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The Two Types of Programmers

Posted by Roger, in Programming 17 September 2012 · 1330 views

The Two Types of Programmers I was doing some research for articles that might be of interest to our new friends on Facebook. (If you don't know about this, we relaunched the FB page in August and are now up to 49 members. I can see the potential of sharing lots of interesting topics on FB, so I hope you can join us for the ride!) So, I came across this article that really captures what I am facing at work since I joined last year and I wanted to share it with you and see what are your thoughts.

What really got my attention in the article was:

There are two "classes" of programmers in the world of software development: I'm going to call them the 20% and the 80%.

The 20% folks are what many would call "alpha" programmers -- the leaders, trailblazers, trendsetters, the kind of folks that places like Google and Fog Creek software are obsessed with hiring. These folks were the first ones to install Linux at home in the 90's; the people who write lisp compilers and learn Haskell on weekends "just for fun"; they actively participate in open source projects; they're always aware of the latest, coolest new trends in programming and tools.


If you really want to change the software development status quo, if you want to make a difference this year, you have to help us reach outside our insular little group of alpha programmers and effect change in the other 80% of the world.

The whole article is here.

Besides being applicable to me at work, I also think a lot about how to reach more programmers out there and being a helpful resource on the Internet. This is very insightful for me, since we need to really consider who we are targeting with our site in order to attract the right people.

As a community here at Codecall, I was wondering how do you feel about the 20/80 idea? Is it just the way it is and will be? How do sites like Codecademy and Tree House affect this ratio?

Also, as a community, do we think of ourselves as the 20% or the 80%?

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Interesting article.

I think in terms of technical ability alone, its probably more like 98% / 2%. Within that 98% is an 18% group of people who think they're in the top 2%, but aren't anywhere near. For me, those guys are worse to have in a group than the other less skilled programmers, who know their job and also their own limits.

Of course, even in the 80% suggested by the article, there's a range of ability. I agree with the general point of the article, that the best programmers need to be aware most people aren't working on their level, and do their best to ensure they give a helping hand where they can. And I think that's what we do here at CodeCall, where we have experts on hand to answer questions from less skilled programmers :)
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Good points!
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Ben said it first, just what i thought about it.

and of course i disagree in the two types of programmers unless you previously spare the coding lovers from the coders for money.
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In my own career, I've noticed there are MANY programmers who are content with knowing the current technology, the language they use at the job, and not much else. They don't see how learning Lisp or Haskell can help them understand LINQ or Test Driven Development. Their attitude is, "We aren't doing that here, so what does it matter?" I'm not sure where the true dividing line is, but it definitely exists.
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