How To Be A Real Elite Programmer And Make Sure Everybody Knows It


  1. Real elite programmers can't have distractions like kids and spouses in their life. Cut your family out of your life to maximize coding time. While you're there cut your friends out as well to maximize coding time even more.
  2. Real elite programmers don't have hobbies that aren't coding. If you still engage in activities that don't involve a computer, this will have to change. If you find yourself burning out, just man-up and push through it.
  3. Real elite programmers do their best work at night. Sleep is for wussies.
  4. Real elite programmers hate their day job. Otherwise they would have nothing to complain about to other real elite programmers.
  5. Real elite programmers eat pizza and drink Dr. Pepper. No other food is allowed, if you have fruit and vegetables in the house, they will have to go – stick to the diet of champions.
  6. Real elite programmers don't read about programming, they DO the programming. Don't bother with books, just keep programming. Remember, you know best, those book-writing wimps are just a bunch of noobs, they should have been coding instead of writing, you're way better than that.
  7. Real elite programmers are always right. This makes sense since everyone else is just a stupid noob.
  8. Real elite programmers already know everything that is worth knowing. All the other knowledge is useless and only noobs would be interested in it.
  9. Real elite programmers do not acknowledge anyone who is not a real elite programmer.
  10. Real elite programmers know when to say "RTFM" in response to a question. This is a good answer to any question – noobs should know better than to ask stupid questions in the first place.
  11. Real elite programmers are on social media. This is allowed, since it involves a computer. It is infact their duty since there are so many people on social media who need to be corrected about all things programming.
  12. Real elite programmers complain loudly about the lack of in-depth programming content on social media. They are however too elite to provide this content.
  13. Real elite programmers know when to say "TL;DR" in response to any in-depth programming content on social media.
  14. Real elite programmers are particularly offended by minor inconsistencies in grammar, punctuation, colour schemes as well as any other subjective stylistic choices.
  15. Real elite programmers never create any code for others to use. They have already told everyone they are awesome; there is no need to prove it.
  16. Real elite programmers know how to put argumentative noobs in their place. Stupid noobs must be told they are stupid and ugly if they have the audacity to question elite wisdom.
  17. Real elite programmers condescend to anyone who is not interested in whatever the real elite programmer is currently interested in.
  18. Real elite programmers particularly despise non-programmers, they are worse than stupid noobs.
  19. Real elite programmers use the most complicated and roundabout techniques to explain simple concepts. All must know how smart the real elite programmer is.

I do hope you realise I am being facetious here. However, there is a grain of truth in every joke. I have seen instances of this type of behaviour and have been guilty of engaging in some of it myself from time to time – you probably have as well. Just something to watch out for.

Image by Amarand Agasi

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  • JP

    TL;DR =)

  • TL;DR

  • LOL, but I don’t agree on point 19. Actually, quite the opposite. I see one colleague of mine answering just too simple. BTW, I think this list will go on my wall soon.

    • Haha, well that’s just no good enough, he’s not sufficiently elite yet :).

  • I’m not an elite programmer… Not completely at least :)

    I sleep at night and eat fruit, but I am on social media, always right and offended by minor inconsistencies in grammar.

    • Haha, you’re almost there man, kick those fruit to the curb :).

  • ret

    Agree with everything but number 6; reading is core

    • I think so too, and yet so many people seem to disagree with me :).

  • Warren Moore

    I disagree with point #14. The elite programmers that I’ve met, who satisfy so many of these requirements, are often atrocious at following even the most basic tenets of color theory and application of design flourishes. Perhaps you should mention the fact that the true elite programmer knows that his text editor of choice is the only one worth using, and that anyone who could stand to use [vi|emacs|nano|an IDE] must be no better trained than the average chimpanzee.

    • Hey Warren,

      Yea that’s a good one too, and you’re right about having no eye for color theory and yet it doesn’t stop people from having an opinion on it :).

  • Viktor Skarlatov

    I seem to have way too many of those symptoms :)

    • Those are just the ones I came up with on the spot, there are probably many more :).

