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Do you call yourself a programmer, a developer, or a code monkey?

I personally prefer to say I am a developer.

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closed as not constructive by Anna Lear Jun 28 '11 at 5:09

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is it time to start accepting some answers? –  Chris Sep 15 '10 at 18:12
nope, not on this site. –  Ullallulloo Sep 30 '10 at 13:47
I am self learner.. :) –  Avinash Dec 27 '10 at 10:26
I have seen many more subjective questions get closed that were more relevant to the sites objective than this. No offense but how is this relevant to professional programmers. –  Ominus Jun 4 '11 at 2:47

32 Answers 32

up vote 49 down vote accepted

It really depends who I'm talking to.

I tell business people "I'm a software developer."

I tell technical people "I'm a web app developer."

I tell very non-technical people "I'm a programmer."

I list myself in online biographies as a programmer.

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+1 Agreed. It really depends on who asks. If you tell a non-technical person you are a developer, they generally respond with "developer of what?" –  Walter Sep 4 '10 at 12:04
I tell women that I am a Software Engineer (Doesn't work) –  user1827 Sep 15 '10 at 3:44
I don't use this exact mapping, but +1 for "it depends on the situation." When is that not the right answer, really? –  Pops Sep 30 '10 at 14:21
What are you talking about @M28? Every one knows smart people are sexy. @John MacIntyre your answer is spot on IMO. –  Nathan Taylor Oct 6 '10 at 16:24

Software developer, because plenty of what I do - architecture, testing, requirements management, etc. - isn't coding. I don't produce code, I produce software.

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If you don't produce code, you are no longer neither a "Software Developer" nor a "Programmer", but some sort of "Software Bureaucrat" (or, in my company speaking, a "blah-blah-man"). It's like a medical doctor that, instead of doing medicine, does administrative work in a hospital or in the Department of Health... –  Lorenzo Sep 4 '10 at 12:00
@lorenzo I do a lot of profiling and code analysis, in order to improve quality, especially performance-wise. I usually dont write code. I dont do any administrative work. I think "software developer" still fit as a general description of my job. –  Olivvv Sep 8 '10 at 22:27
@Lorenzo, I believe Fishtoaster was saying that producing code is part of producing software. He works on producing the whole, not just the part. –  Matt Olenik Sep 14 '10 at 1:06

I say I'm a software engineer. That was my job title at my last co-op, that's the degree I'm getting, and it's a concise way of saying the things that I have education and/or experience doing.

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I've got a CS degree, maybe I should start wearing a white lab coat and tell people I'm a SCIENTIST :D –  TWith2Sugars Sep 30 '10 at 14:26
in my experience non-tech people think you are IT support no matter what you say you do with computers –  jk. Jun 30 '11 at 12:19

I used to use the standard boring answer, "programmer" or "coder" or the like. I switched sometime in the last year.

Now, I tell people that I am a writer for a small local company. When they ask what I write, I tell them I write software.

Most people don't understand the process of software development. In a small company, we generally end up hitting the whole spectrum of software creation, and I think that "writing" is the best description for how we create usable software.

In the case where I know I'm talking to a geeky person, I just tell them that I "write software".

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Problem with I'm a writer is that it's misleading. It always calls or an explanation, and will often result in surprised faces ("oh, I thought..."). –  Tshepang Dec 10 '10 at 8:08

For most people over 60, I'm "in computers".

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I think I can see you when I open the CD tray ;) –  jk. Jun 30 '11 at 12:20
"You say you're a software developer? Ah, my nephew fixes computers at Best Buy. You two would probably get along" –  Dean Apr 19 '12 at 5:40

Usually I say "software developer", because it's my actual job title. (Never just "developer" except to other techies, since there are lots of industries where "developer" means something else entirely, e.g., real estate.)

Sometimes I say "programmer" or "computer programmer", especially if I'm talking to people who might not be familiar with the term "software developer".

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I state that I am a Software Engineer, and depending on the technical background of the person asking I further define the specialty as a C++ developer. And if they are developer's crack some programming jokes.

Which is also for some reason a really good way to see what level of developer they are :)

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I always try to be elusive just saying that I'm an employee: if I say that I'm a software developer everyone would ask me to fix their PC.

I try to explain that I'm not a PC technician and that I develop embedded software, but that doesn't stop people to bother about their slow computers and other silly question about PCs, e.g. recovering data from wiped or damaged HD or pendrive.

By the way, I'd like to call myself a code monkey, but unfortunately I always have too bad or lacking specification and design, so I'm forced to also think instead of just coding!

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I can imagine the scene. I guess most people (outside of sofware developers) think that software is synonymous of computer; they don't make a distinction between hardware, and software. They then don't understand that there is software in something that is not a computer (TV-tops, for example). –  kiamlaluno Sep 4 '10 at 15:59
this time I agree with you lorenzo. Usually I hide the whole programming thing. It would just kill the conversation. If I have to talk about what I do, I immediately mention that I know nothing about spyware and viruses –  Olivvv Sep 8 '10 at 22:31

Generally, I like to call myself a Software Craftsman.

