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How To Hire Great Open Source Developers?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the low-uid-always-attractive dept.

Businesses 246

An anonymous reader writes "This is the first article I've ever read specifically about hiring open source developers, and how to judge their ability not just to code but to work with others. It's reprinted over at ITMJ [part of OSDN, as this site is] from a book by Martin Fink, the General Manager for HP's Linux Systems Division. Brings up a lot of good points, including how you need to make sure your open source people are developing things (on company time) that do the company some good, not just scratching their own itches. Fun quote: 'Discover what pseudonyms your candidate uses online. Look at the archives at SlashDot and other online locales. Does your candidate hide behind secret pseudonyms to trash other individuals? Is there passion without condemnation?'"

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246 comments

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461832)

pay them in Indian money
kekeke

I GOT A GREASED UP YODA DOLL SHOVED UP MY ASS! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461834)

GO LINUX!

Easy..... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461835)

Entice them with prostitutes!

Search Slashdot for their posting behavior? (5, Funny)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461836)

Oh shit.

Re:Search Slashdot for their posting behavior? (5, Funny)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461852)

Maybe you should have posted that AC.

Idiot.

Re:Search Slashdot for their posting behavior? (1)

DeadSea (69598) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462018)

I would have moderated this up as funny, not down if I had mod points. It's the same guy replying to himself, if you moderators hadn't noticed.

Re:Search Slashdot for their posting behavior? (2, Funny)

kj0rn (731521) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461909)

It's OK, I simply told them my nick is CleverNickName [slashdot.org]

we're due to start filming next week :-)

Re:Search Slashdot for their posting behavior? (4, Funny)

no longer myself (741142) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462013)

I've told people at work what my user name is:

"Hey, do you ever post comments on Slashdot?"

"Why yes, I'm 'no longer myself'."

And fortunately no one ever seems to figure it out... ;-)
Obviously, my coworkers think I'm weird...
But they like me anyway. :-)

Re:Search Slashdot for their posting behavior? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461957)

Thats nothing compared to my porn collection

You think you have problems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462110)

I normally post to Slashdot under the names "Rochard Stallman", "Bruce. Perens", "DemocratsMustDie", and "GayMarriage4AllRightNow". I've publicly exposed criminal behavior on the part of my previous nineteen employers (you have a lot of jobs when you're really four people), including IBM, SCO, Ford, Microsoft, Red Hat, NASA and NAMBLA.

But that's not what I'm really afraid of. My admission of homosexual activities with ESR is the real problem. Anyone who would consider that guy in a sexual way clearly has no social skills at all.

Hmm, I dunno. (5, Insightful)

samcentral2000 (753077) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461842)

"Discover what pseudonyms your candidate uses online. Look at the archives at SlashDot and other online locales. Does your candidate hide behind secret pseudonyms to trash other individuals? Is there passion without condemnation?" Hmm, I dunno. Sounds like someone might get disqualified just the project-manager doesn't like their opinions. /. writes about more than just OSS you know.

Re:Hmm, I dunno. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461866)

/. writes about more than just OSS you know.

They do?

Yeah, right.. nobody wan't to hire me after he has seen my SCO comments.

Re:Hmm, I dunno. (5, Insightful)

moranar (632206) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461925)

I shouldn't have to say this, but "ideally" (in planet Nice, with the pink fluffy rabbits) a project manager would take note about wether you hide behind a nickname to flame and troll, wether you were quick to anger, etc. (the qualities that make you less fit for a job involving human relationships) and not your opinions.

The downside: some OSS / FS grand masters would probably _never_ be hired based on what they say on /. . Of course, this shouldn't be the only criterion, but still...

Of course, this isn't planet Nice, and your opinions will become known sooner or later. One is what one is, after all. Holding strong opinions or beliefs was never meant to be easy. But if you don't want to be judged by what you say, (hint hint) don't say it on the net.

