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Hiring Developers By Algorithm

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the nice-profile dept.

Businesses 326

Strudelkugel writes in with a story about how big data is being used to recruit workers. "When the e-mail came out of the blue last summer, offering a shot as a programmer at a San Francisco start-up, Jade Dominguez, 26, was living off credit card debt in a rental in South Pasadena, Calif., while he taught himself programming. He had been an average student in high school and hadn't bothered with college, but someone, somewhere out there in the cloud, thought that he might be brilliant, or at least a diamond in the rough. 'The traditional markers people use for hiring can be wrong, profoundly wrong,' says Vivienne Ming, the chief scientist at Gild since late last year. That someone was Luca Bonmassar. He had discovered Mr. Dominguez by using a technology that raises important questions about how people are recruited and hired, and whether great talent is being overlooked along the way."

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326 comments

By algorithm makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43575863)

If you need someone to code up mergesort for you, hire someone with a phd in mergesort.

Re:By algorithm makes sense (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576003)

Whoosh. I think the whole point is that having a phd isn't the best measure of anything. I've worked with phds and high school dropouts and I've never noticed any difference except that the dropouts are less entitled.

Not all programmers are suitable for all projects (5, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year ago | (#43576275)

No one is good at everything

I've worked with legendary programmers throughout my career and I can tell you this --- you must understand the strong points of a particular programmer (even the legendary ones) so that you can tap into his potential and let him/her perform

That "hiring by algorithm" is indeed a new way of looking at things, but it does take experience - excellent programmers all comes with their own particular quirks - and you need to provide them the room to stretch, the freedom that they need, in order to get them to do whatever they are good at

Re:Not all programmers are suitable for all projec (5, Interesting)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#43576457)

Depending somewhat on the kind of company doing the hiring, the prospective new hire shouldn't just be evaluated for the job at hand, but also for how well they'd do at other jobs, both at and above their current level. This means testing for adaptability, versatility and future potential. This, by the way, is where I find that people with college degrees far outperform self taught high school dropout programmers.

Re:Not all programmers are suitable for all projec (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about a year ago | (#43576525)

Oddly enough I've had opposite results(unless you talk about people that got their degrees while they were working because of one reason or another[required to advance, just wanted to, whatever], who are largely the most adaptable I've seen). The problem with self-learning is habits, structure, etc, not adaptability and potential.

Re:By algorithm makes sense (1)

fliptout (9217) | about a year ago | (#43576303)

I'm really loving this attitude that PhDs are not any different from high school drop outs. This is perhaps true for menial tasks. It says something about the posters who tell these stories. Try assigning that high school dropout to do something non-trivial and highly conceptual, and you are mostly likely completely screwed.

Re:By algorithm makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576439)

The point is though that not having such qualifications doesn't mean you don't know what you're doing. It's unfair to compare high school dropouts in general to people who possess PhDs in specific fields. A better comparison would be PhDs to high school dropouts who have been shown to at least be competent (usually by actually interviewing the damn person).

Re:By algorithm makes sense (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576487)

I'm really loving this attitude that PhDs are not any different from high school drop outs. This is perhaps true for menial tasks. It says something about the posters who tell these stories. Try assigning that high school dropout to do something non-trivial and highly conceptual, and you are mostly likely completely screwed.

I know Slashdot isn't the place to say this, but almost all programming is menial. You wouldn't hire a high school dropout to do something serious like physics or chemistry or biology, but for driving a bus, washing a car, writing a UI, or cleaning toilets they're perfectly serviceable.

Re:By algorithm makes sense (2, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#43576575)

You attitude is why we have abominations like Unity, Gnome3, and Windows8/Metro now.

Re:By algorithm makes sense (3, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | about a year ago | (#43576585)

I know Slashdot isn't the place to say this, but almost all programming is menial.

No!
Most programming work is tedious, however most important decisions have to be made constantly, in the midst of that tedious work. You can't make decisions by yourself, then pass the work to an idiot -- he will not notice where he has to make a decision, and will do something random that seems right, and those decisions will eventually destroy everything.

Re:By algorithm makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576689)

I'm really loving this attitude that PhDs are not any different from high school drop outs. This is perhaps true for menial tasks. It says something about the posters who tell these stories. Try assigning that high school dropout to do something non-trivial and highly conceptual, and you are mostly likely completely screwed.

CS is a very new subject. I know a lot of people who teaches CS and most of them are self taught.
A dropout who is self taught can have about the same knowledge as that PhD. The difference is that the PhD has proven that he is willing to go through with the menial tasks too but this has nothing to do with writing good code and actually creating programs.
If the position you need to fill requires paperwork, get the PhD. Otherwise, get whoever started programming before they went to school and spent the evenings and weekends programming.

slashdotted.... mirror (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43575869)

Strudelkugel writes in with a story about how big data is being used to recruit workers.

