Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

> But Google keeps making their own special PhD driven darlings.

I'm really sorry that you have this feeling, but this has nothing to do with PhDs. It's impossible to get promoted by bug fixes inside Google, and people are promotion driven.

There were many people who tried hard to fix a lot of bugs, but they usually burn out due to lack of recognition inside Google.

It really, really shows. That and documentation. And some periphery work related to larger efforts, especially on any platform that's not the Web. It's the only explanation for how an organization like that can produce so much broken and half-assed software—bad incentives, and probably a serious middle management problem, in that they don't have leverage or motivation to make ICs do "boring" and follow-through work.

Maybe it's working for them from a bottom-line perspective, but it's made their brand as an engineering company clownish.

The key question is the bottom-line, as you wrote. Management is really hard to scale, but right now innovation is a better prediction of growth than bug fixes, so I think it's not even clear how to improve the promotion process without hurting growth of the company.

I think Google is too big at this point already, but that's an orthogonal question.

A non-"rockstar" hiring process and parallel job track (with potential for cross-over) so they can get in people who are happy to do "boring" work on an interesting product might do it. Probably can't be in the Valley or anywhere else ultra-high COL. I think part of the problem is they (seem to?) only staff folks who both can and are inclined to leave quickly if they don't get to do the fun stuff.

Again, though, may not make sense for them from a $$$ perspective. Jank and rough edges galore may be something they're willing to live with.


How this works in my head:

Manager: Could you take a look at the Android developer documentation? Some of it's badly outdated and have you actually tried using it? A lot of the advice is... kinda bad. Also maybe look at a few of these UI components we had the Summer interns make, they've got bizarre implementations and are difficult and inconsistent to customize. Oh and god have you looked at our issue tracker? Has anyone, actually? Like, ever?

Developer: Hey so have you heard of this place called Amazon?

Manager: Uh I mean how about we start a fourth greenfield instant messaging product instead?

Developer: That's better. Amazon? Who's Amazon?

Actually there is little thinking about "Amazon" or other competitor: internal mobility is easy. So replace "Amazon" by "this other team is doing a cool new project", and you can get transferred in a matter of weeks, most of the time without going through a heavy interview process.

And all of this isn't only motivated by "not doing boring tasks", but also because this is what drives promotions / career advancement. So "launch a feature/project, get rewarded, and switch team" seems like a trend, and it does not encourage to think about long term maintenance / etc. (It isn't a generality either, but it is a bit of a trend)

Note that while it is quite know and admitted at Google, is there a company where it is different? People are complaining about Radar tickets not being fixed while new (half-baked) features keep shipping on iOS as well, and it is somehow for the same reason inside Apple.

Working on improving the quality of the software is not always easy to measure in terms of impact, and hard to get recognition for in the same as shipping a new feature.

Where Google differs, maybe, is that its promotion system is well codified and rewards the "difficulty" of the deliverable. This is skewing the balance to reward adding more complexity in the system for the sake of solving it (you create difficult problems artificially, they aren't intrinsic to the nature of the user needs you should solve).

Yes, the typical boring enterprise job.

There are teams whose only role is to work down those tickets, one after the other.

> It's impossible to get promoted by bug fixes inside Google

This is why people job-hop for meaningful career advancement. Much easier than dealing w/ the broken promotions processes these companies employ.

The goal of job hopping is to get your salary match your market value (or even higher, as job hoppers are great at salary optimization), promotion processes have problems everywhere.

Exactly. An anecdote (not my own) https://mtlynch.io/why-i-quit-google/

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact