Are .NET Developers the American Tourists of the Software Industry?

In case this post rides a reddit or Dzone wave, let me start out by saying that I am both from the United States and a .NET developer. Now on to my regularly scheduled point…

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:

  1. You will not speak their language even though they will probably speak English.
  2. You will not be able to locate their country on a map even though they could probably name all 50 states.
  3. 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.


  1. fsilber March 14, 2008 9:27 am 

    Matt, you said you would have been on the side of the abolitionists in the Constitutional Debate that resulted in the “3/5th compromise.” If the 3/5th Compromise is tantamount to equating a non-white to 3/5th of a man (as you claimed), then your sympathy for the abolitionists is tantamount to equating a non-white to 0% of a man (because that’s how much the abolitionists wanted slaves to count in distributing Lower House representation).

    Obviously you don’t believe that a non-white is 0% of a man; so perhaps the 3/5th Compromise should not be taken as equating a non-white to 3/5th of a human being, either.

    You claim that today’s brutal 3rd World genocide and mass-rape is the fault of the colonizing powers, who, in carving out these boundaries when giving these nations their independence, ignored cultural and tribal boundaries. Perhaps the resulting lingual, religious, and ethnic diversity within the emancipated ex-colonies is indeed to blame, but I wouldn’t have been the one to say so. Where I live, the dogma that diversity is wonderful is so well-entrenched that I wouldn’t have dared to make it the scapegoat for intramural 3rd world brutality. In doing so, you’re a braver man than I am.

    Your other comments (not all of which I agree with) are generally off the point, as they do not contradict anything I said earlier. So I see no point in disputing them. I’m willing to let them stand without comment as representative of the clarity of the principles you hold.

  2. Matt March 14, 2008 1:56 pm 

    @fsilber, meneer, mike, et. al.

    Did you notice that Russell wrote another post where he stereotyped us all into different categories of jackass?

    After we take the time to read his post and give him some traffic… he calls us trogs, evil clowns, and blow-hards.

    Can someone tell me which one I was at least? I thought I might be a an evil clown/trog?

  3. fsilber March 15, 2008 8:50 pm 

    I cannot be certain he had me in mind when he talked about the troglodytes, evil clowns, artful dodges and blow-hards showing up — since he didn’t quote any of my text specifically in that section. But if he did have me in mind, then I suppose I’d fall into the troglodyte category (based on the linked definitions).

    A blow-hard presents his credentials to bolster his opinion. (Nope, I didn’t do that.)

    Artful dodger changes the subject with a diversionary counter-attack. “(Evil clown) has little patience for in-depth discussions and will often disrupt exchanges between serious forum participants by introducing irrelevant topics, fatuous quips, and offhand comments. His greatest thrill is to taunt and humiliate weaker or more plodding Warriors with his snappy ripostes.” No, I don’t think I’m usually the one to change the subject using either tactic (though I don’t resist going along if someone else changes it).

    “Troglodyte seems to have emerged from the mists of time untouched by human evolution. Devoid of a single progressive idea and lacking the slightest awareness of social and cultural advances, Troglodyte has developed an incoherent political philosophy that he characterizes as `conservative’ or `libertarian’, but which could be more accurately described as `bigoted narcissism’. His aggressive posturing often frightens off weaker, more timid Warriors. In pitched battle, however, Troglodyte easily loses control and his attack quickly degenerates into a rant.” I can see how someone who hates my reactionary conservatism might call me that, but I don’t think I postured agressively, lost control, or ranted.

    Oh, well. I usually don’t respond to name-calling, anyway, if what I am or amn’t is irrelevent to the discussion.

    By the way, Meneer R.: Would “Meneer” be a contraction of Mijn Heer, much as the French “monsieur” is related to the Middle English “Mine Sir” or “Madam” comes from “My Dame”?

  4. Meneer R March 16, 2008 5:24 am 

    >By the way, Meneer R.: Would “Meneer” be a contraction of Mijn Heer, much as the French “monsieur” is related to the Middle English “Mine Sir” or “Madam” comes from “My Dame”?

    Correct. Its like sir/mister/monsieur. And the R is just the first letter of my firstname. I’ve learned a long time ago not to put my full name up on the internet.

    >I can see how someone who hates my reactionary conservatism might call me that, but I don’t think I postured agressively, lost control, or ranted.

    You were never aggresive.