"When the e-mail came out of the blue last summer, offering a shot as a programmer at a San Francisco start-up, Jade Dominguez, 26, was living off credit card debt in a rental in South Pasadena, Calif., while he taught himself programming. He had been an average student in high school and hadn't bothered with college, but someone, somewhere out there in the cloud, thought that he might be brilliant, or at least a diamond in the rough. 'The traditional markers people use for hiring can be wrong, profoundly wrong,' says Vivienne Ming, the chief scientist at Gild since late last year. That someone was Luca Bonmassar. He had discovered Mr. Dominguez by using a technology that raises important questions about how people are recruited and hired, and whether great talent is being overlooked along the way."

If it's proprietary... (3, Interesting)

WWJohnBrowningDo (2792397) | about a year ago | (#43575871)

Leaving a backdoor in this program would be the ultimate job security guarantee.

Re:If it's proprietary... (1)

firewrought (36952) | about a year ago | (#43576105)

Leaving a backdoor in this program would be the ultimate job security guarantee.

So if you ever encounter any of these, it's worth giving the Konami Code [wikipedia.org] a try, just to see if it will boost your rank. :-)

recursion warning! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43575873)

Hiring algorithm will be developed by developers hired by an algorithm written by developers hired by an algorithm written by developers hired by an algorithm written by....

Re:recursion warning! (1)

gigaherz (2653757) | about a year ago | (#43575957)

No, no, no... you got it wrong. The managers will come up with a broken algorithm to choose candidates, then re-purpose it into a test: if a candidate manages to turn that piece of ---- into a working algorithm, he's hired.

Re:recursion warning! (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#43576473)

Ah yes, incremental development through 'testing' job applicants.

Now, implement this requirement in C++, and we'll evaluate your result and get back to you as to whether we wish to hire you or not.
Take as much time as you need.

Re:recursion warning! (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year ago | (#43575977)

Which will be spammed/gamed by services where you buy +ve references just like you can buy likes and G+1's and possibly one cold negatively effect some ones ability to get a job buy doing black hat optimisation on them.

"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43575877)

Hello, captain obvious. Yes, having a piece of paper doesn't mean you're good at what you do or that you even know what you're doing; plenty of college graduates are merely imbeciles.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43575941)

Oh, the stories I could tell...

Yes, there are people with master's degrees in computer science who are worth less than the keyboard they sit in front of.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576043)

My dad told me a good one the other day:

A PhD EE had a broken 15k board doing development work at a major electronics company.

He takes the board to his lab tech, who jokingly tells him 'All the resistors are in backwards!'

Said lab tech has a departmental meeting to go to.

When he gets back he finds the PhD sitting there, iron in hand, with a pile of resistors next to the board.

Exclaiming to the EE, 'What do you think you're doing, that's a brand new 15k dollar board!'

The EE replies: 'You said all the resistors are in backwards, so I'm putting them in the right way.'

Never attribute to malice what can be explained by too much conceptual and not enough practical experience.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576207)

Had a housemate years ago with an MSCS from somewhere in flyover country. He was completely baffled by basic electricity. He couldn't even figure out how to replace a three-way switch for the overhead light in his kitchen.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#43576651)

They don't teach anything about electricity in Computer Science classes. Would you expect a Theater or Mathematics or Business major to know better?

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576497)

That is what I call taking the initiative.

He wasn't afraid of a 15k board or some silly resistors. No, that man took the bull by the horns and set out to fix those mistakes by the lab monkeys.

Now, looks like there might be further issue as someone used polarized diodes. Yep, that will need to come out too.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (3)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#43576641)

If that joke is actually based on reality (which I seriously doubt), that EE should have his degree revoked. You don't need any practical experience to know that resistors are not polarized circuit elements; they teach this in Circuits 201, the first EE course taught (the freshman year is all general engineering courses).

The usual joke about EEs used to be about a fresh EE going to work and being sent to the parts department of his company by his coworkers to retrieve a 1 farad capacitor, since supposedly EE grads didn't have any practical experience and wouldn't know that capacitors don't come in sizes that large, even though many of his sophomore-year problems dealt with sizes in that range for convenience. Of course, the joke is now obsolete since they really do have such capacitors now, called "supercapacitors", normally used for unpowered memory retention in digital devices. But even before the supercapacitors hit the market, it'd have to be a pretty poor EE to not know about this, because any decent college has EEs building real circuits and working with real components in classes long before graduating.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43575975)

And there are people who are tremendously productive, but never get a chance.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576009)

It's not just that, though. The interviews based around brain teasers or algorithms that very few people use in real life, which are supposedly used to see how the candidate thinks, are generally extremely biased towards people who either just got out of school or spent a lot of time studying for those sorts of questions. Neither of those things have much, if anything, to do with predicting job success.
 
