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Re: CVS and assesment

From: Eric Siegerman
Subject: Re: CVS and assesment
Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2001 21:09:56 -0400
User-agent: Mutt/1.2.5i

On Mon, Jun 04, 2001 at 04:44:34PM +0100, Thomas Tuft Muller wrote:
> I fail to see why some(?) programmers are so reluctant to have their work
> analyzed and assessed.

Because (usually) we *can* resist it.  Peons doing data entry
have been subject to keystroke monitoring and such dehumanizing
"management" techniques for years, but (unless they're unionized)
have had no recourse.  Programmers are in a better bargaining
position (or have been until the last few months).

Besides repugnance on general principles, my concerns would be,
in no particular order:
  - Do the metrics measure quality of work, or merely quantity?
    In other words, will I be penalized for the time and effort
    it takes to come up with a *good* design, implement it with
    *good* code, test thoroughly, and write *good* documentation,
    instead of just blasting out any old junk to keep my
    lines/week up to snuff?

  - As someone else mentioned, whatever the standard (naming
    schemes, comments, formatting, etc.), it occasionally makes
    more sense to violate it.  Such a mechanical scheme will flag
    people for this.  Will management be receptive to peoples'
    arguments, on a case-by-case basis, as to why it seemed wiser
    to break a given rule; or will they simply say "follow the
    rules, dammit" even when that leads to inferior results?

> I'm a programmer myself, and I'm pretty sure that such a tool
> could benefit good programmers and maybe expose the bad seeds.

"Good" as defined by the metrics used.  I've usually been able to
recognize "bad seeds" in the teams I've been a member of.  If
management can't, tools like this won't help them.

This is like IQ, which just keeps getting more discredited as a
measure of intelligence (whatever that is) as the years go by.

> Sound competion with fellow workers has never hurt anyone.

Since when is a climate of fear conducive to morale, or to
productivity -- especially in a task as creative as programming?

> I mean, a lot of
> employees out there have their work scrutinized and analyzed every day. Why
> should we be any different?

Why should we *not* be, if we have the clout to demand better

> Do we think we are irreplaceable no matter how
> much and what we actually do?

Of course not.  Neither are the managers, no matter how awful
they are.  When someone comes up with a metric that can fix
*that* problem, and agrees to abide by its results, I'll be more
willing to accept the metric he wants to apply to his
subordinates, ie. me.

> Programmers constitute a very arcane society and I think a lot of companies
> would like to be able to assess the quality of the Software Development
> department as well as they do for other departments.

A real problem.  I'm not sure what the solution is, but I don't
think this is it.

> I think (good) programmers
> should be the first in line for deploying tools and processes for assessing
> their own work. Or are we too scared?

Yes, I'm scared of this stuff.  I'm afraid of being made to look
bad, compared to people who really *are* bad programmers (or
mediocre at best), by metrics that can't measure quality.  And
I'm afraid of pointy-haired managers who'll take the latest fad
in programming metrics as gospel, and use them as a cheap and
easy substitute for doing their own jobs properly.



|  | /\
|-_|/  >   Eric Siegerman, Toronto, Ont.        address@hidden
|  |  /
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine. However, this is not
necessarily a good idea.
        - RFC 1925 (quoting an unnamed source)

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