Does any other discipline have problems establishing the basics of competency in the same way that software engineering does? Starting from Imran, to Reginald Braitwaite, to Jeff Atwood and now to Richard Banks, the story of FizzBuzz has become mildly famous among the circle of software programmers. What is it about the profession of programming in particular that allows for such stunning incompetence to be masked for so long?
Are there professional athletes who are unable to walk? Are there professional accountants who cannot do math? Are there professional postmodern english lit professors who occasionally let slip with a comprehensible sentence? I’d like to have some insightful insight at this point but the sheer lucridity of it has me baffled.
I’ve mentioned previously that the reason this company is named Bumblebee Labs is from a term I coined:
A bumblebee is an occurrence which cannot be explained by our current theory and thus, demands special attention. Bumblebees are the keys to uncovering areas where our understanding of the world drastically fail and how we can construct a better theory to explain what is happening.
and the FizzBuzz paradox is a Bumblebee of the highest order.
Just once, I’d like to hear the FizzBuzz story from the other side. I’d like to hear a veteran software engineer, confirmed to have been working on multiple projects and with largely positive references explain how he managed to fool so many people for so long about his basic competency in programming. Does this person know that they’re a bad programmer or are they suffering from a severe case of Dunning-Kreuger? How does knowing that you’re a fraud every single day weigh upon your psyche? How do your team mates treat you?
Sure, there are many other fields in which blatant frauds continue to go unexposed for many years: art, academia, holistic medicine, cult leaders etc. But everyone knows that fraud is endemic in these fields. Sure, there are fields in which people are completely self delusional about their ability: music, writing, acting. But everyone else knows those people are crap and never let them do anything of significance. Software Engineering shouldn’t be like those field. It should be like every other respectable, solid career. And yet it’s not.. why?