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I'm Moving To San Francisco, I Need A Job (zedshaw.com)
108 points by nailer on Aug 5, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 75 comments

This is why having a well-known online presence is important.

It's worth noting that it's an online presence backed by serious code, which makes Zed worth listening to (and hiring). It seems like many online presences have the attitude without supplying the code.

Zed Shaw's code is insignificant in the face of the contribution of many, many far more talented open source developers who are far less accomplished at leveraging controversy to drive traffic and attention.

The mileage that Zed Shaw has received on a simple well-designed Python SMTP library is absolutely astounding and totally disproportionate to the complexity, novelty, and general market need for the library. His only other notable contribution is a simple, feature-constrained single-purpose micro web server that uses a scaling-limited thread-per-request architecture.

Yeah, it's not like he wrote something that lots of people used like... mongrel, for example.

[Edit: This comment doesn't really make much sense now, since the parent updated his comment to note that Zed ALSO wrote mongrel. I'd delete this comment except for reply attached to it.]

Do you know -- off the top of your head -- who the primary contributors are to Apache? They wrote the HTTP server that runs the web.

[Edit] Why is the reply nonsense? The point is fairly clear -- there are far more established, widely used, complex and important projects that do not have such vitriolic personalities attached. Zed Shaw's known for his blog posts, not because of any proportionally notable contribution to the open source community.

(The original unmodified comment referred to this reply as "nonsense").

I pretty much agree with you. My comment was on the "online personality" part.

If one person wrote Apache, you'd probably know his or her name.

Apache (originally NCSA HTTPd) was originally written by Robert McCool. He also drafted the initial CGI specification.



Can't argue with that!

ZS built a lot of his reputation before he switched to python -- see his rants on Ruby on Rails etc.

They're "all mouth and no trousers", as a British saying goes. Zed has a wardrobe full of trousers.

I am getting a weird sense of deja vu here. Like when VA Linux hired that other loudmouth, ESR. How did that work out for them?


...but, OTOH, it worked out well for ESR...

(Or as they say in Texas, "all hat and no cattle".)

But, will his online presence hurt him or help him in this case? Zed is obviously intelligent, but his tendency to not "play nice" with others might not fit with too many grow mode startups who don't want drama, and just want to get the best stuff out the door as fast as possible. Though, maybe a little Zed drama will help get better stuff out the door. It's a tough call. I wish him the best of luck and can't wait to see what happens with the lucky company that he fits into.

I think in the absolute, it will absolutely help him. It might detract some companies from hiring him, but I think his contributions in software and publications opened him up to a magnitude of potential employers, even if some of them might not want that sort of exposure.

Let's say he didn't post or publish anything, would you say he'd be better off? I'm positive he won't.

I'd hire Zed just for his online presence. I'd put him in the Technology Evangelist role he mentioned. Just having Zed on staff would mean instant publicity for a small startup. Even if he doesn't play nice (although he seems like a reasonable guy if you watch his talks), you could keep him relatively isolated in that type of role. Let him work on Lamson while he pimps your product all over the web and at conferences.

If they're looking for free marketing, then yes.

I'm sure he'll find something worthwhile, tho, because of his presence. So overall, it will help him.

If he wants a management position, not so much, IMO.

What qualities does he bring that would make him a good leader? It's his way or the highway, he's always right, everybody else are idiots, has a taste for drama...

Yep, just what any struggling organization needs. Dissent is fine, what Zed brings - just in a blog - would suck to work with.

I think he's a good programmer and self-promoter, but nothing of his that I've read would lead me to put him in charge of something. In a few years, when he's matured some, maybe.

Is it really important in this case? Just so a bunch of different companies can fawn all over him because he said "I'm looking for work, contact me"?

If you have the skills (he does), finding a job should not be too difficult. No need to blog about it.

It is one way to network. You can do it without a blog, too -- call up old clients/bosses/etc that you've overdelivered to and ask them what they've heard on the grapevine. (Works better if they remember you as someone they sincerely enjoyed working with and that they would recommend to friends.)

Even when what the fame is infamy for chewing out and bitching at communities?

