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Where Do Developers In The Software Industry Spend Time Online?

By Carnage4Life in Culture
Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 03:08:15 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

I spend a lot of my time on discussion sites aimed at the technical crowd, specifically Slashdot and Kuro5hin. I have slowly come to realize that although the quality of technical discussion is high on both sites I am missing out on a segment of the software developer population. Both sites seem to consist of a readership that is primarily pro-Linux and pro-Open source. Yet as anyone knows there is more to the world of software development than Open Source and *nix and in fact there is more software development targetted at non-Unix platforms and that are closed source than there are Open Source or *nix software projects. So my question is "Where are the discussion sites that these developers frequent?"

Below are the details on the two posts/articles in recent memory that have got me to asking this question.

CORBA (and Component Architectures/distributed computing in general)

A little while ago Miguel De Icaza had a round of seminars on why *nix needs a component architecture to enable code reuse on a larger scale than is currently practiced. Details of these seminars were posted to slashdot and both times his comments were met with vitriol and flame. I was surprised at this considering that component object models have the same advantage that object oriented programming have over structurd programming except that the code reusability is language independent and on a larger scale.

Also there are a large number of developers already using component programming in the software industry but I saw very few posts from them in the thousand or so generated by both postings of Miguel's comments on Slashdot. What was even more amazing is that in later articles comments like this one which claim that GNOME is the only successful CORBA project abound. The fact that this person (a college student) had made this error was not surprising to me since lots of people get their news from one source alone and believe that they are fully informed. What surprised me was the fact that the post was moderated at (+5 insightful) even though a.) GNOME's Bonobo architecture is not yet successful and b.) There have been several dozens of successful CORBA projects which total several million lines of code and whose effects are felt by several million people.

So where do the developers of these products hang out online?


The second incident that got me to thinking about this issue recently and in fact inspired this article is this story that was submitted yesterday to kuro5hin. In this article the author brings up old arguments about Java that have long since been squashed in Java developer circles and a bunch of suppositions on Java's lack of penetration in the mainstream (whatever that means?).

Java is used by almost every major player in every major industry in the U.S. and beyond. Personal Java runs on the myriad embedded systems with their own JVM and even American Express credit cards. Java servlets and JSP run myriad websites from mail.com to First Union . Enterprise Java Beans and it's associate web server platforms has spawned a cottage industry of server platform developers that include IBM, Bea, Allaire and more. Yet I only see one post to that article pointing out that for all intents and purposes Java is mainstream and that post happens to be mine.

So where do the developers of these products hang out online?

My purpose in posting this is not to deride the people whose comments and articles I have linked to, Lord knows, there are many things I know nothing about and will seem completely unkowledgeable about to an expert (e.g. the Linux kernel, XSLT, C#, COM, configuring Apache etc). Instead I would merely like to have a balanced mental diet. Currently Slashdot and kuro5hin satisfy my need for discussion on Linux, Open Source and Technology culture in general but I am sure there are other forums where people who are immersed in other technologies/development models abound in which I would like to partake from and feed my desire for knowledge.

PS: I tried ZDNet but left because there were way too many Microsoft apologists both in the talkbacks and in the actual articles. I respect the technical ability of Microsoft 's developers but am ashamed by the business practices of the upper management, reading comments that embrace the despicable practices of Microsoft's upper management daily soon became too much for me and I stopped reading it. Also they often post factually incorrect articles (especially vis a vis the MSFT vs. DOJ trial) and refused to print my talkback posts correcting their errors.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Where Do you Go For Technical Discussion?
o Slashdot 16%
o kuro5hin 33%
o Advogato 2%
o ZDNet 1%
o Deja News/USENET 13%
o Mailing Lists 22%
o Technocrat.net 0%
o Other 9%

Votes: 106
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Slashdot
o Kuro5hin
o ZDNet
o both
o times
o this one
o several dozens of successful
o this story
o almost every major player in every major industry in the U.S. and beyond
o myriad embedded systems with their own JVM
o American Express credit cards
o mail.com
o First Union
o Enterprise Java Beans
o Also by Carnage4Life

Display: Sort:
Where Do Developers In The Software Industry Spend Time Online? | 54 comments (53 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Overlap of developers (2.57 / 14) (#2)
by djabji on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 02:56:36 PM EST

I dont think that the world of techies can be divided into the distinctly into the classes of "use microsoft" and "use unix/like opensource stuff". There is a huge overlap in the two sets.

Most of the people I know that are firmly locked into the microsoft camp will agree with us opensource techies on what we say about Unix/GNU/Microsoft. They use Microsoft because the situation demands it and/or it is easier with thier skill set (path of least resistance). I have gone for periods using exclusively mircosoft products, and worked in jobs doing microsoft type development while using Unix (and microsoft) at home.

The question remains, where do the windows techies who dont hang out on 'our sites' hang out?

This talk of intersecting sets reminds me of a Ven diagram about people who understand Ven diagrams. It must be common. Anyone have a link to it on the internet?

Win/*nix overlap (2.00 / 2) (#45)
by kjeldar on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 03:21:58 PM EST

I admin a Windows network and an elderly AIX server. Why? It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it. I'd love to migrate the shop to a Linux/OpenBSD shop, but sadly it just isn't feasible. My primary home box dual-boots Linux and Win98. Why? There comes a time when I've just got to play a decent Windows game.

