I was listening to the Alt.NET Podcast the other day (which I recommend to anyone interested in this sub-community), and something Chad Myers said really resonated with me. To paraphrase, developers for whom programming is simply a job do not deserve our scorn. As satisfying as it may be to rant about the abysmal level of knowledge of best practices in the .NET community (or any programming community), care needs to be taken not to alienate those developers. It is not our place to make that kind of value judgment. A person who we may call a “5:01” developer may have a sick family member that needs care. They may be passionate about something else, like church missions or other charitable work.
And whether any of those things is true about each of those developers or not is irrelevant anyway. No matter what, we will always have co-workers who don’t share our near-obsessive level of dedication to the craft of software development. If any movement like Alt.NET is to ever have any real impact on the overall .NET environment, the 5:01 crowd has to be reached. As Chad said, dedicated developers need to “work inside their motivation.” 5:01’s are (by definition I suppose) at work for a whole eight hours. If we can’t reach someone in that amount of time, it’s our failing, not theirs.
In addition, I think some people may be underestimating the level of professionalism of 5:01’s. In my limited experience, when I show someone else at work a better way to do something, more likely than not, they’ll say, “Oh, OK. That’s cool, I’ll do it that way from now on.” Just because someone doesn’t go home and blog every night doesn’t mean that they’re dumb, lazy, or not concerned about the quality of their work.
If the Alt.NET community truly wishes to become more “democratized,” as was mentioned in the podcast, that has to include a strategy for reaching out to workday developers. It can’t be seen as cliqueish, or it will drive away the proverbial “80%” and never really achieve its stated goals.