It's hard to put email and blog posts into human context. What seems abrasive in text only mediums, may not even seem remotely abrasive in real life where we can see body language, facial expressions, etc. Even text as straight forward as "Fuck you! I quit" may just be a joke directed at folks that get it. But outsiders read it and immediately think, "wow, that guy is not nice" when in actuality he's just goofing-off with others that 'get it'. Long story short, I'd have to meet the guy several times and hang out with him in person before I could pass any sort of judgment and I think other smart HR/mgrs would agree. He would not be immediately ruled-out because his online comments seem offensive.

I dunno, Zed, maybe you should just look for a job as a "lone ranger". Whenever I read one of your rants, I'd chuckle and say, "Gee, I'm glad he's not talking about me." I wonder how other programmers would feel working with you, never quite sure when they'd be fodder for one of your rants.

Personally, I would have no problems working with him. I expect people to call me out when I do stupid things, and I expect people to tell me what they think.

I don't think Zed is much more abrasive than Linus, for example.

Also, has he been abrasive to people who were being nice to him?

The entire Ruby community, at one point. Why do you think he switched to Python?

obviously because the entire Ruby community hated him.

I have no problem being told face-to-face when I'm doing stupid things, even in front of my peers if it happens that way, but someone blogging about the stupid things I do would definitely piss me off.

Have you ever read, in any of his rants, criticism of coworkers or subordinates?

Personally, as someone without a ton of experience, I'd love the opportunity to work with Zed. With some of the position responsibilities he's looking for, I think the chance to be mentored by him would definitely be a plus.

I understand Netflix has one of the most generous severance package policies in the industry.

Woah, buried in there was this claim:

Well, in a perfect world I’d just work on Lamson but the days of companies actually paying people to work on open source are pretty much over.

Have I missed something? I thought that, at least, most of the kernel and gcc devs were employed by companies to work on those projects. Is he right, and something has fundamentally changed?

That's very wrong... you could argue that most of the kernel maintainers are employed by companies to work on the kernel, but not all the code gets written by them, and some companies do not employ people to work full-time on the kernel, otherwise do you think the Intel driver would be in the current state?

And of course Lamson is not GCC or the kernel. Those are very special cases, look at the GNOME or KDE project... or Django for you web guys, who gets paid to work on Django? not even JKM

Hmm it doesn't really count but JBoss is open source and has paid developers. jQuery UI is maintained by a consulting group. Firefox's core developers are paid. I'm pretty sure there are paid contributors on Hadoop and Lucene.

And lets not forget Rails....

Perhaps less well known are open-source reporting companies like Actuate (sponsors/main developers of the top-level Eclipse BIRT project), Pentaho, JasperSoft. Not sure about revenue models for others, but Actuate sells support for their open-source tools and offers proprietary add-ons for those that need to scale their deployments.

37 signals doesn't get paid specifically for rails though. If 37 signals went away, rails wouldn't. Not without a huge fuss anyway.

But is the current state of things different than, say, a few years ago?

That's a pretty small subset of all open source developers, though.

A large number of companies also pay developers to work on Eclipse as well.

In fact, IBM, one of the largest paying contributors to Eclipse, also pays people to work on a boatload of open source stuff. You don't realize until you actually dig into it yourself.

Most sysadmins need to know lots of different config file syntaxes, protocols, security etc. As a result they are unlikely to be that familiar with C, also there is a massive learning curve with knowing how the kernel works and how to fix it (I've tried). People who know much about the linux kernels and the low level in gerernal are in increasing short supply as more and more students gradate only knowing high level languages and concepts and then following careers in that direction. Also when your employed to run 100 or 1000s of servers it's probably for something business critical, so the employeer pays lots to RedHat and other for support, which in turn pays for kernel devs.

In contrast, for example, a PHP programmer who probably does PHP day-in-day out and not much else is going to find it pretty easy to fix a bug in a PHP framework him/herself and therefore his/her employer doesn't need to pay a big support contract. If problems are found they are probably in the development phase and if the team can't work around them, I would expect any number of freelancers could pick up the problem and fix it.

