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***** 2 Votes

Stand on your own two feet .... at some point...

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In my time on Dream.In.Code (and trust me I've loved it here, and wouldn't change my "home" at any time) there is something that has always bothered me. Yes at Dream.In.Code we're there to help other programmers with their issues & problems (and sometimes to even spur ideas they may now have thought about), that's not what bothers me, it's the ones who come and (without saying it) expect other members to hold their hand and walk them through a project, step by step.

To those people I have this to say:

I understand that you're having an issue with your project/assignment, hell I've had to post for help there myself so I know it happens, but at some point you're going to have to learn to stand on your own 2 feet and figure some times out yourself. A large part of being a programmer is problem solving, and a big component to problem solving is being able to research things, even complex tasks, and formulate some kind of idea or solution. Then after you try your idea or solution if it fails then ask someone for help or assistance.

No one is going to hold your hand (or coddle you) your entire career, in fact after some time others will just flat out refuse to do it any longer. When that happens, if you haven't learned how to do things for yourself, such as research, try things, formulate ideas and/or solutions, what are you going to do? When you got no one else to hold your hand unfortunately you're going to fall flat on your face in this industry, and I don't want to see that happen to anyone regardless of career choice. Trust me, an employer can tell real fast (almost immediately) if a programmer worked hard in school, did their research and learned things, or if the person is the kind of person who needs someone to hold their hand the entire time.

In this industry employers don't have the time (or need) for the latter type of programmer, this is (for the most part) a very fast paced environment, with a What have you done for me lately mentality. Employers (and clients) want to see progress, we are judged by what we get done and how long it takes, and in time your other team members are going to seriously resent you if they have to constantly hold your hand and find your solutions. They're going to get sick of carrying you and doing more work because you cannot think for yourself, and I mean real fast.

New programmers today have such an advantage over us who have been in this industry forever. When I first broke into this industry the vast majority of other programmers were simply unwilling to offer the kind of help we give here at Dream.In.Code. That actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, it forced us to think for ourself and to find a way to solve issues, no matter how complex they were.

So to you new programmers out there, take advantage of what is offered to you today, but don't take it for granted or think you can use it forever, better yet don't abuse the privileged of having so many other programmers who are more than willing to bend over backwards to help you. Learn to stand on your own two feet, at some point you're going to have no choice. I didn't write this to be rude or to be an asshole, I wrote it because I would like to see each and everyone of you succeed in this tremendously rewarding industry, but if you don't take this advice to heart I'm afraid your stay in the programming world will be a short lived one.

10 Comments On This Entry

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29 March 2010 - 11:54 AM
Exactly. There is a huge difference between "I've been working for hours and am stuck on this one part. Here's the error I'm getting for the input provided, can you help me" and "I b3z a n00biez, h0ldz m4h h4ndz." While I certaintly don't mind (and rather enjoy) helping the first type of member, it does frustrate me when I give a good hint and link to one or more good tutorials, and the OP comes back and says "sorry, no use. I didn't look at it, and can't figure it out." I think it all stems back to the expectations of learning to program. Many people compare coding to a math class. However, math classes teach problem recognition; programming classes should teach problem solving. So in other words, it is very reasonable to expect programmers to figure out how to solve new problems and research some of the necessary tools on their own. I don't know about other languages, but the Java API is very easy to read.


29 March 2010 - 12:21 PM
Great post! Being able to research and solve problems is a tremendously useful skill. (Not to mention essential).


29 March 2010 - 01:42 PM
Fantastic Post! You just nailed one of the biggest issues both her on Dream.In.Code and what actually occurs in schools. I listen the The A.P. Computer Science students talking about how they always copy each other's work. This is ... pathetic. If they honestly think they'll pay $86 to take a test and have their hand held the whole time, then nothing is going to happen. As a sophomore in high school, I'm already teaching people how to learn because thankfully somewhere along the way, I did something right...


30 March 2010 - 08:34 AM
Sometimes my supervisor will assign students things I don't even know myself and I'm the one who has office hours and grades some of them. However, this illustrates the difference between me and them is that it takes me moments to understand this new material and I know how to learn and understand it. When students ask me for help I walk them through the process of learning how to do something rather than the actual process of doing that thing. I try to help them learn how to learn.

The first years I was learning how to program I didn't have my own internet and nothing other than my books of programming to read. There was no one to really help me back then so I had to do it all myself.


30 March 2010 - 09:02 AM
plzzzz can you go through your codes posted.. plzzzzz point by point and explain to me what you mean,,
its not compiling
neeed source code plz



We are not talking about those threads are we? Just the repeat folks who ask for chunks of code and are not sure why they work or what they do?


30 March 2010 - 01:52 PM
Couldn't agree more. There are times when you just know someone is wanting you to spell it out for them and you try to just give pseudo-code or some really good hints at what to read up on and then someone will pop in and hand them the code. It's times like that when I wish there was more code deletion happening. I really enjoy helping people when they're stuck and sometimes, I've even learned a few things when someone comes after and posts a better solution or opens my eyes to a problem with how I coded a solution. I'm not a full-time programmer nor do I do it for a living, but I do enjoy it and create various utilities for here at work. So this is a way for me to stay afloat and not have to re-learn after a long period of not writing. But the ones that get upset because you haven't handed it to them, well, lets just say it gets my dander up. I just have to keep telling myself, "Self, you had to start somewhere" to which I reply, "Yea, I did, but I didn't have Google when I started." Yea, I actually carry on conversations with myself. Sometimes it's the only way to have an intelligent conversation where I work. :D


30 March 2010 - 07:03 PM
I'm all for the sink or swim (Darwinist) mentality. Removing the wheat from the chaff would make the software development community stronger as a whole. But sites like this either wouldn't exist or would have to be re-purposed. And I'd miss the neon orange glow. :)


30 March 2010 - 08:00 PM
I'm not saying anything about offering help Programmist, I'm speaking about the ones who refuse to do something on their own. You give them help, they get a simple error and never even look it up, they just expect an answer from someone on a forum. I'm referring to taking initiative to learn something, not just want every single step handed to them.

At some point they're going to have to learn to look things up, people arent going to carry them their entire career, that's the kind of people I'm directing this at. If I didn't like the idea of offering help I wouldn't be where I'm at, nor would have I been here this long


31 March 2010 - 06:57 PM
You know PsychoCoder, that brings up another point. Am I the only person who get the squiggly underlines in a section of code with a description of why it's underlined? Because here lately, I'm believing I have received some special version of VS2008 that informs me of where my problems are.


05 April 2010 - 06:00 AM
Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish, he will eat for life.
I usually try and follow this mentality when answering questions. I try and explain whats going on in hopes that they will actually want to know what I did. Usually the more they sound like "code plz k thnx bye" the more I give them explanations and how to's and less of the actual answer.

However I dont think site like these are a crutch for programmers, there's a threshold you reach when you advance far enough into the field where very few members will actually be able to give you the answer, and sometimes they may only be able to collaborate other ideas as well. Which is the same thing i've experience where I've work ( now feel free to tell me otherwise since i've only worked for a year total, and I know your far more experience), where people collaborate an idea before attempting to tackle it.

All in all, nice rant
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