Recovering Rockstar Dev, ask me anything

nateous profile image Nate Updated on ・1 min read


Check out this article if you want some perspective on what a rockstar dev is. Then ask me anything!

I'm a recovering rockstar developer, and I really would like you to ask me anything! Yes, I will be taking some blame for that one issue you had with rockstar devs that one time, I've probably done that before, sorry!


Editor guide

Was there some sort of ceremony? Or did you forget to tell your boss to stop being weird when they called you a rockstar dev for the first time?

Did you have to change your haircut and dress differently?

Do rockstar developers come with a rider? "Colemak keyboard with Cherry MX reds, apart from the spacebar which should be brown."

nateous profile image Nate github logo Ask Me Anything

Haha, no ceremony. And to be honest I was never called a rockstar, at least to my face. But what the article presents is what I think has been my experience over the years.

I still dress like an idiot... older people dress nicer, younger kids dress cooler, and I don't have a pony tail, so I can't even claim that.... :D

Any Windows keyboard will do, I can't believe Macs don't have a context menu button! When I get back to Mac (from Bootcamp) I'll try to learn the Mac way.


TBH I'm with you on the context menu thing - I miss it too.


Wait, I just saw in another post that you're moving over to using a Mac from a Windows machine and are new to the command line.

This causes me to doubt your rockstar credentials. Maybe you're an AOR/MOR developer - like Nickelback or something.

nateous profile image Nate github logo Ask Me Anything

LOL, good point. I'm new only in the last few years, moving away from GUI for stuff that can be done much easier on the command line...

I'm not THAT old, but old enough that I should have been using the CMD line a long time ago! I'm planning to teach my kids that first!

What is AOR/MOR dev?

Please don't compare me to Nickelback... :P


AOR is Adult Oriented Rock, MOR is Middle of the Road - I think they pretty much describe Nickelback.

Fair play to you for taking my (hopefully gentle) teasing on the chin.

nateous profile image Nate github logo Ask Me Anything

I have to add, to my credit, I've never used or enjoyed dragging controls onto a screen! Give me the code behind! So while I consider myself new to the command line, it is only because I feel like I should have been using it for over a decade now, but can't say that I have.

Wow, I have issues, feel like I need to defend my command line chops! haha

"What command-line skills would you say you actually have here?"
"I have BASH skills!" (probably not as much as a lot of people here though)


Hah, I thought you meant "Rockstar" developer, as in the big game company Rockstar Games.

nateous profile image Nate github logo Ask Me Anything

Haha, sorry, didn't know that was a game company, I was just playing off of the articles term. :D


All good :) "Rockstar developer" is a pretty common term I'd say.


How did you become a rockstar developer?

nateous profile image Nate github logo Ask Me Anything

I love this question, and so I'll try to answer the best I can.

But first, in one word, PASSION.

If you don't have passion, you'll never become a great dev.

Although I don't like to say this, you also have to have some aptitude. I used to think that anyone could become a great dev with passion, but at the end of the day some people aren't cut out for it. I don't think that means you can't be a good dev, but to be great your passion has to meet with high aptitude. And passion should mean will and desire to achieve/deliver.

And in case anyone asks, for me, I think you need to be really good at Math, love Music, love Logic, love Problem Solving, love Patterns. Math and Music (not just listening) are the language of computers. Maybe that sounds weird, but over the years I've noticed that the really great devs are Math lovers and at least played Music and understand it more than just listening to it.

Hope that helps!


Oh, wait, are we talking about real skill here? I always associate the term rockstar developer with a know-best holier-than-thou attitude, that may or may not be backed up by any real skill, and my question was more towards how you developed that attitude and realised that it was a problem (since your title says recovering rockstar dev). But it looks like we're not on the same page here, so nevermind.

nateous profile image Nate github logo Ask Me Anything

I suppose you could have a cocky dev that isn't really that great, but I think people would just call them jerks, not rockstars :D

nateous profile image Nate github logo Ask Me Anything

To be fair, I've been a jerk too, just ask any of my former or current co-workers! But to err is human right? I'm trying to get better! :D


What made you change?

nateous profile image Nate github logo Ask Me Anything

Good question. I think after years of being awesome (others told me I was a rockstar), I noticed that others treated me differently, negatively. I wanted to pass on any Rockstar-ness I had to others. I'm more valuable as a team player. And I'm really not that smart, so in a weird twist, I'm more awesome now because I pair with my team and together we create better software. Which is the goal of Rockstar devs!

nateous profile image Nate github logo Ask Me Anything

I think the main reason I wanted to change was because once you get pairing you don't want to go back. Yes, as a "rockstar" dev I can do a lot alone, and I generally write great software, but paired with someone else? Wow, simply amazing what two brains can do compared to one!
Add to that the fact that I'm not done learning, even a brand new dev can teach me things I never knew before. I'm whole-heartedly a believer in pair programming but I find that other senior devs seem to not like it, and I get it, I was there too. It's just that once you see how much more productive teams can be when they pair you don't want to go back!

There's a part of me that hates that I posted this, only for the fact that it makes me look cocky, which I can be in real life, but my whole point was more to focus on why "rockstars" can be bad, like the article pointed out, and I wanted to hear from other "rockstars" as well, to get more than just my perspective on this topic.


So after learning the article I only have one question, How "Rockstar" as a dev you truly are?

nateous profile image Nate github logo Ask Me Anything

I figured someone would ask that, but I'm guessing nothing I say would prove it to you. Most of my contributions on GitHub are private.

Not really something I can prove unless you want to challenge me to a code off. Haha, is that a thing? ;)


I guess that would only be possible in one of those programming competitions ;p but then again those only measure practice with algorithms and control structures so it wouldn't be that much of a proof.

nateous profile image Nate github logo Ask Me Anything

And my point wasn't to brag. I just want to have this discussion for the benefit of those that find themselves on either side of the equation.


I thought this term only existed with terrible recruiters.

I cant imagine how cringe it would be to have an environment with a proclaimed "rockstar".

nateous profile image Nate github logo Ask Me Anything

I think you're right Chris, but I think the problem exists without the term outside of recruiting.

It doesn't have to be "cringe" to have some "rockstar" devs around, I think it comes down to managing them well, and hopefully turning them into mentors, instead of pitting them against other devs that aren't as experienced.


What makes you more rockstar than others? :-)

nateous profile image Nate github logo Ask Me Anything

That's a great question. Obviously it is loaded with my own opinion, but I just used that term because of the article.

Basically, I think what the article is trying to get across is that there are some devs who are really good at some things.

For me, here are some of the things, I'd say make me a "rockstar" dev:

  1. Design good solutions quickly
  2. Implement solutions quickly
  3. Debug anyone else's problem (front end/back end)
  4. Take over other projects and get them shipping
  5. Breadth of knowledge (I'm older now! haha)

I never really tried to be a jerk about my skills, but I did notice that over the years people started to joke about things. Like how long it would take to implement a new feature "like 2 days for Nate" when it would take 2 weeks for others.

I would get a lot of important work because the boss knew I could get it done quicker and better. I think other devs begin to resent that, at least the ones that want to get better, but feel held back when they are compared to a "rockstar" dev, or miss the opportunity to grow and learn by getting that awesome cool project.

Hopefully that long winded response answers it for you!