algorithms. So i was the whipping horse for a dude whod been in the industry for probably 7-8 years while I had been in it 5 before the team change and his garbage was my responsibility, but truly it was impossible. Kept being made to feel like shit and got convinced that I really was a fuckup. Had emotional difficulty over that and felt terrible for dragging the team down, especially when I was told I had one week to fix a bunch of shit or i would get fired. I fixed all the shit and got fired.


Putting my life and interests above work sometimes.

Saying no.

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Ben Halpern profile image
A Canadian software developer who thinks he’s funny. He/Him.