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Can a bad speller be a good coder?

My gut says no, but I'm interested to hear what other people think.

Richard Kuo
Sunday, July 20, 2003

Why do you think they can't?

I'm a mediocre speller, always have been. I've also been programming professionally for 15 years. Spelling has very little to do with programming - programming is all about symbols. Sometimes the symbols are words, but those are easy enough to get right.

RocketJeff
Sunday, July 20, 2003

I used to be a good speller and would laugh at people who couldn't get 'their', 'they're' and 'there' right. And now I do that myself all the time. I like to think my coding skills have improved during this time.

It can also be a difference in worlds for people. When I write code or documentation I'm pretty meticulous. When I'm not coding and get into these crazy forums though I turn off the meticulous part of my mind and my spelink is atroshus and I just don't care about it as long as it can be understood. I'm not writing proposals, I'm shooting the breeze. They are different things. It's the same as a guy who talks and dresses differently at a football game than he does when giving a presentation to a client.

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, July 20, 2003

I think it's more important to be a consistant speller than a good speller. My roomate is a bad and inconsistant speller, and he has bugs arise in his programs because he mis-spells things inconsistantly. It is a pain for him. But I think that makes him a more frustrated programmer, and with a few more compiler errors.

But, the significant bugs are hardly ever things the compiler will catch anyway ;)

I think it would be harder to be an excellent and productive programmer and a bad speller, but never say impossible ;)

Mike Swieton
Sunday, July 20, 2003

Spelling and programming are different. You can be careless with both, but they not linked significantly.

Most errors are typos anyway.

And Word does a marvellous job of correcting typos.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, July 20, 2003

Spelling has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with programming.

I am from India and for us English is second langauge and several of my friends, though not best at Spelling, they are amazing at Coding!

Regards,
JD

JD
Sunday, July 20, 2003

The thing with spelling, or - even worse - the visual apperance of one's handwriting is quite often used by HR people to justify why they won't employ some person, making it sound like it were a proven scientific fact that both show a correlation with one mind's capabilities/ability for logical thinking/goal-orientation etc.pp.

Johnny Bravo
Sunday, July 20, 2003

Well, what is language but a set of rules and syntax that you've been following your whole life?  Doesn't it sort of make sense that if someone is poor at spelling and grammar that it probably correlates highly with being a poor coder?

I have thought about spelling/grammar not correlating directly with logical thinking and ability.  But here's another way to look at it.  When someone is reading a piece of their own code and they don't have the inclination or ability to spot and remove simple things like typos and sloppy formatting or grammar, it's a bit of a stretch to think that they can graduate to the next level and find more insidious logical errors.

Richard Kuo
Sunday, July 20, 2003

Johny Bravo, those HR pukes should read the Skeptic's Dictionary entry for handwriting analysis.

http://www.skepdic.com/graphol.html

Morons!

While my own handwriting wasn't great to start with, it has really become worse over the years as I've typed far more than I've written by hand. If someone judged me by my handwriting, I'd give them the finger and walk off.

(I'm also from India, but am often called a 'language nazi' ;)

MadMan
Sunday, July 20, 2003

Richard, it's very rare, but I've worked with a few.

xyz
Sunday, July 20, 2003

I know a programmer of phenomenal skills, who happens to have serious issues with spelling. I admire his work, but it annoys me to no end having to hit the docs constantly to look up misspelled function names.

What's bad for communication is bad for software development.

Beka Pantone
Sunday, July 20, 2003

>>>> I think it's more important to be a consistant speller than a good speller.

After reading this post, I wondered whether its author spells "consistant" consistently.

(I don't mean to give anyone a hard time. Most people, myself included, make lots of minor mistakes.)

Julian
Sunday, July 20, 2003

Me, a bad speller?  Unpossible!  I always did good in english.

...
Sunday, July 20, 2003

"Richard, it's very rare, but I've worked with a few."

