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    Sun Microsystems tries to sell Brendan Gregg’s own software back to him, with the GPL and author credit stripped (circa 2005).

    Great article.

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      Hey, spoiler alert missing ;)

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        I think we should have a spoiler tag

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          Or maybe just add the TLDR acronym

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          Of course by replying we help keep this comment at the top. (I’m doing it as well, argh.)

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        One non-technical aspect of the post I found interesting is the discussion of the difference in introduction styles between the US and Australia. As a non-US person I always feel rather uncomfortable with some US expectations about how we present people (at some point you are asked for a “short bio” and you are supposed to write in the third person that you are an award-winning this or that). I’m not sure I buy the idea that a more forceful introduction would have made a conversation about Sun stealing someone’s copyright much easier, but it’s interesting to see a positive aspect of “boastful” introductions highlighted here.

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          As a US person, I feel uncomfortable with the whole “I have to make myself sound like the most important person in the room” vibe. Updating my resume to add accomplishments is pure horror for me.

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            Thanks! Your experience reminds us that even in the US there are people who are not comfortable with this norm. (Maybe even most people? But it’s the norm so people strive to adapt themselves to the norm.) It’s also interesting to be reminded than other places have a different norm, and that even though many people feel more comfortable with those different norms they also have occasional downsides.

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              The pessimist’s answer is that this advice feels like it’s for people in like, sales positions without morals. You know, sociopaths. (As someone who does talk to people in a sales capacity at times, I try to be honest with who I am and never try to “peacock”.)

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                Or, to take a more useful framing, subcultures generally require less boasting when skills are easy to examine. Engineers can quickly assess each other’s skill levels (or, at least, they believe they can), so it makes sense for engineers to let their own abilities speak for them. What makes someone successful in sales and marketing is far more ineffable and not easily demonstrated at will. The culture therefore depends on people presenting their credentials directly in order for the group to negotiate consensus on who actually knows their stuff.

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                  Engineers can quickly assess each other’s skill levels (or, at least, they believe they can)

                  Do they though? I seem to see at least a popular post every week about how software engineering interviewing is broken and then most people agree this is a hard problem. And this isn’t even getting into sourcing and evaluating quickly if a profile is even worth interviewing.

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                    Yes, thus my parenthetical.

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            Writing about myself in the third person is torturous. For some reason it feels really dishonest to bring up your own skills and accomplishments, even when it is the truth. If you didn’t have impostor syndrome before, you will now!

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              What I think at such a time is: “What even are the skills and accomplishments that I could mention that aren’t just boring run-of-the mill things many people mention? I mean, I’ve done some things I thought were nice and that not everyone could do, but I also think many people can do, or have done, similar things. Judging otherwise would require knowing otherwise and I just don’t. I may believe I’m in the top few % of software developers, but that’s still a huge number of people and I don’t believe I’m extraordinary at anything to mention it.”

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                If you’ve done something genuinely useful it doesn’t matter if other people have done similar things. You’re not looking to show that you’re better than them, you’re looking to show that you’re among them, that you’ve made some contribution. And… “there are many like it, but this one is mine.”

                Some of the things I could mention include having a patch in a certain well-known open-source project, being a guest on a particular podcast, or being a technical reviewer for a book. None of those are earth-shattering, they’re all things that lots of people have done before me, but by mentioning them, I show that I’m engaged, and by saying which project, which book, which podcast, I tell people something about me and where my interests lie. Pretty simple, really.

                And if you don’t have anything you want to highlight, you can just go with “Confusion has been writing software since $YEAR and currently works on $THING for $EMPLOYER” and leave it at that.

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              I think of this more as a difference between business/sales culture and engineering culture. Business/sales is about hyping yourself up front, and engineering is about setting realistic low expectations and showing your skills through example. I think this is even true (especially true?) here in the US. I know I take it as a very strong warning sign if anyone touts their own accomplishments before I really know them.

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              A comment on the US vs Australian styles: I hate boasting, but I also hate false modesty.

              If I’m talking to the author of kubernetes networking about networking, I hope they don’t just say “oh yeah I’ve worked with that a bit” because that’s not very helpful. It’s almost more arrogant because it feels like they are assuming that I should just know them and their accomplishments already.