From Manifesto for Software Craftsmanship:

As aspiring Software Craftsmen we are raising the bar of professional software development by practicing it and helping others learn the craft. Through this work we have come to value:

  • Not only working software, but also well-crafted software
  • Not only responding to change, but also steadily adding value
  • Not only individuals and interactions, but also a community of professionals
  • Not only customer collaboration, but also productive partnerships

That is, in pursuit of the items on the left we have found the items on the right to be indispensable.

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While more specific, it sure sounds cocky. –  Cory House Oct 15 '10 at 17:21
Only because we're better than everyone else. –  spong Oct 21 '10 at 3:19
You'd kill your chances with a girl if you said that to her. –  Click Upvote Jun 4 '11 at 2:13

I'm a software developer.

Then they normally follow up with a nod that says that means I can't fix their virus ridden Windows 98 machine. Which is the goal.

I'm talking to peers I will say I normally do Java / PHP development, server side applications, and then just because I can I'll throw a buzzword laden sentence at them.

I normally use MongoDB and Node.js to communicate through WebSockets and HTML5 to draw Canvas graphs indicating the time of day in seconds since epoch; but I would love to be using Redis to support Web 2.0 dynamic based sites in jQuery and CSS.

That normally gets a good laugh.

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To most people I simply say I'm a programmer. Sometimes I say I'm a Software Developer/Software Engineer (which is my actual job designation where I work) when the person I'm saying this to isn't a programmer himself.

I prefer using the term programmer. That word basically covers everything I do, including architecture, testing etc. - and emphasizes the most important part. I've actually been using the word even when I was a student and only programmed for fun.

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For fun with other software engineers I know I tend to go with "Code Poet"! (We had a long running joke/debate in our office about whether we were Code Poets or Code Ninjas. I think in the end we were all losers ;)).

And for marketing... Blue-sky-solutioneer, because they're mental and like made up nonsense titles. That last one is a joke. Honest.

For most people I simply go with Software Engineer, occasionally Software Designer - I never use Programmer or Developer.

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Sometime I tell people who are not that okay with computing at all, that I'm a chicken sexer. It's easier explaining that than explaining what I really do.

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I just say what I do (which tends to change from time to time).

By the way, programming is not what you do, it's how you do it :)

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Software Developer unless I'm speaking to someone completely non technical (eg. a friend of my Mum's) where I'll call myself a Computer Programmer.

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Director of Animal Husbandry


Controller of the daemons of stupidity

Because thats what my job seems like 99% of the time.

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IT Consultant

It's an upgrade from Code Monkey, that's for sure.

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To non-technical people in non-professional settings I usually say
I'm a professional geek.
It gets a laugh and follow ups like: what does that mean?
Works great with the girls too :))

For non-technical professionals I say I'm a programmer or developer. I explain more if the person I talk to wants to know more.

For IT professionals I say I'm a .NET and database developer and Microsoft MVP. Usually they know what that means :)

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I say "programmer," because I can't write a GUI that's worth anything.

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If talking to a non technical person, I just tell them I do 'computer stuff' or I 'work with computers', that'sall they can understand anyway and its the easiest way to explain to a layman.

To others I say I'm a progammer.

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At my current work place I say 'Software Engineer', because the word 'Engineer' carries a bit more weight than 'Developer' or 'Programmer'.

To a lay person I say 'IT Guy', just cause it's a bit more unique way of saying it, and hopefully doesn't have the nerdy connotations of 'Computer Programmer'.

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Software Engineer.

There's a lot of different titles with different connotations. Software Engineer is the one that I think conveys the most professional meaning.

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I usually tell people that I'm a developer, and then explains them what my speciality is...like at the moment GIS (which makes everybody look weird cause they have no clue what it is).

One thing I stay away from is my "educational" title cause that doesn't mean a thing to me. It's more important for me to tell people that I working in solutions that gloating over a fancy pancy title (which I ofcourse don't have and don't want). When ever I've been at places where I've gotten businesscards I've always told them to make them say developer :)

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I ask them if they've ever seen the movie office space? They say, yea that movie is hilarious - to which I reply, that's my life in the form of satire.

I've also given the answer code monkey

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Developer of excellent software. No one needs to know what it does!

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To the technically oriented people I usually say I'm a coder. For others or in semi-official situations I say I'm a Software Designer.

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I say I'm an embedded firmware developer. Then I briefly explain what that means, by giving examples of ordinary devices that have microcontrollers in them (e.g. microwave oven, automobile cruise control, DVR etc.).

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It depends on the audience.

My official title is "Software Design Engineer".

My 'net title is "Pixel-Stained Technopeasant".

I usually use something with a formality level between those two. The more technical the person, the less formal the title.

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Software engineer.

Most of the big wins I've had are to do with not writing software - either advising not to start projects which are too far from the company's core discipline, ensuring good source control and automated testing praxis, preventing duplication with cross-team buddies, or doing clever stuff with generative programming.

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