    >my reactionary conservatism

    Is that it is? Although you obviously have different priorities, i don’t thinky our opinion is that extreme. It’s not the so much the subjective, but the seemingly objective part we seem to disagree. You believe your president and the american media, I believe the european media.

    There was no link between 9/11 and saddam. Zero. That was a hoax. Pentagon even admitted that was no link.

    There were no weapons of mass destruction. Nobody is sure if that was an intentional hoax though. _That_ could really just be a mistake. But we can at least saw that the certainty which with the president claimed that ‘fact’ was exagerated. He really wanted it to be true.

    More importantly, if Saddam really had those weapons in a ready state, Iraq wouldn’t be attacked. (see north-korea).

    The most dangerous aspect of the american democracy is that there are different versions of the truth. At least in Europe, the media is independent enough to not allow any politician to ‘play’ or ‘make up’ historial facts.

    If I may feel as free to give you voting advise. Choose between the honest ones. Perhaps there is a lying politician (like bush) that appears to agree more with your political views. But can you really trust him? Your president took the right to ship people to guatanamo bay, to torture them and to not ever see judge. How could you possible still have freedom? How could you still a fair democracy?

    Honestly, with all respect, voters like you have been played. You have been peopled. Misled. Deceived.

    Spending of your government never has been higher. You never had more of your constitutation violated than now.

    You are pro-guns because you want to be able to defend against a government gone bad. Well, the time is now. If you didn’t use it against this administration, i doubt you ever will defend yourself with that gun.

  5. Matt March 16, 2008 6:22 am 

    I strongly dislike the democrats’ notion of creating dependent groups by providing unearned resources. One of their fundamental notions is very flawed… I theoretically love the notion of communism, but the theory fails(ed) because of our innate selfish nature. Communism also seems to lead to very problematic implementations… I like much of the republican platform (even though I dislike many of their secondary postions), but words cannot describe how much I loathe the republican party. I’ve changed business partnerships, service providers, and car mechanics based on learning their political lean. If I saw someone with their baby in a burning car with a bush/cheney sticker, I would have to consider whether or not I would even call for help (I suppose I would have to try to help the baby – as long as there is no evidence that republicanism is not a genetic disease).

    I think most of humanity shares a common ethos – let’s live and let live and try to help eachother when we can… Our politicians and media (republican/zionist owned) have obscured our commonality with crap to keep the common man confused and occupied with stuff that really doesn’t matter. If revolution breaks out, hopefully both sides can take a few minutes to take out the real trouble makers first…

    I’m not sure voting matters – most of the time we must choose between an asshat with an R or an asshat with a D… And almost all of them are prostistutes to lobbying groups that do not have our human or national interests in mind. Actually, I apologize to prostitutes for comparing them to politicians – we need a new word so that I do not demean hard-working women.

  6. Meneer R March 16, 2008 11:40 am 

    >. If I saw someone with their baby in a burning car with a bush/cheney sticker, I would have to consider whether or not I would even call for help

    You scare the shit out of me. How much of a biggot are you?

    I wouldn’t likely vote for a republican, because i honestly think most of them are crooks. Some democrats are crooks too.

    But people that vote for a republican might be confused. Maybe they just have different priorities in life.

    In general, people like that expect their republican leaders to speak the truth, because they are like that themselves. Honest people with self-respect and honor. They are most easily fooled.

    But you, you are full of hate. You judge people by their opinion and then you execute with your selective passifism.

    Why pose such a threat? This people are just people. Maybe you neighbours. Somebody’s family.

    Again, Matt, what is wrong with you? Please don’t get this the wrong way. But maybe you want to talk with some one about your anger.

    You might end up doing something you regret. You might end up hurting the people around you.

  7. Matt March 16, 2008 1:44 pm 

    You are correct in that I am very angry at our political situation. But the anger is directed appropriately. Anyone who does not share this rage is not paying attention to what is going on…

    I think you mistake hate for something else… I believe that game theory scopes behavior in ethics quite well.

    I can forgive a murderer – I don’t know their circumstances. I can try to empathize with an abuser – I don’t know their history. In either case, appropriate measures need to be put in place to punish the behavior and to protect others, but I do not judge these people.

