Breath-taking honesty

An essay has been making the rounds about how much you (developer type person) are worth for hourly-rate. It is breath-taking in its honesty. This person sets out a pay-rate scale based strictly on public-access reputation markets and evidence of community activity, with a premium on community contributions. To get top dollar, you will need to tick all of these boxes:

  • Have high-rated open-source libraries on GitHub.
  • Have a StackOverflow reputation over 20K.
  • Vendor-based code certifications, such as those from Oracle (Java) or Zend (Php)
  • Evidence of mastery in multiple languages. So, Ruby AND Erlang, not Erlang and maybe Ruby if you have to.
  • Published talks at conferences

If you don't have all those boxes ticked, you can still get paid. It just won't be enough to live on in most hot technical job-markets. The author is also very explicit in what they don't care about:

  • Cost-of-living. With fully remote work, location is elective. Want to make boatlads of cash? Move to the Montana prairie. You won't get more money by living in London.
  • Education. Masters, BA, BS, whatever. Don't care.
  • Past employment. Blah blah blah corporate blah.
  • Years of experience. I call bull on this one, since I'm dead certain that if they see "10 years of experience in Blah" this job-reviewer is going to look more critically on the lack of an auditable career than someone with 2 years.

Before long we're going to get a startup somewhere that will take evidence of all of the first list of bullet-points and distil it down to a Klout-like score.

One not-mentioned feature of this list is it means there are a variety of career suicide moves if more companies start adopting this method of pricing developer talent:

  • Working on closed-source software.
  • Working for a company that doesn't contribute to open source projects.
  • Working for a company that doesn't pay to present at conferences.
  • Working for a company that doesn't pay for continuing education.
  • Working for a company that has strict corporate communications rules, which prevent personal blogging on techical topics.
  • Working for a company with employment contracts that prohibit technical contributions to anything, anywhere that isn't the company (often hidden as the no-moonlighting rule in the employment contract).

Career suicide, all of it. I'm glad the systems engineering market is not nearly as prone to these forces.