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Resume Post

You asked "Why the disparity"?

Some people get offended when you write prejudiced pieces, and some people don't:

"Attention, the entire population of India: whenever you have a comma, there is always exactly one space and it's always after the comma and never before it. Thank you."

Prejudice is defined as "Irrational suspicion of a particular group, race, or religion".

If I would have said "Attention, all homosexuals in the world: whenever you have a comma, there is always exactly one space and it's always after the comma and never before it. Thank you."  - people would be up in arms.  It's the same thing - you're unfairly assigning a particular attribute to a specific group of people.

I have lost all respect for you and your writing.

A former fan
Monday, January 26, 2004

Though I have lot of respect for Joel's knowledge and writings, I agree with 'former fan' that it was unfair of you to associate 'comman-space' issue to Indians. It was un necessary and offending.

JD - A proud indian.
http://jdk.phpkid.org/

JD
Monday, January 26, 2004

From what I know about recruiting and watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, the Indians are always the first ones to make mistakes with commas, and the gay guys are always the first ones to notice.


Monday, January 26, 2004

Not everything in the world is racism. His comment is not unfair. Many Indians punctuate ok, especially ones who have been outside india. But many don't, particularly the guys who are in india. In many of the developers lists I follow, people with indian names who are posting from indian domain names do that comma thing - a space before and after each comma. Apparently that's the way punctuatio is done in sanskirt or something or maybe there is some sort of popular indian email client that auto formats it that way. Do please have the ability to tell that joels did not call indians names or say they were ugly stupid or dump or smell like curry or are ragheads. Those things are slurs and if he did them you'd be right to be upset. But he is simply commenting on something that many people have already noticed. You may not realize it, but he wrote that article to help people out, to help them put their best foot forward. Everyone is helped, and he is even making an extra special attempt to help people of india correct one of their major punctuational problems.

Dennis Atkins
Monday, January 26, 2004

'Prejudice is defined as "Irrational suspicion of a particular group, race, or religion".'

Prove it's irrational and you'll have a case. Let's first accept the fact that there are a lot of Indians in software development (or is this a prejudice?). Let's also accept that for many English is a second language. It is entirely possible that a mental interference pattern between Hindi and English leads many Indians to punctuate incorrectly. I see nothing derogatory or prejudicial about that, and if Joel has noticed a large correlation then I can accept it at face value.

Dennis Forbes
Monday, January 26, 2004

"Attention, the entire population of India:"

haha that was great....

heh
Monday, January 26, 2004

"...and there's just no reason a college graduate can't get this right"

Agreed, this is the most worrying thing about reading resumes these days, lots of them can't seem to get it right. Wasn't like that back in my day :)

Dan Alexander
Monday, January 26, 2004

I was born in India and I did not take any offense to Joel's comments. In fact it was hilarious.
I don't think I have problem with the punctuations and even if most of the Indians do, there is nothing racial about Joel's comments.
If you have been reading Joel's site for a while, you would know that he has no such negative bias towards any ethnic community or anything like that.
Joel has a certain style of writing, which we all like. And quoting specific comments is a part of that style. That's what makes his writing interesting and fun to read.

Anon
Monday, January 26, 2004

I don't know hindi, so I can't comment specifically on that issue, but I suspect that there's something about the language that makes commas difficult to figure out? Is comma-spacing different in India? Or perhaps the native language doesn't use commas at all?

There are aspects of languages that generate specific errors when moving to English. The other India-specific one is "I have a doubt about this product..." My guess is that in hindi "doubt" and "question" are the same word? Anyway, see that and you know the poster's original language was hindi. Nothing racist about it - simple linguistic fact.

Vietnamese doesn't use plurals; czechs confuse 'v' and 'w' - learn things like that and you can often figure out where someone's from by accent and writing. (There's one for Russians but I can't remember it right now)

(Also add in that I'd guess a majority of the non-USAian resumes Joel gets come from Indians. I mean, maybe Swiss make the same mistake, but he doesn't get as many of those)

Philo

Philo
Monday, January 26, 2004

Though these details may seem trivial, I also find them important.  One of the things I look for when I hire is the attention to detail, sense of aesthetic, etc. 

To a certain extent one can tell something of the individual by what they have put into their presentation (resume, etc).

In an application-oriented company, especially, attention to detail is important.

Jonathan Shore
Monday, January 26, 2004

As someone who recruits for a major software company, I cannot recommend enough that you follow the advice in this column.  While the now infamous comma remark is probably meant tongue-in-cheek, I've definitely filed away resumes which were an incomprehensible mess of punctuation or grammar. 

(I've seen plenty of resumes from native English speakers which are completely unreadable. In general, I've found nonnative English writers tend to write ~better~ resumes than most native speakers.  Go figure.)

Eric Lawrence
Monday, January 26, 2004

This was a great article and I think all the fuss about it is absolutely absurd.

It was quite helpful but people always get offended about useless stuff.

miked
Monday, January 26, 2004

There are predictable patterns of language errors based on one's mother tongue, which (reasonably so, I think) correlates pretty strongly to one's ethnicity.  I work at a Japanese company, and most Japanese with imperfect English really do swap r's and l's.

Joel's comment caused offense to a lot because of the snotty way he made it.  He was being breezy and funny and comically irate, which was all well and good until he targetted a group.  Racist?  Almost certainly not, nor was it calculated to offend.  Offensive?  Easily so, given understandable sensitivities (especially where India, software development, outsourcing, and the tone of these boards is concerned).

