Then no software would get written, but at least we wouldn't have any crap software...

My friend Jay posted two blog entries yesterday on the subject of raising the standard for programmers in our industry. I left a comment about it on his blog and talked with him about it on IM, but I figured I'd expand a bit on my thoughts on it here.

First things first, I completely disagree with him.

I don't think that 50% of programmers should leave the profession. I've worked on a lot of projects with a lot of different teams and I can't ever remember thinking "man, this project would be a lot easier if I got rid of half of this team."

I can also only think of few Net Negative Producing Programmers that I've worked with and most of them usually leave pretty quickly.

Most of the time, I've found that when a person isn't performing up to par, it's because of a management failure. I think that it's up to the development leads to analyze their teams and figure out how everyone can best contribute and make sure that people are performing at the top of their game.

Too often I've seen people fall into the trap of always being assigned to, or always choosing to work on, the easiest features in the project. They then do a half-assed job because they're always working on the boring part of the project and don't feel like a valued part of the team.

Maybe, for a change, we should assign those people the hardest part of the project for a few weeks. Sure, they might not so the best job, but they will work harder because, for once, what they're working on is challenging and exciting. Plus they know that the entire team is depending on them and is there to help them. That's how you bring people back into the fold and make them a productive, happy member of the team.

The point that's neglected in Jay's arguments is that experienced programmers shouldn't just be responsible for writing code. It should also be the job of experienced programmers to take those who are less experienced or interested and pull them up to our level.

Forcing them out of the profession is just as much of a failure on our part as it is on theirs.