Re:Hmm, I dunno. (5, Insightful)

Alomex (148003) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462033)

I shouldn't have to say this, but "ideally" (in planet Nice, with the pink fluffy rabbits) a project manager would take note about wether you hide behind a nickname to flame and troll, wether you were quick to anger, etc. (the qualities that make you less fit for a job involving human relationships) and not your opinions.

I don't know if the comparison is relevant. It is a bit like trying to predict how you will behave in a business meeting judging from a tape of the football game you attended with your buddies last weekend. Not much can be inferred, if you ask me. /. is an informal forum of peers. Work is a professional setting with colleagues. Sure, extremely aggressive behaviour in /. is unlikely to be curtailed when at work, but if we are to extend this to general pettiness, I think this pretty much would disqualify anybody who ever posted or moderated here in /.

Re:Hmm, I dunno. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462043)

Of course, this isn't planet Nice, and your opinions will become known sooner or later.

I don't know about you, but some of us aren't crappy liars.

Re:Hmm, I dunno. (1)

IainHere (536270) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462147)

One is what one is, after all

Sounds like Popeye finally grew up.
Oh dear - after a comment like that, I'll never find work again.

Re:Hmm, I dunno. (4, Insightful)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461952)

Sounds like someone might get disqualified just the project-manager doesn't like their opinions.

A project manager who would disqualify a potential candidate based on the candidate's personal opinions is not the kind of project manager worth working for.

Just because someone is [insert favorite offensive/questionable attribute] that doesn't mean thet the person can't be a great developer.

Then again, sometimes, personal opinion matters.

Re:Hmm, I dunno. (4, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462215)

Personal opinions on unrelated matters may if you are trying to build a company culture. And you probably don't want to hire a blatant racist to a mixed race workplace. But more important than the opnions themselves, are how they chose to express their opinions. And how they reacts to people with different opinions.

Re:Hmm, I dunno. (1)

beacher (82033) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462393)

If the potential candidate didn't RTFA and got flamed for it, it's a possible indicator that the candidate will forge forward (with their own preconceived notions) without doing research on the job and maybe finding a better solution...

But then again WTFDIK, I didn't RTFA....
-B

Re:Hmm, I dunno. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462404)

This is why I've always used a pseudonym on slashdot and usenet. Hey, I might want to run for office one day, who knows? And who knows where the tide of public opinion will go in 25 years.

Answer: you don't (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461843)

any developer with decent skillset would already be employed. No point getting unemployed hobbyists into your company.

Re:Answer: you don't (2, Interesting)

ptolemu (322917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461860)

Are you suggesting that unemployed hobbyists are all without decent skillsets?

Re:Answer: you don't (5, Insightful)

standard method (660687) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461955)

Now, at the risk of feeding the trolls, I do take exception to this sort of attitude.

There are lots of talented out of work people, be they developers, programmers, graphic designers, musicians, teachers, astrophysicists, lawyers, actors... I could go on, but, you know, I don't really want to. People don't always get hired simply for their skillsets. I've said before that some of the most talented people don't get hired because of a lack of specific skills in other areas. People lose jobs, or lose bids on jobs/contracts, because they can't handle talking to "real people." Obviously that's not the only reason, but that's a big one. My father works for a school board, and there are people who would love to work as a teacher, but are terrible in social situations. On the flip side of things, we have programmers who are less than the most competent people in their literal field that don't get hired because they can't work with other people.

I for one know I wouldn't want to hire someone, regardless of their boundless talent, if they were a flaming dickhead.

Re:Answer: you don't (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461988)

There are also lots of talented people who don't get work, or who end up stressed out of work, because employers willynilly throw around requirements for people to do what they can't.

I was part of this ''multiskilling" fad, and was employed to do prepress work. It's my passion, and I love it. I find dealing with people stressful.

So what does my employer do? Add to my job the requirement to serve the front counter of the print shop, COLD CALL prospective clients, do the layout I was originally employed for, go on the road doing sales, and admin the network.

Good work. I ended up quitting, as prepress is shit easy to find a new job in when you have the skills.

