|go ahead... be a heretic|
AmIAGuruOrNot.comby japhy (Canon)
|on Jul 16, 2001 at 03:18 UTC||Need Help??|
I was talking to tilly earlier this morning (really, late last night) via /msg, and I was thanking him for saying that I was a good programmer. (He mentioned this in his reply to a rather controversial node about respect in the Monastery.) I told him that it was refereshing to hear from another competent Perl programmer a compliment like "I would call him a guru".
This isn't meant to be an ego-stroker, but I'd like to relate a gripe of mine. I get compliments like that all the time. (Wow, that's great!) No, really. All the time. Specific people on IRC idolize me. They'll agree with things I say (it's terribly funny when I'm wrong, and they make excuses for me). They call me a "Perl Guru", and a "Perl God", and -- for the course of several months -- insisted that I was a "Perl bot". That was very irritating.
So do I wish I wasn't a good programmer? No. I just wish people would stop saying it. Or at least people that didn't "know better". This type of behavior has happened all throughout history. The example I'll use is actually fictional, but since I'm now obsessed with Tolkien, I'll use it anyway.
When the Elves came from the West, and met the Men of the East for the first time, many of the Men thought the Elves were gods, because they had beautiful faces and voices, and were wise and gracious. (See The Silmarillion.)The premise is this: it's easy for a newbie (or whatever word-of-the-day we're all using is) to call a person a guru. There's not much less than a newbie, and everything above a newbie's level is "magical" and "mysterious" and "hard", so one who knows more than they must be powerful in the ways of Perl. Just because they could answer a question. Come on.
It's very tempting to sit there and bask in the rays of compliments from people who don't know the difference. They'll think you're a god because you know how to use printf(). They'll call you a guru because you fixed their regex. They'll insist you're a bot because you know about all the punctuation variables, and must have some sort of intravenous injection piping the documentation (What? Documentation exists? You must be a god if you can read and remember and understand that stuff!) into your bloodstream.
Update: changed analogy. I apologize, mothra, and I recognize the insufficiency of my "warning." It's frustrating, because it's such an ego-temptation. And it leads you to believe you're greater than you are. It's like playing with a stacked deck -- you win, with a smug look on your face, and the other players believe you're better than you really are. Of course the newbies know less than you, and so they idolize you for answering questions that puzzled them. It's a fact of life. It's just easy to let it go to your head. I'm irritated by that, is my point.
Guru-ness is determined by those that have already attained it, or that at least know what it takes. It irritates me to be given labels by people that can throw them about with impunity.