Granny's Programming Pearls
"inside of every large program is a small program struggling to get out"
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Experience Vs Knowledge

 
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It strikes me funny when senior developers with 5 to 6 years of experience provide some really low quality code. Some of them will end up being my managers. Most of them think that they are quite proficient at what they do and are actively moving into the managerial line.

It reminds me of this topic in MD...

http://www.coderanch.com/t/43932/md/stupid-vs-intelligent

When your manager trusts such developers and is incapable of sniffing them out, we are headed for disaster ! You cant complain either. Surely ! the guy/gal with 6 years experience must be better than you.

I dont know if the "I have more experience and thus what I say is right" note falls under any named fallacy. When you end up fixing really major bugs introduced by seniors it really bites. What bites even more is that they are better paid.

Any experiences that you would like to share ?
[ November 25, 2006: Message edited by: John Meyers ]
 
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It's not what you know, its who you know, how much you're liked by those powers that be that make the decisions regarding your next pay cheque. If you're really liked, then you could code the Hubble right into the Tycho crater on the moon and it'll be laughed off. It's not cynical, it's just the way the world works.

And it's not strange to find some individuals with over five years experience still cranking out some terrible stuff. It's just that they stopped learning and growing inbetween years 2 and 3, and felt most comfortable doing the same old work the same old way. What use am I if I have 40+ years experience using punch cards? Alot less than a freshman taking his first OOP course.
 
Deepak Bala
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What use am I if I have 40+ years experience using punch cards?



I would love to see some one like that in the industry now But my argument is not about being liked or the lack of it. I do agree that thats how the world works sometimes. You can be an absolute dud and still stick around in the team. I just wanted to know what others thought about it and how they take it, thats all.
 
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john, yes ...its there ....you will find such many examples in your career.
thats why its so important to work with a good team and collegues.

there are companies who hires good calibre people who have the passion , love for it.....if you can crak those companies you are on the right track.

i have seen couple of companies with small power pack team with star players doing very well rather than companies with huge manpower.

enviornment , work culture , team , colleagues and motivation these are important part in your career.
 
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The problem with this whole scenario is that I doubt anyone here would admit if they write bad code. In fact, I'd bet most everyone here thinks they write good code.
 
Deepak Bala
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In fact, I'd bet most everyone here thinks they write good code.



I agree that I dont write great code all the time. But the idea of "good" code is in itself different from different perspectives. What we thought was good when we started to code might change when we discover a snag. I am talking about the down right "How could you do that !" kind of stuff. I guess I should have quoted some examples when I started the thread.

* A developer wants to add a new combo box inside a panel. To align this combo box and make it appear like it is at the center of the screen he adds 6 empty panels within the Jpanel, instead of using one of the layouts.

Now come on ! A developer with 6 years experience in java can do better !!
 
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The gospel of 21th century.

Experience and ability are two different things.
 
Abdulelah Dandachi
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Now come on ! A developer with 6 years experience in java can do better !!



Hahaha! Yes, a text book example of someone who picked up a bad habit early in their career, and for the next six years, didnt bother to exert the small amount of effort it would have taken to discover the PROPER way to do things. It's not real experience when someone spends years 4,5 and 6 doing exactly the same things as in year 3, in exactly the same way.
 
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Originally posted by Abdulelah Dandachi:
What use am I if I have 40+ years experience using punch cards? Alot less than a freshman taking his first OOP course.



Ah! Propogating the myth that us older workers are only capable of doing the jobs that we started out doing decades ago.

Hogwash!

If that were the case, I'd still be writing Compass Assembler on a Control Data Cyber instead of writing books on Ajax.
[ November 27, 2006: Message edited by: Bear Bibeault ]
 
Abdulelah Dandachi
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Ah! Propogating the myth that us older workers are only capable of doing the jobs that we started out doing decades ago.



Exactly the point I was making...NOT. Gotta love that Borat (disclaimer: this does not imply any dislike towards Kazakhstan), and I'm not quite sure how you reached that conclusion (disclaimer:this is not to imply that "old-workers" dont know their way around a discussion).

Length of service does not always automaticaly translate into better abilities. The moment a professional, in ANY field, stops learning and improving, his usefulness has a limited shelf life, starting from the day after the next version release (disclaimer:this does not imply that patches and bug-fix releases are any less important).

THAT is why I agree with Mr Meyers (disclaimer: this does not imply that my agreements are limited soley to the posts made by the forementioned Mr Meyers. I agree with posts made by old people too). There are IT workers claiming 6+ years experience on their resumes, but without the efficiency of a person with half those years of experience. It's not that they lie on their resumes; its just that at year 3 or 4, they took the decision that they'd rather avoid the initial discomfort that inevitably MUST come with any form of self improvement. It happens to most people at some stage, some sooner rather than later (disclaimer: I really like old people. They decide my salary and project deadlines).