Some people can do the multitude of tasks needed, but when you hire someone who's a consistent passionate coder, don't go then expecting them to do bullshit like cold calling clients or sales on top. Jack of all trades and master of none, etc.

Re:Answer: you don't (2, Interesting)

standard method (660687) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462108)

You bring up a good point there too, it's not always the worker's fault that they're out of work. It could be that damned employer, or the guvermint. But you know.

The thing is, there's a fine line between expecting an employee to be flexible and expecting an employee to work well beyond the call of duty. It's a bonus to have an employee who can work beyond that which s/he was hired for. However, it's becoming less and less a "bonus" and more and more a "prerequisite." Doing extra has become a requirement, for one reason: people are willing to do more. If work wasn't going so cheaply nowadays, you wouldn't have to do as much.

"There're fewer jobs out there, you gotta multitask!" Hmm. Sounds to me like a good equation towards getting people to do more work for less pay.. even if there aren't fewer jobs out there. But that's just tin-foil hat thinking.

Re:Answer: you don't (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462139)

Yes, and I'd like my tinfoil hat back now, please.

Re:Answer: you don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462145)

Exactly. There are certainly multiskilled people out there - but within limits. My prepress design work is pretty damned good, and my passion. I'm also a bit of a mac geek, and overcoming networking glitches and much technical stuff on the machines we'd use is my other strength. I think that's worthwhile

I was also reminded of this when looking at the qualifications required for a school bus driver needed for a school nearby. They wanted someone with a heavy equipment license (more than is needed for a bus here), could do landscaping on grounds, act as groundskeeper, have tertiary child psychology qualifications and be an accredited mental health nurse

Bet the position hasn't been filled by someone with that full skillset.

Re:Answer: you don't (1)

standard method (660687) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462196)

The school bus driver example is an interesting one, because I have a bit of indirect experience with the hiring of school bus drivers in particular. Seriously.

Now, first off, you're right, that position was probably filled by someone without those specific qualifications. The thing is, though, the person who filled that position is probably going to end up doing that job anyway. In Canada, at least, education budgets are getting slashed to a ridiculous degree, and school boards are less and less able to hire someone to drive the buses and someone else to cut the grass. If the bus driver has nothing else to do, s/he sits in the bus garage playing cards or sleeping. A fine, hard day's work, wouldn't you say?

Now, the thing about the child psychology and mental health nurse qualifications seems a little silly. I can understand where that would come into play, but it's hard to see that as being something advertised as being a qualification for the job, even if it wasn't a requirement.

Re:Answer: you don't (1)

Salamander (33735) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462258)

I was part of this ''multiskilling" fad, and was employed to do prepress work. It's my passion, and I love it. I find dealing with people stressful.

Your example sounds like someone set a ridiculously high bar for social interaction, but "don't be a total flaming dickhead" is a low one. It's the social equivalent of writing hello.c and if someone can't do even that much then they don't deserve to get hired anywhere. Not even at Mall-Wart. Everyone has to deal with someone, even if it's only their boss, and they need a modicum of skill to do that. While it might be unreasonable to expect that people have (and exercise) too many different skills, requiring that people behave like adults is perfectly sensible and the sad truth is that many OSS "luminaries" (Al Viro is the clearest example) fail that test.

Re:Answer: you don't (1)

Mike_01_01 (693309) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462070)

I for one know I wouldn't want to hire someone, regardless of their boundless talent, if they were a flaming dickhead.

Does that mean your not really keeping my resume on file?

Re:Answer: you don't (1)

standard method (660687) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462092)

I thought I already told you: "When a position requiring your particular skillset becomes available, we will put your resume back on file."

BINGO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462113)

It doesn't matter how skilled you are, if you can't work with people. That doesn't mean you have to be a super-suave kinda guy. It just means you have to not be an angry at the world, self-centered, condescending bastard. That's all!

Of course (0, Insightful)

Pingular (670773) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461844)

When you're looking for open source developers, you need to make sure they can't just get the program to run well, but also to make the code look neat and easy to read, as there's a good chance lots of other people will be wanting to edit it for their own needs.

