Strong Opinions, Weakly Held

You have to admit, Jeff, that you have reached a certain level of popularity - and with that popularity, inevitably, comes disagreement. (Just be glad you haven’t been slashdottted yet!)

I guess I’m just amazed that some people - other programmers, for goodness sakes! - can’t understand that this blog is about your opinions, and that what you write is not the be-all and end-all of discussion on the topic. Just because you are popular does not necessarily make you authoritative (and people smart enough to read and enjoy your blog undoubtedly already know this). I mean, it’s not like you’re advocating the One True Brace Style or anything… :wink:

People just need to learn to relax. If they find your posts insightful (as I do), they can learn from your posts and take something away with them and be happy. If they disagree or don’t like your posts, all they have to do is ignore them. (Or, if they’re feeling brave, write their own blog posts on the subject advocating what they feel is the correct view.) It really is that simple.

Oh, and I agree with Sue W - that guy’s post does seem to fit the model of “successful troll.” :wink:

I really enjoy this philosophy. I too am a member of the “strong opinions weakly held” school of thought, although I didn’t have nearly so good a name for it until today. The people whom I enjoy working with the most are the ones who are similarly eager to test out their ideas in the ring, and challenge my overly bold assertions; we challenge each other and advance together.

When it comes down to it: SUCCESSFUL programmers are ALL AMATEURS.

You have to be. If you spend enough time in one area to become an expert, you are focusing on old technology, and are not as useful.

If you are a programmer and call yourself an expert, you are either a over inflating your own experience, or need to start digging into new technology and become an useful amateur again.

As Seth Godin says: Small is the new big. I would say that Amateur is the new Professional. Old school guys will get over it eventually (or die a slow death trying to fight it).

There’s a word for you, Jeff:

You’re a writer. (And a good one.)

"Everything in software is so new and so frequently being reinvented that almost nobody really knows what they are doing. It is amateurs who make all the progress."
Then you should #define ‘Expert’ and ‘Amateur’ first, because if I look up both terms in a dictionary, I don’t see myself or any other professional software engineer as an amateur. Or did you mean ‘amateur writer/teacher’ ? Then I agree, because software engineers aren’t teachers nor writers. like writers aren’t software engineers, as there’s no time left to do both.

However how you wrote it, it seems you meant we’re all a bunch of amateurs doing things we hardly understand. Well… it of course sounds very arrogant, but I have a feeling I’m definitely understanding what the **** I’m doing when I write my code and design my software :slight_smile:

Jeff: I’ve been happily reading for 2 years now, but if I hear you echo your recent criticisms that “real” programmers started coding in xx one more time, then I’m never coming back.

I’m a programmer that started with C then C++ then VB.NET then C#… and I’m a hideous programmer. Your critics are obviously wrong.

Don’t trash talk yourself. It’s stupid and it’s not constructive.

By the way, since we’ve determined that this blog is useful, can we talk about something other than this blog? :wink:

“When it comes to software development, if you profess expertise, if you pitch yourself as an authority, you’re either lying to us, or lying to yourself. In our heart of hearts, we know: the real progress is made by the amateurs. They’re so busy living software they don’t usually have time to pontificate at length about the breadth of their legendary expertise. If I’ve learned anything in my career, it is that approaching software development as an expert, as someone who has already discovered everything there is to know about a given topic, is the one surest way to fail.”


Just keep doing what you’re doing. Your writing makes it patently clear where you’re coming from, and it is what keeps me (and apparently 100,000+ other people) coming back for more.