    I cannot forgive the people in power and those that have put them there. They consciously put in place a group who is responsible for the death of over a million people (American, Iraqi, and others). This does not count the physically injured. This does not count those who are emotionally scarred – either as abusers or abusees… They voted these people in power and they did it again… At this point, I don’t care about why they vote republican, all i know is that they are much like a disease and must be stopped. Anything that decreases that population is nice.

    BTW – I’ve got friends who are republicans, but they are fine in my book. They voted their interests (they are pretty damn wealthy), and changed their vote when they saw what these people did. My political hero is Ron Paul… a republican…

    Do you really think people are honest and honorable? If so why do we even need laws… (if it is just republicans who are honest and honorable – why do highly republican areas have greater afflictions of crime and religion?) Perhaps a more plausible explanation is that they are easily controlled by the tv and the great opiate. 2000 was decided by a margin of… gays cannot marry…

    My dear poephol, I think you’re talk of uncontrolled anger is reflective (see your above posts).

  8. Meneer R March 16, 2008 7:37 pm 

    >the anger is directed appropriately

    >I can forgive a murderer

    >I cannot forgive the people in power and those that have put them there

    People that don’t lie and can’t image the tv lies to them?

    Since when is naivity a sin?

    >If I saw someone with their baby in a burning car with a bush/cheney sticker, I would have to consider whether or not I would even call for help

    That is borderline murder.

    >I’ve got friends who are republicans, but they are fine in my book

    So, you would save THEIR baby. Nice.

    >Do you really think people are honest and honorable?

    Yes, most people are well intended civil beings. Some have less control over themselves as others, some are more intelligent as other.

    I don’t live in your country, but if I did i would not be the type to vote on a republican. Most are crooks. But its much easier for me to see that from the outside. Our media outlets have no interest in my opinion about the US. They might have a local political bias, they have less of an international political bias.

    I wouldn’t blame any american for not understanding what is going on. Its one thing to have media with different political biases, but it’s another thing if they completely contradict each other on factual information.

    >2000 was decided by a margin of… gays cannot marry…

    So, they have some issues to work out, like being homophobic. You are not helping them. You are just pointing a finger.

    >My dear poephol, I think you’re talk of uncontrolled anger is reflective (see your above posts).

    It wasn’t anger, but it was a bit of concern and shock, yes. You are a difficult person to debate with; you switch between real arguments and intellectual debate to name-calling, insults and threats.

    So, obviously, you are not dumb. So be so rude or mean? What are you trying to achieve? Do you feel attacked?

    If its all so important to you, if you think its all -that- bad, then why focus your energy on name-calling, insults and threats? The only purpose that could possible have is to make you feel better about yourself. That’s how much you really care.

    Using ideology in an existential way is not healthy path. Try basing your self respect on how you treat people around you. Try to be the guy that does save that baby. You really can’t go on a moral highground because of political preference.

    Because when you base your identity and self-image on your political colors, you don’t really want people to agree with you. If we would, we would be stealing your identity. If everybody agreed with you, you would have no reason to be ‘angry’ or ‘point at’ other people. You wouldn’t be able to distinguish yourself.

    Maybe this is just speculation. I’m just trying to understand where your lack of manners originate from.

    And there is nothing wrong with talking with somebody about that. It’s a lot healthier than going on blogs and claiming you want republican babies to die.

  9. fsilber March 17, 2008 8:15 am 

    Meneer R.: “Your president took the right to ship people to guatanamo bay, to torture them and to not ever see judge. How could you possible still have freedom? How could you still a fair democracy?” Actually, the Geneva conventions say that when an enemy soldier is caught fighting out of uniform, it is proper for him to submit to summary execution. So any Al Kaida fighters sent to Gitmo who were captured while not wearing the official Afghani uniform were treated quite leniently, regardless of what happened to them afterwards.

    “Spending of your government never has been higher.” That is true, it was a bitter disappointment. I do not, however, have faith that the Democrats would spend less. One advantage of military wastage is that we can cut back anytime without having to read horror stories about the resulting victims of the cutbacks. Once social spending is increased, however, people become dependent, and we can _never_ cut back without having to hear all sorts of horror stories about people thrown into sudden need and confusion.

    “You never had more of your constitutation violated than now.” That is debatable, as I’ll explain below.

    “You are pro-guns because you want to be able to defend against a government gone bad. Well, the time is now. If you didn’t use it against this administration, i doubt you ever will defend yourself with that gun.” Actually, as long as the government (however bad) respects the democratic process, use of guns against them would be a mistake. A _good_ revolution (as distinct from some sort of coup) requires massive public support, and if we had that right now we could simply vote for change.