ONCE AGAIN PINGULAR K-WHORES THE BLATENTLY OBVIOUS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461853)

and the tard mods will mod you up for posting something even an idiot can spew. go buy a life you assclown since you can develop one on your own.

Re:s/ can / can't /g (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461865)

Sorry Pingular, I was too busy sodomizing your dad and made a typing glitch.

Re:Of course (4, Informative)

scorp888 (53723) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461932)

Of course, you should look for that in any programmer, not just open source.

Fuck, they will never hire me (-1)

Krapangor (533950) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461848)

after they read my trolls on slashdot.
BTW, have I mentioned that 67 % percent of all Mensa members don't use HP computers ? We did a poll at our local Mensa charter...

Anonymous Coward doesn't need your job! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461854)

Enough said!

job offers for all! (4, Funny)

SinaSa (709393) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461857)

It's articles like these that make me want to hop onto Seek [seek.com.au] and put up a job offer for OSS developers everywhere!

And then I remember I don't run a business :(.

What not to do (5, Funny)

tankdilla (652987) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461861)

How to not get hired for an open source project:

Boss: What's your Slashdot screen name?
Employee: Anonymous Coward.

Re:What not to do (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462045)

How to starve: Get hired for an Open Source Project and pour your state-of-the-art capabilities into a codebase for Indian and Hungarian drones to study, thereby screwing thousands of people out of their _careers_.

In other words, there is seriously something wrong with your life if you need or want to be "hired" for an Open Source Project. I suggest you wise up and get with the Program before the only thing you are programming is the microwave at McDonalds, foo!

Anonymous Coward - horseshit

Re:What not to do (5, Funny)

The Famous Brett Wat (12688) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462117)

How to not get hired for an open source project:

Boss: What's your Slashdot screen name?
Employee: The correct Slashdot term is "nickname", you ignorant AOLer!

Good article, but one thing irritates me (5, Insightful)

Underholdning (758194) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461873)

This seems like it was written during the dot-com bubble. Quote from the article: However, that person may also have very clear expectations that the only projects they will ever work on are open source projects. This is simply not true. Being an open source developer is not a religion. It just means that you believe in the idea. There's absolutely no problem for an open source developer to make closed source for a living. And, more importantly, open source developers (and the comunity) has no beef with that.
Remember - we need to eat as well. While open source gives us satisfaction, closed source gives us our daily bread.

Re:Good article, but one thing irritates me (3, Funny)

Chip Salzenberg (1124) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461947)

You're mistaken. Lots of open source people did have that expectation, back in the day. Of course they were usually disappointed.

PS: potential employers, check out the low uid. :-)

Re:Good article, but one thing irritates me (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462004)

A low UID, but only 49 replies? Get writing if you want the job.

Re:Good article, but one thing irritates me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462025)

Great that you speak for all of them. Generalizations like that are ignorant. "I belong to this group, so everyone in this group is like me."

Re:Good article, but one thing irritates me (5, Funny)

bsartist (550317) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462062)

Being an open source developer is not a religion.

You must be new here...

Re:Good article, but one thing irritates me (3, Funny)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462229)

> Being an open source developer is not a religion.
Anything can be a religion. Just because you have a life doesn't mean everyone does.

Open Source projects as a career stepping-stone. (5, Informative)

CharonX (522492) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461874)

Bram Cohen (famous maker of Bittorrent) managed had his carrer boosted only because his open source project - Bittorrent.
His current employers saw his work and hired him on the spot...

Re:Open Source projects as a career stepping-stone (1, Funny)

4of12 (97621) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462068)


His current employers saw his work and hired him on the spot...

Uh, am I the only one that found this statement funny?

[Reminds me of the old joke, boss commenting to another boss, "Yes, Bob's retired. The only problem is he forgot to tell us about it."]