This is what I posted on Alistair’s website in the comments section. I think nobody said it before although seems obvious to me:

Got here from the Coding Horror blog. Everybody said a lot already so I just will add one note. From time to time, somebody starts to do something for fun (write, create a product/service/program, you name it) and then people like it and pick it up. The creator realizes whatever he created is something people want. So he creates a business on it. Should he now change? I would say no. Whatever made one successful one should continue to do. That is the proven business model. That will work. Change it and you got a new business which might succeed, might not.
So, for Atwood I say kudos for creating something what he can base a business on and being able to just keep doing the same. “Raising the bar” as you said you expect him to do might just mean he would lose all his current readership. I am suprised you didn’t get that, it seems obvious to me…

I just figured all the references were to artificially drive up the search engine rankings by the referrals coming from this frequently viewed blog. I say artificially because as the site stands now, there is no content to be indexed.

As far as setting yourself up as an expert you do come off that way sometimes, regardless of your intent or your claimed intent. Perception perception perception.

I read your blog for the technical posts and ignore the “soft” touchy feely behavioral based ones completely. But that and 5 bucks will get you a coffee at starbucks. As long as your happy, keep bangin’ 'em out bro!

Jeff, love the blog. I think you’re on the right track.

However, I won’t bow to you unless you can kick my butt in the Octagon. Bring it, buddy!

I like your posts much of the time, it’s your fan-base that annoys me!

The critique of your blog is laughable at some points and strong in others.

Just keep doing what you do and I’ll keep reading.

There’s an old adage that an ignorant person thinks they know everything but the wise person realizes they know nothing.

And now it’s backup by at least one scientific study:

I hate to disagree but I think that Jeff /is/ an authority on programming, and that this blog is more than ample evidence that this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Certainly he is not a perfect expert, but noone is.

The content of the blogs is more evidence than any number of owned companies or previous projects worked on in my opinion. In fact none of these later things necessarily imply any expertise in the same way as the content of these blogs do, as they directly evidence his expertise.

The desire to achieve the things mentioned is mostly independent of the desire to be a skilled programmer. High profile projects and standards are great things to be a part of, but just like everything else there are probably 10 times as many low grade code monkeys involved than skilled lead developers (who need not be very skilled anyway). As for making a lot of money… all that evidences is greed in my opinion, as I’m sure many of the OSS supporters will agree.

What speaks to me more is that Jeff feels so passionately about programming that he feels he must share his views publicly… and while this may be vanity, I do not believe that is his primary motivation, or else what we would see on coding horror would be a ton of self agrandising posts.

Of course, I have never owned a software company and have never held a job in the software industry. Therefore any of my opinions or logic can be immediately discarded without rationalisation, at least that is the impression that I get most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong though… I am a very bad programmer. Magic numbers and single letter variable names abound. Not to mention all of the permanently unfinished projects. :slight_smile:

"There’s a word for you, Jeff:

You’re a writer. (And a good one.)
Ben on May 30, 2008 07:14 PM "

Cheers to that

Why do I read this blog? It’s not because you’re an expert, or infallible. Heck, I think you are wrong about 50% of the time anyways, which is fine. It’s more that you cover a wide range of little topics that gets me thinking, and even if I disagree with you, I’m better off having thought about why I disagree with you. You are a stimulus, not an expert. And that’s a good thing to have—it gets the brain working, on a variety of topics.

I’ll reiterate what others have said here.

I don’t always agree with you, but you present your case with reason, you have interesting insights even when I don’t agree with your premise, and in general, I find the discussion on your blog interesting and worth reading.

I don’t see how he can say you’re professing to be some kind of expert, you just discuss things as they come to you, and if thinking about your profession out loud is wrong, then I guess he isn’t a very good programmer either. =)

This is much better Jeff but, by concentrating on blogging and realising that you have garnered such a large audience, this must make any of your opinions or statements much more considered. I appreciate the dry humour and occasional cheeky swipe at something, but there are too many people reading your articles who could mistake the manner intended or, worse, adopt it as their own opinion entirely! Take more care to research thoroughly before bringing out any articles similar to the XML or PHP ones again! Your takes on development philosophies are more interesting and thought-provoking.

Well, now that the elephant is in the room. How about some posts that include a bit of code that you are writing for StackOverflow?