Developer getting older

Thursday 16 June 2011

Lots of people this week are talking about Peter Knego's analysis of the correlation between age and reputation on Stack Overflow. His conclusion is that developers get better and scarcer with age.

As it happens, today is my 49th birthday, and so I was eager to see his charts, and have them counter the common notion that skill is negatively correlated with age. When I got there, I was pleased to see the rise in average reputation as developers got older, and dismayed to see that his chart ends at 49! One more year and I fall off the end of the world! As a college friend of mine put it, "I can feel the hot breath of 50 on my neck..."

Looking at the raw data, though, you can see why his graph ends at 49: he only included ages with at least 100 developers. In fact, if this experiment is repeated next year, the graph will extend farther, both because all of the developers in this graph will have aged a year, and because more people will have joined Stack Overflow. So I'm safe: in fact, I will always be at the leading edge! Welcome to the vanguard!

PS: the comments on Peter's post suggest all sorts of ways that this data is wrong, misinterpreted, measuring the wrong thing, skewed, not useful, and so on. Yes, sure, of course. Lighten up!

tagged: » 8 reactions


Doug Hellmann 10:58 AM on 16 Jun 2011

That's great news for all of us planning to stay in development for the long haul!

Lionel 11:30 AM on 16 Jun 2011

Happy birthday Ned ! Cheers from a former French Domino developer.

brian 1:51 PM on 16 Jun 2011

Happy birthday Nedley! Coincidentally, Andrew and I were discussing this very thing at lunch today. I was happy to read this given that I am now firmly at the front of the vanguard.

Kostya N 2:15 PM on 16 Jun 2011

Happy birthday Ned! Thanks for such an optimistic post.

Yoav Shapira 4:10 PM on 16 Jun 2011

Happy birthday, Ned!

Aron Griffis 4:52 PM on 16 Jun 2011

Happy birthday, Ned!

Hiren Bhatt 2:14 AM on 17 Jun 2011

Happy birthday, Ned!

Pete Lyons 2:10 PM on 17 Jun 2011

I told Brian this story the other day. All the smartphone developers in our group sit in a single dead-end row of cubes with me down the far end. The rest of the guys on my team are all in their 20s. Twice in recent months a person has been brought down the row to be introduced to the team. By the time they reach outside my cube I can hear them expressing admiration to their guide at the youth of the team. Then they reach my cube and there is an awkward moment where they try and back peddle on the youth comments while not offending me. I try and make a joke about being the 'old guy' and try and reassure them everything is fine. I feel bad for the people since they're obviously embarrassed but at the same time I'm kind of pissed since I don't feel old.

Add a comment:

Ignore this:
not displayed and no spam.
Leave this empty:
not searched.
Name and either email or www are required.
Don't put anything here:
Leave this empty:
URLs auto-link and some tags are allowed: <a><b><i><p><br><pre>.