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A key difference overlooked in this perspective is that the professions you've listed don't actively probe about a candidates work outside of the hiring/talent discovery context. Their skill is judged by what they've produced that's directly relevant to the evaluation process. Comparing programmers to such a diverse array of disciplines requires a more detailed analysis.

A percentage of the software industry has a bias against programmers who don't code in their spare time because it's extremely difficult to evaluate technical talent. We lean on quality filters like number of hours spent on side projects that have sparse evidence to support their efficacy. While I'm skeptical that a general set of metrics exist we can use to perfectly evaluate technical skill across the industry, we can certainly do better.




> because it's extremely difficult to evaluate technical talent.

Is it actually harder to evaluate a programmer's talent compared to, say, a lawyer or a doctor's talent?


Both of those have long professional mandatory training which does the evaluation once at the start of their careers, and then subsequent hiring is done on prestige rather than re-evaluation.


Same could've been with CS/Software Engineers, until someone decided that making a quick buck out of bootcamps is more important than profession's integrity.


The phenomenon long predates bootcamps. The microcomputer revolution unleashed a huge number of self-taught programmers on the world in the 80s. Most of the infrastructure was built by people who weren't ""qualified"" to do so; so why would they respect qualifications? Why would those who follow in the footsteps of Bill Gates (Harvard dropout) or John Carmack (UKansas dropout) choose not to dropout when they could build things instead?


It's harder to evaluate a new programmer's abilities because you (every hiring institution) have to do it yourself in a limited time.

An institution that's hiring fresh lawyers or fresh doctors can piggyback on the extensive, rigorous and difficult evaluation (which costs a lot of time and effort both for the candidate and the evaluator) during the bar qualification, medical licensing examination, etc. For example, if a potential doctor is a board certified proctologist(colorectal surgeon), then you can just assume that they will be able to do proctology to a high standard, you don't need to (and likely even can't) verify that aspect of the candidate. (Though employment of doctors itself is quite different from how hiring normal employees work, they're often more like independent contractors or running their own practices)

If an institution is hiring a fresh software developer, then a CS diploma does not even reliably guarantee that they know the basics of software engineering (e.g. see yesterday's discussion in HN https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24740765 ) - so you have to do all the evaluation yourself, and neither you nor the candidate would be willing to spend as much time and effort on that evaluation as a lawyer or doctor does, so it definitely is trickier to evaluate since you don't (can't) have enough information.


I also think it should not be. But so many times companies hiring brought it upon themselves by thinking too highly of their work. I have had first hand experience when just to develop or support some half-assed shitty webapp, hiring guy would talk of it as developing platform challenging Amazon in E-commerce.

In these scenarios they are going to get lot of candidates who will do far more fuzzing on their CVs


This is a serious question that I'd love to see a serious answer to. Because for the life of me, perhaps literally, I don't have a better heuristic for judging a doctor than gut feeling. Similarly, selecting the right lawyer could also be a literal life or death decision, albeit in a far more unlikely scenario, and I'm really not sure how to do any better than gut feeling there either.

So you find out you have a semi-treatable carcinoma, how do you pick the right doctor? AM radio ads? Billboards about proton therapy? Internet search? Hearsay? Whoever your insurance company picks?

At least I know how to evaluate a programmer for life and death work, like avionics. That's just verifiably coding to a specification. Challenging, but relatively easy compared to cancer.


Ironically, these professions weren't listed above. I doubt that many people expect lawyers or doctors to work for free in their spare time…

The professions that were mentioned in the grandparent were all things that can easily be tested in an testing process. I.e. _play_ the guitar. Cook a meal.

Testing a doctor or lawyer well in a limited time is difficult, just like a software engineer. The difference is that they aren't expected to do "side projects" to prove their worth.


> I doubt that many people expect lawyers or doctors to work for free in their spare time…

They don't, but not because they don't want to - it's because it's irresponsible for them to. The occupation of a lawyer or a doctor professes some privileges but also creates legal liabilities. As a lawyer or a doctor, you're not going to risk losing your license over an advice or procedure given to someone for free, on a hobby project.

(Also, the work of lawyers and doctors isn't creative in the sense software is, but it's primarily a people-oriented service. Which means you need other people to do your primary type of work for/on. The kind of work lawyers/doctors usually do after hours is called research, or just learning. Meanwhile, in software development, I can do the exact same type of work for myself that I do at my job, and end up with a digital product I can enjoy using.)


I think maybe it’s because lawyers and doctors take on cases/patients by themselves sometimes. If they win cases or help patients that speaks to their ability.

These days many software developers have never delivered software by themselves, so when they say they were “part of a team that developed X” we can’t know if they really did a significant part of X, or if they were just along for the ride.


I'd imagine just as many lawyers work as parts of larger legal times. And a doctor's performance is even more murky in many ways—did the patient get better because of the doctor, or because they were going to get better anyway? You can't just look at a doctor's record and determine their performance.




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