Doomed!! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461875)

"Discover what pseudonyms your candidate uses online. Look at the archives at SlashDot and other online locales. Does your candidate hide behind secret pseudonyms to trash other individuals? Is there passion without condemnation?"

Oh bugger that's me screwed then, he knows I always post anonymously on Slashdot!!!

Re:Doomed!! (2, Insightful)

Jotaigna (749859) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461982)

so anonymous coward is not a made up pseudonym?


OSS should be looked as if it was a portfolio not a personality definition, since many developers start doing software because they need it for themselves(like a driver or a new phone book, whatever) so basically is mostly real ppl with real intrests, so an interview is what really should happen, not weasely speculation or minding caffeinated beverage taste.

Animal Psychology (5, Funny)

beware1000 (678753) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461877)

Culturally, your engineers will struggle between their loyalty to the community and their loyalty to the company.

haha! they make them sounds like confused pets or something.

"Don't be too quick to introduce your Engineer to it's new environment, Engineers are not well known for adapting quickly to change!"

Re:Animal Psychology (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461950)

You have no idea how long it took to get well house-trained coders. We stepped down our requirements from "civilized" to "doesn't spray their scent around the server room TOO often" and I think we've reached a happy medium.

Re:Animal Psychology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462180)

Letting your developers into the server room was the first mistake. The blinkenlights get them all excited and they spray.

...not just scratching their own itches. (2, Funny)

burgburgburg (574866) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461886)

you need to make sure your open source people are developing things (on company time) that do the company some good, not just scratching their own itches.

And after I've paid so much money for DVDs of women primarily scratching ...,uh, now that I think about it, that's in a slightly different context. Never mind.

Personal Time (5, Insightful)

mccalli (323026) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461887)

From the article: "You need to clearly define when and how your engineers can participate in open source projects on their personal time, and define the disclosure rules for your employees. Local employment laws may limit restrictions on your employees."

Damn right law might limit restrictions. My time is mine. Not a company's, mine. That's the very definition of personal time. I am not employee #3877643 away from the office, I am a human being who does work for a company during certain prescribed times and under certain prescribed circumstances.

They might well have legitimate rights over what I can contribute, but certainly not when if 'when' is part of my personal time.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Personal Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461979)

Get back in line #3877643, before your breathing privileges are revoked!

Re:Personal Time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462048)

My time is mine. Not a company's, mine.

Wrong, the company owns you. Those are the terms you agree to when you get hired. Hell, our company has a policy that forbids employees from gambling AT ALL TIMES, including personal time. If you don't like it then you can quit (or be fired if they find out you took a trip to Vegas).

Re:Personal Time (4, Insightful)

mccalli (323026) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462097)

Wrong, the company owns you. Those are the terms you agree to when you get hired.

Maybe in your private hell, or in the dreams of the HR department, but certainly not in reality - no. That's the whole point about local laws limiting that right.

For example, after stating that I was taking three weeks off following the birth of my son, I started getting phone calls about simple development questions that could easily have waited or been worked out by others. I politely reminded the people involved a couple of times, and put the phone down on them the next. No further calls.

For example, shortly before midnight 31st Dec 1999 I was called asking if I could just log on to a machine in Singapore to watch a log when the millenium ticked over. Answer - no, absolutely not.

For example, in the middle of moving house I was told to drop what I was doing and come into the company. Answer? No - of course not. If I don't complete the move I have nowhere to sleep tonight...

People should stop behaving in such a sheep-like fashion. Actually posting that a company 'owns' you and believing it? Good god man - for once the cliche applies, go out and get a life. And a backbone to go with that life - you'll need it at times when dealing with people who are trying to own you...

Cheers, Ian

Re:Personal Time (2, Interesting)

iammrjvo (597745) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462141)


I'm glad to see that at least someone has the guts to stand up for their personal time. I once worked in an applications support team where, as our boss put it, we were always "on call 24/7/365"

I ditched that job six months ago. It's fine if you're going to be "on call" at scheduled, planned times. I will not submit to an employer who thinks that they own me. Unfortunately, there were a lot of "sheeple" at the job who just took it. (I guess they're the ones making life hard for the rest of us!?)

