How to annoy a software developer

Being a software developer makes you see the world in a particular way. Because of this, software developers usually share similar opinions on certain things. And this is why there are things that are almost guaranteed to annoy any software developer.

It’s good to know this things, so you aren’t hated by your friends or colleagues who happen to be programmers. Or maybe it’s the contrary and you want to annoy those people on purpose. Just be aware that they won’t necessary hate you. They’ll probably just think that you are really dumb.

In any case, here are six things that will almost guarantee to annoy any software developer you come in contact with.

1. Inability to use Google

Programmers use Google a lot. Many problems they come across have already been solved by someone, so it’s always better to look up the solution, if one is available, instead of re-inventing the wheel.

Programmers also have to constantly improve their knowledge and learn new technologies. And this, once again, is best achievable with the help of a search engine.

This is why software developers become very proficient at using Google. It becomes their daily habit. So, they don’t understand how someone who knows how to use an internet browser doesn’t also know how to use Google.

A programmer gets extremely frustrated when he browses some social media page and sees a lot of people posting questions that they could have easily googled. And then he sees those questions being answered by people who don’t know what they are talking about.

“What time my local supermarket is open till?”

“Do I need a negative Covid-19 test if I want to fly to country X?”

“What did the prime minister talk about in the press conference today?”

And so on. A programmer wouldn’t understand why someone would spend hours on a public forum with one of these questions and get a lot of conflicting information in return, when he could have just googled it and got an answer from a reliable source in five seconds.

And yes, if you are one of these people, a programmer who will see you asking a “googleable” question on a public forum will think you are dumb. Well, I do have compassion and I do realize that not everyone has made Google their habit. I remember times when I myself would not use Google as much as I do now. But not every programmer is as self-aware as this.

2. Not checking official sources of information

In programming, you quickly learn that you need to read official documentation before you ask your more experienced colleagues how to do things. Programmers are always busy and they don’t like getting interrupted for no reason. So, nobody would take it well if you ask them about basic syntax of a programming language that is fully documented.

And this translates into other areas of life. Just like with googling, programmers make it their habit to go to the official sources for the information they need. And this is why they don’t take it well when people around them don’t do it.

This especially became apparent with Covid-19 pandemic. That’s when social media sites and public forums became filled with people spreading rumours, while they could have just visited official website to read the actual information.

For example, during the first lockdown in England that started in March 2020, people were allowed to leave their homes for only specific reasons. And one of these reasons was exercise. Despite this, there were many people on social media complaining about seeing somebody running on the street. According to them, the runner was breaking lockdown rules. But he definitely wasn’t.

Another example is to do with the conspiracy theorists, of whom there were many during the pandemic. Many posts were being shared that said something along the lines of “mainstream media will never show you this”. But if they would actually visit any mainstream media website, they would see that it would be talking about exactly this subject!

But the worst of all is when inability to check official sources makes people suffer negative consequences in real life. For example in February 2021, UK has introduced quarantine hotels for arrivals from specific countries that had high prevalence of specific coronavirus variants. If you arrive from one of those countries, you had to stay in a hotel for 10 days. And you had to pay for it out of your own pocket.

Well, the government had to offer some financial help to the collapsing hotel industry, while creating a visibility of doing something useful. And, of course, people who still travelled during pandemic represented a tiny fraction of the population, so they were convenient scapegoats.

Ukraine was not on the list of those countries. However, on one of the public forums, a woman from Ukraine said that she went through a lengthy and costly process of applying for British visa, got the visa, but decided not to go. The reason – somebody somewhere told her she would have to stay in a quarantine hotel if she travelled! But all she should have done is check the official list of the countries on the official government website, which gets updated daily.

So, if you have suffered because you haven’t read the official instruction, a software developer will pity you. But he will think it’s all your fault.

3. Total lack of basic logic

The process of programming is, basically, a practical application of logic. In a nutshell, a code of a program is nothing other than a complex logical flow. This is why programmers develop a good ability to think logically.

