What do non-programmers do that annoy you?

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Todd's photo

Ok these two are my biggest:

  1. People who say they want to get into programming but they don't want to put forth the effort. I don't know how it is for your area, but I live here in Southern California in the USA and I am around age 30 and there are a lot of guys and gals around this age who are either looking for a career switch or they are trying to be entrepreneurs and they basically act super interested in coding but when it comes time to actually do it and put in work, they disappear.

    This really bothers me because I've wasted hours of my time trying to help people in the past who acted like they wanted to code but actually just liked the idea of coding but not the reality of it... This is not a problem specific to our field... It is very common for people to either want the money or lifestyle associated with some career without wanting to put forth the actual effort... Sentences like "I'd love to be a movie star" couldn't be farther from the truth... A more accurate statement would be "I'd love the lifestyle of a movie star without putting in the steps necessary to get there," etc...

  2. People thinking that someone is either "good with computers" or not. There are parts to this which do hold true - but people forget that computers are a platform and thus just because John is a great malware analyst doesn't mean he's a great DevOps engineer, hardware guy, or even Python programmer for example. People assume that just because I spend night and day coding and reverse engineering and stuff, that suddenly I can solve all of their computer problems, but more importantly, that I can so do easily.

In summary, both of the above points aim at a standard theme which is that laypeople greatly underestimate and underappreciate the actual work/effort required to do things on a computer. I think this is the case because the job is similar to a mechanic but with a car mechanic, the hard work is tangible, visible, and more obvious - there's sweat, dirt, oil, grease, and sometimes injuries involved.

In our line of work, we just look like we're sitting at a box and next thing a person knows that box can now help them file taxes, or use their bank account, or chat with their friends, etc...

PS: I have no idea why this system is saying I have #1 twice but I wrote #2 above and it gets changed to 1 again lol.

Lana_Y's photo

People think I'm their IT guy

It's at the point that if the electricity goes out, they think I can magically fix it. Slow internet? Their phone doesn't work?? "Lana can fix it!"

The "I'm not a programmer, but I took one online coding course and now my opinions are fact" person

Doesn't matter who you are or how much you know. The beauty of working in this field is that you can never 100% master everything. It is ever evolving. There is always something to learn and some way in which you can improve your craft. Being humble goes a long way.

Ro's photo

If they have to employ other people's help all the time, then maybe they should not use a computer. Stick to Android phones and such. I don't mind really.

Sandeep Panda's photo

Among various things the one that annoys me the most is:

Having a preconceived notion about a particular technology and trying to convince programmers why that tech is bad without any evidence or proof.

I have encountered this problem many times. There are people (non-programmers) who never get a chance to evaluate a technology, but they somehow develop a negative perception towards it. The worst part is that they try to discourage everyone else in the team by portraying negative things that aren't true and obviously can't be proved with benchmarks and evaluation.

A real conversation. I met someone at a conference and that person was into product marketing:

They: So, what tech are you using to build your product?

me: Node.js

They: Really? But that's a language just for PoC right? Just rewrite your codebase in python. It's age-old and battle tested.

me: Ok. 🤯 Let me grab some coffee! Will see you soon.

I still have no idea how to deal with these people. Maybe someone can advise?

Marco Alka's photo

Software Engineer, Technical Consultant & Mentor

The thing is, you are the developer, they are a marketer. You have different options. imho, one is to act the 'cool guy' and just ignore them, like you did. Another is to tell them off, like 'we evaluated different technologies, and for our project and team, this technology is the best. If you disagree, we are open to you re-evaluating your idea. Please document your findings, advantages and disadvantages and present them to us in a timely fashion.' Telling them something like that will shut them up and they will probably think twice about using superficial knowledge next time. It might also encourage them to do some research and speak out when they really are sure that they have a better idea (which might happen, of course).

I don't know how good these ideas are, so feedback welcome :)

Ali Doruk Baykal's photo

I am really annoyed by people who don't know the difference between a developer and IT technician. When i told people that i am a software engineer they usually ask me to format their pc or get rid of a virus etc.

Vasan Subramanian's photo
  • Ask me to choose the best Android Phone for them
  • Want me to fix their television's WiFi

And this takes the cake ...

  • "I want to talk to you about using blockchain for my business"
Arsh Multani's photo

The most annoying things people say are , You are a computer guy , very easy and good life you have got , but they don't understand at all, that we guys are 24/7 into the programming, thinking always of bugs we are having , how to solve them, damnit we even dream about bugs and issues (sometimes even get the solution while we are sleeping for 5/6 hours of sleep we get) , And yeah thats really an easy and chill out life we have got :D ..

They : What do you do ?

Me: I'm a programmer

They: What is that ?

Me: We basically code create websites , mobile apps and related stuff

They: Oh So why don't you make something like facebook and get famous and rich ?

Me: Never Ending silence

Mark's photo

Non-technical colleagues tend to want to solve problems by creating more forms, checklists, procedures, etc., that could also be solved automatically with good technical infrastructure.

In my experience, most programmers love automation and hate mindless tasks. Managers should be the same.

Ro's photo

That is true. Sadly, I feel some programmer (me) go into programming because it's the only way to express this or have some freedom in automating things. People are often hostile to change and automation, however they let programmers sit in a dark corner and "do their thing".

Justin DiMuccio's photo

I know we all start somewhere, but my pet peeve is when non-programmers try to program and do not tell people that they are inexperienced.

I have seen code that looks more like a thesis paper than a program/command line.

But keep at it, I'll try to hunt any offenders down and assist them!

Ro's photo

Never ever, ever, ever check out the "Help" drop down menu. I want to tell them: That thing IS FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU, you know?
I guess some persons prefer to let others do their self-help for them.