Basically I'm saying it's supply and demand.

I think he's alluding to "Why I (A/L)GPL":


Curious that a person with such an abrasive online persona wants a job as a team leader or 'technology evangelist'.

IMO that online persona is perfect for a technology evangelist. Make noise, rake muck, profit.

x% of others would agree. (100-x)% would probably be put off. Solve for x.

There's no way to solve for x with the information given!

Instead, take the ratio of your comment's parent divided by the (grandparent + parent), and you get x. I think.

The Marmite equation.

The Marmite equation?

When considering the Marmite yeast extract product, in the UK x is somewhat above 50. In the US, x is well below 50. Similar values of x probably apply to Vegemite between Australia and the US.

I still didn't get it, until I read this: This distinctive taste is reflected in the British company's marketing slogan: "Love it or hate it." (from Marmite wikipedia page)

Maybe someone with enough karma to produce a poll on HN can submit a "Would you hire Zed Shaw?" poll.

Sounds a lot like the founder of a startup to me. IMO there's room in a company for one person of this description.

One, not two.

from what I've read of him I would employ Zed. I dont think he is quite the same in RL (but brings some of the good qualities).

He strikes me as a "get things done" sort of person.

Long, long before he put up his infamous Rails rant, I spoke with him several times about Mongrel implementation, build issues and getting stuff running on different linux systems.

He seems to me to be a nice guy, a clean coder and yes, a guy who gets things done. Very much in contrast with the generally abrasive character he's built on his website.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I'd have no trouble hiring him.

Quick question to my fellow Rubyists who happen to do Rails: would you really resent working with Zed? I've enjoyed Zed the few times I've met him in person and find the prospect of working with him to be a desirable thing.

I've said it before on HN, but I met Zed at RubyFringe and thought he was very polite and professional. I wouldn't resent working with him at all.

I had the same experience at RubyFringe with Zed. Stand up dude.

I'd work with him. He's smart and not dogmatic. People act differently online than in person.

I've always been of the mind that whatever problems someone has with other persons is between that someone and the other persons. Just because I happen to use Ruby/Rails doesn't make any difference.

I've never met Zed but have been impressed with some of his talks that I have seen. I'd really value the chance to work with him.

No, I'd welcome it.

I've never met Zed, but I feel like I'd enjoy working with him.

Of note for HN: "I am interested in working for a funded startup that has about 5-20 employees and is growing or would like to grow."

I don't mean to be negative about a fellow human (especially one in the tech industry) but Zed comes across in that 'advert' as thinking he'd be doing a company a favour by working for them. I don't know him, or his work, but in my experience touting for general jobs by making out you're better than them rarely works. It'd be ok with a company you know but in a general blog post? It's a big 'no' from me.

Good luck to Zed though, I'm sure someone will snap him up just because of his online status and it's certainly a different way to find a job!

Zed is a really smart guy, I had the pleasure of going to his free hackers union group here in NYC.

I'm looking forward to having him out this way. I'm sure he will pop up in the community from time to time. Would love to see him speak.


Zed is well known in the HN community and looking for a job in a funded startup with about 5 - 20 employees. It seems reasonable that this link ends up here don't you think?

Mmmm...never thought of HN as a job board, but hey! I just created my account 7 minutes ago. :)

thnks, didn't know he was "popular" around HN, just some random, though quite pretentious judging from his blog & linkedin, dude that somehow got squeezed to the front page,

HN is a job board.

...asks someone who created his account 7 minutes ago.

Lurking doesn't require an account.

I admit, my comment was a little short-sighted in a way. However, I think someone should be an active member of a community like HN in order to make such a judgement (i.e. not appropriate for HN).

Beyond that, the guidlines say not to post such comments and I strongly agree with it. Should've just downmod it in the first place...

How long ago somebody made their account should not be a factor in judging their contribution. Or lack thereof...

wow! amazing deduction abilities...yet so limited, pedagogically speaking.

Have you read the guidelines for HN yet? http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

He's a hacker (well known) and this is news.

He is a well-known hacker, but this isn't news.

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