eliminate facebook

On Leaving Facebook | Hacker News

On Leaving Facebook | Hacker News

“A common question I get is about work/life balance. And I view it a little different too now. At Facebook I could get by barely working a few hours a day. But the job was so unsatisfying that it spilled the frustration in the “life” part”

This is the golden piece for me. I too recently left a big corp to a smaller place, expecting to sacrifice WLB and my free time – yet I ended up feeling happier and spending less time consuming short-form online contents, to the point that I even have more free time now! It never occurred to me that my self-indulging online addiction is actually a coping mechanism towards the unsatisfying and meaningless daily job.

I once had a job where I somehow didn’t get assigned much work for a long period of time right after starting — something about no projects having open staff positions, and them not being able to use me anyway because they were using up all the budget with the existing staffing already and didn’t want to do “free work” for the clients.

For a while, I spent my days mostly doing tutorials, reading ebooks and papers, watching lectures, …

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an incredible luxury to get a consistent salary and be able to do that! But the thing is, you can’t help but feel utterly useless after a while. It’s especially bad if everyone else has their projects, so you also don’t really feel like part of a team.

I joined a FAANG during the pendemic, and for the entire year I was there, I never got assigned a single task. Of course I kept myself busy trying to identify and solve problems around me, but I never had a deadline or anything associated with what I had chosen to work on. After a year I just couldn’t do it anymore. A few acquaintances thought I was out of my mind and that I should continue milking that for all it’s worth, but there’s just something that makes me need to feel like someone else actually cares about what I do (or don’t) do.

What you feel is the “Competence” part of core motivation according to deci & ryan “self determination theory”. Their original paper is from 2008 i believe and states people need the perceived Autonomy to choose their life, perceived Competence over that choice and the perceived Relatedness that others respect and encourage your activity of choice.

So it’s very understandable that if 1 of 3 is missing your psyche becomes strained.

I used to study this theory as part of my game design interests and found it extremely useful to analyse a lot of stuff from your own situation to a game or even customer experience. Just be aware of the word perceived here… allowing the theory to be used for dark patterns.

SDT’s from the 70’s, not 2008. However, in 2009 Daniel Pink published a book that seems to basically neatly package up SDT in a much more directly consumable way, maybe that’s where your timeframe is coming from? I actually think Pink’s take has some insight but it’s not very scientifically oriented.

As another person who left a FAANG company because I found the work meaningless, I can assure you that what you were feeling is real and you probably made the right choice. My life is significantly more enjoyable now that I’ve joined a smaller company where the job actually motivates me.

For what it’s worth, almost everyone I talked to before leaving had the same take as what you described—that I should do the safe thing and just keep working there because the pay was high and it was relatively easy. I thought I was going crazy, because it seemed so obvious to me that I needed to move on.

Human beings are just animals and we have a set of needs. Beyond physical needs like air, water, food, we have emotional needs. Those are things like the need to be seen, to be valued, to be among a community of our peers, and to have productive work to do for the benefit of that community.

Sounds like you had plenty of chance to fulfil your needs for free time, and the ability to pursue your own curiosity and carry out intellectual inquiry. Which is definitely nice, and which most people lack the time and space to do (I imagine friends and family telling you that it sounds like a dream job, etc.).

But I think anyone who has been in that situation knows that after a while, it’s kind of a nightmare 🙂

I went through a period like that, I wish my manager had put some boundary (even admittedly artificial) around how long it would be, that it was going to be OK, and help me set some soft goal for that time. It would’ve made the exact same activities feel dramatically nicer.

Been there too. It felt a little paradoxical at first. It’s like a gift! But you really do start feeling really shitty about yourself because you know you’re useless.

David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs has a good analysis of this. Standard capitalist theory is that people are lazy and will not work unless force to do so by threat of immiseration. But in reality people HATE bullshit jobs where you spend the day playing solitaire or whatever. People don’t want to burn themselves out but they do want to feel helpful. Good management is about helping people realize their natural desire to help out.

> At Facebook I could get by barely working a few hours a day. But the job was so unsatisfying

This is a little too first world. if the work were too sparse and wants more work, why not join interview loops or take classes/training, attend talks? Does Meta not have those options?

The frustration feels almost artificial, if one does not want to get more work, then maybe just go boating or mountain biking. Watch some sports and play video games.

It doesn’t work like that. You have to be “on” even if you aren’t working. That means you feel like you can’t commit to anything substantial since you feel like you should be working. Fucking off on the internet is a coping mechanism to numb the pain of being in this limbo where you aren’t working; but, feel like you should be working because you are getting paid a lot. In retrospect it’s easy to see that there’s this spare time available to do other things; but, when you are in it, it’s not obvious where the boundary is between this extra time and where the work time should be. I know it sounds like a first world problem; but, it actually feels really awful to be in this spot because you can’t even admit you are there to anyone without feeling like a slacker/loser/failure/time-thief, a torturous trap.

And even if you can manage to find things to do to occupy the time and appear busy, you’ll be lucky if management considers the importance of your work and schedule it with the rest of your workload. One too many times have I had to find something to do and spend weeks or months on that thing only to have management tell me to immediately stop working on it even though that thing was actually important. This may not seem different from just being “on”, but I find that having real work be tossed in the garbage is even more demoralizing than milling around and not really doing anything.

I’m on the part of my career journey where I’ve realized you’re _JUST_ exchanging time for money. They want you to work on something that gets thrown away? It paid for the mortgage, it made a car payment, it’s thrown away JUST like 99.9% of the stuff I did for the first 10 years of my career.

It’s GOING to happen, best not to get too caught up in it.

Going into SIEM build #8 in my life….it’s just another SIEM. I take my enjoyment in the people, the compensation is adequate, it’s contributing to a retirement that’s getting nearer and more comfortable all the time. I try not to get too hung up on the work product.

I really find interesting the juxtaposition here.

On the one hand, if the person is not given productive work to do and decides to just go for a jog then they must be racked by guilt for being a slacker, like GP.

But if our organisations are diverting people’s productive energy into unproductive waste, they need not feel any guilt about it at all since it is absolutely self-evident that this is the best and most productive of all possible economic systems.

In the first case, you are maladjusted because you are performing self-punishment to appease feelings of guilt about failing to live up to your own ideals. Another way to think about it is that you are just experiencing the inability to reconcile your basic human need to be a productive member of your community with the reality that your community is dysfunctional and has no interest or ability to provide a healthy psychological environment for its members.

In the second case, you are well-adjusted because you recognise that the society is just a machine and you are using the machine to get whatever you can out of it. Okay, it’s not providing for the health and wealth of the community and the emotional needs or psychological well-being of it’s constituents is either a non-goal or a goal it fails to achieve. But it does pay money. And you definitely do need money because money can provide for your physical needs. And while it can help with your other needs, you’ve already traded off the majority of your time and energy so, at best, you can maybe balm some of the damage that’s been done by having a huge part of your life voided out.

I sometimes wonder, if I were some alien species keeping humans as animals in a zoo, would I would want to view them in this condition, or would it be too disturbing to see animals being maintained in an environment that is so impoverished?

>it is absolutely self-evident that this is the best and most productive of all possible economic systems.

It isn’t very self-evident from my perspective, could you please explain how?

Isn’t the main risk here not acquiring new production experience and so reducing your chances for finding the next gig? As in “adding new buzzwords to your resume” basically.

When they ask you in three years about how you have spent the time. If you convert XML requests to JSON messages for a living and not even with Spark.

Aspirationally, you should be getting to the point where you care less about the underlying technology (you’re smart, you can pick up whatever tech they want to use this week), you’re paid more because you have the scars and experience that can be better applied to the tech du jour.

> […] having real work be tossed in the garbage is […] demoralizing […]

This happened to me a few years ago. I got assigned to work on a small greenfield project solo. I had virtually full creative control, and it would solve a real imminent problem for the team. Sounds like a dream project, right? And it was for the ~1 month or so I worked on it, got positive feedback from the team, etc. However, with a stroke of a (figurative) pen, the project’s no longer needed and was scrapped. The manager found more money in the team’s budget.

I can’t say I disagreed with the decision: often it _is_ better to just throw money to make a problem go away. I felt bummed out nonetheless. _That_ I could live with, but getting dinged for “being unproductive for a month” during performance review, now that really stung.

My story might have a happy ending though. A few months ago the same problem resurfaced, this time due to a different, company-wide constraint. The lead dev solicited solutions, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit smug inside when I said “um, remember that project I worked on a few years ago? I basically have your solution on a platter.” We’ll see: who knows maybe the manager will somehow carve out an exception for our team. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

> getting dinged for “being unproductive for a month” during performance review

I don’t think I could have lived with that if that was done to me. I’d either resign on the spot or shortly after.

Without divulging specifics, around the same time something happened in my personal life. I needed, and family members who depended on me needed, the money and stability.

A bruised ego is a small price to pay for the safety of my family and dependents, so I will learn to live with it. Because I can live with it. I can live with it. dang, erase that GP.[0]

[0] With apologies to _In The Pale Moonlight_

Yeah, that sucks. I’m in the position now where I’d likely be fine until I found a new position, so the equation changes a bit.

Either way, I don’t expect my current employer to do something like that 🙂

I find it helps to be cynical in these situations.

> I felt bummed out nonetheless.

Why? Don’t get emotionally involved with work done for the company. They want to toss it? Why give moments care. Your time wasn’t wasted. It was done doing what they asked in exchange for pay. That’s it.

>_That_ I could live with, but getting dinged for “being unproductive for a month” during performance review, now that really stung.

And that’s why, you shouldn’t care or get emotionally involved in the work you create for the company. The company clearly, demonstrably doesn’t care about you. They do not care about you. Why should you care deeply about work you create for them?

It’s ultimately not good for the spirit. Yes, some people can tolerate the bullshit. Likewise, there are people who are willing to be poop divers for sewage treatment plants (though this is an imperfect analogy I want not to offend those who are fine doing far less meaningful work). This doesn’t mean everyone can or should be poop divers.

Sure, everyone should be prepared to tolerate a level of meaningless and nonsense in the corporate world. I fully agree that one should not become too invested in work that ultimately serves the company.

Nevertheless, if humans were meant to live as sysipheans, by now we would have found more straight-forward ways of doing so, and we might even take pride in doing pointless work. Yet few if anyone is openly proud of doing nothing and still getting paid even when there’s no social recourse. Naturally, when enough time passes and a person has yet to be able to actually contribute to the system, they are liable to be alienated. And why shouldn’t they? If they can sit around for months or years being practically useless while still having to trade one’s finite time for the privilege of food and shelter, there may be a breaking point where they can’t make logical sense of the situation anymore. Where’s the excitement? For many, we spend more hours at work than at home, especially if you discount sleep, and those hours are usually tired. That time at work had better mean at least something at some point; how is one then supposed to feel when they’ve reached senior status and… the situation is exactly the same or quite possibly worse?

