Can a programmer on your team be an overall negative asset for your project? G. Gordon Schulmayer argues that this is the case, with the NNPP, or the Net Negative Production Programmer. His point is that a substantial amount of programmers will introduce so many flaws to your code that the overall cost is higher than the value of their positive contribution.

I believe he has some beauty marks on his theory, such as that for every ten man programmer team, there is statistically a nil change of there not being a NNPP on the team. This assumes, in addition to assuming normal distribution, that your team is a representative sample of the world distribution of programming skills and productivity. I don’t think I’m going too far if I suggest that is rather doubtful for most teams.

Overall, however, the article has some advice and insight. For example, Schulmayer argues that the main cause of any programmer having a negative production is lacking management, and he tries to explain how to remedy this.  Also, there are quite a few good quotes, as this one:

John Gardner, in No Easy Victories, said, “An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher.” He went on to observe that if society scorns excellence in plumbing because it is a humble activity and accepts shoddiness in philosophy because it is exalted, “neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

But judge for yourself.

Found through Daniel Molina Wegener’s Coder.cl.

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