On Slashdot, he got a lot of agreement over the generalities of the article, while quite a few people there also picked up on the unintentional slam at Indians.

Justin Johnson
Monday, January 26, 2004

Quote:

In general, I've found nonnative English writers tend to write ~better~ resumes than most native speakers.  Go figure.

That's because usually it is harder to find a job for a non-native speaker. You need to make your resume much better in order to be competitive. And usually you show your resume to somebody in order to correct it / find mistakes.

Roman Goyenko
Monday, January 26, 2004

I noticed Joel is a big fan of commas in this article.  There's nothing wrong with that, but there is such a thing as "too much".  For example:

<quote>Oh, yes, indeed, that was our first requirement.</quote>

I'm not sure that is even valid.  I'm not dedicated enough to check either.  Either way, it feels very awkward reading three words followed by commas in a row. 

Matt

Matt
Monday, January 26, 2004

I am from india too and i was not offended. Heck, you know Joel is not prejudiced. I mean , look at his earlier comments about india and its developers. A comma is such a small thing.

Karthik 
Monday, January 26, 2004

You guys worry too much about what Joel thinks.

Philo: I tutor English to immigrants learning it as a foreign language.  One day I was remarking on how Indians use the word "doubt" differently than Americans do when another tutor (from Australia) commented to me, "up until now, I've never noticed that!  'Ask me if you have any doubts' seemed perfectly natural to me, and I didn't know Americans had a problem with it". 

Apparently in the former British Empire "doubt" has a connection with a failure to understand, not merely a failure to believe.

I haven't noticed the comma thing from India, although I've noticed that substituting "ur" for "your" and "r" for "are" seems to be much more common over there.  Apparently the culture is such that attention to formal writing is not as emphasized as it is over here.

Alyosha`
Monday, January 26, 2004

I don't think the punctuation spacing issue is specific to Indians or any other group. Lot's of people manage to screw this up. I find that I get a lot of Indians applicants (> 80%) whenever a new job is listed here.

And yes, I've seen all the mistakes Joel pointed out and more, from Indians and non-Indians alike.

Here are some of my peeves:

If you're applying to a position, please, do not send a HTML email with a purple font and a checkered heart background.

I work for a computer security company. When I receive an email from an applicant that has a .vbs file attachment, I'm not hiring them!

SG
Monday, January 26, 2004

Guys you're missing the point:

The point Joel is trying to convey, rather intelligently, is that he's getting these many resumes.

Get a frigging clue, you morons!!!

Cosmo Kramer
Monday, January 26, 2004

My mom gets the comma-space thing wrong all the time, too, and she's Hungarian. I think it's a non-typist thing, because she'll do it no matter what language she's writing in.

As far as the perceived prejudice in Joel's article, I don't see it. I think he was stating facts. Exaggerated facts, maybe, but certainly not made-up slurs.

Martha
Monday, January 26, 2004

"My mom gets the comma-space thing wrong all the time, too, and she's Hungarian. "

So Joel's problem with her would be :

resMyResume and cvltrMyCoverletter

;)

Damian
Monday, January 26, 2004

Well, well, well...

JOS is becoming THE place on the internet if you want to air your prejudices against India and Indians. Now that the master himself has joined in, all the usual suspects (who typically lounge around on the outsourcing threads) have a new topic to discuss about Indians: their faulty punctuation.

Say, whats next?


Monday, January 26, 2004

"...and there's just no reason a college graduate can't get this right."

As a college graduate I resent the obvious implication that only college graduates aren't getting this right.  This is obvious discrimination against graduates, and the singling out of this demographic is really beneath contempt.  I'll bet if I replaced the term "college graduate" with "homosexual male", you'd be just as indignant as I am right now.

Indignant Gay College-Educated Indian Guy...er, Person.
Monday, January 26, 2004

"My mom gets the comma-space thing wrong all the time, too, and she's Hungarian."

Sorry then, FC can't hire her. Tell her not to apply if she doesn't have any clue as to where to put commas.

' Code snippet
Sub (applicants)

' We are equal opportunity employer

If you = minority & you = don't have a clue about comma usage then
  response.write ("Don't apply!!!!")
Else
  response.write ("Come on in! Party on!")
End if

'end of code snippet

Cosmo Kramer
Monday, January 26, 2004

>  As a college graduate I resent the obvious implication that only college graduates aren't getting this right.

Did you consider the fact that it's an internship position? He wants to hire a _college_student_? Suddenly the implication becomes a lot more reasonable.

Mike Swieton
Monday, January 26, 2004

>> JOS is becoming THE place on the internet if you want to air your prejudices against India and Indians.

Nah, that honor belongs to these places:

http://pub21.ezboard.com/bopenitforum

http://www.cedaily.com/bbs/shoptalk

This place is a citadel of civility and broadmindedness, in between the (splat!!) feces (whunk!) flinging (spladdap!).

Bored Bystander
Monday, January 26, 2004

>> There's one for Russians but I can't remember

They omit their articles:

"I met pretty girl at mall."

Alex.ro
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I went through the last week's batch of incoming cover letters. Of the cover letters that came from people with names which I'm confident are Indian in origin, 37% included an error in which a space was placed before a comma. Of the cover letters that came from people with names which I'm confident are not Indian, 0% included that error. Cases where I was unsure about the name were not included.

Joel Spolsky
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

"people with names which I'm confident are Indian in origin"

That could still mean that the people concerned are American, British, ...


Tuesday, January 27, 2004

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