It would be nice if humans could get more fulfillment out of their personal lives, but that usually doesn’t come by default and rather requires considerable work on top of one’s day job; family, friends, and social status all require work, and may of us don’t even have adequate time for those. Is it reasonable to put a sapient mind through the anguish of being irrelevant in nearly every aspect of their lives for the promise of a distant retirement and expect them to not feel a sense of disengagement because the world is constructed in such a ridiculous fashion?

This isn’t to say that you are entirely wrong, but I have to wonder if you believe that in every fiber of your being, because otherwise you could have been a burger flipper or a circus clown instead of the occupation that brings you to HN. I assume that you have a set of skills that came to you at least somewhat naturally, and that if you were unable to ever properly execute those skills that those skills (and thereby you) would seem worthless to yourself.

In my personal opinion, life is way too short to deal with meaninglessness for extended periods. If your job continues to be meaningless after years of experience, chances are you are doing the wrong thing and can benefit from a course correction.

What you’re saying makes sense, but sentiment like this makes me long for a post-capitalist conception of work where everything’s not purely transactional and we can do meaningful work that we feel proud of. I think artisans or craftspeople had that historically and it’s something we require to feel fulfilled.

Someone here on HN once mentioned that they cleaned or worked on their deck or whatever while working and nobody cared. I did the same (well, no deck but other stuff) when i had long stretches of downtime or notice that nobody else cares as much as I do about the project. Same result, nobody gave a fuck really. I don’t think it’s sustainable, but whatever.

That’s if you’re not already frozen regarding the field.

I’m exactly in this spot right now. And yes, self-training on side quests like k8s or anything related to the field looks nice on the paper.

The problem comes from when 1/ you already associated all these training with the field you’re working in, and it feels helpless and boring, 2/ you still feel somehow disloyal to use your time like that.

Yeah, a good manager can fix that in 30 seconds (by giving you explicit permission to learn), but a surprising portion don’t think too.

I didn’t say or even imply that and it’s unfair to interpret it that way.

Distract yourself in a positive manner. Don’t dwell on meaningless thoughts that you’ll never defeat. Only way to win is to do something else with your time.

It’s fine if you don’t think that’s the solution but straight up misrepresenting what has been said to you is not cool.

I think the point is that this negative pitfall happens to people and multiple people concur. It’s easy to say “fight this with positivity”, most people on HN started with this philosophy. In practice, it’s hard to do that consistently after the first 10 years, especially when you don’t notice the slide until you’re in a pit.

Hm, didn’t occur to me to look at it that way so you’re likely correct.

I am personally 41 and I’ve fought tooth and nail to not just sit at the computer for the sake of it, neither in an office nor at home. Nowadays when I sit at my desk, I have goals in mind and if I catch myself not working towards any of them in an hour, I just get up and go do something else and someplace else.

But I maintain that nowhere did I imply something as dismissive and shallow as “just don’t be sad” or, not shallow but still far from what I meant, “fight this with positivity”. It’s not that at all, it was much more along the lines of: “find your own purpose and don’t wait for others to impose theirs on you”.

In my current job I am one of 3 recent hires (just recently hit the 4 months mark) and since we come from very different backgrounds compared to the company’s culture, we often have 5 PRs just waiting on reviews and we find ourselves completely blocked on any further progress (can’t even open other PRs since we still haven’t received feedback on the current ones and that would severely change what code we should put in the new ones).

I have raised the problem multiple times, from squad leaders all the way to the CEO, but it seems that the people are cool with it and don’t mind if you just twiddle your thumbs every now and then. So I started picking up more and more sysadmin skills which I need for my home NAS management and potentially other home servers in the future. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

But maybe my comment up-thread was way too short and open for negative interpretation?

I’d like to find contracts that are purely delivery based and not part of a team setting. And do value based pricing so if I finish quickly, I’m truly off the hook and have my own time back

I think that works both ways. If you want to work more, it is easier to do from home as there is less social (i.e. family) pressure to come home from the office. The key is to find a workable balance.

Lack of self discipline. If you’re going to wfh you have to be disciplined enough to work during work hours and not work during non work hours.

Well, it pays off to be aware of the issue at least, right?

I too have grappled with this for a while but I believe this struggle was for the better and it eventually led to reduced stress. Nowadays when I mentally proclaim “I am done for the day!” I know that I did my best and that I have put enough hours / effort to not feel guilty about not putting more.

So yeah, you are right. I just think people should go through this fight for discipline because it’s ultimately better for their mental health when they learn to put boundaries.

So don’t admit it to anyone. Work on it by yourself or by sharing it on HN / Reddit / etc.

It still reads too much as a very first world of a problem to me, admittedly. I recognize that us the people need to have a goal and a direction, otherwise we start feeling like aimless leaves on the wind — but you can still do a ton of things at home (if you work remotely which you should) while checking your Slack and email every 15 minutes, no?

But if it really bothers you so much then you have to make a choice between (a) prestige / a lot of money / boredom and (b) enjoyment / medium money / purpose. Apparently in big corps you can’t have both. Being stuck in a FOMO feedback loop and being unable to choose between either path is very toxic and produces a lot of internal pressure. At some point you have to choose for the sake of your mental well-being.

…Or, as other commenters alluded to, find a job that allows you to combine them. I do doubt that many other companies can give salaries in the $250K – $500K annual range though. But who knows.

As a general observation throughout my life, us the Homo Sapiens seem to suck super bad at picking a side and/or to leave a toxic relationship before it starts to poison us long-term. We must proactively work hard to periodically challenge our priorities and reassess our situation. So if you are up for an advice from a stranger: do that and do it often, something like 2-3 times a month, for whatever period of time, until you feel you finally are where you belong. We the people hold on to things for way too long. It seems to be our default mode of operation.

It also doesn’t help at all that our current civilization seems to thrive on bombarding people with FOMO, sigh. But we gotta adapt and find our own way through it all regardless.

You can take on a little more risk, esp if you have a spouse with employer health insurance, and be a contractor. Hitting the $300k annual ballpark is pretty doable even with giving yourself about 20 days off a year, even while working at startups and places where their employees don’t get near that

Side gig/project is the answer here. If you’re not doing 6-8 hours of active work per workday and no one is complaining you might as well use the rest for yourself. Make sure it’s something where you can exercise creativity and/or learn.

terrible time. you feel like losing the game, falling behind from all new cool-aid drinks. You feel like your friends and colleagues are working on something cool, and then suddenly re-org happens and you wonder is your career on right track ?

As someone who worked remote at a large company and spent the last year or so doing this, I don’t think it’s a viable long term solution, at least for me. I’ve been traveling every month (7 times in other countries), spent countless hours gaming, got some certificates, etc, etc.. all the while still looked at as a “top performer” on my team. Due to the nature of bigger organizations (or at least mine), there isn’t an option for me to take on more responsibility or extra work (I can’t help but ask for these things too often and get general feedback of “slow your roll, that’s not how it works here”). I played around with the idea taking on a part time job or consulting or something, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I would find greater purpose/meaning spending my full headspace in a single job I was passionate about. This is definitely a first world problem, and I’m lucky to have the opportunity to be in this type of situation. It’s also not the same way everyone feels, since there are a lot of people that are at big organizations for long periods of time, but I share sentiment with the article and parent comment.

>> At Facebook I could get by barely working a few hours a day. But the job was so unsatisfying

> This is a little too first world. if the work were too sparse and wants more work, why not join interview loops or take classes/training, attend talks?

Where did he mention wanting more work? He mentioned unsatisfying work, I doubt doing interview loop recruiting people when you find your own work unsatisfying is gonna make you a good interviewer (and I’d hate to be the interviewee there). And take classes/training to what end? At 9 years in, I doubt there’s many relevant trainings, and learning the intricate details of yet another internal proprietary system has limited returns.

> just go boating or mountain biking. Watch some sports and play video games.

None of these activities leads to finding satisfying, purposeful work, nor are they really good at negating the effects of the unsatisfying work.

Right. “Just learn k8s, bruh.” It’s like ok, maybe, but if the problem isn’t so much a lack of work then you’re really juat apinning your wheels learning for the sake of it.

Another issue is evaluating whether the juice is worth the squeeze. It’s easy to say “learn a new skill bruh”, but what happens when you spend the time learning something, you get hired at a new job relevant to that skill only to run into your original problem all over again? The risk of that is significant, and in the world of tech it’s extremely difficult to know what a position at a company is really like because so many of us are kissing ass, and we are avoidant of any real criticism or confrontation.

None of the argumenta here are necessarily wrong, but speaking as if there are clear solutions that those complaining aren’t seeing and calling this a first world problem is pretty dismissive.

Sure, maybe it is “first world.” That doesn’t change anything. If I’m stuck at home making 80$ an hour and I hate it, then it doesn’t matter how “first world” it is- I’m still going to figure out how to change the situation.

Are you saying that people who are dissatisfied with privileged situations shouldn’t have opinions or write about them? Everything is relative.

Absolutely. I dislike the offhand dismissal of things as first world problems, most especially because, if we can find a way to a future where the rest of the world catches up in living standards, these will be everyone’s problems.

> [Why not] join interview loops or take classes/training, attend talks […] go boating or mountain biking. Watch some sports and play video games[?]

(A) Because there’s a fundamental cognitive dissonance to being able to say both “My job is important enough to stay in” and “My job is unimportant enough that I should spend a lot of time doing unrelated things.”

(B) Because author doesn’t want to pursue alternative hobbies with his work chunk of time. He wants to write exciting code.

(C) Because while employed, there’s an expectation that you’re doing the work well. If you feel like you aren’t, even if you’re doing as decent of a job as the system allows you to, it eats at you. Badly.

> if the work were too sparse and wants more work, why not join interview loops or take classes/training, attend talks?

because it’s never that easy. If you try to get work from somewhere else maybe your manager starts to think you’re bored or not interested, you definitely can’t just leave and go mountain biking because then you look even lazier. So at the end of the day in every gigantic organization a substantial amount of people sits around and does nothing, that’s just how it goes.

it’s not first world, it’s just that in bug business you’re just a salaryman.

It’s probably that he has to “be available” and so can’t make good use of the working hours where he’s not doing active work

It’s a common obstacle to making good use of your time even when underworked and working remotely. Ideally one could find non-team settings where this wouldn’t be an issue

Any job ive had regardless of pay, regardless of how good its been for how long, what the job market is like… after about 5-10 minutes wondering if I am adding value I will look for another.

