Coding for fun vs 9-5 coders.

In an interview with founder of WordPress Matt Mullenweg he said “…I don’t think like, dentists go home at night and like want to do more dentistry for fun, but engineers do! You know, it’s what we love and what we’re passionate about.”

There are probably lots of posts on this topic out in the world… but I wanted to share my thoughts on it too.

This is a topic that comes up now and then, mostly among programmers who code outside of work (likely at a gathering of them) talking about current or past co-workers and/or peers at school. Some cite how these programmers burn out quickly and find another profession, others comment on how their quality tends to be lower…

Mostly it is talks of how people like me, who can go to a job where they program all day, then come home, and code more on personal projects, are superior and those who code during work hours only then go home and don’t touch a line of code until 9am the next day should leave our industry.

I was thinking about this a lot at my last PDX Python meeting, a friend of mine Michael did a talk on packaging python scripts for distribution. If I recall correctly he had started into this subject because he needed to do packaging at work and was looking into the different tools. But in order to do this talk he had to gather his notes and spend considerable time outside of work researching this subject.

The research will likely be really useful for him at work, but the fact that after his shift was over, he was still concerned something work related and wanted to pursue it further is something you see in some fields but not many.

Does this want to pursue knowledge that is work related, while we are in the comfort of our homes, a sanctuary that most use to forget about or at least, not think about work, and/or the lack of this pursuit by our 9-5 peers make us the only ones suitable for the job and them not acceptable at all? I don’t think so, those of us that seek more knowledge while away from the work place may be better programmers, but that doesn’t mean those who don’t are horrible programmers.

What people do outside of work is their business, the people who are 9-5 programmers are just as entitled to not spending their evenings coding as those of us who code for fun are entitled to working on our projects. We will likely stay in the business longer but switch jobs more often because for a lot of us, it is the pursuit of knowledge and problem solving that drives us, whereas our 9-5 counterparts tend to stay at the same company longer and they will end up mentoring the new hires since they will have the most experience with the code base.

It is really a symbiotic relationship, even thouh most of my kind have less than kind things to say about the 9-5ers keep in mind the times these guys have helped you out in the office.

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