Saturday, 10 March 2012

Programmer type and self-evaluated expertise

Venn diagram of programmer types
(thanks Democratic
In November 2011, Reddit r/programming was asked to indicate their "level of general programming expertise". Additionally, they were asked to characterize themselves according to seven different programmer types as shown in the figure on the right.

The expertise scale used a five point scale ranging from "novice" (assigned the value 1) to "expert" (assigned the value of 5). The results of the survey are shown in the table on the right. For each table cell, three values are reported:
  • number of responses
  • expected number of responses
  • observed - expected number of responses
Self estimated programming skill according to
the seven different types of programmers
In general, the socially inept, the dorks, and, to some extent, the dweebs estimate their programming expertise skill as lower than the other types of programmers. However, as can be seen from the "Total" column, there are very few responses for the socially inept, dork and obsessed categories.

The overall mean for all seven groups is 3.5. This is midway between the middle and the next highest category of expertise. However,  the (arithmetic) mean is somewhat inappropriate to use as the central tendency (i.e., "average") because the scale used to rate expertise is ordinal rather than interval.

Nevertheless, there seems to be a tendency that intelligence and obsession both contribute to higher self ratings of programming expertise skill.


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