4 Things You Should Stop Saying to Developers
Stop asking us to hack your exes' Facebook account.
I grow weary addressing the mountain of questions and comments as a software developer. Most of the questions and comments don’t make sense because they‘re grounded in stereotypes.
What we learn and what we do takes a lot of time, energy, and dedication. Our profession is no different than the other hard-working professions out there. And what people tend to forget is, developers are people too. We have our own lives, and we have boundaries. Unfortunately, some people like to cross those boundaries.
So here are some things you should stop saying to every developer you meet. And if you want to read the TLDR, then scroll to the end.
“Can you hack things? Can you hack into my exes Facebook?”
I’m shocked that I’ve heard this question more than once in my lifetime. To this day, I’m not entirely sure what constitutes a hacker. That might sound surprising, but as a developer, when you say you “hack” a solution, it implies your code lacks craftsmanship.
No developer wants to hack a solution unless they’re in a crunch. And, a developer's worst nightmare is looking through the commit history and realizing they’re responsible for spaghetti code. So, the term hacker doesn’t sit right with me.
A bug bounty hunter, on the other hand, are well-versed security analysts. These brilliant individuals hunt for security flaws in software before those flaws leak to the public. I wouldn’t necessarily call these individuals hackers either, because hunters also fix security flaws, and I don’t think their solutions are “hacky.”
The hacking and hackers you might be thinking about are associated with cybercrime. And if it wasn’t evident by any cybersecurity threat in the past, cybercrime is a punishable offense. I prefer not to go to jail. So, no, I will not hack your exes Facebook account to see if they’re cheating on you.
“My excel isn’t working.”
What does this even mean, and what do you want me to do about that?
When someone tells me a particular program isn’t working on their computer, it’s more than likely the program isn’t the problem. In most cases, the program is working fine, but there’s an underlying issue to diagnose. For example, when someone says Chrome isn’t working, it usually means their computer isn’t connected to the internet. Or if their printer isn’t printing, then perhaps the printer isn’t connected to the network, or the connecting cable is slack.
Or if excel isn’t working, well, you’re out of luck. The possibility of issues are endless, and most of them are human error, so I don’t know what to tell you.
Whatever the case may be, it’s not a developer's job to be your on-call technician. When everyone looks at the one developer in the room as the only person to solve computer problems, it gets slightly out of hand. Sometimes, just like the average Joe, developers need manuals and instructions too.
Did you know developers use Google search to help recall information? We’re not walking computer encyclopedias. For all the developers reading this, how many times have you searched, “How to center a div?” Or how many times have you looked up documentation for a function you’ve used a thousand times in the past, but you still can’t recall the order of the arguments?
All I’m saying is, ask three before me. Try asking your non-developer friends, or do a Google search beforehand.
Be mindful of developers time.
“I have this app idea. I’ll pay you to do it!”
There are so many developers on Fiverr and Upwork looking for freelance opportunities. Yet, I cannot seem to make myself clear enough when my Instagram profile says, “Technical Commissions — CLOSED.” I was never open to commissions, but I received so many daily requests to build web and mobile applications, I had to put up the label. Nonetheless, I still get requests!
One time, I matched a guy on Tinder, and the first thing he said to me was,
“I know I’m a f***boy. And I don’t think we’ll be great lovers but I think we can connect technically and build something great.
He wasn’t in tech.
And I don’t think it would be wise to work with someone who admits something like that about themselves. It’s a giant red flag TO STAY AWAY.
I’m honored people want to place their dreams in my hands, but developers are people too. Be mindful of our personal lives, and inquire if we’re interested in building an application, rather than assuming we’re interested because you’re paying us. I also find it insulting because it’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull in hopes it’ll run towards you. Money isn’t every developer's only motive. And for some developers, money isn’t the only incentive when evaluating if an application is worth our time. We don’t want to build any illegal applications for your drug cartel.
Let me reiterate. Cybercrime is a punishable offense. Most of us don’t want to go to jail. Please, stop asking!
“You don’t program during your spare time? But you’re a developer!”
This one is a doozy and makes the hairs on my skin rise.
I love being a developer. I wouldn’t trade my career for any other. I also work 9–5 in front of a computer from Monday to Friday, write online articles, and work on personal technical projects on the weekend. There are days I’m exhausted being around a computer. So it’s no surprise, there are days or even weeks I don’t develop in my spare time, and that’s okay!
I’m not sure what’s shocking about a developer having a life away from the computer. I’m also not sure why it’s shameful for a developer to admit they have a life away from the computer. However, I am not ashamed to admit it. I get tired of developing sometimes. Sometimes, I want to watch TV with my parents or grab a coffee with a friend. I’m allowed to do ordinary things, because I’m a person too.
I would never go to my doctor during his day off, and he’s out with his family, and ask him why he isn’t reading a medical textbook. That sounds ridiculous because he’s more than just my doctor. He’s a father, a husband, a friend, someone's uncle, and he deserves to dedicate his time in those roles too. Developers aren’t exempt from that freedom. We have other roles to fulfill to others and ourselves. It’s our right to take a break from the computer to fulfill those roles.
So stop guilt-tripping developers into believing they should be around a computer 24/7.
The moral of this article is:
Be mindful of developers personal lives, and cybercrime is a punishable offense.
Thanks for reading! ❤
University of Toronto Alumni Software Developer and Writer