The only thing programmers have to fear is... all of these things

From being outsourced to getting bored to hurting somebody with a bug, software developers find lots of things to worry about

bug-600x450_0.jpgImage credit: flickr/ThreeHeadedMonkey
The things that scares programmers the most? Bugs - the software variety, that is

Software developer is generally considered a pretty good job, and with good reason. The pay and the perks are good (and can be really good), the work is challenging (usually in a good way) and, given the current supply of and demand for programmers, it’s a pretty secure career. But all that, of course, doesn’t mean that developers don’t occasionally wake up in a cold sweat in fear of something bad happening at work.

What kinds of things are programmers most afraid of? Using an unscientific sample of responses from several threads in developer discussion forums, I’ve identified the biggest fears of software developers. Here, in reverse order of scariness (based on the number of responses and the number of votes each answer received), are the top five answers to the question, “What’s your biggest fear as a programmer?”

5. Incompetent management and coworkers

Nobody likes working with (or under) people they don’t consider competent. But such incompetence can make a developer’s life particularly painful, in lots of different ways.

Hearing the footsteps of overpaid marketing employees approaching with ridiculous off-the-charts interrupting pointless buzz-word filled demands that need "to be done asap"

Bruno Skvorc

Having to rewrite the whole system... again... in another language... using different toolsets/frameworks... all at once rather than in phases (replace one part, then the next)... because some upper level manager thinks their way is the best way and any other way is bad and needs to be replaced wholesale.


That I end up working with another developer who doesn't actually know what they're doing, but they believe their way is the best way. And that developer is actually above you in the chain of command, so you end up having to do things their way.


4. Being forced to learn or use a specific technology

Just as developers have their favorite programming languages, tools and technologies, they also have ones they don’t want to get anywhere near. 

That I might one day have to learn Java.


That I might have to program in COBOL.

Taylor Leese

That I have to go back to VB.NET from C# for the next project.... shudder


3. No longer liking my job

Everybody, regardless of career, wants to enjoy what s/he is doing. Developers are no different from most people in this respect, although dress code may factor in more to their job satisfaction than it does for most people.


Cory Thomas

That I might one day come to the conclusion that programming is just not for me. That's what really scares me.


That I might end up in a job where I had to wear a neck-tie.

Jerry Coffin

2. Losing my job

It’s no surprise that, despite the strong demand for developers, many programmers still fret over losing their jobs, though the potential reasons can vary greatly.



I fear the rise of closed programming environments - in particular Apple's iOS - and the anti-freedom business model and way of thinking they represent. It was bad enough trying to be a programmer when Microsoft could decide to destroy you through unfair practices like bundling, but the total control exercised so capriciously by Apple makes MS look like a kindly uncle.


Something Like: breaking my fingers, blind ... and can't write code anymore.


EMP - Electromagnetic-pulse 

There would be nothing left to program!

Kevin Ernest Long

1. Screwing up

The biggest fear of a programmers is simply creating a bug. Nobody wants to make a mistake at their job, but, given the variety of systems and applications that programmers can potentially work on, the ramifications of a poorly timed bug can range from annoying but innocuous to potentially life threatening. 

Breaking the build on a Friday night before you head out to grab drinks at 8 pm


i'm deathly afraid of a monetary loss due to a bug in my code.


That a bug of mine could cause physical harm to someone or something.


I always get a deep fear in the pit of my stomach just before I'm about to push anything I have built or anything I'm responsible for live. Regardless of how thoroughly I have tested it.


Keep this all in mind the next time you see a scared look in the eyes of a programmer. He or she could be sweating over a bug - or a change to the company’s dress code.

What about you? What’s your biggest fear as a programmer?

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

This story, "The only thing programmers have to fear is... all of these things" was originally published by ITworld.

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