When I worked for Lehman Brothers, I was involved in creating an application in association with Lending Tree. The timeline was impossible but the developers were confident in our skills. After all, we were professionals. Managment, on the other hand, were not, because they were in over their heads. They were essentially managing something they had very little knowledge about.
One day they pulled all the developers into a room, and told us “We don’t think you are taking this project seriously enough .” What an odd thing to say, right? The developers were driving the entire direction of the project and meeting deadlines, what would prompt such an accusation. Well, it was apparently because we were still happy with our team and would joke around. While they were lost and had no idea what was happening around them. They were basically impotent in their positions.
So does having a fun time means you don’t take things seriously ? Absolutely not, I think it is essential for a developer to have a sense of humor. How else can you take someone vastly less qualified than you telling you how to code (yes I meant to use code) an application? Or How else can you sit in meetings for hours and listen to people describe how they want the buttons to look like? And How else can you take the insane pressure placed on you?
I always love seeing humor expressed in code, admittedly very geeky. This site is based in tongue and cheek and was a spawn of the project described above. I try and approach a lot of things with a sense of humor. When I saw a TDD example about SkyNet on Steven Harman’s blog and loved it. That’s the kind of thing that humanizes developers, we aren’t just expendable parts of a big machine. We have personalities and IT management fails to see that or, more cynically, doesn’t care.
Comments are a great place to leave easter eggs for other developers, jokes to make the fact of looking at old code more fun. I remember I placed an ASCII picture of Super Punch Out’s Mike Tyson in a comment block above a method. He was called “Mike Typeson.”
Having a sense of humor and being serious are not mutually exclusive, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I’d love to hear of other humor in code, I know Ayende Rahien has stuff and I’ve looked at that.
That’s my rant for the day. 🙂