    As for corruption and lies, we have lots of financial corruption in both parties. The two cities I’ve lived in most recently, New Orleans and Memphis, have both been controlled by politicians of the Democratic Party, and we regularly hear of them getting caught in an FBI sting for bribery and going to prison. I can tell you of much more blatant lies I’ve been told by President Clinton. (And no, I’m not referring to his lies under oath about sex.)

    As for my other Constitutional Rights being violated by the Bush admininstration, we’re talking about fringe cases. The most common blatant infringement of the average person’s Constitutional rights are done through intermediaries not _officially_ approved by the government, but tolerated by them. Consider these fundamental rights:

    * Privacy in the home
    * Control over one’s own body
    * Freedom to travel
    * Freedom from unwarranted searches and seizures

    When a burglar is rooting around in my home, my privacy is violated. When I cannot walk public streets in certain places or at certain times without risking a mugging, my right to travel is violated. When a woman is raped, forced to choose between bearing an attacker’s child or killing her own unborn flesh and blood, her right to control her own body is violated. When I am robbed or burgled, my right to freedom from unwarranted searches and seizures is violated.

    These at the most blatant and the most common violations of our Constitutional rights. When a government protects the lives of these attackers as they violate my rights by making me choose between defenselessness or prison — telling me that to save my own life I should submit obediently to a robber’s demands — such a government becomes an accomplice to these crimes. Morally, such a government is no different from the man who serves as a bankrobber’s look-out, no different from the rapist’s buddy who helps hold the woman’s arms down to prevent her from scratching at the rapist’s eyes while he rapes her. (That blindness is not an accepted punishment for rape is no justification.)

    These rights are not satisfied merely by having laws against rape and robbery, nor is it a right merely to see a violator punished. Rather, we have the right not to tolerate being robbed or raped in the first place (nor to have to choose between that or death).

    Until and unless the police can guarantee us mugger-free streets and burglar-free homes, we have the right and duty to defend these rights individually, and a government that tries to force us to tolerate these crimes is an oprressor.

    If the police fear that a burglar might steal my gun, let them work harder to keep burglars out of my home (and discourage burglars from even trying by encouraging more people to shoot burglars).

  10. mj December 10, 2008 10:31 am 

    I was kinda surprised when I met a .NET/ASP developer today who, when he realised I had an iPhone, stated that I must hate ASP/.NET/C#.

    No, they’re just tools.

    What I hate is people telling me that I have to use certain tools without good reason. Like building stuff only to work with IE. Or even FireFox 2. And that includes stuff deliberately designed to work with Safari as well.

    Microsoft just works extra hard at being loathed.

  11. qwerty June 12, 2011 2:45 pm 

    A big difference between .NET and open source ecosystems(minus PHP, which is garbage) is the difference in skill level between the developers and users of said ecosystem. AKA programmers vs API monkeys.

    Developing .NET is not trivial and I don’t think it is unfair to say that maybe 1% of .NET users could work on the project.

    In the open source world, users of are often just as skilled as the developers of .

    I might hire someone who is familiar with the .NET platform(or Java for that matter), but if that is all he knows, there is no way I would hire him because he is not really a programmer. He is simply an end-user. This would also apply if the project I was hiring ran on the .NET platform.

    mono is not equivalent to .NET so can not be touted as making .NET cross-platform.

  12. AsH83 July 14, 2011 12:39 pm 

    As an embedded linux programmer and .NET programmer, I think that all M$ haters just hate the fact that it is too easy to produce a products with M$ in literally half the time it will take all hardcore non M$ programmer to give you the same product.

    - if it is easy to use M$ products DO not blame it.. it might be easy to attract some newbies that do not no coding, but this is not a flaw of the language/technology.

    - People who said API are BS and can not do anything that perform great, I will give you two examples:
    a. DirectX which is a M$ API technology that can be used in VS and can be integrated with .NET produces more games for the xbox than Sony PS3 technologies.. M$ kicked sony’s ass in almost every aspect of game development.. if you took one game in both consoles you will not tell the difference between the two consoles and you know that the PS3 is twice beefy than the xbox360. this shows how great DX is… and just to say for the open source monkeys and other M$ haters OpenGL in linux is not even in the game.. all major video cards tweaks their product to interface with DX as priority then OpenGL.

    b. For web development. .NET will produce a high end products that can give you everything from DB connection to any server side work you need in half the time it will take using non M$ technology.