I believe strongly in OSS, but reluctantly concede that sometimes Windows is the least inadequate tool for the job, and other times Windows is the only available tool for the job.

I hang out on forums with an OSS bent. I'm sure you can see why, if you think about it. And I think I can safely say that I speak for many.

Posted with pride from Mozilla M18

[ Parent ]
A good technical forum. (3.00 / 12) (#3)
by IoaPetraka on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 03:00:13 PM EST

One that I did not find on the voter's section that provides interesting technical articles and good discussion is Ars Technica. I've found the discussions there are far less pro-linux/pro-open source and extend into several operating environments. Most noteably they host a large Windows NT /2000 discussion forum. While the discussion may not be as in depth as you require, you will find a wide scattering of people there from many different computing backgrounds, and those people may have futher information on more focused discussion groups. My gut feeling is that the best place to get good discussion is in specific mailing groups. I've found that mailing groups tend to have a much more "intelligent" crowd because the lurking and "drop-by" rate is much lower than a web forum where anybody can wander in.

Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
Strange (1.91 / 12) (#4)
by maketo on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 03:19:34 PM EST

I felt the same need for geeks discussing tech issues, a forum where we can have in-depth discussions and tutorials, no matter what your orientation is. And I started the first computer magazine made by CS students in a country - http://helloworld.nexus.carleton.ca

It was for CS students, by CS students, made by people from twenty different universities in Canada. What happened then? It died due to "lack of time" - people simply couldnt contribute enough articles monthly! Thats when I realized that many a (CS) graduate is not in school for the sake of knowledge but for the diploma and the money.
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
jguru (2.66 / 9) (#5)
by melancholyDane on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 03:26:11 PM EST

jguru is a simple little user submission built site built around the world of corperate java use. it's a pretty nice site, and has a bunch of handy little tools that scoop and slash and the like could pick up on (I really like the jGuru This! button). obviously OS agnostic, a bit of a anti-microsoft tone, but a different view on programming at any rate.

re: jguru (2.00 / 4) (#25)
by ronfar on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 10:16:44 PM EST

Of course, the difference between jguru and slashdot, salon, kuro5hin, and technocrat, for me, is that when I go to jguru it's actually part of my job (i.e. I'm trying to figure out how to do something in java) wheras with those others it's all about politics.... and means my boss isn't giving me enough to do ;-)

[ Parent ]
more than that (2.00 / 2) (#36)
by melancholyDane on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 10:21:24 AM EST

but if you actually participate in jguru (and many do) then you're obviously exceeding the bounds of your job. Most of the content there is user created, including the links and the FAQ responses. They're moderation system sucks, but I have a great time trying to answer FAQs before anyone else can, if only to keep me on my toes.

[ Parent ]
developers often get tunnel vision (3.80 / 15) (#6)
by SEAL on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 03:29:26 PM EST

You'll find that sites like Slashdot don't tend to attract a high ratio of professional developers. Most websites don't. Speaking from my experience, alot of people who develop software for a living like to leave it at the office when they go home. When they do hack in their free time, they tend to work on projects unrelated to what they do at work.

I realize that is a huge generalization. But with that in mind, you can see that work is just that: work. So I want to get it done as efficiently as possible. Many developers find mailing lists more useful than Usenet or websites. For example, how often do you see folks from the Linux kernel-dev list posting on Slashdot? They may lurk or browse quickly in the morning, but Slashdot really isn't specific enough to their needs. Look for specific projects, and you'll find more developers.

If you try Usenet, you might find the moderated groups more useful. But even there, the quality of discussion has severely degraded over the past 10 years. Not to mention, advertisers love to scoop up email addresses from it these days.

My best suggestion would be to find a project mailing-list that interests you, or has a lot in common with your area of interest. Lurk on it for awhile, and you'll start to pick up on alternate resources that the developers use.

Best regards,


It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
Do developers hang out on discussion sites? (2.90 / 11) (#7)
by Eliezer on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 03:32:51 PM EST

Most of the developers who spend a lot of time on their projects don't hang out at discussion sites at all, as far as I can tell. Many of them appear to monitor the very specific mailing lists and newsgroups devoted to their projects (like linux-kernel, gnu.emacs.bug, etc.), but who has time for sites like Slashdot? If they do make an appearance, it usually isn't a long one. There are exceptions, and certain IRC channels tend to get a lot of traffic from serious devs (like Miguel, way back when, or Alan, say), but beyond that I'd say the question isn't what sites they use but whether they use them at all. They probably read them, but anyone posting regularly realizes that this can be a massive time sink, even on a smaller, more focused site like this (or Advogato).

Sometimes we're quiet (2.64 / 14) (#8)
by DemiGodez on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 04:01:45 PM EST

I am a Java developer and a professional computer consultant. I have also worked in the CORBA arena. I don't personally like the idea of open source although I support the rights people who do like it. I don't run *nix, in fact I can barely navigate on a *nix machine as it's been a long time since I used one. (Most of my projects have been NT).

So where do I hang out? Here. and Slashdot. There is a lot of cool stuff here, although I don't usually read the heavily technical articles, such as security, etc.

But honestly, I am a really good java developer. I've been doing it for years. And I don't want to hang out on the web and talk about it. It's not as much a political thing as open source or *nix. It's just a tool I use.

