People who tell computers how to behave, what would you rather be called?

(I can only put 4 choices, write-ins encouraged in replies, "hacker" is another term I would have liked to include.)

· · Web · 15 · 9 · 4

(With any luck, this will turn into a hearty debate as to how these terms are all slightly different and none of them are a good description of people who tell computers what to do.)

Myself, I'm mostly a code janitor. I clean up other people's code mess.

@JordiGH It's hard to debate you when I simply agree with that proposition.

@eldang Great, 'cause I don't, they're all the same damn thing.

@JordiGH OK, so the one that's really clear to me: I have a deep distaste for "coder" and "coding". There's a few reasons for that, not all good:

1) It's a new-fangled word for something we already had multiple words for.
2) I find its use correlated with the more bro elements of the industry.
3) When I was a psychology student, "coders" were people who watched behaviour in experiments and notated it in countable ways. In medicine, "coding" means needing urgent life saving assistance.

@JordiGH The others I have much squishier feelings about:

* programmer: not all that I do, or really anyone, but at least it does describe a specific activity that's an important part of it.

* developer: should encompass testers, PMs & designers because they're all part of developing software.

* engineer: all other sorts of engineer are licenced trades with specific entry requirements and the possibility of losing a licence for malpractice.

@eldang @JordiGH I feel like there's also a split between software devs/engineers who are building software that's meant to be used for a while, paying attention to its design and maintainability, and jobs like mine where it's mostly cranking out one-off scripts for data. programming ends up being a lot of my work, but it's not actually my end goal most of the time.

@mcmoots @eldang Dirty little secret: programming is not really my end goal most of the time either. In fact, whenever possible, we always try to solve stuff without writing more code for it.

We are alike, you and I.

@JordiGH @mcmoots This distinction has become more interesting to me lately because I now work on both sides of that divide in the same project. I am very much feeling the difference in working styles and how we evaluate the end product.

@JordiGH the problem with answering this meaningfully is that you've called out one axis of difference (that the terms all mean different things) but left out another important axis (that the terms all mean different things _to very different audiences_).

I feel like this might be a longer conversation than even Masto's generous message size might make easy to conduct!

@gnomon What I'm going for here is how do people really feel about their own identity, deep in their soul?

@JordiGH I hit my router with a rolled-up newspaper, I call myself "elderly"


@JordiGH haha, now a few people have and there's still perfect unanimity for "fool".

@eldang Some killjoy is gonna come by and upset the balance.

@faoluin Being a janitor is not a bad thing at all, it's a noble and necessary profession and I thank the likes of @bunny_jane for their dedication to it.

Should be better paid, though.

@JordiGH @faoluin @bunny_jane Aren't all pro-coders janitors? They only call us when the kids have made such a mess in their room that the door won't open.

@borko @faoluin @bunny_jane I feel like pro-coders are building giant space robots or something while I'm just trying to get two computers to stop fighting with each other, play nice, and be on speaking terms once again.

@JordiGH @faoluin procoders are working hard at creating procedurally generated oders.

@JordiGH a plumber, I branch pipes between other's code and sometimes fix things with duct tape

@julienxx @JordiGH second this

I suspect most other people in this category would call me a nuisance though 😛

@JordiGH I'm a Halley coder. It only happens once every 60 years

@Koishi Best response yet, let's see if anyone can top that one.

@JordiGH if I win i will add this to my bio as a quote

@JordiGH At work, I call myself a software developer; when I talk about my hobby it's programming, when I give myself a title jokingly it's "code monkey", when I give myself a title seriously it's "dipl. zool." (I'm the equivalent of a master of science in zoology).

@kensanata Which one is your *real* hat, though?

Bruce Wayne is the alter-ego. Batman is the real man.

@elfi This one is very sweet and gentle, I like it.

@JordiGH when analogizing what I do I tend towards "plumber" and "air traffic controller", both capture the sense of tweaking and coordinating my programming efforts embedded in much larger systems outside my control. Basically I hate the mush or pomposity of all our standard choices - engineer is also close but I have too much respect for real engineers (true of plumbers and atc too, though...)

To me,
Programmer - uses a programming language; may well not be in an overall software shop though.
Software developer - contributes to creating software where the software is an end product goal.
Software engineer - has a design role to some degree, not just code monkey.
Coder - completely ambiguous term shared by multiple unrelated disciplines, eg. medical records keeping.

@kimreece You know, you're the second one who talked about software is an end goal product, and I think that's rarely literally ever the case.

Nobody really wants software, people have other problems that software happens to solve. Whenever it's possible to avoid writing software, most people would do that.

I guess this is why in the early 2000's they try to rebrand software as "solutions", like, here, you can buy this solution or have you tried installing that solution?

@JordiGH What I mean is interior software vs. exterior where exterior can in a large company mean also other divisions of the company. If I wrote a script for bob in accounting, that's fine, that's one thing; if I wrote an accounting software package for the accounting department that's borderline; if I wrote accounting software that we license to five other clients, that's exterior.

@kimreece And your hat would change accordingly? Programmer if you're doing it for Bob, software developer if you're licensing it to five clients?

@JordiGH This gets really messy with FOSS because, as we get used to copying in snippets off StackOverflow in leue of documentation, that interior slipshod quality gets inserted in places it was never ready for. Not that there isn't a lot of good stuff on StackOverflow, but it's a messy situation.

@JordiGH I (sort of ... it's complicated) run a company that helps other people solve a problem.

I help them solve a problem by providing software that does things for them. Their goal is not the software, but the software is a tool for them to use.

My goal is to help them solve the problem, and I do that by providing the software.

My "end product" in that sense is the software.

CC: @kimreece

@JordiGH these days, I make tools, so "toolsmith" is my preference. (This also reminds me of the end of "Kingdom of Heaven", where Balian rebuffs the invitation to the Crusades by saying he is a blacksmith.)

@JordiGH problem is that most people who have the "software engineer" title don't do any actual engineering. they just make software by other means.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!