    - M$ IDE is light years ahead of any other IDE out there. Debugging/Packaging/Deploying/Refactoring/Source Control integration with Team server/ navigating in huge projects are much better in VS than any other IDE…

    - If you still love make files and jumping thru loops to build your code, it does not mean it is the only way.. if you say i know more about the environment than you who use one click to build, I will tell yeah thats true but the person who code Assembly knows more than you. The argument is not who knows more the argument is that who can produce code that works..

  13. Boz July 19, 2011 6:47 pm 

    “I think that all M$ haters just hate the fact that it is too easy to produce a products with M$ in literally half the time it will take all hardcore non M$ programmer to give you the same product.”


    .NET crap is some of the most overly-engineered pile of garbage that has ever been seen outside JavaLand.

    DX is also over-engineered garbage.

    A good programming language does not need an IDE. IDE’s exist to overcome shortcomings in programming languages. VS is so good simply because the languages and API’s it supports are so bad.

    If a competent programmer can not be just as productive without an IDE, while working on a non-trivial program, then the language is poorly designed.

  14. honestjoe July 27, 2011 3:42 pm 

    I live in both world I develop trading software in. Net/sqlserver and a public facing site with php/mysql. All I can say is when it comes down to the line. Reliability and predictability are key. And despite the advantages comunity developed software is lacking. Because in the real world I just can’t debug and fix everthing. I have to stand on other shoulder and know they are a sound foundation. …but I will continue testing and debugging and contributing because eventually the rest of the community will also get the point that leading edge functionality is second to stability.

  15. Fred August 12, 2011 4:22 pm 

    “Because in the real world I just can’t debug and fix everthing. I have to stand on other shoulder and know they are a sound foundation”

    There is a lot of truth to this. However, at least with open source, you CAN fix it if needed. With .NET libraries you have to wait for MS to accept there is a bug, then put it in their bug queue and then sometime down the road you might get a fix. Of course by then, it might cause new bugs or introduce incompatibilities.

    Sure, you can built lots of web-services or desktop apps with .NET, but in the case of web apps you are tied to MS forever, and that is not a good thing. I recently did some consulting work for a small software shop trying to get out from under MS after getting burned badly in a business deal with them. I got them 90% of the way there and they are more productive for it. The sad part is that if they stayed under MS rule, it would have cost them about $40,000 for forced(yes, forced) upgrades because they needed to upgrade 10 year old hardware. That is $40,000 they didn’t have.

    Tying yourself to MS is a huge business risk that have cost thousands of businesses billions of dollars collectively, yet they keep paying for the abuse and then complain and acted shocked that MS bent them over again and didn’t use lube or have the common courtesy to give them a reach-around. It is amazingly stupid on their part and I have no sympathy whatsoever for people who put themselves in this position.

    Another problem with living under Microsoft’s thumb is that if they don’t allow something, you can’t do it, even if you really, really need to. They hold all the keys and power.

    Open Source gives you a solid foundation and some sturdy walls with holes for doors and windows,and easy access to the neighborhood and the world past that. The house isn’t flashy, but it is quite comfortable, usually.

    It comes with a big screen TV and cable as well as phone service to call anyone you need to. It doesn’t come standard with a ceiling, but has all the tools and materials in the backyard to put one up easily, and it also has enough tools and materials in the backyard for more levels to be built.

    Microsoft gives you a strong foundation and solid walls. The house is not quite as big as what OSS gives you but still roomy and is fully furnished but lacks cable, phone service but does have a TV and DVD and is stocked with MS approved discs. The walls have no doors(at least not accessible to you) or windows, nor precut holes or decent tools for them. There actually is one door, but is locked and MS won’t give you the key.

    MS uses the door to come in and do repairs and add on to the house.

    You do have a 2-way radio with one frequency that is controlled by MS. It has an extremely solid roof that you can’t remove. It also has a small closet with a small saw, a stack of paper and some glue if you want to cut through the walls and try to make a tunnel to your neighbor. Your neighbor lives 200 miles away because the house MS gave you is in the middle of the desert with lots of dangerous animals roaming about.

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