I have one life, I need to have money to live but thats easy, actually having a positive impact is a reason to do something for someone else.

I dont necessarily apply but its its all i am thinking about untill I have value to add again: what am I doing here?

The point is getting a few hours of productive work in some enviroments takes more and more and more effort that it seems impossible to even keep trying.

Definitely there, but author probably didn’t find those fulfilling. The rest are leisure activities, which might again not work when a problem solver is looking to apply themselves.

This hit home for me as well. I’m currently at a large company and looking for a smaller one where I can work more hours Thor the same money doing something more meaningful. I have a min/max mindset, probably like most people here, so it took me a long time to come to the realization that working longer hours for the same pay was a good thing.

The grass is not always greener. Plenty of small companies are also meaningless and have their own set of problems in different ways. Beuracracy is often replaced with toxic management.

If there’s one underappreciated metric today, it’s “quality of hour worked.” I.e. how productive did you feel about an hour of your work, today?

Track that over time. Make radical changes if it starts plummeting, because otherwise you’re going to be backfilling entire teams’ worth of vacated roles.

Eventually you’ll figure out it’s all meaningless, no matter if it’s big or small.

Find something that you enjoy doing, like you would enjoy a nice puzzle.

Purpose is all in your head.

This kind of context is very difficult for me to wrap my head around. So much so that it strikes me as a kind of artificial ennui, maybe even a kind of humblebragging. I’m open to changing my mind though, so I’d really like to hear explanations/clarifications that would help me understand this sentiment more.

In even my most over-resourced client, there is never a paucity of improvements to make. Ever.

My current working conclusion after seeing this many times and doing what I can to informally coach the ones expressing this kind of sentiment, is that there isn’t a lack of meaningfulness, or purpose, or other lofty language. There is a lack of will to go outside of their comfort zone, very often due to non-technical factors. Or a lack of a sense of joy in the craft in even the smallest details and accomplishments. And that’s okay. It’s the reason we use specialization.

But let’s not kid ourselves. I’ve yet to walk into a client that is so on top of their to do list much less wish list that there is nothing to improve. We also need to recognize there is also a substantial subset of people expressing this sentiment who dislike implementing some improvement without significant recognition, praise, and advancement; these are the ones who seek the big, splashy wins over the steady, incremental attention to craft that accumulate into the 20-year overnight successes.

I don’t work for an FAANG, so if someone who does comes along I’ll defer to them.

What I have gathered from those who do is that it’s not that there’s a shortage of problems to solve in the organization, it’s that the bureaucracy is so thick that they couldn’t solve extra problems even if they tried.

From your references to “clients” I assume that you work as a consultant of some description. Obviously, no one brings in a consultant without having a lot for them to do. Additionally, few orgs bring in a consultant with the intention of them doing only what they’re told.

But if you’re just one coder among tens of thousands, that’s exactly what your organization expects of you. And that’s what the people who tell these stories find so draining.

> …it’s that the bureaucracy is so thick that they couldn’t solve extra problems even if they tried.

This is why I called out “…very often due to non-technical factors” of what I found when I dug deeper. It is very rare I find the bureaucracy “too thick”, and much more often, I find first a lack of communication, and if the communication is clarified, second I find a lack of desire to work on unglamorous, tedious, time-consuming aspects of the extra problems.

A frequent example: developer has an idea how to improve and existing process. Developer is informed they need the buy-in of SRE, Devops, and NOC teams. The presentations are made, and the team representatives/managers/directors Swiss cheese the idea pointing out all sorts of gaps to address. Endless forms to fill out, approvals to obtain, more presentations to give. Developer is dejected, and comes onto HN to say it’s impossible to improve at BigCo.

When I ask what could it hurt to reach out more than halfway to those teams and find out what it would take to use this experience as an exercise to create and document a “minimal integration with stakeholder teams” package that all future projects can base themselves off of, I get met with “but it’s not worth it”, or “that’s too much hassle”, and similar fend-off-the-now-not-so-quick-hit-project explanations.

Except here’s the clincher for me: I have yet to meet a BigCo team that has done this even for their big projects. No one wants to do the documentation work, nor the documentation maintenance work, because assistive infrastructure enablement isn’t incentivized on annual performance reviews, only what sounds like “new progress” going up the leadership chain.

Every project ends up as a bespoke process to integrate into other teams’ processes and mechanisms. The bureaucracy is so thick because no one spends the time trying to document, much less automate what processes look like from other teams’ perspectives. And this is one of the pillars of my current working conclusion: everyone agrees there is constant documentation maintenance that needs to be performed everywhere, but in all these discussions, extremely rarely do I see someone say, “yeah, I use the extra time to learn some new procedure/tech, and update the onboarding/how-to documentation from the perspective of a newbie” (hugely valuable IMHO), and tons of other people slapping their foreheads and scurrying off to do the same.

Even thick bureaucracy its very self can be addressed with extra time, and that is arguably one of the most frictionless actions to take; pick up the phone/chat/email and start writing what you find out. That so, so few people kvetching about all this “boring extra time” make this frictionless action their revealed preference signals volumes to me.

I want to stress it’s fine that people don’t want to do this kind of work. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. But so far I haven’t bought into the commonly-accepted wisdom why “soul-crushing extra time” exists in our industry, with exceptionally rare variations (like defense-related highly-compartmentalized or similar contexts).

These BigCorps are hiring like mad and paying big $$ to fill seats more for the purpose of starving their competition of brains than actually using the brains they hire.

The work is primarily organizational/drudgery and moves at a slow pace because of all the red tape and walls they’ve built around their projects in order to manage all the people. Endless incremental code reviews for small changes that get pondered for days and days. Design docs for trivial features written up and then basically entirely reworked by comments from people higher up who have more information but no time to do it because they’re too busy being higher up and writing design doc comments all day. Horribly inefficient, painful to get anything done, and demoralizing.

Just left Google after 10 years. I found in that time I spent more time trying to find where I fit in and what work I could even do than actually doing any work. In some parts of the company, any interesting project was like a piece of red meat thrown into a pack of hungry wolves looking for “impact”. Any project “given” to you quickly got competed with or downgraded in importance unless you got super self-promotional. There’d be talk about some new exciting thing coming down the pipe and you’d eagerly wait months for it to find out the work was either already parceled out or it didn’t really exist.

I ended up seeking our “boring” organizations and projects within the company, in order to avoid the frustration and drama. But then motivation suffered.

Oh, and remote work has made them even more terrible because it’s even more asynchronous and ponderous now. Can’t tap someone on the shoulder and run something by them really anymore, it’s just more “fork many threads of work and then spin on all the blocking issues waiting to make progress on any of them”. Which sucks if you are the kind of person who is better at picking one thing at a time and sinking your attention into it, like me. So yeah, at some point you just start to lose focus out of sheer annoyance/frustration/boredom. And you’re just there to collect the paycheck.

And maybe you feel guilty about it, but then, that was kind of the point. Maybe in your previous job you were a top contributor, potentially competing with BigCorp in some domain. Now you’re not. They can push wheelbarrows full of money around to do the thing you were doing before, but at way higher scale and precision… but at the cost of way lower velocity because they’ve employed PhDs to nitpick over the comments in a protobuf description. (And if you leave and start your own thing and compete, they’ll probably just come and buy it and bury it, too.)

They’re bad for our industry and not so great for our brains… but good for our wallets. 10 years at Google messed up my passion and skills…. but it sure was good for my mortgage.

(FWIW, I thought in that time that I had lost my passion for coding. But two weeks after leaving to take some time for myself, I found myself firing up CLion and writing a synthesizer from scratch and loving it. Writing code is great.)

Very well put, your comment resonates with my frustrations at a BigCorp.

> These BigCorps are hiring like mad and paying big $$ to fill seats more for the purpose of starving their competition of brains than actually using the brains they hire.

I used to apply Hanlon’s Razor to these types of hypothesis. After spending more time with the decision making class, the amount of psychopathic behavior and analysis I’ve seen has let me to reconsider.

I don’t think it’s psychopathic or malevolent beyond what’s normal for capitalism. It’s how you win at making money. In any market you’re either disrupting or at risk of being disrupted. There’s multiple strategies you could take for the latter. And it certainly helps if you have a firehose of money (ads revenue).

Not speaking from any inside knowledge, BTW. Just my philosophizing.

That may be a legal/valid strategy, but it seems pathological. Instead of spending money on unproductive employees, these companies could just pass their excesses down to share holders. If a specific company is out competed fairly, oh well, companies don’t need to last/grow forever. The share holders will hopefully have allocated the returns more efficiently (maybe in the new competition).

I see it as an invasive vine using all its spare energy to block out the canopy and choke out the forest. Rather than a native tree that uses spare energy to bear fruits, which nourish various critters who in turn contribute to a more efficient and robust ecosystem.

I have been struggling with procrastination for years. It got catastrophically worse during pandemic: I was playing bullet chess online sometimes for like 6 hours a day every day. I have been working for like an hour a day for a year. And they still valued me as “above average”.

When I got to therapy, we traced it mostly to the internal critic (schema therapy). It was gone just like that with a flick of a finger almost! I have been productive and having fun with my life for two months leading up the this new year. When suddenly my manager decided that he does not stimulate me enough. He started getting deep into my ways of working saying something like “he does not understand how I perform my tasks and how they progress”, he started moving some not urgent tasks in ways he saw as better than my plans. He did not notice his direct spending 6-7 hours a day instead of 1 and he sarted really pushing and critiquing me and my teammate in a way that even our wives heard some changes during the zoom calls. It lead to a huge nervous breakdown for me. Two weeks passed by in a recess and now I slowly regain myself back.

But my views towards big corp are finalized: some cog a little bit higher than you can at some point decide that he has a right for any method to increase his perceived impact on team’s productivity and you will get hit.

I love myself a little bit more than this, gotta figure out the financial side a bit. The view towards “being fired” has shifted a bit too, now I think that if you’re not close to being fired based on your performance, the pay you too little and you work too hard (for them!) Work hard for yourself, don’t work (too) hard for THEM!

Oh shit I must sound so priviliged, but yep this is the place I’m at right now

“self-indulging online addiction is actually a coping mechanism towards the unsatisfying and meaningless daily job. “

Allmost every addiction is like this. A shallow replacement for the real desires unfulfiled.

> TFA: Facebook has changed a lot since 2012. The types of projects that I thrive in were harder to come by. The magic was gone. Things I care a lot about, like quality, craft and focus, weren’t as important as scale, metrics and PSC. None of this happened suddenly, just a very slow process. That was one of the reason it was hard to leave.

> GP: It never occurred to me that my self-indulging online addiction is actually a coping mechanism towards the unsatisfying and meaningless daily job.