And this is pretty important. Remember that the hiring process is not designed to give all the great candidates a job. It's designed to screen out the bad hires. A bad hire is much much worse than failing to hire the right person.

If it's, say, 1 in 1,000 developers with bad spells that ends up being a killer developer, then they suppose you just have to let that 1 go, instead of worrying about the possibility of hiring one of the other 999. Any screen that's that effective is getting rid of the bad hires HAS to be used.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Sunday, July 20, 2003

I've seen database tables created with fields that were spelt incorrectly.  Based on that, the related classes and methods were also spelt incorrectly.  Fixing this kind of spelling mistake after the fact costs a lot more than having a person care about the spelling in the first place.

1/4 Ain't Bad
Monday, July 21, 2003

Of course they can. Like, duh! Why on earth would anyone think otherwise?

Mr Jack
Monday, July 21, 2003

"If it's, say, 1 in 1,000 developers with bad spells that ends up being a killer developer, then they suppose you just have to let that 1 go, instead of worrying about the possibility of hiring one of the other 999. Any screen that's that effective is getting rid of the bad hires HAS to be used."

This paragraph alone proves you shouldn't hire me. :-p

(No more posting on Sunday without sufficient caffeine...)

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, July 21, 2003

Just find yourself a nice IDE that does autocompletion. People forgot how to spell when spell checkers were invented.

Joe
Monday, July 21, 2003

I've noticed a tendency among the more indignant posters to complain about 'incompetance'.

Caveat
Monday, July 21, 2003

For some reason I read 'indigent', but I think the point stands.

...
Monday, July 21, 2003

I can tell quite a bit from what sort of quality developers were from the code they've written.

Everyone makes typing errors. Usually they aren't the more typical spelling mistakes like "definately" or "dissappearing", but rather the accidental transposition or exclusion of characters. They're pretty obvious to spot, and aren't the sort of mistakes you'd make in handwriting. I make these sort of mistakes quite often when typing at speed!

Good programmers will, say, misspell a function name, write another bit of code that calls the (correctly spelled) function name, discover the function isn't defined, search for the function, find the spelling error and fix it.

Not so good programmers will just cut and paste swathes of code around, whilst preserving spelling mistakes. If you come across (as I did this morning) six functions that all spell "Document" without an 'n' I think it's fair to say there's been a whole lot of cut 'n' pasting going on...

I managed to get somebody to spend two weeks renaming "Schedular" to "Scheduler" all over the place when I pointed out the user would be able to see it (they assumed it was only ever stored as a back end thing).

Better Than Being Unemployed...
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

There's a big difference between a mispelling on your blog and one in your resume.

If I mispell a word on this forum because I am in a rush can't edit after posting does that make me a bad programmer? You might as well use an 8-ball to decide if I am worthy. I'm sure you'll find I am not. Your spelling test, IQ test, Pop Quiz, Brain Teaser, and Eye exam will all show I am not.. but yet somehow I continue to create quality software every day... I guess you think we should be perfect? I guess when you compile you get no errors? Unit testing and QA are probably not needed given your level of infallibility.

Why does someone always think they know the secret to finding good programmers?

A wise man once said "Show me a hero and I'll show you a bum". And I say show me a hero programmer and I'll show you an idiot.

trollbooth
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

With the huge number of tools available (ispell, dictionary.com, MS Word, etc.) available, if someone is a bad speller and then doesn't correct those mistakes, how is it anything other than a sign of laziness and lack of attention to detail?

Joe Grossberg
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

So Joe if my Bedroom is messy then I can't be a good coder? What about a messy car? I mean how can I be a god coder if my life is full of laziness and lack of attention to detail? Is _everything_ in your life perfect? If not then how can you possibly be a good coder? Perhaps we should screen candidates with random life inspections?

Trollbooth
Wednesday, July 23, 2003

10 bucks says you threw an exception on "god"...

Trollbooth
Wednesday, July 23, 2003

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