Actually, I do want to bitch for a second about the recent (last year or so) influx of developers who claim to "do java" and can't code anything. That's a sure sign that it is mainstream. :) Now, i feel better and have had all the java discussion I need.

Same with linux (2.00 / 6) (#9)
by finkployd on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 04:06:10 PM EST

<I>I do want to bitch for a second about the recent (last year or so) influx of developers who claim to "do java" and can't code anything.</I>

Yeah, I'e noticed the same thing with Linux. Everyone who tried to install Redhat becomes a "kernel hacker" on their resume.

That's why I went into mainframes, nobody is going to lie about that to look cool. I mean, why would you? :)

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
second (2.66 / 6) (#17)
by speek on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 04:58:04 PM EST

I'd have to second this, with the exception that I'm totally obsessed with open-source philosophy :-) Anyway, at work, I program Java on Windows. I've done this for 4 years now. At home, I run Linux, but only to learn - it's painful for me cause I never went to school for computers, so I was never exposed to Unix before.

Anyway, all these posts go by about Java not being mainstream, and I simply know they are wrong. I don't feel much need to correct them, is all. Who cares what they think? I'm just here for the political/philosophical, US-centric stories ;-)

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Infosources (3.11 / 9) (#10)
by Mark 'Kamikaze' Hughes on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 04:11:43 PM EST

Mailing lists and USENET newsgroups are the primary places I go for specific information. Remember ASCII? In Internet message format? Yeah, those old things. USENET has the massive advantage of being an anarchy - there's no publisher who can squelch your messages; each user can decide to killfile you or not, based on your apparent cluefulness. Mailing lists have the advantage of being very focused (they don't work when they become more broad-focus), and having guaranteed delivery.

Web-boards, even fairly nice ones like K5 and even /., aren't nearly as powerful or as easy to use as either of those. They're easier to get into in the first place, but as /.'s anonymous coward problem has shown, that's not always a good thing.

For general industry news, I go to the Web. Every day, I read The Register, Linux Today, Ars Technica, and Fucked Company. This is not an unbiased selection (to say the least...), but it gives me the info I really need most of the time.

Web sites are, IMO, best suited for publishing information that is expected to remain visible for a long time. Discussion with multiple rounds of post and reply is painfully difficult; here, you have to go to User Info and check to see if there are a different number of replies to any posts than there were the last time you looked, if you have an eidetic memory and can remember that kind of trivia. WikiWikiWeb is an incredibly neat concept, but has the "Are there any followups? I DON'T KNOW!" problem even worse. So K5's model, or Wiki, are an intermediate stage; /. is too volatile, and its software too primitive, to handle the volume of articles and responses it gets. Over a year ago, I basically gave it up except for browsing the headlines every few days. It's taken a lot of time and effort to make something even as advanced as scoop, and it's not half as powerful as the combination of slrn and an nntp server, or even procmail, mutt, and majordomo (actually, I use mailx, not mutt. Yeah, I'm a fossil.)

I've been tinkering with my own web-board software to try to deal with this issue (mainly to clarify my own thoughts on the matter), and it's an incredibly tough problem, but I'm convinced that it IS solvable, and it MUST be done if we're to make better virtual communities than these.

-- Mark Hughes
/. and K5 Aren't Developer Centric (3.16 / 12) (#11)
by Jeepmeister on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 04:16:58 PM EST

This may be slightly off topic, but; I don't think that either Slashdot or K5 are tailored, or even well suited, to developers. I read both, every day, but I am not a developer I'm a network design consultant. I read them in the same way the general population reads USA Today, for a quick take on the technogeek news of the day. (I pray no offence is taken to the comparison, no troll is intended.) I suspect that developers may read both sites for the same reason I do. They like science, think like geeks, and we tend to flock together because our tastes are the same. The reason there is so much emphasis on open source is because the kimono is open and the information is available; unlike proprietary or closed source code that is almost always generated in a competitive environment to make money. Posting to this forum, (/. and K5) does not appeal to folks working at a proprietary, closed source, for profit money mill populated by programmers who are quite aware of their employer's corporate security and intellectual proprerty disclosure policy.

I don't need no estinkin' .sig
You are correct. (3.00 / 6) (#14)
by h0tr0d on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 04:29:43 PM EST

Speaking as a software developer you are correct in that neither of the mentioned sites are developer centric. And that is precisely what draws me to them. As you stated, this is my version of USA Today. I don't read mainstream media because there isn't enough about what I am interested in. However, sites like these provide just the right combination of topics to fulfill my news media needs. The topics are things that I am (mostly) interested in and the discussions that are generated are mostly from people with similar interests. I've tried a couple of general discussion threads and there are just too many people that don't have similar interests and it stifles the discussion.

The other problem IMHO is that most developers just don't have the time to regularly post to these sites. Posting is entirely different than reading. The only times that I find I have time to post is either when my projects are all current (as if!) or when I am doing a fresh build (takes about 40 minutes). So I just don't feel the need to discuss things with other developers. Besides, there's not much to be said about assembly programming.

-- It appears that my spleeing chucker isn't working again.
[ Parent ]

When busy, don't hang out... (3.75 / 12) (#12)
by Maniac on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 04:28:41 PM EST

Q: So where do the developers of these products hang out online?

