Net Negative Programmer

At more than one job, I’ve worked with programmers whose efforts were consistently flawed enough that others had to spend as much or more effort correcting them. Whatever code they wrote, settings they changed, or documentation they created, it was wrong in some way, and required another programmer to come and correct or revert. Some enhancement they spent three or four hours on meant someone else spending a half day or more to understand and correct. Disclaimer: I was almost certainly in that category at one time or another in my career.

When a programmer’s contributions result in total programmer hours spent with no net improvement or added functionality, they are a drag on the project and a net negative for productivity.

If a project’s code looks like this before the net negative programmer starts:

It looks like this when they have completed their work.

By Cecilia Giménez -, Fair use,

In my individual contributor days, I could only try to find ways to persuade my manager that there was a problem. When I’ve had more senior roles I’ve always preferred to work with a person. I tried to find something that would be interesting and challenging to them that added value to the company. I’m humble enough that I don’t claim to have never been, if not a net negative, somewhat of a drag to a team. I would hope in that situation the team and management would see enough potential to point me in a productive direction.

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