So we have a question that's pretty popular today: Are programmers getting lazier and less competent

Which, to me personally, reads very much like a rant and the answers its received have mainly been to challenge the assertions in the question itself.

Normally, it's a question that would be closed as not constructive, but it's got a lot of activity and no close votes.

So is this question constructive? If so, why? If it isn't, what can we do to get the community more animated in helping moderate popular questions that are ultimately poor fits for our site?

  • 1
    Corollary: Has the community got a sense that "anything goes" so they are scared to close these questions?
    – jcolebrand
    Jul 1, 2011 at 21:27

5 Answers 5


Read this: How to be Lazy, Dumb, and Successful. This is the only example I remember, I've seen similar articles in the past numerous times. So this is a very interesting post, and I'm not surprised it's so popular.

I think we should try to understand something that seems ridiculous to us can be brilliant to another. This is enforced by the fact our community is global and the cultural factor is strong.

Your job as a moderator is becoming very difficult in a community where subjectivity is authorized.

  • 2
    that's why there are the six guidelines. Except for the rant-y ness "WHY ARE PROGRAMMERS SO LAZY!!?!" in the question, the answers actually aren't bad and do well on most of the criteria there. Jul 2, 2011 at 0:39

Are programmers getting lazier and less competent

I've seen this question asked for as long as I've been a programmer. Usually in forums or chat, and often by programmers who really haven't been doing it long enough to have any perspective, or whose experience is so narrow that they're threatened by change. I suspect I asked it myself at some point...

It's always popular. And the answer is always "yes". Kids these days are always lazy and unruly.

So if this is nothing more than a rehashing of a classic rant, it's not constructive. If, by some miracle, it happens to collect a few lengthy answers full of experiences, facts, and references, then it could be considered constructive, something for us to keep in our back pockets for the next time this argument comes up elsewhere.


As one who answered the question, and has been inclined to vote to close non-constructive questions in the past - I thought it was very valid.

I started coding before the internet was prevalent, when there was very little thought of collaboration and people would code everything from scratch every time (unless the company had a library for that particular task). RAD languages such as VB were just beginning to gain traction and, when I learned of them, I remember going through a phase of thinking "well that's just lazy, it's not real programming."

I wish I'd had someone to explain to me why that's a logical fallacy.

On the basis that we should really be focusing on the question: Does this question and its answers make the internet a better place? I decided it was worth a good answer rather than a vote to close.

As a side note, I also think that the more positive subject and the user's own edit have done more harm than good. Now the top-voted answers don't really make any sense.


I edited the title to assist.

Perhaps there is a kernel of a decent -- not great, but decent -- question in there somewhere. There certainly have been close votes cast before, so maybe something about this seems constructive...ish.

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    I feel like changing the title from "Are programmers getting lazier and less competent" to "Is over-reliance on tools dangerous?" is incorrect. I understand wanting a less argumentative title, but the answer to the original question was "No, they're simply relying more on tools." This no longer answers the question, and "Is over-reliance on tools dangerous?" seems much more like a follow-up question than a rewording. (Sorry - I commented on the question before seeing it was being discussed here on meta.)
    – dlras2
    Jul 1, 2011 at 22:51
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    @cyclotis it is this or have it closed as not constructive Jul 2, 2011 at 0:37
  • @Jeff, I agree that the title change was incorrect. Rather have it closed and a completely new question opened.
    – user1249
    Jul 2, 2011 at 11:56
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    Why is either necessary? We seem to be equating negative language with not constructive, which surprises me from Jeff in particular. We also seem to be assuming this was some old-guy ranting about the kids of today, which it specifically claims not to be. It's a guy just out of uni who's learned RAD languages after learning C++ and is wondering what it says about the industry.
    – pdr
    Jul 2, 2011 at 14:15
  • @thor I changed, in essence, one word (from "dangerous" to "lazy", basically). Happy now? Jul 2, 2011 at 21:17
  • @Jeff, well, no. Most answers directly refer to the question in the title, including the competent part, and the new title does not accurately reflect that.
    – user1249
    Jul 4, 2011 at 6:34
  • @thor now you're just splitting hairs; "lazy" and "incompetent" are similar enough to merge for the purpose of the title. I would also argue that lazy and incompetent developers can be summarized as dangerous which brings us full circle. Jul 4, 2011 at 8:02
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    @Jeff, you can perfectly well be lazy (Larry Wall even consider it a virtue) without being incompetent.
    – user1249
    Jul 4, 2011 at 8:10
  • @thor I'm sorry, is your "edit this post" link broken? Why are we having this discussion, again? If you feel so strongly about it, make the edit yourself instead of wasting time discussing it here. Jul 4, 2011 at 8:35
  • @jeff, no it isn't, but I am very reluctant to change SE staff or founder changes.
    – user1249
    Jul 4, 2011 at 8:49
  • @thor if you strongly feel it makes the post better, you should change it, regardless of who edited last. There is nothing sacred about my edits, and you made your point here sufficiently. Jul 4, 2011 at 9:12

People have been complaining about the decline in youth today since Plato penned Phaedrus some 2500 years ago. I'm certain that he heard the same lament from old farts when he was a youngster as well.

In the case of Phaedrus, his main complaint was that with youngsters using that new fangled invention (called writing), they aren't using their brains to memorize stuff like we did back in the olden days, when it was 15 miles to school, and it was uphill both ways.

When I was a young sprout learning programming, I overheard a similar lament uttered by some greybeards, who claimed that the new fangled computer terminals were going to make every new programmer lazier because they can just hit the backspace if they make a mistake. Having to throw out a punch card and type it all over again was somehow something that was going to build moral character.

  • I totally agree. Having to spend less time and effort for certain tasks means that you can concentrate on more difficult tasks. The challenge has just moved. We have better tools now but the software has become more complex, therefore I think that programming is as demanding as it used to be.
    – Giorgio
    Jul 2, 2011 at 10:14

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