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"The End of IT Slavery"

Now that I've mentioned that joel.reddit.com is a failure:

http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?joel.3.489986.0

Here's a link with some introduction:

http://www.shlomifish.org/philosophy/computers/software-management/end-of-it-slavery/

The article is directed at both employers and employees. It explains why supplying the employees with very good conditions at their workplace (instead of personal, technical, or professional abuse) is the right thing to do from the POV of both parties.

If you are an employer and you employ my advice, then the productivity and happiness of your employees will grow, and you'll be able to recruit employees more easily. If you are an employee, you can show this job to your employer or demand or expect such conditions from your future employer.

Regards,

      Shlomi Fish
Shlomi Fish Send private email
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
You have some valid points. But the article seems to be biased by your bad experience in the company which fired you.

Your article reads: " "We Can't Find Good Programmers"
How many times have you heard this phrase? I'll tell you why you can't find them. It's because you treat them like dirt. "

I'd tell you that I can't find good programmers for my mISV. But that's not because I treat people like dirt. It's simply because these "great" programmers (or those who pretend they are) overlook small software shops and prefer working for places with famous names (where they are treated like dirt).
Methy
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
"If you want to hire a great developer you can bet your life, that he'll contribute for an open-source project. Why? Can you imagine him starting his own shareware project?"


Are you trying to insult us? Your essays are for the slashdot not for the BoS.
hm
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
You seem to a bit of an OSS fan. That's OK, I don't have a problem with that but it has massively effected your impartiality and so no one who doesn't share your ideology will take anything else seriously.

You assume most developers use *nix.
You assume shareware is the poor cousin to OSS and will never earn you any real money.
You assume most shareware fails and most OSS succeeds.
You assume non-OSS developers are bad and won't be respected.

...I got bored reading your biased opinions.
Adrian
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
...and wrong opinions. Your OSS criteria mean that
Games programmers are not "great".. But in reality
it is hard to find anyone better than Games programmers.
Object Hater
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
Not entirely wrong, but slanted and tedious.
SumoRunner
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
Right, because no one has ever found a bug in an EA game.
none Send private email
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
Several times you tell us you're a "good hacker". The fact of the matter is, there's no particular evidence offered of this (without reading more of the site anyway).

Now, for all I know, you are, in fact, a good hacker. But, hey, I would have told you that I was a few years back, when I was writing what was, in retrospect, *truly terrible* code in VB and PHP (the only programming languages I knew at the time). Now I know how little I know.

It reminds me of the lecturer for a database design subject who once told me he was a very good lecturer. Long story short, between his irrelevant anecdotes about the robots at places he'd worked and about how databases could have saved the lives of the victims of various natural disasters, actually covered less material then the /contents page/ of the subject textbook.

Ok, getting off topic here. The point I'd like to make, I guess, is that, for the purposes of this article, it's basically irrelevant whether you are a good hacker or not.

The important qualification for this article is how good you are at hiring good hackers and getting them to work on the projects you need worked on (which could quite possibly be proprietary shareware :p).

Also, if you still want my advice, inexperienced as its source may be, ditch the borders and the layers in your essays. It's annoying :p
Jivlain
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
+1 Dump the borders
OneMist8k
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
Actually read the article instead of just posting snarky replies to other comments.  This article reeks of self-importance.  I've read most of your references and felt the same way about those as well.  Computer programming is not revolutionary, not different than most other work. There are deliverables to be met on an expected timeline, otherwise no one would pay you.  Stop pretending it's art, that attitude just pisses off everyone outside your field.
none Send private email
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
"Actually read the article instead of just posting snarky replies to other comments."

How snarky of you.
flameThis
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
[non-free software enthusiasts] are just either not good developers, or have the wrong character, which means they will not improve, but become worse in time.

...which would include Joel Spolsky and Paul Graham, both of whom you quote.

_Moreover: if you want to employ people like me (and you do)_

You're an okay writer, but when you lead off with comments like the above, you turn potential readers into critics instantly.

Also: The word "hacker" should be treated like the word "poet": Only 13 year old girls call _themselves_ poets. Everybody else has to wait until the name is applied to them by a community of peers.
mynameishere
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
>>Moreover: if you want to employ people like me (and you do)

So how is your job search going??
Anon Ranter
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
Shlomi, if this is an example of your good writing, I can see why your posts got 0 points in reddit. Technically the English isn't very good. As Jivlain said, ditch the borders. They make the article hard to read.

You mention in your article that you shouldn't hire people with broken English. Well, if the link you provided is a representative sample of your English, it is pretty broken. So are you a good hacker? If so, we need to throw out your broken English rule. If your broken English rule holds, well, you can just submit this article along with your resume and based on it the hiring manager will dub you a "no hire" according to your own criteria.