The worker no longer trusts that they won’t be a replaced by a machine. The investor no longer trusts that they will get a return on capital. The manager no longer trusts that they will have employment for life after more than a bad quarter or two.

With so much of our trust eroding, management is left with little else to hold on to, and so they grasp the false hope of blunt instruments like forced rankings and quarterly forecasting — no matter how illusory it all may be.

…We seem to have a false sense of joining something when we enter companies these days, just as Rousseau stipulated society had entered into a false social contract. This may be what’s driving newer generations to look for “purposeful work” as they launch their careers: They are looking to take control by demanding meaning from work right from day one…

But Rousseau also had the idea that humans can remake themselves via their institutions, and Deming appears to share this belief.

This is what’s so interesting about companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple. These rare birds tend to operate outside of our norms and customs: They educate their employees differently; they collaborate differently across silos and divisions; they incentivize people in different ways. Because of their overwhelming ability to make cash (either initially through giddy investors and eventually via customers) these companies appear to start out more like communes. They are Gardens of Eden where there is little fighting for resources and oftentimes even the core customers freely partake.

Moreover, these companies almost appear to be for the common good, and the management appears to instinctively follow Deming’s philosophy. But what’s even more striking is that efficiency and performance naturally improves inside of these companies without the standard methods that more established firms pursue. Sadly, there’s often also a fall from grace that typically happens as these corporations become “normalized” and a more traditional battle for resources sets in.

Perhaps the answer lies deeper in what Deming was trying to say about “profound knowledge.” As Deming implied, we work in complex systems with forces of good and evil always in play, and it may just be that the single most important responsibility of our top leaders is to artfully mold and shape this dynamic in a way that best suits their organizations — and produces a self-selecting ecosystem of workers, partners, customers, and shareholders who naturally align.

All of this implies a more-progressive approach to leadership. And yet we all too easily succumb to our Taylor-like impulses that assume the worst about workers — using automation to track productivity down to the nanosecond, if possible. Unfortunately, this tends to exacerbate the growing trust gap between workers that festers between our corporate silos and stymies the very productivity that we seek to enhance.

None of this is easy. And many of us will surely struggle with these issues throughout our entire lives. But in a world where the stakes appear to be getting higher by the minute, building lasting trust and cooperation across companies and communities — binding together people and long-calcified silos — may be the only way for the corporation to survive.

hbr.org, The management thinker we should never have forgotten (2016), https://hbr.org/2016/06/the-management-thinker-we-should-nev…

I totally understand you. I also did something similar recently. In my case, I’m leaving a company I’ve been working in for six months where I’ve been earning a very good salary but the lack of technical challenges, learning and political battles combined with nobody requesting me to deliver anything simply made me feel bored and miserable. Now I’m about to start in a new position from a different place where the salary is not that good (although still pretty decent) but I know from friends that are working there that the environment is much more satisfactory.

It’s simple, silly me, I consider work a big part of my life. And given the fact that I have to do it for living anyway, it *must be* gratifying.

Definitely for me too.

I currently work at a large fintech company and have a decent salary. I have been there for quite some time now so I have the reputation and trust in the organization however, I am having the worst time of my career. I can also barely work a few hours a day and I feel horribly burnout. Hence I made the opposite decision – to move to one of the FAANGs where I will massively shift my current WLB. I am confident that I made the right decision.

I think these kinds of complaints are interesting compared to other HN posts about – take your pick – startups trying to keep the lights on, startups closing their doors, bootcamp attendees looking for their first job, etc.

Whether intentional or not, the tenor of this blog comes across as fairly sheltered and not particularly sympathetic.

It probably depends a lot on where you’re at in your career, but it’s pretty obvious that the blog resonates with a lot of people here. For many it probably resonates better than the struggles of a bootcamp grad.

It’s not really fair to belittle stories like this with a “you know nothing of pain” mentality. Your startup founders and bootcamp attendees would sound similarly sheltered if set against stories of starving children in Africa. Should we all refrain from talking about our pains because someone else’s pains are worse?

Humans struggle everywhere, with different things, and it’s helpful for us to learn from people who’ve been through similar.

> At Facebook I could get by barely working a few hours a day.

A note of caution that this is not the common Facebook experience. I joined being fully aware of their reputation for poor work life balance, but even then it was soul-crushing. The pressure to perform is near constant, consequences of not performing are real, and the bar for meeting expectations is very high to start with, such that externally hired senior engineers are frequently overwhelmed by the sheer amount of expectations.

I was a manager there and got the distinct impression that the expectations bar was also rising over time. FB/Meta tends to hire the overperforming types, who put extra pressure on themselves to get those Exceeds and Greatly Exceeds ratings that come with real monetary rewards. The problem is you can’t have everyone exceeding, not at the macro level anyways. So there’s a real pressure on the managers with too many of those Exceeds ratings. The goal is to prevent a manager that misunderstands the expectations from giving everyone Exceeds, but the side effect is that over time there is a drift of expectations from Exceeds to Meets side. Having been with the company for so many years, the author likely did not notice this drift and was able to adjust over time naturally. Newer hires (which, given FB’s rate of growth, is the large majority) aren’t so lucky.

On the flip side the huge number of new hires will drag down the performance bar. They can’t give bad ratings to too many people at once.

The other thing is that for many people, getting a normal Meets All rating is totally fine. You don’t need to push yourself to Exceeds level.

It always blows my mind how most interview in our field. When I first started in tech I was afraid to talk about not knowing leetcode to my peers. 15 years in and I now can confidently say I’ve yet to meet someone who thinks these are a valid metric.

Why do we make this the gate keeper to our industry when we know (except for the very specific roles) we will rarely need leet code type problems. When we do we just google them.

So silly to me.

Somebody here on HN recently shared the notion that leetcode tests are a legal way to discriminate by age or lifestyle, as older and well-rounded developers do not have the time or inclination to grind on such things.

As a successful developer well past middle age, I find this to be nonsense. The most common complaint I hear around this is “yeah, that discriminates against people who don’t have time to grind to do the preparation.”

Why is it weird that people should spend time preparing for ask for a new job? I mean, ask an orchestra musician how much time they put into preparing for auditions, or how much time many degreed professionals put into passing a certification (e.g. the bar exam or medical boards).

If you don’t want to spend time preparing for job interviews, then fine, don’t. But don’t claim “discrimination” when there are those of us willing to sacrifice to put in the hours to prepare.

> Why is it weird that people should spend time preparing for ask for a new job?

Because that preparation, by and large, is not related to the actual job.

> I mean, ask an orchestra musician how much time they put into preparing for auditions, or how much time many degreed professionals put into passing a certification (e.g. the bar exam or medical boards).

Those are all instances of people being asked to do/know things that they will need to do/know for their actual jobs. An actual comparison would be if the orchestra musician was asked to perform blindfolded on a random piece of music, and have to spend 6 months training to memorize the most often requested pieces to be ready for the interview, only to play for the rest of their career with the sheet in front of them. (Not trying to compare difficulty, but absurdity. I don’t doubt orchestra musician’s auditions are harder)

Also, bar exam and certifications are not job interview. You also have exams and certifications in CS and no one is complaining about having to train for those. A lawyer/doctor certainly doesn’t have to pass the equivalent of the bar/medical exam every time they want to change firm/clinics. They just talk about their past experiences. Barely any prep required beside being able to give a good sales pitch about you.

Meanwhile, as a dev, you are expected to do it all over again every time you will change job. Even for internal moves, many of the GAFAMs expect you to go through this again.

I’d push back a bit on the orchestra musician preparation relevance. Playing at an audition alone is very different from playing in a section. The hyper critical attention to minute details that wins you a job at, say, the New York Philharmonic, isn’t what makes you good at blending with your section. Also, no one is ever practicing concert repertoire as much as they practice audition excerpts so what you hear at the audition is not necessarily representative of what you hear every week.

Granted, it’s more representative than leetcode performance but still far from a perfect system.

> I’d push back a bit on the orchestra musician preparation relevance. Playing at an audition alone is very different from playing in a section. The hyper critical attention to minute details that wins you a job at, say, the New York Philharmonic, isn’t what makes you good at blending with your section.

A bit off topic, as this isn’t orchestral music, but in college I was in a couple of bands as a bassist, and in one of them the guitarist was probably one of the best musicians I ever played with technically. However, because he was so good, sometimes he would get taken by surprise when someone less talented in the band messed something up during a performance. When practicing before one of our gigs, I noticed that our rhythm guitarist was playing a certain section incorrectly and essentially finishing it in half the time he was supposed to; the drummer and I would generally catch on immediately and course-correct, but the lead guitarist tended to be flummoxed and took the longest to group up with everyone. I made sure to mention it to everyone since I figured it might come up again, but I think everyone else forgot by the time the gig happened, and the same exact thing happened, and even though it was the rhythm guitarist who made the initial mistake, the lead guitarist ended up being the one who “looked” the most wrong to the audience because the drummer and I knew that the only way we’d get back on track was grouping up with the rhythm guitarist and leaving the lead guitarist behind. If anyone were trying out our two guitarist to join an existing group, I think almost everyone would take our lead guitarist due to how much better he’d perform in an audition. However, if the band he tried out for wasn’t able to keep up with him, it’s very possible he would have been the wrong choice. This seems pretty similar to “leetcode” style interviews for a software engineering role; the person who is able to impress the interviewers the best technically might end up being a bad fit for some teams if they aren’t able to collaborate as effectively with their team.

> Because that preparation, by and large, is not related to the actual job.

TBH, depends on the job.

I think the problem is hiring people with these skills to do jobs that don’t require them. That’s bad for both parties. The employer is going to be paying for a skill it is not required, and the employee will get bored and switch jobs, costing everyone time and money.

Was going to disagree but ended up coming around to the argument. I guess the difference is at a certain point preparation turns into a wasteful arms race, it’s not just a reasonable amount of effort put into your next gig but too much effort on things that don’t really represent real day to day / reality. Not sure where the line is, but there is definitely waste and it definitely favors those with spare time.

Does seem like there is a growing movement to explicitly not do leetcode style reviews at many places which is good.

> Why is it weird that people should spend time preparing for ask for a new job? I mean, ask an orchestra musician how much time they put into preparing for auditions, or how much time many degreed professionals put into passing a certification (e.g. the bar exam or medical boards).

It’s weird because the preparation is often the thing we’re not doing in our day to day.

I’d also go as far as saying if you need to cram crazy hours shortly beforehand to pass any exam or test then you’re not really qualified to pass. If you were qualified you wouldn’t have to do this because you’d already comfortably know the answers. I get wanting to casually review the finer details which is fine, but if you’re in “oh crap, it’s Tuesday and the test is in 3 days, time to drop my life and cram 10 hours a day to prepare” mode, maybe you’re not ready?