In short, poor planning on my employers part should not necessitate an emergency on my part.

Thanks for letting me rant, too.

Re:Personal Time (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462207)

Oh let me guess, America. Right?

Christ, for the "land of the free" you lot have some pretty fucked up ideas about "freedom". Get some proper employment laws for Gods sake!

Intellectual Property (was Personal Time) (2, Insightful)

iammrjvo (597745) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462088)


I've decided that employment agreements that define intellectual property rights and disclosure really don't amount to much. Every employment agreement that I've read always has language about disclosing "work related" inventions and the company's right to those inventions.

Developers that I've worked with tend to construe those paragraphs very broadly and sometimes get themselves really worked up over the possibality of their employer stealing their million dollar invention. The thing about that is that if a company and employee were ever to get in a legal spat over IP, then most judges and jurys are going to be able to see the dividing line.

The bottom line is to use common sense. If you're employed writing software to analyize widgets and you write a directly competing product on the side, then you obiviously have no case to say that it's not work related. On the other hand, most judges and jurys can see enough difference between widget analysis and personal accounting that they're not going to let a company sue you just because you wrote in the same language and used similar coding practices on your personal time.

Re:Personal Time (2, Funny)

The Famous Brett Wat (12688) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462177)

I am not employee #3877643 away from the office...

Right on! Away from the office you are Slashdot user #323026, and post comments like #8461887. Or... hang on... are you posting from work? Now I'm confused.

Re:Personal Time (2, Funny)

mccalli (323026) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462270)

Right on! Away from the office you are Slashdot user #323026, and post comments like #8461887. Or... hang on... are you posting from work? Now I'm confused.

Want to be more confused? I'm posting from home. Via an SSH connection from work... :-)

Cheers,
Ian

I've got another fun quote... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461889)

"Those who still haven't their stupid little IT jobs outsourced will get fired because of their /. Karma"

Damn, and I thought IT was cool... maybe I just have a great hobby and should stay away from IT...

Re:I've got another fun quote... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462096)

Yeah, uh, you totally made up that quote. Nice job getting modded up, though.

Oops (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461899)

I predict a surge in Anonymous Coward posts on Slashdot...

Google search for any candidate (5, Interesting)

akinsgre (758695) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461900)

I can't remember where I read it; maybe JoelOnSoftware? Do a google search for any employee, not just open source developers. -greg

It really should have helped me (5, Interesting)

DeadSea (69598) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461908)

After I started my job, I found out that they had been using my open source GPL Java utilities [ostermiller.org] for about 2 years before I started. (legally, since they depend on them for web servers, but do not distribute their code).

My boss copied them into the source tree, but claims that he never made the connection between using my code and then later hiring me.

Re:It really should have helped me (3, Insightful)

cookie_cutter (533841) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462082)

Umm, you likely already know this, but your boss is probably lying to you, and simply didn't let it slip since that would have given you a stronger position during contract negotiations.

Lame points? (4, Interesting)

beforewisdom (729725) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461920)

Many of us work in proprietary software setting and have met plenty of prima donna programmers ( some whose skills are not commensurate with their attitude ) programmers.

We have also met other IT people who just don't get that they are being paid to do something for the company rather then what they want to do.

In these respects proprietary programers are no different then open source programmers.

In case the author of the article hasn't heard it is an employer's market right now for programmers.

There is no reason for an employer to even go to the fraction of the trouble the article suggests.

Steve

Re:Lame points? (2, Insightful)

cookie_cutter (533841) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462107)

In case the author of the article hasn't heard it is an employer's market right now for programmers.

Not all programming positions, nor programmers, are alike. Likewise, it is only an employer's market for certain types of positions(as it is with any field), and an employee's market for others. Some programmers can still make demands, cuz they're just so f'ing good/they have a very unique skillset.

Beer, pizza, gnu porn (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461984)

What more do you need to know?