Having read my share of blogs, I would have to strongly disagree that bloggers are the great philosophers of today. Most of them consist of updates about their pet dog Muffy or are self-important rants about insignificant drivel.

Most of your rants and suggestions seem to strongly enforce behavior that can, in my opinion, be construed as not working. As a hiring manager I'm not interested in hiring people that are going to be playing solitaire.

I also find it interesting that you cite Joel heavily, who advises strongly against rewrites, cite an Eric Raymond reference about reusing code and mention that 'If your programmer is keen on labeling a code as "ugly", "unusable" or "I'd like completely rewrite it from scratch", then he'll waste your time and be unhappy and under-productive.'

Later on down in the article when you talk about being fired you state

'At a workplace I worked for a few days, I was given a task to automate a buggy Hebrew windows application written using PowerBuilder, which was incredibly quirky. It took me three or four days to write less than a hundred lines of Perl code. I was never so unproductive. After answering the wrong question in an interrogation, I was fired, and was heavily relieved. Such applications should not be tested - they should be rewritten using a more modern and less quirky technology.'

Also, your championing of *nix and OSS while talking down on everything else reeks of zealotry. Many, many people make very good money with shareware. The authors don't seem to care if it is dead on *nix when Windows still runs some 90+% of desktops in the world. I'm very happy with some of the free software i use and give back what I can to the community from time to time, but I've known plenty of very good developers who don't give a fig about open source. They still command plenty of respect from the people that know them and work with them. I don't think any of them are concerned about the lack of respect they would be receiving from a lot of nameless, faceless folks in cyberspace. I can't see any basis in real life for your observation here 'So if you want to hire good developers, your best bet is to find people who are free software enthusiastic. Other people are just either not good developers, or have the wrong character, which means they will not improve, but become worse in time. Technology is progressing and workers who are not open (literally), cannot keep up with it.' Your character assessment if flawed at best and an insult and disservice at worst.

Your advice isn't really much more than a hacked together version of several other essays with the difference that yours isn't as well written as what you cite, it contains many contradictions and is full of self-importance. If you are serious about being, or wanting to be, a good writer, I think you need to take a step back, look at your writing with a much more critical eye and read more of other people's writing that is considered good.
Bart Park
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
Methy > I'd tell you that I can't find good programmers for my mISV. But that's not because I treat people like dirt. It's simply because these "great" programmers (or those who pretend they are) overlook small software shops and prefer working for places with famous names (where they are treated like dirt).

Not just because they're famous: Big companies have more money, so typically offer higher salaries and more generous accomodations (health care, etc.), better working conditions, and people get to work on bigger, more interesting projects.
ZeFred
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
"It is known that great programmers almost consistently have very good lingual skills"

Er, shouldn't that be "linguistic" skills?
Mike S Send private email
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
IMO:

There's never going to be an end to "IT slavery", ever.

The problem with polemics like this is that the exact people whom you want to educate will NOT, I repeat absolutely NOT, ever read them nor pay any attention to their conclusions.  It just doesn't matter if another programmer agrees with you. They aren't paying the salaries.

I wouldn't even call it slavery. More like consensual bondage. The reason that working conditions are poor is because supply and demand for bodies that are nominally called "programmers" is tilted completely in favor of employers. Now, they may not be any GOOD. But "good" is not quantifiable and in fact, is really context-dependent. If an employer wants to treat you like an absolutely fungible, replaceable drone, they will, and they probably like doing so anyway because doing so makes managers feel important. 

In the metropolitan region where I live, the following holds true: there are extremely few good development jobs. Employers don't give a shit about it, either. As headhunter after headhunter has stated to me, their clients just don't care how good or experienced you are. They are used to hiring mediocrity, and any excellence above a pulse is considered excess that they won't pay for. Programmers in my region are pussy whipped cowards who will stand back and criticize a peer who takes a position like Shlomi Fish is doing.

I guess I could say that I wish the OP well, but a message like this reeks of self importance, as stated earlier, so it can actually contribute to the "problem". Employers look on programmers as socially stunted, immature and self important. Any comment on social issues like this just feeds the patronizing attitudes of the worst of them.

Better to subvert silently...
Bored Bystander Send private email
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
Shlomi, the article was not convincing and put me off towards you as a developer. I have seen some of your code in the past and it wasn't all that great, I assume your skills have improved since that then. But mostly what you have to offer is a bad attitude and bitterness to an employer. To professionals' your diatribes about open source and how the best developers are not interested in a competitive salary, which may apply to you but does not apply to the best developers, is pretty silly.
Meghraj Reddy
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
Well, I read the article, and one thing was missing - so I looked up the resume, and it was missing there as well. Work experience. If we sum up all the time our friend Shlomi actually worked, for a salary, at a real company, we end up with less than three years. And that says it all. I am sure Shlomi is a great guy (that's why I am not going to ask him why he did not go to the army like all Israelis. A common question in Israel...), but sometimes when you judge an environment from the outside, you don't get the whole picture.