I also think you can’t compare software development to musicians or sports. I do play the guitar and there’s a massive amount of muscle memory involved. I’ve gone a few years without playing in the past but within a few minutes of picking it up somehow my brain can resume where it left off and my hands just move to the right places almost on their own.

The same can be said for sports, there’s a lot of practice and warming up to burn in muscle memory and literally get your physical body in an optimal state. Also the stuff you’re practicing is directly applied to what you’re “really” doing in your professional day to day.

> I’d also go as far as saying if you need to cram crazy hours shortly beforehand to pass any exam or test then you’re not really qualified to pass.

Tests are different because you are on a timer and they are balanced around it. I almost got straight A’s in university, apart from a single B in a course I was confident I actually understood. I got A’s in shit I couldn’t even begin to explain. But signals and systems, which I genuinely understood at the time, I got a B because I didn’t bother studying and memorising shit. I had to work stuff from first principles and ran out of time.

I feel like it’s the same in programming interviews. There’s no time to actually work out anything from first principles or any original thoughts. Either you know the answer immediately and you spew some shit to make the interviewer happy, or you fail.

Like you say, it’s very different for physical activities (can’t comment on music), because you cannot drastically increase performance by cramming for a few hours. I was an amateur powerlifter, I stopped training when covid started. There’s no way I can get my strength back in 3 days. But I bet I can get an A in some random exam after cramming for 3 days in some random university course I did however many years ago.

> I’d also go as far as saying if you need to cram crazy hours shortly beforehand to pass any exam or test then you’re not really qualified to pass.

I’ve had a professor who said that the purpose of an exam is to study for it.

The same professor said that if you don’t learn something in an exam, then the exam is useless.

A musician put it in time for an audition because that will be the piece he will be performing. But doing leetcode when the job definition is: You will be working on this e-commerce site is not the most motivating things. While algorithms and data structure knowledge are important, most of the time is spent writing code gluing data sources to interfaces. I’m perfectly fine doing an interview on the technologies I’m expected to master, but knowing by heart how to sort strings doesn’t help anyone, IMO.

Minor bikeshedding, but orchestra auditions are more about measuring musicianship at various time constraints: sight reading – O(minutes) of prep, audition excerpts – O(days) of prep, and personal repertoire – O(months to years of prep).

By and large, professional musicians are paid for a standard level of performance competence and a strong level of versatility. The small handful of remainders are the famous ones renown for exceptional levels of performance.

Plenty of professionals are paid to play the musical equivalent of e-commerce site.

It feels more like auditions for tech involved being assigned a random instrument, even though you’ve been playing flute for ten years and they are hiring because they need a flautist.

Pushing the metaphor further is surely silly, but I’d compare s/w dev to jazz improv or the ability to deftly adopt the musical expressive style of a new ensemble, and s/w design to musical composition or arranging. Switching instruments is more like switching programming languages or stacks. Presumably appropriate auditions should assess these complex skills and not rudimentary fare like scales or key transposition, AKA leetcode.

> most of the time is spent writing code gluing data sources to interfaces

Pretty much anyone can do that. We’re looking for someone who can do the other 20% of the job that’s novel and difficult. Ideally someone who recognizes that rereading glue code is a waste of human effort, and automates it away instead.

> ask an orchestra musician how much time they put into preparing for auditions

Training is basically the main work performer has to do to earn his life, and all training is valuable. You could compare with professional athlete and see how it’s absurd.

> If you don’t want to spend time preparing for job interviews, then fine, don’t.

The idea is that you have to understand the process. If you don’t see the point of certain exercise, you search for a rationalization, and discrimination looks like a good one. Also, the discrimination is not against people that won’t train for interview, but to give a bias to people that don’t evaluate returns on their invested time

Actually, the pro athlete metaphor seems pretty apt. Only rookies are assessed primarily for leetcode metrics like their 40 yard sprint or bench strength. Pros are judged entirely by their game play, both individual and ensemble. So it should be for pro SWEs. And the better employers understand this, finding ways to assess candidate facility by working with staff or the design of solutions to representative problems, where incapability does the most damage.

I think some of the weirdness is that orchestra musicians at the very least demonstrate skill reflective of the job, and doctors and lawyers only have to get the license once. Software is in this weird category of interviewing being it’s own technical domain that needs dedicated study, of which no amount of experience or prior success graduates you from.

Additionally, I find the logic behind this strange. It implies that just because some people can afford to sacrifice that this setup isn’t discriminatory. But the criticism is that some demographics are disproportionately unable to sacrifice. Discriminatory doesn’t mean no on in that demographic is able to afford to dedicate whatever resources towards the thing. In fact systems of discrimination often work better when there’s a model minority or “one of the good ones” that can be pointed to as an example as to why a discriminatory system isn’t really a problem.

> doctors and lawyers only have to get the license once

Doctors have to recredential over their whole career. Used to be every ten years, but some specialties are moving to annual “quiz-sized” credentialing over once-a-decade cramfests.

> how much time many degreed professionals put into passing a certification (e.g. the bar exam or medical boards).

They only do it once, though, not for every single interview.

Seems like this could cut either way.

Yeah, older people are more likely to have other priorities, but they’re also more likely to be financially secure and thus able to trade money for time to study. Also, they’re more likely to have gained time management/prioritization skills and discipline that they could apply toward studying.

Ultimately it seems like arguing that older people lack time or inclination depends on ageist stereotypes.

I think the argument is that more experienced people are less willing to do useless things just because somebody wants them to.

I could never go back to university for that reason – studying, fine, I did a ton of courses on edX and Coursera, but I pick what interests me and a lot of test problems you are given (at least in my experience, at university and later online) too often are more about understanding the intent of the person creating the problem rather than anything useful. I could also never go back to the army (Germany, mandatory service, battle tank mechanic) and take commands from some guy who just wants to posture.

I’m not any less willing to study than I was at university – but now I refuse to do what I think is useless or meaningless. Studying for tests is high on that anti-list. Not all tests, I had no issues with tests I took for things that needed certification, e.g. sailing or for the pilot license, but that stuff was useful in practice and not nearly as over the top because those tests were not designed to “weed out weaklings”.

EDIT: An anecdote for that last phrase

After writing the comment I got curious and googled that exact phrase. I found this in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Smythe_(physicist)

> He authored a textbook on electromagnetism called Static and Dynamic Electricity, which was a widely used reference in the field during the 20th century. His electromagnetism course was modeled after the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos examinations and designed to “weed out weaklings.” Smythe’s course was so infamous that future Nobel Prize in Economics laureate Vernon Smith switched to electrical engineering from physics to avoid it.

Anecdotally, I am one of the older people in our dev team, and also once of the only people who cares even slightly about big O. I’m talking simple stuff, like knowing whether indexing a given list data type is constant time or O(n). To be fair, it’s not particularly relevant to what we do.

I think asking a candidate some basic big-O notation questions in an interview is great. Asking a DevOps candidate if a search algorithm developed and published in 2018 is O(n log(n)) or O(n log(n) K^(log n)), and then dinging them for not getting a perfectly correct answer, is over the top the kind of stuff that’s used for age discrimination. Not because the young candidate will know it, but rather they will be excused for “almost getting it” and “having a good attitude” etc. in the hiring committee.

The large companies don’t need tens of thousands of system architects. They need tens of thousands of coders who can do what they’re told on small parts of a system without fussing too much about the bigger picture. I think that’s what OP is referring to—leetcode filters for young developers who don’t need to understand all the reasons why they’re doing what they’re doing.

No job is ever phrased as needing a code-monkey and no one wants to think of themselves as a primate doing a very specific task.

Every job has random overhead and your productivity is boosted quite a lot by already being familiar with some random bullshit problem like “don’t configure your test environment this way or you’ll run out of file handles after a day or two.” Hiring more experienced people means fewer delays due to issues like that, even for boring “code-monkey” work.

This doesn’t make sense to me. I work in a FAANG and we are desperate to hire senior engineers and it wouldn’t make any sense for us to turn our nose up at older candidates.

The issue is the sheer number of fradulent and stuffed credentials people have begun using, and applying, en masse to job positions.

To be clear, I dislike the current way interviewing is, but do you have a better solution to screen out 7,000 applicants? The vast majority will be knocked out by the leetcode style interview, and sure, some brilliant minds might fail because they can’t remember linked lists in the moment, but atleast you screened down from 7,000 -> 70. If there is a better way, we’d all love to know.

I am prepared for this to be voted down, but I am genuinely wondering the answer to this.

I think the distinction to be made is between the process of finding the best out of 7,000 and finding someone sufficient out 7,000. The first is surely extremely expensive for companies. The second can be done in a week or two. I think the anecdotal evidence shows though that no company can accurately do the first, and the gamification of this process is a deeply researched topic, so it’s likely that a company that believes they’re accomplishing the first is really doing the second in practice, all the while spending unnecessary money and time, and deluding themself into thinking they found the needle in the haystack.

My belief is that if you aren’t doing Ph.D. level research, all you need to do is get the candidate to prove they can write themselves out of a bag with React/Python. Anything else is overkill, and a real cost loss to the business in terms of money and time.

I will admit that for most businesses there will be times to do the first, and time to do the second. But I imagine this distribution is something like 20/80, whereas most companies are doing 80/20.

Coding is hard, but so is marketing, accounting, management … But are your marketing candidates being put through the ringer too? I suspect software engineers are being uniquely hazed.

Peace & Love

That’s a false choice. The number of applicants is mostly a function of time, so if 7000 applicants is too overwhelming then just throw out 6900 and focus on evaluating 100 of them. To weed through thousands of candidates is to believe that you can find the one that’s exceptional, yet if the position being advertised doesn’t need to be filled by a genius then it’s strange to scour the earth for the right person. If you are at the point where a genius is needed then hiring through personal connections is probably the better approach.

But if I must write code as an applicant, it better be similar to real world tasks and not some bullshit, especially if my chances of getting hired are still slim. Having to do work in order to get hired is literally sucking the lifeforce out of me, so don’t suck even more out of my via the agony of glorified brain teasers.

I worked in ATS company and 7k seems like an exaggeration. Most companies would only get tens of candidates, some of them hundreds and only a tiny minority would get thousands. I would also confidently say that the vast majority have sourcing issues, and that’s why they ask recruiters, agencies, etc to fill more applicants to their open positions.

And yet, all these companies would have complicated hiring pipelines to hire. I have seen examples which made me laugh; like receiving tens of cvs and asking almost all of them for take home exams (felt sorry for the reviewers and the candidates who lost their time), multi stage technical reviews for companies with less than 10-20 employees, final executive level interviews with more than 5 candidates in parallel, time to hire times of 3-6 months, etc.

