Cover image for Confession Time

Confession Time

shindakun profile image Steve Layton ・2 min read

So The Thing Is

I have a confession to make. This will just be between us, right? It turns out that I'm a fake developer! Strangely I was thinking about this topic right before I saw this on my feed...

Which was prompted by @badrecordlength 's original post...

What Is Developer

Unlike someone like @ben who is an actual "developer" 😜 I, typically, am not shipping code in my day to day work. Not that all developers ship code every day. Sure, I've written code that's been deployed on servers around the globe. But, I still think that's kind of a fluke.


I've never been employed as a developer - so I'm a fake developer! Like many people, I sometimes struggle with imposter syndrome. Which is likely what keeps me personally from trying to make a go of actually going for a proper development job. Well, that and the fact that I can't stand the thought of struggling through a whiteboard interview. Such an awful process. πŸ˜… Instead, I stick to my hobby programming and allow my attention to dictate projects - in the grand ADHD fashion of focusing hard on one for a while, then abandoning it when something else catches in my head.

Does It Matter

"Developer" is just a word. We have a number of terms for people who write code: coder, programmer, hacker, code monkey, etc. I like to think I fall somewhere in the hack/coder category (yes a hack, not a hacker). I've written code in a dozen or so languages and can generally get what I want to compile to compile - and work! I wouldn't call myself an expert in those languages and would be hard pressed to write anything in say Pascal today but I made it work.

For more on overcoming imposter syndrome see https://hbr.org/2008/05/overcoming-imposter-syndrome.

Wrapping Up

I generally don't overshare when posting so, this is kind of an odd topic to write about. Imposter syndrome can sometimes feel brutal and lead to varying forms of self-deprecation. Small examples of this litter this post as a matter of fact. Just remember to not be too hard on yourself. After all, you aren't alone, lots of people have gone through the same thing. Just look at how often it comes up here.

Anyway, thanks for reading my ramblings if you've made it this far. Next week, we'll see which Go project my brain takes us too next.

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shindakun profile

Steve Layton


I've been known to write some code from time to time.


markdown guide

I, typically, am not shipping code in my day to day work.

Having a DEV profile counts for something though, right? If you hang out on DEV, you're probably a dev. πŸ˜‹


That's what I like to tell myself. I've got the t-shirt after all so it must be true! πŸ€—


lol. there's a t-shirt?! I wanna be a dev too!

Sometimes it seems the only way to truly be a dev is to have swag lol.


This is exactly what a dev would say.

Developers have kind of become hung up on how developer-y they can appear but it must means make/create really. As you said, it's just a word.

I know someone who writes one audited line a month & someone else who only pastes. Good devs are the ones that get the results needed, otherwise it is a badge.


I'm not really hung up on looking the part. But it would be nice if I could be more of one. I do "code" more frequently than I sometimes remember, but it's almost always vanilla CSS (I work on WordPress websites primarily).

On the plus side, even though I don't really feel like a developer, I know CSS much better now than I thought I would (though I generally don't do anything complicated).


Make a site about a topic you like on the side, code any parts you want.

CSS is very handy & will grow in power. πŸ‘πŸ”₯

Lol and here I am trying to move to Tailwind so I can focus more on building...

I suppose you could be right. I see a lot of people make really neat things with CSS. But I'm not actually design-oriented, so using CSS all the time is kind of boring to me.

I suppose it doesn't matter what you use to make something, as long as your having a good time. Tailwind looks pretty cool, haven't actually used it for anything yet though.

Tailwind does make putting a UI together simpler.

If you do use it, definitely use it with Purgecss though. It gives you a ton of utility classes by defaultβ€”color utilities for text, backgrounds, and borders; responsive variant utilities for pretty much everything... Using Purgecss when building your production CSS shrinks it to an unbelievably small size.


Good devs are the ones that get the results needed

By this measure, I'm doing gangbusters work. It's a good point for everyone to remember I think.



It's the only real measure. The rest is glitter.

Does the parking ticket machine work or not?