At my old job, we had a pretty revolutionary strategy for picking someone: We talked with them. You can see who's in over their head very quickly, and the interviews at least seems like a lot less pressure because we shot the shit about programming and past jobs. There was no requirement or bias towards you reading otherwise useless brain teaser books, no requirement that you have to memorize all the terms from gang of four, etc. We had a great track record with our hiring. It amazes me more companies haven't tried of this method.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (5, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43576243)

At my old job, we had a pretty revolutionary strategy for picking someone: We talked with them.

I've always done that too. Just get the interviewee to talk about their work, what was interesting about, the problems they encountered, etc. If a person doesn't know their stuff they won't be able to talk about it intelligently. Some people you have to coax out of their shell a bit, but that's it. If a person is reluctant I'll even ask them to pick something out of their resume to talk about instead of me suggesting a topic. I accept that most resumes have some exaggerations in them, so just let them pick something that isn't exaggerated. Also talk to them about the project they're being hired for, see what kind of questions or suggestions they have, etc.

It's purposely a low pressure technique. Some very good technical people don't do well being drilled about nonsense or brainteasers, or clam up if the interviewer starts playing Mr. Tough Guy and tries to trip them up on everything. Remember, you're trying to hire good technical people, not good interviewees. For other type of work this technique might suck.

It amazes me more companies haven't tried of this method.

Too simple and obvious - takes away the mystique of being a great interviewer. Also you've got to know your stuff to use the technique.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576351)

It's purposely a low pressure technique. Some very good technical people don't do well being drilled about nonsense or brainteasers, or clam up if the interviewer starts playing Mr. Tough Guy and tries to trip them up on everything. Remember, you're trying to hire good technical people, not good interviewees. For other type of work this technique might suck.

Yeah, that's something I forgot to mention. There was never a case where someone clammed up, and whatever nervousness dropped away quickly. Sometimes things would start out a little awkward but then there'd be a joke or something to lighten the mood. So long as you keep things from crossing from casual on-topic conversation to schmoozing, you won't be particularly biased towards people who are more charismatic or socially adept.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43576461)

Too simple and obvious - takes away the mystique of being a great interviewer. Also you've got to know your stuff to use the technique.

Nail hit squarely on head here.....

Many companies try to centralize hiring into HR departments who pretend they can evaluate any other field. These guys are easily bluffed and bafflegabbed and overly impressed with silly pieces of paper and training certificates.

Even when the HR department refers someone for a departmental interview, it is commonly done by some middle management type, rather than the actual programming team the recruit would have to work with.

Both HR and Manager types tend to think of people as interchangeable parts.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#43576673)

Having HR do any kind of interviewing is a waste of time. I had to participate in some hiring of contractors at one job, where a group of us full-timers would together interview the candidate over the phone and then vote on him/her. The candidates were all pre-screened by HR, who assured us they were good candidates. Many of them, we found, had completely lied on their resumes and didn't know the basic things they claimed to know (like C++).

HR just looks at resumes, compares to some buzzwords, and thinks that's that.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576249)

These days, when I hire a software developer he's usually someone I've known for several years already, or recommended to me by someone else I've known for a long time.

Back in the days when I did need to talk to strangers to try to fill a job, I would ask them to tell me about problems they'd solved that they were particularly proud of, and discuss things we were working on and ask them to describe how they'd go about tackling them. Whether they could solve the brain teasers that Google and Microsoft love so much was completely irrelevant.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (4, Funny)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about a year ago | (#43576447)

At my old job, we had a pretty revolutionary strategy for picking someone: We talked with them.

The beauty of hiring people based upon a program is that it's not the hiring manager's fault when the new hires are terrible. It's the computer's fault.

Then again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576041)

I have taught plenty of great programmers who:

-Lack social skills.
-Discovered alcohol / drugs and self-destructed.
-Could not meet a deadline if their life depended on it.

Just because someone can program, does not mean that they can produce. Just because somebody has a degree or certification doesn't mean that they understand and can apply that knowledge. A proven track record, through projects and employers is still an employer's best bet.

Re:Then again... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576127)

Yeah, and how is an employee supposed to get experience without having employment? Spare time projects aren't enough anymore. You've got a chicken-egg problem there.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (2)

ttucker (2884057) | about a year ago | (#43576145)

In the CS program where I was studying, having a degree could just mean that you are good at freeloading on group work.

Re:"can be wrong, profoundly wrong" (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year ago | (#43576183)

Sounds like management material.

So it analyzes former projects (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#43575927)

Hiring based on previous references isn't really a new thing.

Re:So it analyzes former projects (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about a year ago | (#43576065)

... and sadly neither is not getting a job because of lack of experience.

Dumb idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43575943)

Dumb method, and even dumber fucking story. Who gives a shit about these lower class scumbags?

If they wanted to work for real companies, they would've lifted themselves up by their motherfucking bootstraps. The fact that they haven't shows that they just don't have what it takes. There. I fucking said it.

In America, if you're born in the Lower Classes, you should fucking stay there. We don't want you in our neighborhoods. We don't want you hanging out where we work, unless you're cleaning up the yard/garden, serving us food, driving our cars, or holding the doors open for us. Fucking ungrateful parasites, the whole lot of them. Just take your fucking welfare checks, your food stamps, and your low IQs, and be fucking happy.

