26 May 2012

Say No to Brogrammers

I have observed a disturbing trend in software circles where cocky, mean-spirited brogrammers infect development teams. Urban Dictionary defines brogrammer as:

1.brogrammer151 up47 down
A programmer who breaks the usual expectations of quiet nerdiness and opts instead for the usual trappings of a frat-boy: popped collars, bad beer, and calling everybody "bro". Despised by everyone, especially other programmers.
Oh my god, John is talking about football and chicks again. That guy is such a brogrammer.
programmer frat boy bro douchebag developer
by seldo Dec 2, 2010
I find the brogrammer vibe toxic for several reasons:
  1. Fun dies
    • Teammates dread coming to work.
    • Team outings become an insufferable chore.
    • Teammates can no longer laugh at themselves.
  2. Innovation suffers
    • Teammates fear hazing.
    • Teammates are afraid to speak up.
    • Teammates are afraid to fail.
    • Teammates are afraid to try something new.
  3. Productivity suffers
    • Teammates are not forthcoming. As such, disingenuous Iteration Retrospectives stifle self-correction.
    • Teammates are fearful of committing code without first performing checks and crosschecks.
    • Teammates are fearful of the potential humiliation of breaking the build.
    • Teammates are loath to ask questions for fear of retribution.
  4. Quality suffers
    • Teammates dread pair programming.
    • Teammates dread the humiliation of code reviews.
    • Teammates avoid questioning or debating a technical approach.
    • People-Haters use metrics like code coverage to flog rather than learn.
Two red flag artifacts of the brogrammer vibe are Build Monkeys and Nerf Guns:
  1. Build Monkeys - a stuffed animal, or mascot of humiliation, gleefully bestowed upon programmers who break the build (or otherwise defy bro-thoritarian rule).
  2. Nerf Guns - toy weaponry gleefully deployed to pelt & punish programmers who inadvertently imperil something as inconsequential as test code coverage.

Nerf wars seemed innocuous when perpetrated by the socially inept smart people we'd all grown comfortable working with on our software teams. But now that the brogrammer boys have entered the fray, the once innocuous joviality has morphed into mean-spirited team oppression.
"Let's put the pro back in programmer...no more ninjas and definitely no more brogrammers."
Daniel Hamlin, 7:33 PM - 25 May 12 Twitter for Mac
I value the people I work with much more than the technology, or the software product we're building. I refuse to engage in this behavior and plan to defy Brothoritarian Rule.
Fear, hatred, and suspicion narrow your mind – compassion opens it.
~ Dalai Lama, 4:27 AM - 30 Apr 12 via Twitter
Additional Reading