Oh and something else, people who keep telling me how much of a genius I am while I fix their computer. Probably because:

  1. If I'm a genius then they feel better (ego-wise) about not finding their way around the computer.
  2. They think that stroking my ego will somewhat facilitate me giving them free help with their computer stuff.

Anyway I don't appreciate such compliment, a simple thank you would do.

Jos Fabre's photo

Being annoyed by others is a major waste of your time. Unless they are blocking your forward momentum, just ignore them completely

Jos Fabre's photo

full-stack father, developer, crafter

But if I had to pick one, it's the word just in sentences like "this just has to be solved" ;-)

Marco Alka's photo

I hate people using my programs. If they didn't, no one would find bugs or downtimes and the world would be a better place.

Jokes aside ;) what annoys me a lot are people, who believe that I can solve any technical problem. While I do tinker a lot in my spare time, I am not some kind of godly being, able to turn water into wine. Just the other day, one of my friends came over to me with two laptops (different brands, different sizes, etc.) and told me: Look, that one does not work, but the display is okay, while on the other hand this laptop's display is broken. Can you please swap the displays so that I have one working laptop? Like WHAT?

It happens a lot, and most of the time, I might even be able to help, however it's the part where they assume I can do it when I tell them that I am a software engineer which annoys me.

Todd's photo

Software Security TechLead

I am not some kind of godly being

You expect us to actually believe that???

Tsk tsk tsk Marco Alka ... I don't know what to say to you right now...


Marco Alka's photo

Software Engineer, Technical Consultant & Mentor

Todd I can turn wine into water, though, if that counts..... :D

Ghanshyam's photo

Go through this link - qr.ae/TUTI52

  • This is what happened when everyone get internet and smart phone (yes even those who doesn't deserver it)
Gustavo Benedito Costa's photo

What they annoy me mostly is that my same deaf-born friends (like me) always keep calling me to fix their computers and mobile phones everyday even if they know I am just a programmer and not an IT guy. There is no use to try to explain them programmers and IT guys are the same thing, because I have already explained and they keep thinking they are the same job. I tried to get grid of them, transferring them to an IT guy, but they do not want to pay an expensive IT guy I recommended to them.

Besides, they also assumed I am a genius, a hacker, a Superman coming from another galaxy, for using LInux and writing a lot via terminal, they always asked me how to recover their e-mail because they forgot their passwords. They asked me to hack the locked iPhone and Android mobile phone. Well, it is not difficult to solve the problems of Android mobile phones because it is easy to restart and start the recovery mode for wiping the phone out to restore the factory.

Not just non-programmers, one of computer science students dropped his course out for management and entrepenship and assumed I am a genius and a hacker and asked me about Kali Linux, and asked me to fix his MacBook Pro which has had a mouse bug and been hacked by criminal hackers which exploited Intel issue in that era of news about the vulnerabilities of Intel CPUs and ARM-based. As a result, I spent one week, repairing his MacBook, trying to pentest and remove the vulnerabilities and the attacks, until discovering his MacBook Pro used a customised Hackintosh, it was why it was bugged and hacked, then I corrected the problem, purged the Hackintosh and installed an original macOS.

Chris Armstrong's photo

The best way to annoy me is to expect that I can explain instantly how to solve that software problem they are having.

Even if I don't have that program in front of me. Or haven't used the program before. Or ever heard of it / know what it does.

Jason Knight's photo

Mine is when they've just read a fluff piece in a magazine or just wasted money at some echo-chamber "developer conference" and now magically, with ZERO programming knowledge, think they have a better command of what languages and tools I should be using to build their programs.

As always, frameworks are some of the worst offenders for this -- given that universally they are incompetent garbage yet SOMEHOW end up the media darlings. Doesn't matter how inefficient, or directly in conflict with good practices they are -- one positive article in Forbes and we're stuck having bosses, clients, and other people not qualified to write a single line of code shoving this trash down our gullets.

Which as I often say: "Taking technical advice from the pages of Forbes is like taking financial advice from Popular Mechanics -- before you know it you're bankrupt for having sunk all your money into pseudo-scientific SCAMS like Moller International, electric roads, or half-witted pipe-dreams like hyperloops."

In that same way without the qualifications to know if it's bullshit or not, those who don't know the first thing about programming know things like bootstrap, wordpress, node.js, vue, react, etc, etc as nothing more than buzzwords and not what they are for, when to use them, when not to use them (which in most cases is the case), but STILL insist that those working for them do so.

To the point a few months ago I actually had a client say "But you can't build a responsive website without bootstrap!" FACEPALM -- or even MORE classic about two years ago someone said to me "use bootstrap, nobody builds websites with HTML anymore!" -- I was not kind in my response: "What the f___ do you think people use, marzipan and kittens?"

It's almost as bad as a decade ago when someone would ask "how do I make a link turn red when hovered" on a forums and some know-nothing twaddle would say "Use jQuery".

Which the susceptibility to treating technologies as sick buzzwords or "the solution to everything" isn't exclusive to non-programmers. We see it all the time as "I know this framework so I'll use it for everything" just because they don't want to learn the underlying langauge -- and clearly don't know it well enough to even recognize if said framework is making anything simpler or harder. (and most of the time it's the latter!) The end result is most always like someone drove a screw with a hammer. Developer conferences being one of the worst for creating this situation since they are nothing more than echo-chambers filled with head-bobbers, with anything resembling dissension being stamped out, ridiculed, laughed at -- EVEN as those running the show are basically talking out their arses! Hardly a shock the result is a confirmation bias rooted in cognitive dissonance much akin to how cultists behave.

But when non-programmers encounter the same propaganda and ritualistic indoctrination the situation is a thousand times worse as they have NO clue what the blazes they're talking about, but insist on telling others how to do things and what to do them with.

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