Explain programming concepts to them, making liberal use of the words “trivial” and “easy”. This will reassure them that you know your stuff.

Adopt a new motto: “there are no smart questions”. Take any request for clarification as an opportunity to remind all the lurkers that there are some things everyone should be expected to already know.

To avoid coming across as condescending, leave out of your explanations the stuff that everyone already knows.

Give lots of constructive criticism! For instance, consider reminding a beginner that the programming language they’re currently using is shit.

Start a flamewar in the comments of the thread where a beginner is showing off their first open source project – the less relevant to the project itself, the better. This will help teach them how to handle disputes.

Pick apart a beginner’s comments to find spelling and grammar errors, then point these errors out to them. For best results, remind them that no one will take them seriously if they can’t even speak proper English.

Avoid gendered language. Make exclusive use of the neutral pronouns “he” and “him” when referring to individuals of unspecified gender – you don’t want to give anyone the impression that programming is a gendered activity!

If accused of insensitivity, squash the challenge to your authority by doubling down. Make it clear to the PC Police that you’ll have nothing to do with this newfangled “social justice” crap, nor with the advanced form of Cultural Marxism known to the thin-skinned and weak-minded as “having feelings”.

Write a monad tutorial.

Write a lengthy rebuttal of someone else’s monad tutorial.

Make snarky jokes about monad tutorials.

Remind a beginner that real programmers use Vim. If they say they prefer a different editor, ask them what they will do if they ever have to edit a file remotely over SSH.

Point out that their idea has been done before, in Smalltalk, in the 1980s. Consider initiating a flamewar with the person who points out that it was also done in Lisp in the 1970s.

Under no circumstances lie to beginners about the difficulties you encountered when learning to program. If they catch you making the obviously false claim that you yourself once found some aspect of programming confusing, they will instantaneously lose all respect for you.

Flash back in time twenty years. Spend five years honing your skills amidst a culture of cliquish one-upmanship. Spend five years learning how to win arguments through your superior knowledge of obscure incantations, reveling in the feeling that you are different from and somehow better than all the teeming hordes of the mundane. Spend five years memorizing the semantics of this in JavaScript. Spend five years drinking to the memory of our once-proud civilization, of days gone by.

Surrender. The machines have won. It is all over for us. Resistance is futile.

Sit in a holding cell, awaiting the tribunal for crimes against the virtual. Sleep occasionally, far more frequently than you ever did back then. Resign yourself at last to your fate. Feel yourself enveloped by a deep inner tranquility, unlike anything you’ve ever known.

After enlightenment: write one last monad tutorial, conduct one last flamewar with the Perl hacker imprisoned in the cell across the hall.


Affording Play is an irregularly updated blog by Max Kreminski about humans, computers, creativity, and play.