> Coding is hard, but so is marketing, accounting, management … But are your marketing candidates being put through the ringer too? I suspect software engineers are being uniquely hazed.

My girlfriend works on the business strategy side of Fortune500’s. Our interviews look like a joke compared to theirs.

My developer friend stopped working as an engineer because he found out he can pass those interviews with no preparation and the job takes way less effort compared to software.

He’s now doing two jobs at the same time and the companies don’t notice he’s barely doing anything but appearing in meetings.


Big corporations are incredibly wasteful, so I’m not surprised.

I also know plenty of developers who do little at work, but at least they need to produce a substantial amount of code, at the end of the day.

> he can pass those interviews with no preparation

I’ve never had to prepare for an engineering interview in some 15 years of doing this professionally.

> the job takes way less effort compared to software

The easiest part of my job these days is writing code.

The challenging fun part is setting a technical strategy that aligns with the business and gardening the team around me with soft influence towards that strategy. Super challenging. Would’ve been easier to just do it myself, but there’s only so much I can do on my own.

Ultimately, you should go do whatever comes to you easiest and/or is most fun. No sense grinding away at something you’re not good at. Maybe your friend has an immense talent for business and strategy.

Also interested in top strategy interviews. Not that they aren’t hard, just that “strategy” has always seemed so ephemeral to me. My business profs failed to impart any real criteria to define it. Seems like something people either have or they don’t and all you can do is hire based on past success.

> all you can do is hire based on past success

That’s kinda what they do.

You are put through an initial ringer to vet for basic fit and competence. Then you get a take-home exercise that consists of several business case studies. You have to detail a strategy for what you would do in that situation, support your argument with research, etc. My girlfriend said it’s a lot like writing a term paper in college.

Last time she interviewed it took her I think 2 or 3 days of full-time work to do the case studies.

Then you go back and defend/present/discuss your work at an interview.

Her job consists of doing basically that, but with a team, larger consequences, more direct ownership, and loooooonger processes because so many people get involved in everything. Her team is strategizing what could become a trillion dollar product (in like 10 years) if they get it right. It’s pretty cool.

As a software engineer I would rather do what your gf does than leetcode problems. I went to school already for six years and don’t feel like hanging out on a website for the next six months solving CS problems.

I’ve always been of the opinion that a take home software engineering project that I can present in the interview would be preferable. Coding alone for a few hours and then being able to get all my ducks lined up…. Sounds like a practical and great interviewing process to me.

Yeah, having an entire day of 4-5 leetcode-esque interviews seems excessive (looking at you Google) but having none also seems irresponsible IME (looking at you government contractors).

I’ve been in organizations that were spawned by both of the above extremes. The former is definitely more pleasant to work in (everyone is at least competent) even if the interview was much less pleasant to do. I do feel like more orgs should try to target the middle ground instead of just aping Google and going ham on the leetcode shit.

Sure if you have a lot of noise, now if you know the people? If you’ve been working with them for years akready? Even engineers who want to change role within the org have to re-interview and do these silly exercises. I actually find leetcode things more valuable than system design interviews which are more like “let’s see how you can pretend you’ve built things at scale eventhough you’ve never done it”

I agree with you. It’s just not going to work to trust peoples credentials especially now that people from across the states can apply to our jobs. I’m a fan of take-home projects though. You still need to find a way to reduce the number to something meaningful but a take home gives them time to think about the task, but also gives me an opportunity to hear them walk through their code when we talk.

If they “cheat” by having stack overflow do their work for them, but they can explain it well enough, they probably understand the concepts at least.

from 7,000 -> 70

Do you have any hard data behind that ratio?

Or are you just kind of … making those numbers up?

Because they, you know, “feel right”?

Google receives about 3 million applications per year, and hires less than 1% of them. Not all of them for dev positions, but still probably at least a million. Google is probably the most popular, but even the maligned Facebook gets a few hundred thousand applications per year.

I concur with the parent’s point. HN is perpetually complaining about tech interviews, but nobody ever suggests a viable alternative that can cope with such application volumes.


Companies like Google (and similar) are kind of the exception; I’m starting a job next week, and I had an initial video call for almost all jobs I applied for when searching. Sometimes I wrote a cover letter, often I don’t. My CV is decent enough, but not uniquely “oh wow!”-type of impressive. I don’t think I was filtered out of thousands of applicants in ~90% of the cases.

While remote positions can certainly receive a lot of “noise applicants”, as I discovered in my last job, you can filter out half, if not more, on just a quick pass. Most companies are dealing with dozens of candidates at the most, often less. Certainly not thousands of them.

Google (and all the other companies with similar net hiring ratios) use multiple factors to narrow their pre-interview pool; including standard techniques such as resume and phone screening. And then there’s in-person interview itself, which involves broader cognitive and personality assessments (apart from in-person LC recitation).

The parent poster was literally saying that LC screening by itself will get you your 99 percent reduction.

Of course, LC-only won’t get you there, and all companies with LC use the whole arsenal. But I don’t doubt that LC will filter out a very large fraction of applicants (hence the incessant whining on HN). The point is though, with Google-like application volumes, if they drop LC they’ll need to substitute it with something that also filters out a very large fraction.

The actual hiring ratio at google is something like 0.2%. They pass over 998 out of 1000 applicants, so no matter what they do, they’ll pass over a substantial number of qualified people, and no matter what they do there will be complaints on HN.

The thought crossed my mind, that they are doing it on purpose: to make the whole experience of switching jobs as unpleasant and traumatic as possible, so that people will stick to their jobs. However a conspiracy is highly unlikely, given that there are so many players involved.

More realistic explanation: they try to make an ‘American Idol’ like process, this gives them the feeling of having chosen ‘the best’. Now it probably takes some standardized task to do that kind of competition, as it is necessary to maintain the claim of having an objective hiring process.

I was once told, that in the olden days there was a different kind of hiring process (that was not about programming jobs, actually, they didn’t have that job at the time). It would go as following: the owner would invite the candidate to join the crew for lunch, if the candidate eats a lot, then he would count as a good worker. Actually that would make a good test for ‘culture fit’…

BTW, the article has a link to a free course on hiring practices, thanks for the link! https://course.jobsearch.dev/01_introductions/01_course_intr…

> make the whole experience of switching jobs as unpleasant and traumatic as possible, so that people will stick to their jobs. However a conspiracy is highly unlikely

I’ve thought this too. Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm were hit with antitrust litigation starting around 2010 because they were all involved in colluding to reduce the ability of devs to switch jobs. Since then we’ve only seen the rise of leetcode style interviews. We’re way way past the days of tree traversing and FizzBuzz. We’re asking candidates to recite Dijkstra’s but pretend they’ve never seen it before. It’s just way more convenient for tech companies if people don’t leave in the first place. I know I’ve stayed at my job much longer than I should because I hate interviews.

> as it is necessary to maintain the claim of having an objective hiring process

Yeah no one wants to admit they don’t know what they are doing. It’s bad for FAANG myth-making. A company the size of Google or Facebook is never not hiring. They are a big boat that can’t just stop moving like that. They have a constant churn rate, the need to keep interviewers sharp, and a certain target rate they need to hit of applicants in, new employees out. All the process between the in side and out side is Scientology. It’s just complete fabricated cultish nonsense. The owners of LeetCode must be enjoying it though.

>were hit with antitrust litigation starting around 2010 because they were all involved in colluding to reduce the ability of devs to switch jobs

I didn’t know that, really interesting detail.

>no one wants to admit they don’t know what they are doing.

Interesting perspective, though I don’t know about the vodoo part. They seem to be taking the matter quite seriously, at least google does. Take the matter of competitive programming: Peter Norvig says they were checking, if taking part in programming contests would correlate with good performance at the job [1]; I think having read somewhere that Norvig revised his negative judgement later on, as they had examined more data [2]. (actually that would mean that they didn’t act on the data to begin with, well well).

These companies are good at data processing, any data that is, at least they seem to be taking it dead seriously (disclaimer: I never worked at google, though I have managed to fail at interviewing there, however i am not sure if i would have accepted an offer 😉

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdmyUZCl75s

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_programming#Benefi…

Oh, definitely. I’m sure they do take it seriously. I just don’t believe taking it seriously to be the same as actually producing results. Managers still take OKRs/KPIs seriously. There are still people that believe in the healing power of Agile.

If any of these companies knew what they were doing then they wouldn’t require multiple interview rounds. I expect the correlation between one’s ability to perform at Google with their ability to pass the interview gauntlet to be no better than a coin toss.

Well, i have worked at Amazon, for less than a year; My rather limited impression was, that this is a very dysfunctional organization. Now if this impression is correct, then the leetcode appoach has some merrit; the leetcode approach would select for people, who stick to the technical part in the narrow sense of the word, and who would not question the state of things too much.

But I guess, that this is all speculation..

Working like that, at least at Google, will only suffice up to about L4. If you’re good at leetcode, you might be hired at L4 directly, but if you’re a normal person then it means you have one promotion before you need to learn completely different skills to advance.

I do nothing that looks anything like leetcode whatsoever.

Gotta keep the gate somehow. You wanna pull in the big bucks like everybody else on the team? Well? Study those stupid leetcode questions and suffer a day long interview loop first.

It’s hazing. Nothing more.

That being said I’d rather work for a shop that had at least some code tests. I’ve worked in places with none and the code quality is about as shifty as you’d expect.

The most amazingly productive engineers I’ve worked with have all been incredible leetcoders.

You’re right though — I might as well be saying they were also incredible bakers or skaters. If those were also high signal identifiers of good devs then we’d be kneading dough while doing ollies in the interview rooms.

What irks our industry is that there are plenty of good developers out there that produce quality day to day plumbing and integration work that suck at leetcode. That’s fine. We should hire them too, but if you are FAANG you don’t need to if you have post grad leetcoders knocking down your door every day of the week to supplement your already burgeoning cadre of sensible staff engineers.

I have never applied to FAANG for exactly this reason. But I have seen this style of interviews creeping up to dominate over the last decade. At least in the Bay Area. My impression is that European interviews are more sane (no dynamic programming, more take home coding challenges).

I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about someone being hired that couldn’t write simple code.

It’s easy to study leet code, and it’s relevant because it shows the interviewer you can write code.

I’ve had non-leet code interviews, like write some feature in 60minutes. It was fine. It tests code and knowledge as opposed to just algorithms and tricks.

I dunno I’ve always felt that the people who can’t leet code are the ones that complain about it. The ones that can just spend a bit of time to practice and ace the interview.

> It’s easy to study leet code, and it’s relevant because it shows the interviewer you can write code.

I have a million things I want to learn about. If a potential employer would rather I spend time on what amounts to trivia, then great, I don’t want to work there.

