04 March 2012

How can you tell if a person is a programmer?

Programmers (and computer "nerds" in general) are strange beings. Their natural state is stuck in front of their computer, hammering their computer furiously, and writing stuff even a polyglot couldn't understand. But even when they're not programming, their behavior and way of living are so typical of their kind that could be recognized from miles away. Am I right or what?

What follows is a list of little expressions that give away the programmer's profession. The expressions were taken from the site Stack Overflow, which is a Q&A site for programmers (obviously). The expressions that follow are some of the most voted ones.

Having said that, you can tell if a certain person is a programmer if they:

  • Use parentesis inside parentesis in their normal writing (at least that's what I do (sometimes)).
  • Start counting from zero instead of one and consider 256 a round number.
  • When asked a simple question like Would you like a cup of tea?, they make a small pause before answering, like if they were saving their previous thoughts on disk before processing the question.
  • (Alternative) When asked a simple question like Do you prefer A or B they answer Yes.
  • Are more interested in buying and choosing a keyboard than in cars, shoes, etc.
  • Interpret the questions as precisely as possible, like for instance:

          Wife: Do you want to take the trash outside?
          Programmer: No. (I could go, but I don't really want to...)

          Passer-by: Do you have the time, please?
          Programmer: Yes I do.

          Wife: Bring me a loaf of bread, and if there are eggs, bring 6.
          Programmer: OK.
          Wife (after the buying): Why did you bring 6 loafs of bread?
          Programmer: Because there were eggs.

  • Laugh at stupid jokes like "There are 10 kinds of people: those who understand binary and those who don't".
  • If asked what languages do they know, they list a whole bunch of them but never say "English" or "German".
  • After a long conversation they try to remember where did the conversation started and what steps did they take to get to the current point.
  • Have a tendency to end their sentences with a semi-colon;
  • If asked to solve a problem, they list all possible and imaginable ways to solve it.
  • Male programmer: when he sees an attractive woman with a last generation cell phone in her hand, he looks at the phone first.
  • Say their favorite color is #0000FF.
  • If asked which kind of computer do they use, they cannot answer with just one word (well, unless it's a Mac).
And finally:
  • It should be noted that no ethically-trained programmer would ever consent to write a "DestroyBaghad" procedure. Their basic professional ethics would instead require them to write a "DestroyCity" procedure, to which "Baghdad" could be given as parameter.