Re:Beer, pizza, gnu porn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462300)

GNU porn? Eeeeeeeew! Sounds worse than goatsex.

Simple (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8461986)


just offer to pay them nothing

works so far

Personal experience (5, Interesting)

oujirou (726570) | more than 10 years ago | (#8461993)

While this might be slightly overkill in the general case, it has helped me once to dig for info on a guy who was trying to get a position in my company. If I didn't do that, I would have hired a skilled programmer and a scientologist at the same time, a person who was totally responsible for at least one major legal conflict.

Just don't let the tin foil obstruct your line of vision. It doesn't really matter what does your applicant blog or do in his spare time as long as he is a fine fellow and a nice specialist.

How To Hire Delopers? Mandatory read. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462022)

When you watch somebody write code, here are some techniques that may be helpful:

Always reassure them that you understand that it's hard to write code without an editor, and you will forgive them if their paper gets really messy. Also you understand that it's hard to write bug-free code without a compiler, and you will take that into account.

Some signs of a good programmer: good programmers have a habit of writing their { and then skipping down to the bottom of the page and writing their }s right away, then filling in the blank later.

They also tend to have some kind of a variable naming convention, primitive though it may be...

Good programmers tend to use really short variable names for loop indices. If they name their loop index CurrentPagePositionLoopCounter it is sure sign that they have not written a lot of code in their life. Occasionally, you will see a C programmer write something like if (0==strlen(x)), putting the constant on the left hand side of the == . This is a really good sign. It means that they were stung once too many times by confusing = and == and have forced themselves to learn a new habit to avoid that trap.

Good programmers plan before they write code, especially when there are pointers involved. For example, if you ask them to reverse a linked list, good candidates will always make a little drawing on the side and draw all the pointers and where they go. They have to. It is humanly impossible to write code to reverse a linked list without drawing little boxes with arrows between them. Bad programmers will start writing code right away.

The Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing

By Joel Spolsky

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog000000 00 73.html

Re:How To Hire Delopers? Mandatory read. (3, Informative)

fgb (62123) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462219)

I would add to that: good programmers like to know their tools and would know that it is not necessary to write ass-backward and unreadable code like if (0==strlen(s)).

Any good compiler released in the last twenty years has the ability to catch these kind of errors.

I love this one (3, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462050)

> Can he/she give examples of contributions that were
> better than his/her own implementations?

Good way to sort out the "programming god in their own minds" geeks.

Canadian Privacy Act (2, Interesting)

cookie_cutter (533841) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462054)

I wonder whether the asking for such pseudonym information is legal with respect to Canada's new privacy legislation.

I don't know much about the act's details, but one thing it states is that a business can't require information which isn't required in order to complete a transaction.

Not exactly the same thing as this, but maybe there is something in the act which does more directly refer to this type of situation.

Cool! (1)

flacco (324089) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462095)

i'll just search slashdot for the user with the highest "insightful" points and assume his identity.

what's that? how can you PROVE i'm not I_M_God2U ?

Single maintainer projects? (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462158)

The author seem to have most experience with Linux, and generalize a bit too much from that. Most larger open source projects do not have single all powerful maintainer, but are oriented around a central CVS repository where multiple people have write access.

Also, the "count the hops to the manager" does not make sense for many projects aside from Linux. Usually there is at most a single hop to someone with CVS write permission. If the person is a regular contributor, he will most likely have CVS write permission himself.

The Linux bitkeeper inspired hierarchical structure is rare.

There's a reason why the owl goes masked (4, Insightful)

sielwolf (246764) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462192)

(or whatever that Watchmen quote is)

'Discover what pseudonyms your candidate uses online....'

BS, I say. There are many reasons why people take nom de plumes and pseudonyms, but all come back to the fact that "-and I just wanted a certain level of anonymity". Not fullblown anonymity, just enough to make your online personal dealings disjoint from any sort of RL responsibilities you have.