We're paying taxes so we won't have you dirtying up OUR class structure. Stay where you belong, and everybody is happy.

When I see a homeless bum holding a sign that says "Can't find a job. Pleaz halp.", I think to myself, "He's got two arms, two legs, and he's healthy enough to be standing around in the sun all day without food. He's probably healthy enough to get a real fucking job, so why the fuck is that lazy fuck not working?

I don't give money to lazy fucks like that. I heard you could make upwards of $300 a day begging for money. And those fuckers just spend all of that fucking money on booze and drugs because they are just a bunch of fucking parasites. If you aren't making at least $100k a year, you might as well just kill yourself, because you're fucking lower class and fucking worthless.

Re:Dumb idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576079)

Wow......just wow!!

Re: Dumb idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576129)

Wow, what a dumb fucking troll you are. Spoken like someone who has never hitrock bottom in their life. Hopefully reality hits you one day and you have an experience that's out of your control, that doesn't run like some fucking computer program. The real world doesn't run like you think, you piece of shit. People that think like you do usually end up killing themselves when the shit really hits the fan for them, because they couldn't imagine that bad shit could happen if they just did everything right. Just you wait, that time will come. How's this for perspective: there are people that think you are a fucking loser because you earn an income instead of being a business owner. Get off these forums you fucking sheep.

Re: Dumb idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576467)

Sounds like you're the sheep thinking people like this are a significant portion of society. Nice job taking a "troll" seriously.

Re: Dumb idea (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#43576695)

They're a significant part of American society. They even have churches telling people that poor people are poor because God doesn't like them as much as rich people.

Re:Dumb idea (1)

jmcvetta (153563) | about a year ago | (#43576215)

Damn straight - kick the poor!

Re:Dumb idea (2)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#43576253)

1. One of the benefits of this country is the lack of an official caste system. Unfortunately, an unofficial one is solidifying out of the economic downward spiral the country's going through. Why would you support either? It's likely that you would be in that lower caste and not able to work in technical fields even if you have the ability...and if you were born into an upper caste family and still had the time to post on slashdot, you'd be one of those dead-end children, like paris hilton.

2. What's a real company? You mean the ones with the 10000 office drones? Doesn't sound very motivating to me. Ones who bootstrap themselves are more likely to create their own companies rather than work for schlep, overprivileged, highschool/college football jocks who now run companies whose culture cares more about enforcing dress codes than getting any real work done...you know, those too big to fail companies that routinely take bailout money from the taxpayer? Yeah, what were you saying about lazy twats?

3. The funny thing is, it takes a minimum of two to get a job: the candidate must apply, and the employer must accept. There are more people than jobs these days, and that ratio is increasing over time. This fact makes your simplistic blame game an ad hominem attack. Wake up. If you're working for one of those 'real companies', guess what? You're just as replaceable as that beggar on the street probably was. Your employment status is not proof of your superiority. Get over yourself.

Re:Dumb idea (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43576327)

1. One of the benefits of this country is the lack of an official caste system. Unfortunately, an unofficial one is solidifying out of the economic downward spiral the country's going through. Why would you support either? It's likely that you would be in that lower caste and not able to work in technical fields even if you have the ability...and if you were born into an upper caste family and still had the time to post on slashdot, you'd be one of those dead-end children, like paris hilton.

The caste system in the US is unofficial and more rigid than places with a formal caste system. You are more likely to better your situation in India than the US.

That and rich rarely fall. Paris Hilton isn't that smart. She isn't as dumb as she looks, but she isn't smart. But, with the rules out there, she has a massive advantage over millions of smarter people born to the wrong parents.

Re:Dumb idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576385)

You are more likely to better your situation in India than the US...

Never been there, I can see. India has a very strong caste system - like the "wrong" boy/girl?
You could suffer death under their law. India still practices female infanticide (though it doesn't make the news too often).
In a lower caste - don't you dare drink their water. The U.S. went through that in their history, but this is still the norm in India.

Re:Dumb idea (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#43576391)

Yet she routinely engages in imbecilic behavior and shows a lack of aptitude in everything she does. I think this is due to a mix of (below) average intellect and spoiled brat syndrome. She was never encouraged to be independent because she never had to be.

Re:Dumb idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576311)

Mom and Dad are so proud of little bitch up there ^ It takes a lot of hard work to be born into it!

What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43575965)

Obviously the cure to all the problems firms have finding good talent is to recruit inexperienced and naive, rebellious, arrogant rock stars who are unwilling or able to follow rules or do work they find "boring."