> I’ve had non-leet code interviews, like write some feature in 60minutes.

This is also a problem because it’s impossible to understand the constraints, context, specifications, etc. during this time. When I am asked to implement a feature in the real world, it takes time to understand the domain and context. Writing code is usually the last and easiest bit. It also never occurs that you need to understand and complete something in just an hour or two.

So in leetcode interviews you’re asked to turn on a bunch of knowledge you don’t really need. And in implement this feature interviews, you need to turn off a bunch of important knowledge and experience.

Both are irritating interviews.

The best way to interview, in my experience, is to ask about a project or projects someone has worked on. Even better if there’s time for them to present on it. That way you get a real world picture of their skills, they are comfortable, and you can ask detailed questions without jumping the shark. Further, it is perfectly reasonable for someone to be required to present and answer questions over something they’ve worked on in an hour or two. That does happen in the real world.

I’ve conducted many interviews that starts off with asking questions about projects. Many candidates sound like rockstars. They even nail all sorts of technical follow-up questions. Then when I start asking coding questions, and I’m not talking leetcode here, more similar to fizzbuzz, they can barely write an if-statement. My conclusion is that some people are great at talking, but you really need to test the technical abilities too.

Perhaps your technical questions are not adequate enough if someone can sound like a “rockstar” while not being able to program an if statement?

I’ve interviewed hundreds of people over my career and I’ve never had an interview where I couldn’t figure out their technical abilities through a conversation.

I’ll tell you what leetcode interviews do find you though, they find you people that have no idea how TCP/HTTP work, they have no idea how you would debug a distributed system. They’ve never deployed anything to a server. They probably have no idea how to even measure the amount of work being performed by a server. They’ve never thought about CI/CD/Deployment/Scalability. They’ve never used any cloud resources. They have potentially never been through a code review.

etc, etc, etc, etc.

Someone crushing a leetcode test tells me about 1% of the stuff I’d like to know about their knowledge and abilities.

The best interview strategy for me is to give a short take-home assignment (coworkers go through it in under an hour max.) which is somewhat related to the domain space we are hiring for.

Some solutions are rejected on the spot (bad practices, does not solve the task correctly), other candidates are invited for a technical interview. Some generic questions, then we go through the solution – with emphasis on less than perfect areas. It is quite easy to see when someone is bluffing, and you also see how the person deals with feedback.

> The best way to interview, in my experience, is to ask about a project or projects someone has worked on.

This doesn’t scale and introduces a bunch of biases on other dimensions. People who don’t have time to prepare for leetcode interviews might be the same ones that don’t have time to work on FOSS, and it could be that they can barely talk about their past work for IP issues. It’s also way easier to fake your way through a high-level discussion of a software engineering project (that the candidate prepared) than through a leetcode interviews.

At this point, the leetcode interviews are as much of a behavior interview as they are a technical one, no? It makes sense that they’re only hiring candidates willing to spend the time and effort studying.

“Ask about a project” proves I understand the final implementation, but not whether I could or did choose that approach or design it myself, nor how long it took and how many false starts we had.

> I dunno I’ve always felt that the people who can’t leet code are the ones that complain about it.

You mean the ones that randomly receive a random problem that they hadn’t memorized before.

We know how to apply them, it just that algorithms are not fit all solutions for most type of problems you encounter in the real world. I had to write a frequency analysis code. What I did was search for existing methods, found a paper that provides a mathematical procedure, then convert it to code. The data structures came directly from the OS and thankfully, there were no need to convert them to something else.

I’d say a lot of us learn about algorithms and data structures early in their career. But most of them are guidelines, not rules. So, you just remember how to google for them, not learning specific ones by heart. No one has ever told me: You need to work on this string manipulation and be done within 30mns.

And on the actual job you have two weeks on the sprint with barely any consequence, not time trial to beat the averages set by desperate college kids from Asia.

There’s probably better code writing interviews to be conducted, but I think writing code in an interview is important. I’ve conducted many interviews in C where the candidate has years of C but doesn’t know the stack from the heap.

So I dunno, it’s not fun doing the gimmicky leet code questions but it definitely filters candidates.

I think people in this thread take them for granted… many candidates struggle with them. The ones that think they’re easy and you just gotta study a little bit — they’re honestly probably pretty smart.

I run feature code interviews. There are no tricks, just data modeling, simple logic, and automated tests.

I am exceptionally good at algorithms problems and I recognize it is not a useful skill I want to filter on when hiring. A dev team of 20 may only need a few to really understand algorithms to look over relevant pull requests. and even then such situations may be rare

More like you gradually come to a realization that your time in this world is extremely, extremely precious.

And that you just don’t particularly see a need to cater to other people’s made up (and sometimes downright farcical) rituals to such an excessive degree.

No matter how much money they may dangle in front of you.

> More like you gradually come to a realization that your time in this world is extremely, extremely precious.

> And that you just don’t particularly see a need to cater to other people’s made up (and sometimes downright farcical) rituals to such an excessive degree.

> No matter how much money they may dangle in front of you.

I confess to not understanding this take, money can purchase back a substantial portion of time. Working at big tech can fairly easily reduce your working life to 10 years if you spend conservatively. Outside of big tech the norm seems to be more towards 20-30.

The cost of those decades of saved time? About 100ish hours of prep for your first interview, 40-50 from there on (based on personal experience, conversations with my colleagues, and a friend who runs a FAANG interview class). Assuming 3 job hops in your 10 year working life, that’s 200ish hours to save 20 years. Is there a reason you don’t think that’s worth it?

I’d say it’s a combination of factors, based on:

(1) Most chiefly, the egregiously unethical behavior of nearly all of the “big” players (the rest being merely moderately unethical)

(2) Reports from close friends of the day-to-day grind at these places (literally none have anything more than superficially positive to say about it; some have suffered significant health problems, include one full-scale nervous breakdown)

(3) And the intellectual dishonesty implicit in the LC process also, but only as icing on the cake, as it were.

And independent of all that – it is by no means a binary (either you work or for big tech, or you grind along at for an extra decade or two at middle range). There are high-paying opportunities out there, if that’s what you’re out for — they just aren’t as immediately obvious to find as FAANG.

> they just aren’t as immediately obvious to find as FAANG

Sounds like you’d need to spend some time to find these 🙂

To your other points, I get feeling revulsion to Google or Facebook, but I feel there are other companies like Netflix or Stripe that are ethically fine. The idea that the employees are generally overworked doesn’t mesh with my lived experience the bay area, I have a fairly wide social circle and I don’t know anyone putting in more than 40 hours a week at a big tech company unless they’re trying to climb the ladder super fast. I think we also may have to agree to disagree on whether all leetcode is intellectually dishonest. 4 leetcode hard problems is a silly way to interview, but when working on problems at scale I appreciate a gut check problem on big O and an algorithmic workhorse like depth-first search or something.

I’m glad you understand the gut revulsion aspect, at least (which in my view applies to the ‘A’ companies as well, but that’s a side topic).

Meanwhile your data points on ‘N’ and ‘S’ are appreciated and I will add them to my (mental) notes.

I’ve been a dev for over 20 years and have never had to do leetcode to get a job. You either find a place that doesn’t require it (more places than you think) or rely on your network to get jobs (which is probably what OP is referring to).

No I won’t get a job at a FAANG this way, but I’m not particularly fond of megacorps.

I mean how much money is enough money? You have FAANG tier people crying about TC – at some point it becomes clear that’s their whole identity. Maybe they’re just sad to be stuck in horrible cities (I’m also in one of them lmao) where no amount of TC buys them peace and happiness. It is pretty cringey, and honestly sad. I’ve been to so many meetups which basically turn into grieving sessions for highly paid engineers to cry about how their friend got an offer for xx amount while they make 6x the average US person in a year.

And you have people making 6x less than you working at different jobs than yours. These kinds of complaints really lack perspective imo. Getting paid less at work is the same as over paying when buying something. Would you call it cringey if someone doesn’t want to pay 30% more than all their neighbors for their house? They can “probably” afford it, can’t they? Just be happy you have a house at all, right? What’s a few dollars anyway?

What finance jobs? The only companies in software engineering paying more than FAANG are trading companies like Jane Street. And AFAIK they have harder interview loops than Google.

Yes, trading companies and even trading divisions at banks.

I’ve interviewed at plenty of them (only one in recent years, though) and while I wouldn’t say they were easy, they aren’t doing completely irrelevant challenges like leetcode.

I’ve certainly never studied for one, unless you count flipping through a book or two just to remind myself of things I may not have thought about in a while. Like 1-3 hours tops.

Imagine a job, say “Professional Football Player”, where the only criterion for getting the job was “In three weeks, show us your six-pack, do 20 chin-ups, and do the 40M sprint in under 6s”.

You don’t have to dribble the ball, you don’t have to answer a quiz about the rules of the game, you don’t have to tackle anyone, you don’t have to kick the ball, you don’t have to be good at positioning yourself.

Clearly the test seems pretty odd as a way to pick players. But it has benefits as well. The expectations are clear. People who can’t do it won’t try. People who are in the ballpark and pass will feel special.

Leetcode is a first-order screen to find people of base-level minimum intelligence and problem solving ability. It’s not a quiz of actual problems you’ll solve on the job, it’s a way to screen out the wannabes who couldn’t program their way out of a wet paper bag.

Grinding leetcode also shows you’ve got grit, and are willing to prepare for a task and do what it takes to succeed.

Grind leetcode, show the companies that you can meet their minimum threshold of cognitive and executive capability for entry into their tech department… or don’t work for them, it’s that simple.

This is probably a horrible strategy, but…

If I ever do an on-site interview again, I’ve given thought to just bringing in a six pack of beer. If I get any bullshit questions, I break out the beer and say “how about we pretend that I did a good job on this question and talk shop about what you really need here, because that’s what I’d like to talk about.”

When companies like Facebook get thousands of applicants per job there has to be _some_ way to unceremoniously cull the herd. Leetcode is it.

I’ve interviewed at a lot of other places and it’s mostly take-home assignments or just talking about past projects or my open source projects. I’ve never had to do leetcode for an interview in 14 years of working as a software engineer.

the reason why FAANG/M companies do ds/algo interviews is because they get an ocean of applicants and it’s necessary for these questions to be the immediate filter.

Most startups I have applied to previously rarely asked ds/algo interview questions.

It’s not that they want to, it’s that they have to.

Indeed, all those complainers about the process should maybe try to answer this as their first business case interview question:

You have 10 dev positions in your team. You receive 5000 applications, where 3000 look like a suitable match based on the CV. How do you proceed?

> I’ve yet to meet someone who thinks these are a valid metric.