A: My observation of people at three facilities is that 80% or more of "the developers" do not get online for discussions. There is certainly a lot of email sent around, and some use of internal news groups, but limited use of a "discussion site".

Having said that, here are some of the things they do instead:

  • As stated above, email. Ive seen email flame wars with 20-40 people on the distribution list. I don't recommend them.
  • Telephone conference calls, video conference calls, and meetings.
  • Walk down the hall to talk directly with someone. Usually with a hard copy of something to discussion (could be a code listing, article, or advertisement).
  • Get on an email distribution list - occasionally submit a message. For example, I'm interested in Linux memory management but I've only posted about a dozen messages in six months of subscription to that list.
  • Subscribe to a news group. Most often to one sponsored by the current project with "helpful hints" and bugs listed. Often to a "yourcompany.employee.gripes" to bitch about the latest management screw up.
There is also an enormous amount of information in magazines and on the web. Get hints about something being done that could be used & fire up AltaVista to help find it. I just tracked down some VERY INTERESTING (to me at least...) information on Scalable Coherent Interconnect that can provide a high bandwidth data link between PC's in a cluster for relatively low cost. I got there from:
  • Short note on the "daily updates" in Linux Weekly News
  • Read the related announcement
  • Searched for +SCI +Linux
  • Found vendor information as well as some published papers
  • Email to vendor(s) for clarification
  • Telephone calls follow up on information requests
  • Notes & hard copy to peers in company to get feedback & more questions to ask.
  • More telephone calls & email
  • and so on...
I didn't use any discussion group to "solve this problem", just a variety of other methods. Perhaps that is just my experience from seeing "How do I do X" questions on news groups & seeing the flames go high!

I quit reading ZDNet too (2.00 / 11) (#13)
by bmetzler on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 04:28:55 PM EST

All that pro-MS sewage made me really sick. Especially when I saw it day after day.

Actually, I quit reading slashdot too. I got sick of the putrid anti-corporation attitude I see there.

www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
WikiWikiWeb (2.75 / 12) (#15)
by Frequanaut on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 04:42:36 PM EST


'nuff said

No Community Spirit? (2.72 / 11) (#16)
by Kirn_Malinus on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 04:51:11 PM EST

Is it possible that the closed source development model doesn't foster a community spirit the same way open source and Linux do?

aham (2.37 / 8) (#20)
by maketo on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 05:22:13 PM EST

If you want to be in the same community next to a twelve year old who just installed the latest OSS craze, then I guess you know the answer. Or if you are one of those that does

/nick l33t
/j #linuxhelp
<l33t> I have a question -> errrrhhmmmm....h0w d0 I m4k3 my m4ch1n3 s3cur3?
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
[ Parent ]
RE: Aham (3.00 / 7) (#24)
by carb0n on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 09:54:07 PM EST

Hey dude, if that 12 year old knows his/her stuff, then by all means.

I know plenty of young (not usually _that_ young) people that are way smarter than some of the people I work with. We all gotta start somewhere, and maybe we could help try to steer them away from the hax0r d00d attitude...

Then again, if they are just wannabe's, hopefully they'll find another toy next week :)

[ Parent ]
a good spot (3.00 / 7) (#18)
by bendawg on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 05:08:36 PM EST

I like to check out developer.javasoft.com every once in a while, especially if I am hung up on something. The forums sometimes have some decent ideas...I wouldn't exactly call them discussions, but good questions and answers.

when i'm not reading K5... (2.37 / 8) (#19)
by TheLocust on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 05:18:17 PM EST

..i check memepool. None of that bothersome discussion, just good, clean MLP. Ahhh...
.......o- thelocust -o.........
ignorant people speak of people
average people speak of events
great people speak of ideas

We'll see (3.50 / 8) (#21)
by scali on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 06:33:33 PM EST

When I was in the US, the place I worked at had two mailing lists for like six people. Now that I'm in Germany, they can't get the mail up for any amount of time, and don't like using it anyway.

So I spend time during work on mailing lists and entertainment like Slashdot. I think a great deal of developers lurk on Slashdot, they just know better than to post a lot. It's a time-sink, a bazaar, mindmunch. We're writers after all; if we're doing anything at all creative, many of us want our minds elsewhere often during "work."

I don't think there is much interesting discussion outside of Open Source; just people pissed in general at paying too much for X or wondering why Y doesn't work in time for their deadlines. Look at kt.linuxcare.com; it's quite philosophical at times on the linux-kernel list, interesting.

We sometimes forget that we're craftspeople, carpenters; I think people are more interested in philosophy than in the mundane details of getting JTextPane or curses to work. I think your question is more: What interesting is out there to do? And that depends on people doing interesting things, for passion or whatever drives us.

The answer for the moment is: There is no single place. It changes from time to time. You just have to be sure you're in the right place.

Mailing Lists (4.42 / 7) (#22)
by Dacta on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 07:04:56 PM EST

I've found most developers hang out on mailing lists. This is the same in Open Source and non-Open Source environments. The fact is that Slashdot and K5 don't lend themselves to really in-depth technical discussions the way mailing lists do.

The problem is finding the right mailing list. When I was doing Delphi work, I used to contribute to the elists.org mailing lists, and the Australian Delphi User's Group mailing list.