If someone with 5 years experience decided at year 3 that he'd rather avoid the effort that comes with learning new and better ways of doing things (ie the shock of going from ye olde VB to VB.NET...oh, by the way, disclaimer: this is not to imply that Java or C# or Pascal or Cobol workers havent been as shocked at transitions in their time), then I wish him (disclaimer: or her) the best of luck...on someone else's team.

Maybe in some professions, workers can get by just by remaining at the level of mediocrity they feel most comfortable with. As we've seen over the years, IT isnt one of those professions. It would be like writing a novel using the same style as Hemingway. He was a master in his time, but your publishers would send such a book right back.
[ November 28, 2006: Message edited by: Abdulelah Dandachi ]
 
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Hmmm....I'd say let performance speak for itself. It will show the knowledge and depth of it lack of it! Code does't lie...

Just as a different perspective - differnt inputs from my own experience and some of friends' experiences. Sometimes, a novice Java programmer tends to mistake "Java Knowledge" for his knowledge of some superficial new Java syntax (that legacy code wouldn't have for obvious reasons that it predates that syntax), and that's funny!

A hypohetical question based on a real experience - there is this 2-3 years Java programmer with SCJP, and believes that he has better knowledge because he knows new Java 5 (for loop syntax!!) and his "experienced n overpaid" TL is still writing for loop the old way (huh, he stopped learning!) and hardly seems knowledgable as he talks so less. This Java "knowledgable" newbie writes some smart code for collections - but coding is tough job man - it starts throwing "ConcurrentModificationException" - the dumb "experienced but knowledless, overpaid" TL shows up - and finds that the loop (smart new Java syntax) that is iterating over collection is modifying underlying collection directly. This TL changes some code to use iterator methods - and as miracles happen, the exception is not thrown anymore!!!



This is a real story - no jokes. So what should be termed as "knowledge" itself should be clear. Synatx/constructs are secodary after a point - what's more important is ability/inclination to learn, analytical mind and problem solving ability. As time passes by and issues such as memory leaks, threading issues, load balancing comes up - real knowledge shows!

Obviously - if knowledge is turning into better code & performance; it shows!!! Years of experience may cultivate bad habits and they may stay put - if they are not challenged. But at the same time years of expereince may give better opportunities for such challenges (if you work in a competent team) and more time to gain more knowledge - if you seek it! Just my 2 cents..

- Manish
 
Deepak Bala
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This is a real story - no jokes. So what should be termed as "knowledge" itself should be clear. Synatx/constructs are secodary after a point - what's more important is ability/inclination to learn, analytical mind and problem solving ability. As time passes by and issues such as memory leaks, threading issues, load balancing comes up - real knowledge shows!



I am quite clear there. Knowledge does not pertain to knowing syntax on the dot. Id does not matter if you dont know the syntax all that well. Eclipse or any other IDE can help really well.

more knowledge - if you seek it!



Yep ! There is so much to learn when you explore.

I am not arguing that people with more experience do not fit the bill. I can see that we all agree with the crux of the discussion but we differ in subtle ways, in the way it is presented. Those that continually learn in the industry posses the maximum knowledge. Often, the problem areas in a product are requirements gathering and trouble shooting here and there. The way to go about doing them will become better with experience. At the same time the person has to learn the logic behind any new technology instead of just learning what that technology can do. What Manish quoted was a good example.

I dont agree when some one says "I have 6 years of experience with java so that makes me a better candidate.". What makes any one a better candidate is skill, problem solving ability, good requirements gathering, sound knowledge of technology among other things. Whether these things improve with time or not depends on the person.
 
Jason Cox
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As a baseline, if you assume all candidates are equally ineffective, then at least someone with more experience will have had more time to work on more problems. The argument of course is that they just might have had more experience at being bad as well.

Unfortunately, there is no real quantative way to measure how effective someone is as a developer. If I have someone with 2 years of experience who seems to know what they are talking about versus someone with 6 years of experience who seems to know what they are talking about, I'm going to go with the opinion of the 6 year veteran. Fortunately, it has been my experience so far that people with knowledge are easy to identify, and people with knowledge and experience even moreso.

The problem lies in companies where someone may have found there comfort zone, their niche, their corner of the office and have decided they are perfectly fine there. They would rather have security than challenge. When an employee hits that point, they have no incentive to continue learning.
 
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Knowledge is why I can setup about 18 different types of client/server communications.

Experience is why I don't automatically assume that if a 19th one becomes popular next week that the previous 18 are no longer worth considering.
 
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