Forgive my rather cynical take on this, but it would seem that much of the hyper-competitiveness comes from a small section of the community and is primarily oriented towards young people who simply don't know any better. Some of the folks who hire these young people take advantage of their willingness to work for free when the work is posed as a competition instead of simply being presented as a straightforward labor proposition.
If you can get the less perceptive ones to duke it out amongst themselves, then maybe nobody will pay attention to the fact that you're basically running wild with the fruits of their labor.
Competition also solves a challenging hiring problem. What do you do when you yourself aren't technical and therefore lack the skills that would be required to evaluate technical talent?
Simple. Just create a totally arbitrary contest and see who shows up. The group will have self-selected into people who fit the following "desirable" characteristics.
Willingness to follow orders without questioning where they came from or why we're doing any of this.
Willingness to work for free
Willingness to sacrifice personal time, sleep, and health
It's also pretty clear that this sort of thing doesn't only happen in the software field. Look at doctors, lawyers, college professors, pretty much any sort of high-status job is naturally hyper competitive in this way.
I am of the view that we are in the late cycle of an education bubble that is certain to pop when people come down to Earth and realize they're throwing their lives away on college, contests, and extracurricular activities they don't care about but do just to pad a resume.
I don't think software is actually all that competitive, especially when you compare it to academia or law school.
I mean seriously, would any of you like to go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt only to find yourself slowly paying down that debt for the rest of your lives? How about elbowing your way past everyone and their mother who wants to teach philosophy at a University for $30K a year?
We're the lucky ones! We're currently in a job market where there's more demand for our skills than supply. Sure we have these silly hackathons and a few weird people who take things a little too seriously, but my God, there's cash just flying out of everyone's orifices right now and all you have to do is show up and deal with the incompetence to grab some.
Besides, nobody really likes snotty persnickety hyper-competitive d-bags anyway. They eventually get cut because they're too difficult to work with.
For the rest of us, it's a party. We get to consider things like early retirement and remote work. I live at the base of a goddamned ski resort and take runs before my standup meeting which I plan to, at some point, do over Skype while hitting a jump and going upside-down.
The solution is simple. Just ignore the competitions and all this "10x" nonsense. The free market is already taking care of that problem.
So long as there are enough IT messes to clean up, rest assured that there will be a wide range of developers, from stellar ones to folks drooling in the corner with their Swingline staplers, grabbing cash as it practically bursts from the floorboards.
You can choose to be either. It's not as if the ones doing the hiring can tell the difference anyway.
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