Why are software developers rude?

5 min read

Software developers create computer programs and solve technical problems using their creativity, analytical thinking, and problem-solving skills. They are very straightforward, logical, and sometimes eccentric thinkers.

Software developers aren’t rude to everyone. It’s just you. You really piss them off. What you’re doing that bothers them is disrespecting their time, skills, and experience. You ask them to “fix your computer” because they “know about computers”. Ben Curhoys

The problem with “Hello”

You ping them with a “Hello” without any context. That’s just stupid and wastes a lot of time. How should I respond? Or should I just wait and stare at “typing…” while you find the words to phrase your message? It’s ok to prefix your actual message with a “Hi” or “Hello” but please include the actual message as well before you press the send icon. Read nohello to understand why you should never send plain “hello” or “hi” without any context.

The problem with “Asking to ask”

Every now and then in online chats, people just pop up and ask if they can ask a question: “Can I ask you a question?”, “Does anyone here know about xyz framework?”. “Can anyone help me with xyz problem?”. What you are doing is being lazy to put the effort to phrase your question in detail unless you are sure there is someone available to answer it. Don’t ask to ask, just ask. If someone knows the answer they will answer. Read dontasktoask to understand why you should never ask to ask a question.

The XY problem

Another situation that really pisses off a developer is XY problem. You have a problem “X” that you are trying to solve. you thought it could be solved in a particular way “Y”. Now you decide to ask how to do “Y” without revealing that you want to solve “X” problem. The XY problem is asking about your attempted solution rather than your actual problem. This leads to enormous amounts of wasted time and energy, both on the part of people asking for help, and on the part of those providing help. If you are asking a question always include your end goal, and the solutions you have tried and ruled out. Read xyproblem to understand why is it a problem.

Asking Smart Questions

You are not asking smart questions. Don’t get me wrong, it does not mean what you think it means. No question is dumb to ask. You are not expected to know everything and you are allowed to ask the very basic questions. But, show us that you are not just being lazy. Before asking a question on a forum or a discussion group, do some research, google your problem, read the documentation, and collect as much info as you can about the problem. That’s not enough, you need to show us clearly that you are not being lazy. When you phrase your question, add details of your research, what solutions you have tried, and what specific part you struggle to understand. Ask people to point you in the right direction and not to provide you with a ready-made solution. Do your homework, be precise, don’t assume and be specific, write clearly without internet slang, and don’t type in all caps. Read this informative article How To Ask Questions The Smart Way by Eric Steven Raymond to learn how to ask smarter questions.

Your questions are too broad

You may be asking overly broad questions. Maybe you don’t want to learn, maybe you are just expecting them to do all the research for you, maybe you want them to do all the work for you. If you come to us with a problem, we will help you with the resources you can read to solve it. But if you expect us to do all the research and solve it for you. We cannot do that. We will ask you to read it and come back with a more specific problem you have.

We are programmers. We code. The direct and simple the code is, the better. We like to keep things simple. We like directness, we communicate with less sugarcoating than many other people. We follow a cut-through-the-bullshit communications style that is natural to people who are more concerned about solving problems than making others feel warm and fuzzy.

What I mean by directness is we ignore pleasantries. We also say things as we see them. Very logical. We say “Pass the salt” rather than “Could you please pass the salt.” Computers like simple commands, and it saves words, so we’re terse. When asked how a dress looks, we say “That dress looks bad” rather than “Have you considered another dress in a different color?” Bryan White

If a person asks you: “Am I fat?” you might respond: “Why would you ask me that?” or “I hate the way you say that you shouldn’t talk like that.” but that’s because you have trained yourself to deal with awkward social encounters in a way that isn’t abrasive. A programmer is much more likely to answer back: “Yes”. Is that rude? Yes of course it is but it’s also correct. Bob

If you get a rude response on StackOverflow or any other online tech forum, find out if there’s anything you’re doing wrong. If you find it, fix it.

Sometimes people can be rude without reason, and it’s not specific to software developers, it’s a human defect. If that’s the case just ignore it and move on, focus on finding the answers, and solving your problem, and do not entertain rudeness with a rude reply.

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