Now I'm doing Java, and I haven't really found one that satisfies. I'm on the "Advanced-Java" list, but it is pretty crappy. I suspect Java lists are more specialised (There are EJB lists and Servlet lists and Swing lists, etc)

If you are looking for non-open-source reading material, you should read MSDN. I'm convinced that every single open source advocate should read that at least once a month. Borland's Community Site has lots of articles (not just about Borland stuff) and has some discussion as well.

Good archive of mailing lists (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by diskore on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 04:53:42 PM EST

I check out Geocrawler a lot. It's a huge archive of (mostly) open source lists, but also archives some non-oss stuff too. Good for when you want to look for answers in a list without subscribing to it.

[ Parent ]
Dunno about those, but Flash.... (1.66 / 6) (#23)
by Wah on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 08:39:32 PM EST

...has a great support community over at the We're here forums. I know some people here don't like flash, but then again, some people here are raving lunatics. ;)
Fail to Obey?
on another thought (1.80 / 10) (#26)
by maketo on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 10:38:55 PM EST

The other day I asked my professor if he heard of slashdot or kuro5hin, and he said that he did not. And I am looking at the guy that actually _contributes_ to the computer science body of knowledge. DOes research, writes Java code in large quantities. Then I realized - kuro5hin, slashdot, irc etc. - all the same - only losers hang out there, either idling or generally discussing everything _but_ computers. I know, I've been there. Now that I am off everything (but kuro5hin hehe), I have much more time :)
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
Bollocks (3.00 / 5) (#39)
by Spendocrat on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 11:13:07 AM EST

Apparently you cannot do work and take breaks to read? That sucks, cause I find it quite helpful.

As for IRC, I wouldn't have gotten half as far as I have with either perl or my OS of choice if it weren't for people on IRC pointing me to the appropriate Fine Manual to read. Come to think of it, I've gotten good C programming help in both #C and #OpenBSD too.

Mayeb I feel that it's too bad you don't get the same value from these tools that I do. Maybe I just take exception to your mindless generalization.

[ Parent ]

Did you read my posting? (1.00 / 3) (#40)
by maketo on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 11:30:26 AM EST

I said the prof. is a guy that actually contributes to the field of computer science. What are you doing (besides hanging out on irc/kuro5hin)?
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
[ Parent ]
Do? (4.00 / 2) (#43)
by Kaa on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 12:10:36 PM EST

What are you doing (besides hanging out on irc/kuro5hin)?

I do research, write code. What about you?

Kaa's Law: In any sufficiently large group of people most are idiots.

[ Parent ]
Read my post. (4.33 / 3) (#46)
by Spendocrat on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 04:30:52 PM EST

Well let's see. I'm taking a CS degree right now. As part of that degree I'm on a 4month co-op term with a local company. So essentially I alternate between working full time and going to school (for a total of 3 one-semester work terms). When in school I work part time. (I live on my own and have so far avoided any type of student loan due to the working and a generous grandparent fronting two years of tuition). On the side I've been learning and working with perl since about March of this year. I got a job in May doing work for a graduate student using perl (which allowed me to cement the perl knowledge I had and expand that knowledge, yay for me :). I'm currently reading a book on C++ programming to flesh out my knowledge of ISO C++ (there were no books or compilers using the ISO standard when I took my intro classes, and it just happens that my course selection in the past two academic terms has been mostly theoretical, with no courses using C++, only C and Java). I'm also reading an economics textbook and readig the chapters in my professional practices tect book we didn't cover over the summer. I'm learning unix sysadmin skills for and by myself also. I read a lot, both fictional and techincal stuff (you know, online, where there's actual informational stuff hidden amongst the porn, flames and spam). On top of that I actually have a life that doesn't involve computers (gasp :D) and I like spend time with my friends and my girlfriend.

So, what, I'm not a professor, and I'm not contributing to a major open-source project AND I read kuro5hin and other assorted sites at various times throughout the day and somehow I'm a loser? Gee, sorry the stuff I do for relaxation and personal interest doesn't meet your approval. Is there some kind of meter I can look at, N contributions to the field of technology and computer science a year or you're useless?

Face it, you made a broad, unfair and stupid generalization about people who frequent weblogs and IRC. Just because you can't read/participate in these types of things without hosing your productivity doesn't mean the rest of us are as useless in the time-management area.

[ Parent ]

Not online (2.60 / 5) (#27)
by Surly on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 10:39:59 PM EST

I hate to break what seems to be a stereotype but in my experience developers do not hang out online.

I am a developer with about 9 years of experience, I goto Slashdot, K5 and news.com (I know CNET can be kind of lame) as well as reading alot of magazines to see what may be coming up tech wise in the near future.

When not at work I prefer not to use a computer: look for me at a soccer field, a concert, listening to music somewhere etc. Not all developers believe in a need to be on-line 24/7 (especially after a few years on the bleeding edge of all of it).


UseNet (2.50 / 6) (#28)
by BinerDog on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 12:04:26 AM EST

My experience with comp sci researchers is that they hang out on Usenet; comp.* is where most of the interesting discussions occur. (Validation of experience - just broke up with a PhD & Xerox PARC girl after 6 years)

-- The Entity Formerly Known as Frums (Cuz someone nabbed my name on K5) (I want it back :)

love to write code (4.00 / 6) (#29)
by depsypher on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 02:51:16 AM EST

I would say that unfortunately there isn't a single exceptional meeting place on the web for software developers, regardless of open or closed source models. In all honesty, I see the difference between the two (open vs closed) purely a business/economic consideration, and it really has nothing to do with coding.