Open source? What about kids and family?

Developers not looking for great salaries? Some do, some don't, like in any other line of business (except lawyers, of course).

Bottom line, I am not convinced by this essay. Sorry.


Regards
Ari Telias Send private email
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
"It is known that great programmers almost consistently have very good lingual skills."

Dunno about programming, but it sure can't hurt a marketing person.
old.fart
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
Get to work all of you!!!

We have 10 "simple" new features that need to be added to the product that marketing just came up with this morning. They need it done by tomorrow.

Let's Go! Let's Go!!! ;-)
Big Company Wage Slave.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
> And shareware doesn't pay:

You obviously don't know a lot about shareware.

> you work on a shareware program a lot, then you
> release it for a pay, receive pay from at most 10
> people

Any with a good product you can "receive pay" from a lot more than 10 people, a lot more.

> (if you're lucky),

Luck has nothing to do with it.

All you need is a good product, with good customer support, that someone is willing to pay to use.

> and no-one can or is willing to contribute back.

They paid you, you did not pay them. Why would you expect them to contribute anything back?

> On the other hand, if your program is open-source,
> and you publicise it on freshmeat.net or a similar
> site, some people will gladly take a look, some of
> them will try it (instead of immediately ignoring
> it for being non-open-source),

And how exactly does this end up making you any money for your software development efforts?

> some of them will send you a good input, and some
> will even become contributors.

Once again, where’s the money?
 
If you're working for nothing then you truly are a "Slave to IT".
Jussi Jumppanen
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
 
IT slavery? As if. That's an insult to all the millions of people out there who really DO have it tough. IT has, generally speaking, got to be one of the most pampered lines of work there is. One evidence of this is the amount of time highly paid people spend on JOS whimpering about and/or writing essays about their cubicle being too small, or being forced to go to a meeting, or whatever.
Greg Send private email
Thursday, May 10, 2007
 
 
I thought the table of contents was horribly tacky, as half of the titles were introductions.

Then I saw the revision list and stopped reading.
Phillip Zedalis Send private email
Thursday, May 10, 2007
 
 
None of this sounds unreasonable.  Most of what you've written is decent advice for people who want to hire and hang on to good hackers.

That said, my greatest admiration goes to those people who see an opportunity and capitalize on it.  If the rest of the world is stupid, you can 1) see it as a bad thing and complain about it, or 2) see it as a market opportunity and capitalize on it. 

This is a big part of why I read joelonsoftware.  Joel saw that there was a lot of idiocy in how programmers were hired and treated on the job.  He used that idiocy to his advantage by starting a company that isn't idiotic, proving that there's a competitive advantage in a more programmer-friendly approach.  In many ways, Google seems to have proven this as well - a creative, developer driven environment has essentially kicked Yahoo's top-down management driven ass.    Paul Graham's Y Combinator may be a sweet deal for investors, but I suspect he is just as motivated by a desire to prove that by handing power to the developers, his side will win. 

It's a lot harder to start a company, but in the end, it's probably the best way to change the nature of programming employment.
Geoff B
Thursday, May 10, 2007
 
 
Open Source is for people not wanting to get paid for their labor or hoping to create a product they later may gain benefit, such as being bought out or getting a great job with a company that appreciates their work.

Anyone complaining that they are treated poorly then claims that the only good developers work for free on Open Source is just asking to get treated like a doormat.
Rob Henry Send private email
Thursday, May 10, 2007
 
 
Why pay someone a ton of money to write software when you can pay someone a pittance to maintain open source software.

Quite a few businessman have exploited this to get quite rich themselves, while destroying jobs for IT people.


And the sadest thing is that people don't realize it, not until it's too late and they gotten pushed out of IT.

Thursday, May 10, 2007
 
 
$175/hr, you beyotches.

This ain't 2003.
Treated us like garbage 4 years ago?
Recruiters wouldn't return our calls?

Well, it's payback time. Guess who's holding the cards now, you MBA asspistons.

$175/hr or STFU.
angry.techtard
Thursday, May 10, 2007
 
 
"IT has, generally speaking, got to be one of the most pampered lines of work there is. One evidence of this is the amount of time highly paid people spend on JOS whimpering about and/or writing essays about their cubicle being too small, or being forced to go to a meeting, or whatever."

+1 Greg for saying that.

I have some days at work now that I don't enjoy that much, but at the end of it all, while no one is actually shooting at me during the course of my IT career, then IT is a long way from the worse job I've had.
Rob Moir Send private email
Friday, May 11, 2007
 
 

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