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Re: Second rate programmers and my confession

by Abigail-II (Bishop)
on Jun 06, 2002 at 14:02 UTC ( #172196=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: Re: Re: Second rate programmers and my confession
in thread Second rate programmers and my confession

I don't know what your point is. Perhaps you are trying to say that the programmer didn't understand the problem. But you didn't tell us what happened after the programmer talked to the customer. Did he screw up and the customer never got his report? Or did the customer get his report after the data was reloaded? In the latter case, I'd say the programmer did understand the problem.

I strongly disagree that you don't understand a problem if you cannot explain it in a few sentences to someone totally unfamiliar with the field, and who has no interest in knowing.

After I graduated, I did a few years of theoretical research at a university. The first nine months I spend studying topology before I could understand some of the problems I was working on. Was I a bad researcher because I won't be able to explain the problems here on this webboard? I don't think so.

If all people who really understood things well all could easily explain things to other people regardless of their level, the quality of education would be much better. I've seen people, top of their field by a large margin, who write very hard to understand papers. That doesn't make them second rate.


  • Comment on Re: Second rate programmers and my confession

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Straw men. Re: Re: Second rate programmers...
by Ovid (Cardinal) on Jun 06, 2002 at 14:55 UTC

    Abigail-II wrote:

    I strongly disagree that you don't understand a problem if you cannot explain it in a few sentences to someone totally unfamiliar with the field, and who has no interest in knowing.

    I would completely agree with that statement except for one little point; you appear to imply that I said that. I didn't.

    If you read my post again, you'll see that I chose my words most carefully:

    1. ...but oftimes, it is often indicative of communication problems.
    2. That programmer was technically correct.
    3. Quite often, if I find that I can't explain something in clear terms ...
    4. If I can't explain something clearly, I probably don't understand it.

    As you can see from the above quotes, I was extremely clear not say "all", "any", "none", or nonsense like that.

    You said you don't know what my point is, so I will try to be a bit more clear. Considering that jargon can be confusing to those who don't understand it:

    • Some people prefer to use jargon to discuss an issue.
    • Those who use jargon often don't know how else to express the issue.
    • If they don't know how else to express an issue, sometimes they have no understanding of it beyond the jargon.
    • Therefore, some people who prefer to use jargon have no understanding of an issue beyond the jargon.

    While the above is a bit wordy, it's logically valid. Of course, some will call it wishy-washy, which it is because if I only found one person who fit, then my case is proved :) The best I can do is sum it up this way: it's been my personal experience that those who communicate poorly by only using jargon are usually either showing off or they don't truly understand what they're talking about.

    That was all I was saying. Nothing more. And as for the programmer I mentioned? He was always complaining about getting bad reviews, even though "he knew more than the customer". He couldn't understand why he wasn't getting promoted. Communication is more than just saying words that are correct.


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Re^2: Second rate programmers and my confession
by Joost (Canon) on Jul 05, 2006 at 19:15 UTC
    I interpreted the point more as in: if you're not talking to "fellow experts", it's more productive to explain things in plain language, even when that implies simplifying a lot of "unimportant" things.

    Simplifying a difficult problem without losing track of the important points is hard, maybe even harder than going into all the little details that make up the problem, and people who can do it effectively usually have a lot of knowledge in that field. And some skill at "talking down" :-)

    Anyway, it's good to see you here again :-)

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