This may sound elementary but hear me out. The word developer means (as a noun) one who develops. Develop means, among other things, to start or to improve. If you start to build or improve on your own or someone else's social skills or a social project one might say you work in social development. If you were to write software (or even take other written code and combine it) I would say it's appropriate to call yourself a software developer.

What most people are asking when they ask "am I a developer?" Is really "would a large enough body of people who know or become aware of my work, work being the tasks I perform for money or not, and the details of my work consider me a developer or at the least approve of my use of the word developer when describing myself?" The answer to that question is always "who cares". If you are focusing on getting a job than I would say you should care but only in so far as it lands you the job.

Be honest about where you are at however or the job won't be a good fit (good advice for any profession) but you should rise above the need of others approval of what you call yourself and call yourself a pink elephant if you want.

I'm considered a developer in the classical sense however I find it to be a reductionist point of view because as I see it writing code is the least amount of work I do, designing or finding solutions being the most. When you are looking for developer work what businesses are really looking for are people who can think critically and solve problems not an expert code writer.


Very well put, thank you, nice of you to add it to each of the posts. πŸ˜‰ You are correct there is very much a "who cares" element that should be remembered. I think part of the point of the post, at least for me, was to kind of step out of the "shadow" of the word if that makes any sense. And hopefully maybe even spark others to do the same. There is a wide range of aspects to "development", it simply doesn't due to get hung up on that one word.

And now I kind of wish there was a pink 🐘 emoji?


We're all fake developers, there are no real ones anymore. Legend says there was once a real developer, he was called The One, but he got lost in the matrix, and the path to becoming a real Developer got lost with him.


Great post, I totally agree about developer just being a word and the bar being imaginary, probably more important to ourselves than anyone else. I suppose the developer badge is in some ways both a blessing and a curse, it's always nice to feel part of a community, but it's also all too easy to get caught up in chasing a nebulous metric of success or self-worth.


all too easy to get caught up in chasing a nebulous metric of success or self-worth

We all have our "likes", "hearts", "stars", etc to chase! Lol. Remembering that those things don't mean much, in the end, is key.

Anyway, if we enjoy writing code, does it matter what we're called? I don't think so.


Man this post has made feel like I belong again, sometimes I just wonder if my cs degree is a fraud cause I Google too much πŸ˜…πŸ˜…πŸ˜…


Hah. I don't think anyone should ever feel bad for having to Google something.


β€œThe fundamental cause of the trouble in the modern world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
β€”Bertrand Russell.

What I've found is that the elusive "developer" is a bar I had defined it for myself when I started and also a bar that was set when I hadn't met it yet. As I level up, so too did that bar.

On the other end of the spectrum is Dunning-Krueger. It's a tricky thing, getting it right.


One day I hope to walk that path between imposter syndrome and D.K., for now, though I'll be chipping away one post at a time.


This post is exactly what I needed. I live in a part of the country where React and .NET are king and I have a decade's worth of experience in Python back end performance and optimization. I had to leave my last 9-5 code job due to illness a few years ago and am just now trying to find a new one and it has been hell. The imposter syndrome has been SO REAL and I feel like I'm either over the hill, or was never that good to begin with and I'm not even 30. Thank you thank you thank you for this post (and the comments that say "who cares what meaningless shiny things are attached to an online profile somewhere") because I've needed a boost to keep from outright quitting. Thank you so much!


I am equally terrified of white board interviews. Has anyone looked into interviewing with Google? They have this whole packet of stuff one should know for the white board session. It's nauseating. I just wanna be a little entry level so I can learn more since I learn best on the job. I forgot BigO Notation shortly after final exams back in the day, lol. I don't want to be a backend dev anyways.


Yes, it feels like so, but if that's your stance, lower your hourly rates, ask less money for certain features / projects, demean yourself entirely, since, apparently, you are not a developer.
It certainly can be that some days you either are not productive, have many meetings, but guess what - you get home, you are not restrained from doing your shit. Sometimes I feel jittery to just go home and get back onto some coding to polish some stuff I yet don't feel confident with or learn something new and code up something good.
This just seems a bit too much like asking for permission to do shit.