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Informative)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#43576309)

Yeah.. or employers could hire dull minds, who were selected precisely because they willingly conform to every little managerial passive aggressive manipulation. Of course, these people are useless for anything but the most basic office work, but that's of secondary importance. The state set up our school system to produce these drones after all, and now even colleges are dumbing their programs down so these drones can get pieces of paper saying they're qualified computer scientists/programmers/engineers. These little drones are even encouraged to split themselves up into identity groups based on irrelevancies like race and gender! Now they have something else to bluster over when someone points out their mediocrity! Today's culture obviously values mindless obedience and adherence to every minor social convention over creative, adaptive, critically thinking minds. Too bad.

Sadly quite true (4, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year ago | (#43575973)

I've been programming professionally since 1994. I'm sure I'll get around to taking a computer course one of these days. My first task with any new job is "Get past the HR moron" followed by "Find someone who actually knows something." If you're lucky, this is a manager. Frequently, however, describing the code abstraction structure in your overall application design often whizzes right over a manager's head.

My suggestion? Keep it simple. Have some apps to show them, or a a web site with your latest web apps. Talk about how it solved a problem. Don't worry about the details until you get to another developer.

Re:Sadly quite true (2)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#43576029)

Whether or not you need the degree really depends a great deal on the specifics. If the company isn't paying for properly engineered code, then it probably doesn't matter at all.

If they do require properly engineered code, then it probably doesn't matter, provided you've bothered to learn the necessary engineering outside of school and can convince them of that fact.

The big problem is that HR morons are being used to make the hiring decisions. That's a pretty huge red flag and I never take such a job when I can help it.

We're artisans (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576107)

... you've bothered to learn the necessary engineering outside of school and can convince them of that fact.

We're talking about programming here and software design. By 'Software Engineering" are you referring to this [wikipedia.org] ? I have never seen anyone with that cert or anyone who really cares. Has anyone actually seen it asa requirement for a job?

Actual "Software engineering" is something that I have never seen in practice - ever.

Every company that I've been at and every project that I've seen everywhere including all over the internet, designs and develops software the same way: hand over vague specs, figure it out and pound out that code. That's how developers/"Software engineers"/programmers (they are just titles referring to the same skill sets - get over yourselves) are hired - someone or a group (only the a genius superstar) can come in and knock it or their section out.

We're Artisans - not engineers.

Re:We're artisans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576165)

What I'm talking about is designing code to be a bit more sane to maintain and extend. Theoretically that's the way code should be written, but reality often time doesn't correspond to best practices.

The reason why it doesn't typically happen is because the projects are being designed by inept morons with no particular vision for the future. Yes, it is hard to evaluate how much time you need to spend on the engineering aspect, but if you do it right, then the cost later on are much more manageable. Versus someplace like MS where they're having to regularly throw out large amounts of code and have tons of unnecessary surface area to track for security problems.

Re:We're artisans (5, Interesting)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43576359)

We're Artisans - not engineers.

As an electrical engineer I can assure you that engineers largely work the same way. And the job titles that they're always playing with are ridiculous. Programmer, system analyst, software engineer, computer scientist, blah, blah, blah. Please, nobody try to educate me on the fine distinctions. I know them, I don't care, and I think anybody who really does care is either a stuck-up ass or so insecure about their abilities that they cling to buzzwords. At least EE's just call themselves EE's (and I've never met anybody who bothered to distinguish between electrical engineer and electronic engineer). The best programmer I ever knew (who also had a Ph.D. in CS from a fancy school) simply called himself a programmer.

Re:Sadly quite true (1)

starcraftsicko (647070) | about a year ago | (#43576361)

The real problem is software that is being used to automate so much of HR task. Writing a resume to get past an HR drone is easy. "Check all that apply" then "penalty of perjury", that's harder.

Re:Sadly quite true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576469)

The word "engineer" has a specific meaning that shouldn't be diluted. There are electrical, mechanical, civil, etc. engineers (of which the study and practice relies on physics and rigorous training). Software is no more of an engineering discipline than the guy who guides a train down the tracks, or the "sanitation engineer" who picks up your garbage every Friday. It's much more of an art than science.

Comparing a true electrical or mechanical engineer to a "software engineer" is not even in the same ballpark.

Re:Sadly quite true (1)

russotto (537200) | about a year ago | (#43576691)

The word "engineer" has a specific meaning that shouldn't be diluted. There are electrical, mechanical, civil, etc. engineers (of which the study and practice relies on physics and rigorous training). Software is no more of an engineering discipline than the guy who guides a train down the tracks

You angry P.E.s really need to watch who you're picking on. You can beat up on software engineers all you like, because let's face it, we're in general neither physically tough nor politically connected. But messing with the guys who drive the trains (railroad engineers), and their operating engineer bretheren (as in union bretheren) in the construction industry is a different matter entirely.

Re:Sadly quite true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576417)

I'm sure I'll get around to taking a computer course one of these days.

Amen.

Of the people I have interviewed for a job, and of all the good software people I have known,
I've seen a strong correlation between music skills and their ability to solve a software problem. If they learned,
at some point in their life, to read music/play an instrument, their brain is more predisposed to software.