The company I work for is developing internet client software which will run only on windows and it will only work with IE 5.0. The source code is very closed, and yet within the confines of the company, the developers share their code freely and most are happy to explain it to each other. Although we must use windows machines, many of us use ports of common unix tools (think ls, cp, etc and vim). It's really not the developers who enforce windows/closed-source model, but the management.

I think many programmers do have a macho kind of, "I don't need no outside help" attitude, perhaps because they learn a lot of this stuff on their own. Who learns Java in school? Its like 6 years old and acadamia is just waking up to the fact that its a major player as a language. Virtually everyone who develops java apps started by reading a book, got blown away by the fact that everything is an object in Java, that it doesn't have real pointers like c or c++, and probably made tons of mistakes before they finally "got it." Now we have c#, a completely proprietary language and most programmers are going to have to learn it because their company's tech-architecture group decided it was the best tool for the job, not because it's ultra-chic (or whatever).

I'm not trying to evangelize, just point out that software development is about making software, regardless of the language or even OS. It's time, I think, we put aside our petty differences and just do what we all love to do, write code.

I'm still keeping my eyes peeled for a good developers site. An invaluable resource on the subject of c & c++ has been the message board at cprogramming.com

Necessary Evil (2.80 / 10) (#30)
by Idiot on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 03:35:51 AM EST

I am a vb coder working in an all-microsoft house at the moment (pls flame my priv email if you must flame :-)

I just gotta say that the doco & support from Micro$oft about Micro$oft is actually quite good, if you can filter ir properly...

- if it looks like a sales pitch, it probabbly is. Move on to the next link.

- Search the knowledge base (support.microsoft.com) but _dont_ use real words, use *their* key words (kbnt & kbbugfix etc)

- They target all of their doco at _someone_. If it looks like a middle-management glossy brochure and you are looking for sample code, move on.

- accept the signel to noise ration. msdn.microsoft.com is the best online vb reference. The only thing better is books (often != M$ press :-)

Just my 0.02 euro on that one.

When I'm not looking for techo stuff, wait a minute, I'm prob not on the web :-)

Java Coder (3.40 / 5) (#31)
by fantastic-cat on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 05:20:32 AM EST

I code Java stuff (all different types) I'm just not evangelical about it. I do open source stuff in my spare time and find that to be more interesting and rewarding in many respects, it just doesn't pay the bills. Open source software also tends to require and raise more points for discussion because of the massively distributed nature of the teams who work on it.

I also post to several Java developer groups but the topics tend to be purely technical issues (Q and A type stuff) which is not what K5 is really about.

Not really a software developer, but... (3.40 / 5) (#32)
by pak21 on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 05:36:36 AM EST

Just a slightly different view, as a (theoretical) astrophysicist, doing a lot of numerical stuff.

As I don't do any real bleeding-edge development (at least in CS terms) are the various groups of techies around here: collections of friends/colleagues with different skills, our University-only newsgroups. Occasionally, the odd mailing list archive if I'm after something specific... but it certainly wouldn't be a Web board, generally because of the the low signal:noise.


Java penetration (3.00 / 5) (#33)
by B'Trey on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 07:56:32 AM EST

I can't answer your question as to where the mainstream programmers hang out, but I can comment a bit on the Java angle. When Java first came out, the hype was that Java was going to take over the world. Java was even supposed to replace the operating system.

I think the question regarding the penetration of Java was primarily concerned with the desktop applications market. Off the top of my head, I can think of one major desktop application written in Java and that was an office suite that failed miserably. Java is a solid language for scripting, running web sites, thin clients, etc. But C/C++ are better suited for desktop apps and Java will have a hard time making inroads into their terain.

JavaLobby (2.25 / 4) (#34)
by Nishi-no-wan on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 08:37:37 AM EST

<a href=&quot;http://www.javalobby.org/&quot;>JavaLobby is a discussion site devoted to (what else?) Java.  (They've been changing the discussion software of late, so things haven't been working quite right, but...)

The main discussions are more geared more toward what's happening in the Java community than tips and tricks of developers.

And, of course, there is the usual pro/anti M$ battles.  C# seem to come up over often lately.  I skip those.
Swinging for the stars

Shameless plug... (3.00 / 7) (#35)
by LinuxNinja on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 09:27:16 AM EST

Looking above this posting box at the "Spamming is not tolerated here", I'm _almost_ hesitant to post this. But, it _is_ on-topic, kinda-sorta, so I'll take the risk. ;-)

At the beginning of October I started www.kerneltrap.com which is a news and discussion portal devoted to low-level systems programming, embedded systems development, and {any} OS kernel hacking. Whether you're a professionally-trained software engineer, a self-taught kernel hacking guru, or a weekend hobbyist with a knack for driver development, I'm hoping this site may hold some interest for you.

Currently I'm in the process of getting the site onto some search engines. It's tough to find stories which fit the profile ("low-level"), so if that kind of thing stokes your fancy, by all means please drop by, create an account, and submit away.

