Are You an Evangelist Too?

Anil Dash and I have the same job title: evangelist.

I share Anil's reservations about his job title, too:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

Oh, so since I have to campaign to get my company to listen to reason, like upgrading our OS to XP or upgrading our 10 year old source control system then I am an evangelist? Sweet!!!

I wish I could SMACK someone upside the head and yell “YOU ARE HEALED” to get them to listen.

Is that a young Jeff Atwood pictured?

Although I do bear a passing resemblance to the polyester leisure suit wearin’, bible totin’, twinkie lovin’ youth pictured, it’s not me. I lifted it directly from Anil’s post. Great image.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I think the synonym that comes to mind most readily is charlaton.

evangelist, noun: a person marked by evangelical enthusiasm for or support of any cause.

I would hate to have “evangelical enthusiasm” for a specific technology. I hope as an evangelist your cause is business value, and not the Microsoft stack or any other particular tool or platform.

As for religion, the best software engineers I’ve worked with were not at all religious. Unless you define ‘religion’ to be ‘relentless pragmatic pursuit of a good solution’. They didn’t face software engineering as religion by a long shot. Linux, Windows, BSD-license, GPL, proprietary, FOSS, emacs, vi - whatever. Pros, cons, some better for this, some better for that.

That’s partially why I think “evangelism” can be so damning. I’d rather take an objective, from-facts-to-conclusion type of approach any day of the week.

Evangelists are the creationists of software engineering. It does not need to be a religion.


The church of Von Neumann? I a member of the a href=""Church-Turing/a! :slight_smile:

Doh! Swallowed “am” and the link to

Like too many other good words, ‘evangelist’ has suffered due to bad images of things called ‘Christian’ (disclaimer: I am one, but more in the vein of the 1st century church).

‘Evangelist’ is simply one who announces good news with the intent of inspiring those who have interest in what they say. That’s all.

A ‘teacher’ on the other hand, is one who goes into the detail of instruction.

To lead, you must first inspire!

No, the word evangelist very much has its origins in Christianity. It wasn’t “taken over.”

I like this definition, from Easton’s 1897 dictionary cited at the link Gustavo provided:

a “publisher of glad tidings;” a missionary preacher of the gospel (Eph. 4:11). This title is applied to Philip (Acts 21:8), who appears to have gone from city to city preaching the word (8:4, 40). Judging from the case of Philip, evangelists had neither the authority of an apostle, nor the gift of prophecy, nor the responsibility of pastoral supervision over a portion of the flock. They were itinerant preachers, having it as their special function to carry the gospel to places where it was previously unknown. The writers of the four Gospels are known as the Evangelists.

It doesn’t take skill, just enthusiasm!

I am a member of the church of curry (

Gustavo, sorry dude: eu (good) + angele (message) was also used in secular Greek.

On the flip side, ‘inspiration’ basically comes from in-spirit-action.

We are all (except for Richard Stallman) probably as much evangelists as we are engineers. Feelings, intuition and bad experiences leave us to judge and generally believe 100% in something. I.e. here are my 10 commandments:

  • Tabs are NOT evil
  • Java apps just feel plain wrong
  • Linux for servers, windows for workstations
  • Gnome over KDE
  • Microsoft is NOT an evil empire
  • Dynamic languages can be just as good as static ones
  • We need both agile and waterfall
  • More expressiveness yields more productivity
  • There IS such a thing as too many options
  • Screw VI/emacs, use a proper IDE

So I guess the lesson is to once a while, let your guard down and meet with your enemy and try not to attack or stab him/her in the back immediately.

“Like Marc, you may already be an evangelist and not even know it.”

I know it. And you’re right.

I think I’m an evangelist! I am more interested in other technologies than any of my colleagues at the last couple of places that I have worked. Over the last few years (I’m in my mid-twenties so still getting to grips with who I am growing up to be) I’ve found that my enthusiasm rubs off on other people quite easily when I believe in something. Geoff, I wonder if you have any tips for developing evangelical skills further?

PS - I love the ten commandments, nine of them are spot on!

Yes… I’m an evangelist…
and I guess that everybody that read and write blogs about .NET is somehow an evangelist.

In my company there are other devs, but they are just “working”… I always asking myself how can someone work without passion of what he is doing…

People always laugh at me when they first see my MSN nickname (which is “.NET Evangelist”).

While reading the “Technical Evangelist” definition in wikipedia, I came across to the site “Global Network of Technology Evangelists” -

(There must be lots of Technical Evangelists out there)

It’s actually a good thing that companies that want to sell new tools send people out to spread the word and show how these new tools can make old problems easier. Programmers do tend to develop flexibility-robbing recto-cranial inversions if they are not exposed to new ideas and methodologies now and again.

That said, I’d be happier as a “Technical Debunker”, myself.

Interesting that you brought up how you were glad that you didn’t exert too much control, as you sometimes argued against the company’s best ideas.

IEEE Spectrum has an interesting article this month about the guy at Bell Labs who was part of the development of the transistor, yet basically killed Bell Labs’ involvement in the integrated circuit: