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Good programmers

I read that "a good programmer is worth 5 or 10 bad programmers". I find that likely. Solutions to programming problems very often differ in orders of magnitude. I don't know if I'm a good programmer or not. I'd guess probably average. But how can you really tell if someone is a good programmer or bad?

There are things that scream "I'm a bad programmer!" of course. Copy/pasted code. A constant brute force approach to every problem. Reinvention of various wheels. But what screams "I'm a good programmer"?

I don't think you can judge just by looking at whether a program works or not. It's possible to write something that works, but has horrible source code. Though pretty source code that doesn't work is just as worthless. You can't always judge by how quickly a programmer solves a problem either. Sometimes it's better to take your time and do things right the first time; a wise investment of time now will save you more time in the long run. But a programmer who never ever finishes their program is actually in many ways worse than not having any programmer at all. (For example, if you're paying the programmer.)

The answer I suppose is that it depends on what your goals are. A good programmer is someone who can satisfy whatever goals you currently have to the best extent. Such an unsatisfying answer though. I'd rather there was some objective standard. Programmers should be assigned a numerical value to indicate their degree of mastery. Someone needs to get working on that.

August 17, 2006 @ 4:07 AM PDT
Cateogory: Programming

1 Comment

Quoth Hussam on August 17, 2006 @ 1:07 PM PDT

I wouldn't mind if you did not agree with me, but I would like to add something to your list.

The 'attitude' that a programmer has towards the people he is writing the software for. I understand that open source programmers probably shouldn't adhere to various requests of features to be added to their code since they're doing us enough favor by writing something for free.

But if you write code and think you deserve the world bowing to you for it then in my book you're a bad programmer too. Linus's attitude towards certain open source coders for example is questionable. I cannot provide direct links to incidents where this has occurred but know that there are several.

Since I've never seen your code (besides the ones you post on your blog) I'd label you a 6.8 for your themes.