I don't know if anyone has ever done a study on this, or why it doesn't come up more often in discussions, though...

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43575979)

Hiring somebody for a job that has proven they have the skills to do the job. What a concept!

So this doctor goes from male to female (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43575985)

And wonders why male colleagues don't invite her to baseball games? Really? Do some women love baseball? Sure. But do most women? No. Do some men love shopping? Sure. But do most men? No. Odds are people are simply asking people they think might be interested, and gender does tend to play a significant part in that, at least for setting defaults. I'm a guy, but don't really care for baseball. Now that my co-workers know that, they don't ask me anymore. Perhaps if she made it known she liked baseball, she'd get invited.

Re:So this doctor goes from male to female (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576087)

Do men love women that used to be men?

Re:So this doctor goes from male to female (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576317)

No, unless they're gay.

Re:So this doctor goes from male to female (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576335)

translation: freakishly modifying your body creates ostracization. More at 11. Trannies need to realize that they're fooling no one, and they put off ambiguous vibes that most people, regardless of gender, have trouble with.

Re:So this doctor goes from male to female (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#43576551)

The phrase you are looking for is 'uncanny valley'.

No enough keywords (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43575987)

Sorry, this article did not make it past my keyword scanning filters. Moreover, it does not have 7 years of experience to back up it's introductory claims. Since I cannot find a suitable article, I will have to source one from India.

fuck you dice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43575991)

i hate you

A "Gilded" boost for Open Source Software (4, Insightful)

BoRegardless (721219) | about a year ago | (#43575993)

Sounds like one more boost that will give impetus for more people to become involved in open source projects.

More likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576455)

Or simply fork an existing repo and do nothing more to get a "higher BS score" on the BS meter.

What a nick name! (1)

32771 (906153) | about a year ago | (#43576011)

I'm now trying to envision a Strudelkugel - man, it's a doughnut!
First its a ball shaped object like a Kugel, and then a vortex appears in it, i.e. a Strudel. This creates a hole, ideally a in the midst of it. The result is a torus.

So the founder (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576033)

of gild.com which rates programmers regardless of whether they have qualifications is thriving and has no qualifications. That's about right..

I'm a bit bitter becuase I have no job and while I have to work away at other jobs and waste my time sending off my resume into bottomless pits, this guy jost learns the stuff I was newver really taught (or at east ever acknowledged) by employers. I'm thankful that the best students in my course are thriving, but plenty of other capable employess are left by the roadside becasue there's no regulation in IT. You don't really need a degree/diploma. I was never asked for one when I had a job. I only got the job in th last place I worked because of the mickey mouse experience I gained in a job in a place before I started college. I delivered the resume by hand and was seen waking out the door. My former boss told me that's why he hired me - some simple hardware config experience.

Most CS programs DO NOT prepare you for the real world. They prepare you for postgrad and research. A note of advice to people who want to work in the industry:

The best programmers in my course agree that its mainly mickey mouse out there - crap like gild.com You do either of 2 things:

1) Learn it yourself and develop your own stuff at home and make a guild out of it because that's how it s in most jobs.

2) You go all the way - top level PhD and research jobs.

An actual vanilla degree in CS is worse (not joking) than a liberal arts degree. I know of a load of people that have jobs in IT and only had arts degrees because they did a 1- year top up higher diploma. And if you have a degree in liberal arts you can be a teacher.

There are no jobs in education for teaching in schools in second level. IT is not about empowering people, it's about dis-empowering people and pushing guild workers. Hello cloud and openstack, azure thin client etc. Goodbye Hadoop, bit torrent, and client side.

Genius is as Genius does. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576045)

“He’s a symbol of someone who is smart, highly motivated and yet, for whatever reason, wasn’t motivated in high school and didn’t see value in college,” Mr. Desai said.

Sounds like a goddamn genius to me!

Re:Genius is as Genius does. (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#43576355)

Many genius level IQ people find highschool an absolutely boring, dreary, mindless, and lonely existence.

Re:Genius is as Genius does. (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about a year ago | (#43576443)

Many genius level IQ people find highschool an absolutely boring, dreary, mindless, and lonely existence.

You went to Scumbag High with me, obviously...

Re:Genius is as Genius does. (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year ago | (#43576523)

, wasnâ(TM)t motivated in high school and didnâ(TM)t see value in college,

and no doubt will not see the value in work either - especially if he's hired by a company that values sensible, maintainable, serious engineering-style coding rather than playing with fun puzzles.

Oh, he joined a startup... guess he'll be fine then.

Coin Toss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576057)

Much more economical and more effective.

Hiring by interview always results in error because the person or committee doing the interview, especially a committee where group-think reigns supreme, is hopelessly biased.

Social Media Sites (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576067)

The very best programmers that I know don't go anywhere near social media sites.

He is the only one (4, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#43576069)

He is the only one who reacted to the spam?

