‘Do Not Learn to Code,’ Declares Professional Coder

Stack Exchange's Jeff Atwood thinks your hobbies are stupid.

Mr. Atwood, probably yelling at you for wanting to learn a new hobby. (flickr.com/pepez)

The “learn to code” meme probably reached its pinnacle around the time Mayor Bloomberg announced his dedication to the initiative, but it has now begun the inevitable slide into backlash territory. Who would have thought that a fluffy gesture of commitment to a burgeoning New York industry would tip over into controversy? This is why we can’t have nice things, Internet.

In a post published today on his popular blog Coding Horror, Stack Exchange founder Jeff Atwood publicly decried programming newbies’ hilarious attempts to learn the art of code. As if you pathetic wannabes could ever know as much as he does about coding.

According to Mr. Atwood, Keeper of All Code:

Look, I love programming. I also believe programming is important … in the right context, for some people. But so are a lot of skills. I would no more urge everyone to learn programming than I would urge everyone to learn plumbing. That’d be ridiculous, right?

See, there’s this thing called hobbies, and sometimes people like to do stuff in their free time because they think it’s interesting, not because they want to “learn code just for the sake of learning code,” or for the “fat paychecks.” We get it: Yours is an elite circle filled with only the most logical, intelligent Python slingers around. But isn’t it possible that some people are just interested in the Internet, and learning how to make it work?

Plus, even if it’s not intended as a hobby, wanting to learn how to code is still not equivalent to wanting to be a programmer. Considering how prevalent computers have become in our society, acquiring basic programming skills is beneficial for all kinds of professions (including Betabeat writers, though we never went so far as to make a resolution).

Seems like many of the folks on Hacker News also disagreed with Mr. Atwood’s controversial blog.

“If tomorrow you want to learn to cook, how would you feel if a master chef told you ‘No, don’t. You’ll never be as good as me. If you’re hungry, come to my restaurant instead’,” wrote one commenter named shin_lao.

“Jeff has interpreted ‘learn to code’ with ‘become a programmer’. They’re not the same thing,” concurred jkahn.

Look, we agree that the whole ‘learn to code’ thing probably jumped the shark. But it’s kind of hard to see what’s really going on from all the way up there on your pedestal.

‘Do Not Learn to Code,’ Declares Professional Coder