There's a reason why you're not supposed to talk about religion, politics, and all that stuff on first dates or job interviews: because it's inappropriate (unless the job is, obviously, at a church, for a political party, etc.). Employees are expected to leave their personal lives at the door when at the job. But employers should feel peachy about betraying that same confidence?

When writing some free COM app or TPS report coversheet, what does an employee's view on gay marriage, Palestine, or the RIAA have to do with anything? And even if the employer was doing something as inoccuous as suggested in the article and just "seeing if they are passionate without compromise"... who here doesn't think they could find something they'd hold against you?

Candidates are looking for jobs, not friends. Neither should employers.

Most don't discriminate anyways (1)

defwu (688771) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462193)

Most employers end up using some other criteria to pick new hires anyway. Seriously, how often have you been on an interview and really hit it off with the technical people (if the company even bothers with a rigorous technical interview), demonstrated your broad background and wonderful achievements, only to be told that they are really looking for someone with more domain knowledge?
My point is that for the most part, large employers in particular are using other criteria to determine hiring practices, with actual technical skills rated down on the list next to "good grooming".
Any one who bothers to read this article is already several steps above this point and probably has their own decent methodologies to weed out the bad ones.

My experience (4, Interesting)

m00nun1t (588082) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462225)

I once did this. I was interviewing a candidate for a job. He made the short list, so I googled him. Found out his pseudonym which he happened to use on /.. Some postings were consistent with some points on his CV, confirming it was him.

He also made a few posts about the technology we were chiefly hiring him to work with. The comments were rather negative (and against the broader view of the group he would be working in). I want people who can be passionate about what they do. No, I'm not just looking for "yes people" to maintain the status quo, but there is a certain base. Who is going to work harder and enjoy themselves more - someone who enjoys the technology or someone who doesn't?

While his /. profile definitely wasn't the only thing that had him eliminated from the shortlist (he probably would have been cut anyway), it was a factor.

No need to be employed (3, Funny)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462231)

Became a landlord of flathouse. Then your tenants will keep you living while you work on open source. At least, it works for me. Actually, I spent more time on playing games than on coding for past eight years, in-between fixing kitchen sinks and replacing light bulbs. The best effect is I got free 512k internet connection throught one of my tenant, just by allowing them to place a microwave antenna on the roof "for free".
And how to become a landlord? Get an excellent karma in real world first.

How To Hire Great Open Source Developers? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462271)

Easy. Hire a mediocre closed source programmer and have him write open source code.

Too nosey? (1)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 10 years ago | (#8462273)

Is it just me, or isn't it a bit unfair to expect potential employees to reveal their online names? I mean I wouldn't want my boss seeing what I post on the animalsex.com boards...

Seriously though, I don't think it's fair to poke into people's personal lives just to see if they have ever said anything negative about Open Source.

Hmmm, I have an interview next week, better make myself look good... Open Source is great!

How to someone who works well with people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8462379)

First, read the resume and call the prospect up before the interview. Ask general questions like "describe your ideal job". Describe your job and ask the person to explain how their background and skills predict success in the job.

If they get past the initial call, invite them to visit the work site and turn the interview into a 4 hours session.

Have multiple teams of the potential hire's peers do team interviews. Make them get to know each other sessions the aim of which is to give the applicant access to the answer to any question they want to ask. And insist that honesty be used in giving the applicant the answers. You don't do yourself a favor in bringing on someone who doesn't fit because you mislead them.

I always say "'Asking how that turkey is to work for' is a fair question and I'll be disappointed if they don't give you an honest answer".

After the interviews, ask only one question of the prospect "do you want to come to work here to do the job that has been described in the conditions you now understand?"

After the interviews, ask only one question of your people ... do you want to work with this person? Does their cultural style fit? Does their work ethic come through?

Listen carefully while they explain their reasoning.

They don't want someone unpleasent around. They don't want someone who can't pull their share of the load.

I guarantee that the group wisdom will be better than yours even though you are the experience hiring manager.

I'm 6 for 6 using this approach over about a 5 year period. Zero undesired turnover in the group during that period.
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