I get tons of job offers and the only algorithm they seem to be using is that I at some point in the past was looking for a job. By pure chance one will fit me, I am sure.

If I have a day job? (2, Interesting)

poached (1123673) | about a year ago | (#43576089)

I am beginning to worry about this trend to have an online coding portfolio.

I think open source is great, but once I got done with my day job coding, I never want to touch another line of code until work the next day. Adding to that, what about the basic need to socialize, spend time with the family, and spend time on hobbies?

I have definitely seen SF job postings for people with extensive open-source commits. Those posts are biased towards a few people who are lucky enough that their company pays them to work on open-source products, are unemployed and doing open-source thing until hired, or the very few people who code for 16 hours a day. Personally, I wouldn't hire the person that codes for 16 hours a day, but that is who I need to be to get noticed these days?

Re:If I have a day job? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576205)

> I never want to touch another line of code until work the next day.

That is just the thing. You want to do something else. I just want to touch the code. My hobby is programming. Guess which one of us is probably better at programming? But don't be offended, you probably have some related skill where you are far more better than I am. E.g. you might be better at understanding the business needs (which I could not care less).

> Personally, I wouldn't hire the person that codes for 16 hours a day

A person who codes 16 hours a day is most likely pretty good at it. You most likely want to have at least one of these people in your team simply because they can solve problems that no-one else can, they probably know tools that no-one else does. But you probably don't want to have a full team of these people. Instead, try to gather a group of people who think differently. Then you have those who know what to do, those who know what not to do, those who know how to do it, those who know how to make the team work together, those who know how to keep the quality in shape etc.

Btw. you don't need 16 hours a day. Just spending e.g. 5 hours / week is more than enough to gain some reputation in open source.

Re:If I have a day job? (5, Insightful)

sam_paris (919837) | about a year ago | (#43576407)

So, at my previous job (at a games company) I regularly worked 8.30 till 8 or 9pm. I'd get home at 10, eat, workout a little, then go to bed. I often worked full weekends (crunch time) and there was no way I could ever code outside of work, I was simply too burned out. In fact, I barely had time to do much else other than eat, sleep, and do chores. As such, if someone tried to find any open source work done by me, well, there is none, but that doesn't mean I can't program.

I kind of hate this recent assumption that all open-source programmers with work on github must be programming geniuses.

Re:If I have a day job? (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#43576219)

Having some sort of portfolio of previous work (that you can share, of course) isn't that crazy of an idea in any field.

What is crazy -- and sort of sick -- is the idea of hiring people based on what they do in their off hours. The private life of a potential employee should be off limits as far as hiring is concerned.

Re:If I have a day job? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576435)

See that's unrealistic. Pro athletes spent much of their time practicing. Artists and writers will spend their free time improving their craft. Doctors spend their twenties being trained and studying.

It's so unfortunate that to be considered a good programmer you need to spend a lot of time outside of work educating yourself and keeping of with new technologies. What happened to knowing the basics and foundations and being easily trainable? What happened to sticking with proven stuff and not latching on to the newest fad or not learning technologies that will be outdated very soon?

I guess the industry will be filled with expert developers, but I wonder if they will be paid what they're really worth? How can you justify a high salary when you have 3 years of experience in a certain skill they want when you've had 15 years of relevant working experience? It seems like software development isn't an attractive industry if you have technical skills. Engineering seems like a better choice.

Maybe software development will be identified as a job you do because you love it.

Re:If I have a day job? (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#43576363)

Why wouldn't you? Especially if he likes doing that?

Re:If I have a day job? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576371)

I sure hope you have a very strong plan for early retirement. There is no way in hell you will stay in this industry just being a 9-5er.

I have hired a large number of engineers over the years. I would *never* hire a 9-5er. I don't want someone who codes 16 hours a day, but I want someone who is continuing their education without expect me to provide it for them. I also want someone who is excited about what they do. Not someone who will do only what it takes to get the job done and go home.

When I get home, I spend 2 - 3 days a week coding at night. Side projects, open source projects, etc.

Even at my age, I get a very high number of interview requests. Every week I get at least 6 recruiters hitting me up on LinkedIn. Why ? Because my skill set is current and always growing.

Good luck, you are going to need it.

Re:If I have a day job? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576373)

You are in the wrong field. I code all day for work. When I get home the first thing I do is continue coding on my personal projects.

I love coding and computer science in general. That's why I'm in that field.

Find something you don't hate and you will be a much happier person. You sound very bitter.

Synopsis (1)

s1d3track3D (1504503) | about a year ago | (#43576091)

Algorithm's can do what you create them to do:
They can measure specific data points, such as would constitute "technical merit".
They can not measure 'human undefinable's', things such as human co-interaction, gut instinct, charisma.

(I would think once we have enough data points to define how, for example, 'gut instinct' is actually determined by out brain, we could put that in an algorithm as well)
I think society would really be shocked if things were actually merit based.