  • Muhammad Ghazali

    Hoho, this very cool article, LOL. Its all good, but I think as an elite programmers they need to read a books too.

  • Muhammad Ghazali

    LOL, this very cool article! Its all good, but I think as an elite programmers they need to read a books too. Great job Alan! :)

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  • Charles

    Excellent points, except the nerdiest programmers oftentimes exhibit the worst spelling and grammar skills.

  • Going to use this as a screening tool for any new applicants we look to hire, from one elite programmer to one who is probably not as good as me, thanks!

  • Amey Parulekar

    Awesome list, I’ve come across #6 time and again! [thank god I’m not an elite programmer ;) ]

  • TL;DR =)

    20. Real Elite programmers spend their romantic Saturday nights with a bottle of crisco, a paper towel, and a copy of Information Week.

  • Great blog man, thanks for all your posts. :)

  • 21. real elite programmers have a secret soft spot for asian girls

  • hmmm I’m an elite programmer I’m in a social media :D

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  • Ollie

    This article reminded me of one I wrote recently; I bet you have encountered someone *very* elite…

  • Henrik

    This sounds just like Ulrich Drepper

  • siva

    very good one

  • lol.

  • Good Post .

    I have a question … Do real elite programmers write Blog too ?? :-)

    • Haha, real elite programmers, code blogs, they don’t write ’em :)

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  • James Smith

    Sounds like Jon Skeet.

  • Rachel Orrell

    I greatly appreciate the comic relief. We programmers have a habit of being too serious; that’s why we need things like this (and also lolcode!).

  • @ret : Or, as the saying goes: A week in the lab might easily save you an hour in the library : )

  • “Those book-writing wimps are just a bunch of noobs, they should have been coding instead of writing,”

    i thought it was just hard to find good books. perhaps this explains it though. :P

    Perhaps Erin Catto will write a book about the math and techniques behind Box2D Physics Engine, probably too busy coding though.

  • Very nice way to convince the programmers i realy appreciate ….I am aggre with the policies and conditions that are applied to them to become an elite programmer .and they are must to become a successful programmer

  • Jakob

    Hahah. I guess i’m out =((.

  • On 19 point I would say, real elite programmers explains in simple manner to the naive (other than RTFM) else they out crazy discussing for hours.

    I like the post Alan! :)

  • + Real Elite Programmers always crack jokes in weird technical terms.
    bad one : hiccups as Event Observer done by stomach when some food is inserted :P

  • What about coffee…you can’t be a true 31337 without drinking 4-5 mugs of coffee per day.

  • KOOl post … I will make myself following them …again , nice post.

  • Pavel

    Some unclear topics:
    – Can you have girlfriend if you use it only for cooking pizza and coffee (more time for coding)?
    – Is vacation allowed if you spend it in room above pizza restaurant with internet connection?
    – Can you clean your house?
    – Is owning more than one T-Shirt allowed?
    – How many T-Shirts you can have in one year (washing closes is waste of time)?

    • Haha, yeah further clarification is definitely in order.

  • David

    Real Elite Programmers zero index their lists! 1-19? What the hell is that?

    • Haha, unless you’re using Pascal, but generally you’re right, if it’s good enough for Dijkstra it’s good enough for everyone else :).

  • Nice you could not have said it better. Yea the life of a loaner is what most Elite Programmers live!

  • I’m not elite just yet, but I still find myself struggling with point 18 , especially when i have to work in same room with them and ‘them’ usually happen to be testers(QA). Testers without coding background will never be great testers anyway.

  • Real elite programmers 0-index their lists :)

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  • real elite programmers write their blogs in assembly!

    • Anon

      Brilliant :P

    • Echnaal

      Real elite programmers, comment in assembly that the blogger should have blogged in assembly :D

  • take2

    real elite programmers know your code is disturbingly bad……..

  • 王威

    Cut your family out of your life to maximize coding time. It’s so boring. I will not become an elite programmer.

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  • Curiosity

    unhelpful and distorting post about programmer. I can’t believe this crap is on the top of the google search. If you were looking for serious advice, go and type ‘how to become a hacker’ and read the advice from Raymond.