[Baypiggies] Chompapps Position - from Issue 31

Kelly Yancey kelly at nttmcl.com
Tue Oct 27 08:41:10 CET 2009

Seth Friedman wrote:
> I map "rockstar" culture to mean some number of contributors that are 
> somehow perceived to be way more competent than some comparison.  
> Culturally this just strikes me as a bad starting point for a company to 
> be thinking of itself as.  Great coding skills?  Awesome.  If no one can 
> use resulting code but the one who wrote it, because the person who 
> wrote it over-estimated how "good" it was, and can't be bothered to 
> explain it?  Clearly bad.    I'm being caustic about it I recognize, but 
> this is a real problem for contemporary software companies that 
> advertise their jobs with this kind of swagger, that is my experience.
> I'm excited about a place when, regardless of coding skill level, their 
> coordination skills are well understood.  I believe it drives 
> effectiveness of teams that are dependent on the coders, one of which, 
> obviously, is users.   Everyone writes code with bugs - the standard 
> questions are: (a) are they understood (ie well enough to judge 
> importance), (b) can they be resolved quickly, (c) can they be resolved 
> quickly by person other than the person that wrote the original 
> code.     Code exists in the context of business and communication 
> between *all* the teams required to make that happen effectively is 
> paramount.    "rockstar", for me, translates to "hobbyist" not business 
> oriented software engineer. 

   I concur.  When I see "rockstar" in a Software Engineer 
advertisement, I read that as "overconfident and cocky".  Rockstars are 
brazen and rash, not contemplative and deliberate.  I'm not sure I'd 
want to work with a rockstar programmer, and "rockstar engineer" is just 
an oxymoron.

   Perhaps I'm just reading too much into the word, though.  It could 
just be HR code for "clothing optional & flexible work hours".


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