Of course, not all programmers are completely rational. And they are as susceptible to cognitive biases as everyone else. But in general, they are good at thinking logically, because they have been conditioned into it. And this is precisely why programmers get very annoyed when they see someone expressing an idea that lacks even the most basic logic.

But people who lack basic logic tend to be everywhere. For example, this is why conspiracy theories become so popular.

Of course, not all conspiracy theories are completely illogical. There are even some that turned out to be true. But the reasons why people accept conspiracy theories are often completely illogical.

For example, anti-vaxxers would often point out that someone has died after being vaccinated. But there is a total disconnection between cause and effect in this statement. Dying after the vaccine does not imply that the death was from the vaccine. This kind of faulty logic is no different from saying that regularly drinking water will kill you, because everyone who has ever died used to regularly drink water.

Sometimes, even the official public bodies are guilty of this fallacy. For example, when somebody died within 28 days of receiving a positive test for some virus, it doesn’t imply that it was the virus that killed them. Nevertheless, this is exactly how British government measures Covid-19 deaths.

Another example of a faulty logic that you can see among conspiracy theorists is the statement that if some information is only available on some small website that very few people know about and nowhere else, then it must be the truth that is censored by the governments and the mainstream media. An average software developer would laugh at this statement! They wouldn’t understand how can’t someone see that the most obvious explanation – it’s juts all made up.

Finally, it’s just outright stupid when someone finds a picture of a famous person with a quote and uses it as an evidence. Well, as my buddy Abe Lincoln said:

4. Interruptions for chit-chat

Software developers absolutely hate it when you interrupt them without a good reason.

The process of software development is 80% thinking and 20% coding. Before typing the code, coders construct complex models in their head. It takes a while to construct such a model and it requires 100% focus.

Then somebody decides to interrupt you for some small talk. And suddenly, this entire mental model in your head is gone! It will probably take you at least 15 minutes to construct it again.

Nothing explains this fact better than this cartoon:

5. Being asked to fix people’s computers

Contrary to a popular misconceptions, software developers don’t fix computers. And they don’t install printers either. Neither do they configure Windows.

Software developers build programs. Their job is to write code that will then be compiled into an app or a website that people will use. Or maybe it will be compiled into something that end-users will not see directly, but it will still be a required component for some app that somebody will use. In any case, the job of a programmer is to write code and to make sure it then compiles into a working program.

Are there any programmers who also happen to know how to assemble a computer? Of course there are! Just like there are programmers who can drive. Assembling computers and programming are two completely different types of work.

So, when you ask a programmer to fix your computer, be aware that he is now probably plotting to kill you.

6. When people think that all programmers are nerds

In a popular culture, a software developer is often seen as a glasses-wearing nerd with zero social skills. And he probably looks like this:

But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Yes, the field of software engineering often attracts people who are into science fiction. Every tech field does. And yes, software development is where you can earn more than average even if you don’t have solid social skills. This is why you would see a fair share of nerds in there.

But lack of social skills will limit your career progression. You will probably stay at mid-level forever. So, not only nerds join the profession. There are many extroverted, well-groomed and well-spoken people too.

The reality is that there is no such thing as a typical programmer. All of us are different. There is, for example, John Sonmez, a former software developer who now owns Simple Programmer – a company that specializes in teaching programmers necessary soft skills. Does he look like a typical nerd?

John Sonmez (@simpleprogrammr) | Twitter

Neither am I a nerd. I don’t have social anxiety and I’m not afraid to meet people. I do enjoy contact sports and I keep myself as strong and fit as I can. This is what I look like:

I guess, that’s not very nerdy either.

So stop saying that all programmers are nerds. We are not.

And if you are thinking about becoming a programmer, but you are hesitating, because you aren’t a nerd – stop hesitating. You don’t have to be a particular kind of person to become a programmer. We are all different.

Wrapping up

This is the list of the things that I and many other programmers I’ve interacted with find the most annoying. But your list may be different.

If you are a programmer, what annoys you the most? I will be looking forward to see your own list in the comments.

Happy hacking!

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