I’m fairly certain that most people would agree that Microsoft as a company is despised by a sizable segment of the software industry.
Since corporate politics bore me, I’m going to skip the part about why this is the case or whether this view is justified. Instead, I’m going to focus on the following corollary:
The same segment of the software industry that dislikes Microsoft also views developers who use Microsoft tools and languages as inherently less skilled and less capable.
That is a nice way of saying that when the typical Java\Python\Ruby developer conjures up an image of a .NET developer, it probably looks something like my esteemed blog sponsor on the right sidebar. In other words, I believe that the prevailing stereotype about .NET developers is that we wouldn’t know a software best practice or sound computer science principle if it recursively bit us in the arse.
Why does this stereotype exist and is it deserved?
Some harsh reddit feedback on one of my recent blog posts prompted me to seriously ponder this question and after going through various phases of anger, denial, and rationalization, I finally settled on the following theory.
Developers who don’t earn their living from Redmond-based technologies dislike Microsoft developers for some of the same reasons that people from other countries dislike Americans.
For any of my fellow countryman who are surprised by this, it is true. Most people in the world don’t like you. I’m sure books could be written on all of the social, political, economic, and cultural offenses that we unknowingly dole out on a daily basis, but I’m just going to focus on the one psychological offense that I’ve observed first hand numerous times in my travels.
Americans are inherently annoying because we rarely invest any effort into learning anything about the external world.
For example, If you are an American and meet someone who is well educated from another country, then statistically speaking the chances are good that:
- You will not speak their language even though they will probably speak English.
- You will not be able to locate their country on a map even though they could probably name all 50 states.
- You won’t know who their national leader is even though they will not only tell you the name of our President, but also give you a nice summary of his foreign policy exploits over his last two terms in office.
You don’t have to have a political science degree to understand the psychological effects of this interaction. How did you feel the last time someone completely blew you off because you know they didn’t think you were important enough to bother with? Needless to say, it doesn’t help much on the diplomacy front.
I think a similar dynamic occurs with .NET developers who are so busy drinking from the firehose at Microsoft that they forget about the rest of the development world entirely.
The reddit comments that drove this home the most for me was the one said my opinion should be discounted because I “break the programming languages world into “languages by Microsoft” and “other languages”. Not a bad point.
Then there was my favorite wickedly sarcastic comment from Lepton3 (…come on reddit…you really need to de-anonymize this process a little). In response to my stated desire to learn finally learn Python, he quips… “Steady on there tiger! You wouldn’t want to rush in too soon.” A damn good point considering how long Python has been popular.
They both made me realize that despite my great efforts to study software best practices and learn no less than a dozen new Microsoft technologies in the last few years, I was still being pretty myopic in my approach to software development.
So, I hereby relinquish any guilt that I may feel for not keeping up with every new technology coming out of Redmond in the next several years. Instead, I’m going to do the programmer’s equivalent to a little world traveling so I can get better clued into what the rest of the software world has to offer.
I’m sure all the other kids will still make fun of me for feeding at the Microsoft teat, but at least I won’t stand out like a typical American tourist anymore.
Oh, and for all you .NET readers who may get inundated with posts on Ruby, Rails, Python, Django, and MySQL in the near future (at least that’s what I’ve been spending all my free time on in the last few weeks), hang in there. A little foreign culture is good for the programming soul. Also, since there’s no place like home, I’m sure I’ll continue to churn out .NET content as well.
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