Re:Synopsis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576223)

There was a study where mathematical formula was able to predict cancer recovery about 70-80% correctly, while doctors could do it only about 50% correctly (a little better than just guessing). Don't aim to be as good as humans, we can already do better than that.

Age (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576147)

I bet 100 BILLION dollars and a pool of sharks with LASER beams that this algorithm can approximate the age of a candidate.

Just say'in.

Re:Age (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43576319)

I bet 100 BILLION dollars and a pool of sharks with LASER beams that this algorithm can approximate the age of a candidate.

No takers on that bet. Yeah, there is that sort of potential for bias. Depends on how you use it. However you don't need fancy software for age discrimination. You can roughly figure someone's age just by looking at them. You can guess it before you meet them by looking at their resume.

This also has the potential to eliminate some biases though. Going to a fancy school is not a great proxy for how someone will do. I wouldn't discount it, but there are other things that indicate you're qualified. Also, how many people can afford the tuition for MIT, Stanford, CMU, etc. these days. So "good school" is also a proxy for socio-economic background. Probably always was, but it's probably worse now.

Of course talent is being missed (1)

SEE (7681) | about a year ago | (#43576149)

The question is, do you have something that works better at finding talent, can be administered for a cost reasonable relative to the additional productivity it identifies, and will stand up to scrutiny by the EEOC?

Hmm... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#43576199)

To paraphrase TFA:

Dr. Ming, who *now* has an undergraduate degree in cognitive neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego, a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon in psychology and computational neuroscience and completed a fellowship at Stanford -- *after* flopping at college, kicking around at various jobs, contemplating suicide, and hitting the proverbial bottom -- is working to identify talented non-traditionally trained/skilled potential employees. Interesting.

More interesting, from both an individual and societal standpoint, is that she only noticed this after completing gender transformation from male to female (props to her) and started being treated differently than when she was male.

Come on (1)

Wovel (964431) | about a year ago | (#43576287)

The summary was a POS full of qualifiers and gave no idea what the story was actually about. Try harder.

There are lies, damned lies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576429)

...and then there is Guild. Or, if you prefer, more abstractly, there is the idea that metrics, data (even poor ones) are the cure to what ails us.

We realize how horrid code metrics are, yet we are desperate enough to hire by them. Let's be entirely honest here, this isn't about finding the best talent, it's about finding a body for a space with a minimum of effort. Resume scanning tools had the same lofty goal; we all know where that ended up, right? Meet version 2.0 - Idiocracy in hiring.

Let's understand what goes into the Guild algorithm...accepted forum answers and contributions (which may not be right at all, just that they were accepted), publicly available code (oh, that can never be gamed, right?). That's it. From that, we get a score that shows the "stronger developer". I didn't realize it was so simple. We have now limited the market to: those who have spare time to contribute to open source, create their own projects (oh, and who cares if no one actually uses it, the code just has to exists), and entry level kids just starting out trying to help on Q&A forums.

What does this help you find? A code monkey. An intern. An entry level lackey at most. It may give a boost to "non-traditional" folks, but if you were an employer, why the hell would you limit yourself to that market?

Take a step back and consider this from another perspective: With this ideology, we are now hiring people for a job not based upon what they actually do for a living, but what they do in their off hours. Yes, your hobby is now more important than your 9-5 job and the experience therein. What other occupation pretends that this is a good way to hire? What other workforce puts up with that shit?

Algorithm to evaluate employer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576433)


boolean work_here(corporation):
   CLF = 0   /* Initialize Corporate behemoth Lethargy Factor  (CLF) */
   Ask manager to print extra copy of your CV.
   while (not exists(CV_hard_copy)):
       sleep(120)
       CLF ++

   Ask to see employee handbook
   for page in employee_handbook:
      CLF ++

   Ask for access to a unix shell
   if exists(unix_shell):
     traceroute slashdot.org
     for each hop:
        CLF ++
   else:  /* Employer asks what's a unix shell? */
     CLF = CLF ^ 2

   Ask to see procedure for using open source software
    for page in open source software utilization procedure:
      CLF = CLF ^ 4

   Ask what the ratio is between the CEO's salary and your salary
   CLF = CLF * (CEO_SALARY/MY_SALARY) ^ 8

   Ask how many management levels are between the advertised position and the CEO.
   for each level:
      CLF = CLF ^ 16

  if CLF < 1:
     return (true)
  else:
    return (false)
}

Big Data - When you look Deeply into the Search.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576493)

.. it looks back Deeply into You

technically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43576509)

As many of us are computer geeks, I'm sure many readers realize that hiring is already an algorithm. It may be good or bad, and the particular algorithm may change with company/hr person/hiring manager/mood of the interviewer, but an algorithm is just a process for doing something, and most places have process for hiring.

So, file this under "duh."

Low bar (1)

russotto (537200) | about a year ago | (#43576541)

If you're trying to be a better filter than the typical HR department, it's not hard. An algorithm based mostly on a random number generator would likely work. Including the xkcd RNG.

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