Where don't developers hang out? (3.16 / 6) (#37)
by Caranguejeira on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 10:38:03 AM EST

Ever notice how time consuming reading Slashdot, K5, Linux Today, etc. can be? Espescially if you post a story or comment or get involved in a discussion. It's a lot of reading. Or think about a mailing list or newsgroup, espescially an active one. It takes a long time to read all the new posts and participate in the threads.

I think most serious developers aren't interested in the frivolous socio-political discussions on so called "technical" web sites and newsgroups. They will use these to ask questions and get answers, but they don't have time for the rhetoric.

Confessions of a closed source writer (3.00 / 6) (#38)
by FeersumAsura on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 10:55:46 AM EST

We're all hanging out at delphi 3000, Microsft or we're in a pub. You're forgetting that most Windows developers don't have friends. Only acomplices (similar to criminals). There used to be a joke that all projectionisits were always drunk becaus ethey hated seeing the same film so many times. Most windows programmers are drunk all the time because they're fed up seeing the same old code every day. That's why windows software is so stable.

I'm so pre-emptive I'd nuke America to save time.
Try codeguru (2.66 / 3) (#41)
by Darth Yoshi on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 11:35:20 AM EST

Try codeguru. Seems to be a decent code sharing site.

Too big (3.75 / 4) (#42)
by lunarn on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 11:50:49 AM EST

I'd like such a site too. I have been searching for this myself. An easily accessible forum/website where I can read pearls of wisdom from wiser programmers.

If everybody wants this, then why haven't anybody made one? The problem is that such a forum would simply have to be gigantic, with a vast amount of technologies, languages, frameworks and platforms to cover. And with size comes mess. Just look at the size (and cost) of MSDN, and that's mostly Windows related.

IMO very few subjects can be handled sufficiently without a book or a class.

What would be the focus of such a site? Helping newbies? Academical? Both? What about problemsolving/engineering which is probably most interesting? Which format is best? Articles? FAQ's? Usenet like?

If you try to list every quirk and inconsistency of a platform/language/paradigm you only build a huge link collection.

Which languages do you want to support? I can think of at least twenty that I find interesting. Not to mention their libraries. Even choosing only the top three or four programming languages alone would be huge. Just look at the traffic on C++ / Java / VB newsgroups and the size of the textbooks.

And then there is all the other techs & paradigms, like functional programming languages, logic languages, not to mention scripting languages, and Mark-up languages like XML, HTML to be mastered.

How do you even begin to catalogue them? Add to that frameworks like Win32 and QT. Complicate that with platforms like x86, Alpha, Sparc, and their operating systems.

Solving some of the more interesting problems takes a lot of time and analysing them can take days. Time which a professional developer does not have.

So what to do: Read, study source-code, discuss with peers and colleagues.

The best way to learn, except having a personal mentor, in my experience is code-reviews with peers.

Oh, and if I misunderstood your intentions with this post, and all you wanted was a hints:
Try these for a start.
Relisoft.com and study code from codeproject.com

- Arnar

Document code? Why do you think they call it "code?"
i do... (3.75 / 4) (#44)
by pete23 on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 01:30:21 PM EST

about 50% of the professional software developers I know (myself included) read /. - a few even make it to the 3l33t world of kuro5hin.

the reason i tend not to take part in discussions - certainly on /., less so here (even though i'm relatively new) - is that:

1. I only bother enough to comment on things that are both in my area of expertise *and* in my area of interest. I'm generally far more interested in stories outside my knowledge, and hence post rarely to those.

2. I find that most of my comments are textual MLP - "go and read Stroustroup/ Sutter/ Lakos/ Coplien/ Whoever". People seem to think that 5000 lines of code qualify them to hold opinions about (C++/ CORBA/ Kernel Design/ Whatever). They should probably apply my first point more rigorously wrt expertise (or ask sensible questions!).

In general, I'm a big advocate of open source and I'm pleased that alternative OSes are making an impact. 95% of the commercial developers I know think the same thing - hell, where would we be without XEmacs?

It's just hard to contribute to a discussion with original material when most of the contributors need basic reading first.

pete23 - reality on demand
Good question... (4.25 / 4) (#47)
by avdi on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 04:41:34 PM EST

I think the question needs to be widened to "where are the professional developers hanging out, period?" I wouldn't mind finding a forum where I could discuss nitpicky C++ tricks and details with other language lawyers, or discuss the many interesting issues that surround large-team software projects... unfortunately the majority of vocal /. and K5 posters seem to be in IT, or in school. This leads to a very UNIX/academic slant to discussions. Admitedly, I've learned a lot from this demographic, and it's largely responsible for opening my eyes to the wonderful world of UNIX and Free Software. The disconnect is apparent though, when someone brings up Java, or CORBA, or UML, or CASE, and half the posters don't even know what it is. And those who do know think it's some experimental, niche technology that nobody uses and that besides, everybody knows all you need to code any software project is a text editor, a C compiler, and a case of Jolt.

It seems to me that the people who do Software Engineering (not just coding) for a living in general don't have the time or inclination to participate in internet forums. Even the great hacker gurus of the OSS world seem to stay out of public forums for the most part, except for individual project mailing lists. This is a shame, considering that I would love a place to discuss my tools of choice with other enthusiasts. As a relatively inexperienced programmer, I'd love to learn from the masters. Unfortuntely, whenever the subject of a modern software engineering technology comes up on /. or K5, discussion seems to center around attacks on, and subsequent defenses of, the technology. Rather than informed conversation about it's use.

Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir

Software Process Improvement Networks (SPINs) (none / 0) (#53)
by jlusk4 on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 02:19:52 PM EST

I don't hang out on these mailing lists, but I believe they are active and they correspond to local user-group kinda thingies that software engineering types tend to frequent.

Google search "software process improvenet network spin" turns up:



[ Parent ]

Correction (1.66 / 3) (#49)
by nd on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 04:58:07 PM EST

"What was even more amazing is that in later articles comments like this one which claim that GNOME is the only successful CORBA project abound. The fact that this person (a college student) had made this error was not surprising to me since lots of people get their news from one source alone and believe that they are fully informed. What surprised me was the fact that the post was moderated at (+5 insightful) even though a.) GNOME's Bonobo architecture is not yet successful"

Actually, Gnome is indeed a successful CORBA project. Though Bonobo is not yet stable or widely used, Gnome has been using CORBA/ORBit extensively for quite awhile (example: panel, applets, gmc, lots of Gnome apps use it for interprocess communication).

Different places, different things (3.00 / 3) (#50)
by Bozovision on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 05:03:18 PM EST

Most professionals do not engage in a lot of discussion. Too busy.

We monitor specific mail lists for tech discussion on specific topics. And newsgroups but it's easy to get swamped by rubbish if you subscribe to too many or ones with too much volume.

Sometimes I watch IRC - if there's something specific happening that I want to know about. But not much cos there's too much noise. I suspect not many others do. My friends don't.

We talk a LOT to a small group of buddies - people who we know and trust. Sometimes inside a company. In my case across several companies. We help each other solve particular problems and point each other to interesting stuff. This is very much groups-of-peers stuff.

I skim /. mostly for Technosqueek. I read K5 for a view of software and society. Technocrat.net is quite good for politics and software mix. Advogato - lots of bright people - but very annoying if you can't post replies. I read Arts and Letters Daily for thought provoking articles outside my normal sphere.

I participate in a few real-life (offline) communities. Actually opening my mouth! Yes - not typing!!!! That means occasionally giving presentations.

I read a bunch of online and offline magazines - Byte, Dr Dobb's, Red Herring, The Standard. And books - lots of books.

I read a bunch of weblogs for the thoughts of smart people. I like Joel on Software, Jakob Nielsen's UseIT, and AskTog.

I read MSDN for specific technical stuff on Windows technology. Some of this is very good. Here is the best analysis of colour blindness in UI design that I have seen. I occasionally look at other specific sites like CodeGuru and Gamasutra. Gamasutra is really good for project reviews - read a few and spot the patterns.

And finally - here's a plug. I couldn't find anywhere that I felt mixed software and business in a balanced way - so recently I started Tangled Time. I haven't spent any time promoting it yet. It's v0.1. I apologize for the colour scheme - I'll change it soon. Once the next version of PhpSlash is available it should be more interactive. Please come and visit and contribute.

Jeff Veit

Tanasity develops software and net applications
Tangled Time - New! Discussion about the net, software and business - come and contribute

Tanasity Tel: +44 (0)1223 721513 Email: jeff.veit @ tanasity.com

Developers are people, too! (2.50 / 2) (#51)
by RareHeintz on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 07:43:38 PM EST

I only recently got active on /., and more recently still on K5. I'm by no means a newbie, but I just don't use the net for discussion with other programmers. I do a lot of hunting for code at places like HotScripts and SourceForge, and I read a lot of news at My Yahoo!, but I haven't (with exceptions) really used the net for communicating with other geeks about issues in my field.

Besides that, I buy books at Amazon, and all the other crap that normal people do on the net. So maybe that's where the developers are - same places as everyone else.

- B
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily

This one's easy (3.33 / 3) (#52)
by KidSock on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 07:25:42 PM EST

The best way to get into technical discussions about programming is to get a really good USENET setup going. I like slrn on UNIX but the Microsoft News Reader that comes with Outlook Express is pretty good(as far as windows goes).

As for what groups to read, that changes from time to time. Sometimes it's all people with problems. Other times you can find very interesting stuff. comp.lang.java.programmer/help is full of newbies but that's ok for me because I can answer all the questions :~) Actually this can be a good way to spark deeper discussions[but it would be nice if we could get that group under control a little]. Some groups are very strict but equally rich. Other's just attract the highest caliber people. comp.lang.c for example is an institution.

I think a good way to find out whats happening is to keep track of where people are. I have always meant to setup an nntp server so that I could store 10G of 50 groups or so. That way I could note who are making up the interesting discussions and grep for them in my archive to find out where they hang out. You can sort of do this on Deja but it's too slow to make it there in time to participate in those discussions.


Mailing list recommendation: Squeak (1.00 / 1) (#54)
by David_WCramer on Wed Oct 25, 2000 at 01:59:15 AM EST

For an inspiring flood of daily communication representing consistently high values in programming and the continuous reinvention of OOP, check out the Squeak mailing list: <http://squeak.cs.uiuc.edu/#mailList>

Where Do Developers In The Software Industry Spend Time Online? | 54 comments (53 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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