It is a valid metric. It screens for “overachieving” types who have the will power to power through unpleasant drudgery for a pot of gold in the end. If they really want those kinds of people who am i say its ‘silly’.

So why do we ask them? AFAIK, it is engineers asking these questions and also criticizing the same metric.

I think it is a case of this being the least worst option.

> Why do we make the gate keeper to our industry

This is not about having to use leetcode type problems in day to day work.

Knowing about those is about a state of mind and a culture: that you are passionate about tech and have what it takes intellectually to dig very deep into it and not just another drone that learnt Java just because you knew it would give you a decent-paying job.

I just do not understand why somebody with 20 years of experience would invest that kind of time in leetcode. just say “no” and be done with the BS, and with the kind of financial success the author has enjoyed previously, wait for the right company to come along that doesn’t require it. That’s the only way the industry is going to fix itself; enough people start saying no.

Several years ago, I’ve seen an opening where a company was looking for someone to “lead their engineering effort”. When I applied, they asked me to pass a hackerrank test. I said, thanks, but no thanks. It’s obvious that such mismatch of the role description and the methods of finding the right candidate can only mean they are either incompetent or lying. None of that says anything good about that company.

Personally I don’t think it’s a very high signal when hiring, mostly useful asking one in a phone screen to see if the person is faking having any programming experience and then leaning more heavily on systems design and behavioral questions.

But, I also don’t feel like it’s some huge indignity? I have spent far longer on take home tests from companies than practicing leetcode most interview circuits. I wouldn’t discount a company for asking these kinds of questions to try to get more signal from applicants.

Some people are very good at BSing their way through interviews, even technical ones. Those people also end up being very difficult to fire and are generally poisonous to culture. Asking them to code is a great filter, it’s hard to fool a compiler. It shouldn’t be the only filter, but for coding roles a coding interview is pretty critical.

No idea. That’s what I heard from a eng manager at FAANG 2 months ago. He said “We don’t ask DP questions, they don’t resemble problems that you are expected to do while working. You can still some of the problems using DP, but we don’t ask pure DP problems.”

Because attorneys know how deep the employer’s pockets are, which gives them a great incentive to pull out all the stops, which gives corp HR the incentive to make sure there is a long and painful performance management process before anyone can be fired without it exposing the company to too much risk.

This doesn’t apply to right-to-work states. Nuance is required in an argument like this. For nealy half the country, “hard to fire” is bullshit FUD. It’s another excuse to be lazy in interviewing and follow FAANG in lock step.

Having lived and worked in a right to work state all my life, your comment does not ring true for my experience. Employees can be members of a “protected class” (one of which is simply being over age 40) which is often the core of an improper firing civil suit.

I am casually doing some leetcode in prep for a job search a few months down the line. I’ve never had to do these problems before, nor do I have a formal CS education (am a senior dev). While many of the hard problems are quite esoteric, IMO being able to easily power through most of the easy/mediums is 100% a sign of developer competency. Even if you don’t remember the exact algorithm, being able to build it from the ground up quickly and accurately through reasonining seems like a pretty solid signifier of a quality developer to me.

This seems like a very American problem, possibly a Silicon Valley specific one. Not once in my many years in this industry in multiple western countries have I heard of someone being subjigated to such a test. I had to google it to understand the article.

I don’t like these questions either. But, I’ve come to accept that it’s worth your time if the companies you’re interested in ask the questions. Especially so if they have a big compensation package.

But why? Sure it’s boring, I certainly don’t enjoy doing Leetcode, but if the job requires it I’m not above practicing. It’s not like I’ll have to do it once I get hired.

> I do miss a bunch of Facebook internal tools. Phabricator, Workplace, Scuba, Deltoid and a bunch of others.

I had the opposite experience leaving Facebook for a company that uses externally-available tools.

I do miss 2017 Scuba, Workplace, and Deltoid, since they worked well in Facebook’s ecosystem. I do not miss the 2021 versions of those tools (and of most other internal tools in Facebook), which are bloated messes with less functionality and also somehow being slower and more resource-heavy.

One of my positive impressions when moving companies are how much better Grafana, Prometheus, JIRA, Slack, and many other external tools are from internal Facebook tools.

It makes sense if you see it from an influence perspective: external tools need to improve to get new users and retain current ones, but Facebook’s tools need to constantly add new features to get PSC performance points and they always keeping a guaranteed audience of the entire company.

Workplace is definitely better than Google chat in my experience.

Phabricator is miles ahead of anything.

Automatic flaky test detection works like a charm and I miss it every day.

However, the organizational culture… I agree with a lot of what he noted about reorgs and that it feels like walking through molasses trying to get anything done quickly.

I agree with you on Workplace, and I had an equally good time using Github than Phabricator. Still, current Workplace is very slow and its amount of whitespace-to-information grew a lot on the last years.

Most other tools are just unambiguously worse than their public counterparts though.

How about opening a room and not having it scroll forever out from under me? How about clicking on a chat link to a long thread (or scrolling up to it) and having that scroll away randomly out from under me?

There’s very basic usability and performance things that frustrate me on a fundamental level. The rest is at the margins.

Also, the builtin @silent way to chat a thread without notifying anyone is gold. Same goes for reminders. Also it’s chat + a consistent way to communicate out for a team. Workplace solves actual problems working with other people. Google Chat simply does slack-like chat, and poorly at that.

Edit: also all those things are drastically simpler than inline threads but not as sexy which tells you something about what the incentive structure looks like here. Disclaimer. I’m an ex googler. Thought chat was good when it came out but it’s regressed since then.

Glad to see this was about working at FB / Meta rather than being a user. Just for personal interest.

Newish dev doing my first attempt at a FAANG interview. Wondering if I should be trying for FaceBook as long as Im bothering to study. Had a very positive-feeling convo with a recruiter there ~6mo ago before “Meta”. Sounds like it might be a negative thing to have on your resume now though?

Any thoughts?

No, it looks good on your resume. The type of clown who would get upset at you working for Facebook is not someone you want to work for anyway so consider that another plus.

Some people get extremely sanctimonious about the latest thing their politics or corporate “news” media or the current popular trend on twitter gets them riled up about. Of course they will never face up to the fact that the companies they work for and buy from are neck deep in politics, consumerism, advertising, influencing, the war industry, corruption, greed, etc., too.

These people aren’t nearly so brave or numerous in the real world as they would have you believe though. If you personally feel okay working for a company then I wouldn’t bother worrying about the opinion of hypocrites.

I’m talking about the vast majority who are in fact hypocrites and are very happy to rile up hatred and anger towards others while never reflecting on their own behavior and situations.

I do know one or two people who think and care very deeply about this stuff and they (to some degree) put their money where their mouth is by attempting to avoid and not support these things they disagree with. They are typically the last to point their finger at others.

(throwaway account for the obvious reason)

I’ve been at Meta for 3+ years. I’m also interviewing. I have somewhere between 4 and 8 offers right now (not a humblebrag, just the facts). Not a single interviewer (from junior engineers to directors and VPs of engineering) asked me anything remotely like “Why are you still at an awful company like Facebook?”

The plural of anecdote is not “fact”, but that’s my experience: for engineers, it’s still seen as a positive, or at worst, neutral.

I’ll match your anecdote with mine. I’m an engineering leader at a small company that has worked at FAANG. I have personal mixed feelings about working at FB, but it’s a very strong positive signal about someone’s engineering ability (and comp expectations lol). Send any good coders you toss out because they worked at FB my way!!

I’ll match your anecdote with mine. I’ve been everything from CTO to lead engineer. I’ve made sure we always pay well above average for every role because I’d rather have one exceptional engineer than 10 regular ones.

FAANG on your resume is an instant disqualification.

I would like to know this as well. Anyone willing to write off literally millions of engineers because they happened to work at some huge companies is someone worth avoiding.

> literally millions of engineers

It’s tens of thousands, tops. And let’s be honest, most of them are highly overrated.

> because they happened to work at some huge companies

Because they made the choice to work at some incredibly evil corporations. Give them some credit, they didn’t sleepwalk into their roles. They did it for that fat cash, and they sold their morals out to do so.

Jokes on them, I have the “fat cash” now and get to choose who I hire. Turns out I’m not a fan of the people who sold out.

> Because they made the choice to work at some incredibly evil corporations

FAANG are not incredibly evil corporations.

They are average evil, and incredibly successful.

If you are CTO at another company and you think your company is less evil, it’s probably just less successful and you’re blinded to its evil by your vested interest in changing the “less successful” part.

Not going to dox myself.

> I haven’t worked at FAANG

I doubt that.

> but I most definitely would not want to work for a company like yours.

You do you. But I make sure we pay way above average, I want the best people and the best people don’t work for Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google.

What about Microsoft? Do their employees get a pass because the company wasn’t included in Jim Cramer’s acronym? It seems odd to single Cramer’s stock picks out specifically. What about Philip Morris ex-employees? Palantir? HSBC or any other evil investment bank? I think those three have done far more evil, but you’ll consider their alumni because they are not specifically “FAANG”? So odd to single out five specific companies that are only associated with each other because a TV personality made an acronym out of them.

There is plenty of evil. FAANG has no lock on it. Microsoft, Oracle, ransom gangs, Goldman Sachs. Wanting to get out of them ought to be a mark in one’s favor.

Not sure what makes Netflix evil, though. Clue?

You’re a person of great conviction and superior morality — who dares not name the company and reveal their identity. I’m amused.

“ I want the best people and the best people don’t work for Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google.”

Tell me when you hire a Yann LeCun or Jitendra Malik. Your claim is random shit-talk that’s not verifiable.

Lots of places. See, the best people have a lot of options. That’s implicit.

Given the diversity of rewarding roles available to them, the best people aren’t pressured to accept morally compromising positions.

It entirely depends on the role.

My point is I make sure my companies pay well. I want every employee to feel like they’re robbing me.

But I also want to make sure that I have as few employees as possible.

I personally wouldn’t hold it against someone for working at FB. Life and people are way more complicated (or not complicated, for that matter) than what you’ve reduced it down to. For one thing, consider that just because you exclude people who worked at FAANG, you’re not actually accounting for all the other thousand ways people can behave immorally or amorally. Screening out FAANG employees doesn’t actually get you very far in this regard. So it just looks like you’re harping on this one thing. Do you screen candidates who you think associate with politics you think are immoral? Or who have worked at tobacco companies? Etc.

That said I appreciate your attitude here. These companies are civilizationally damaging. It’s good to keep repeating that. I’m just not sure your approach makes sense.

So how do you hire the best people? Seems like most employers focus on name-brand resumes and leetcode. I’ve never met anyone who does an actual substantial interview.

I’m not perfect. I like to hire people slowly, and meet them in person where I can.

But I’ve definitely made mistakes, and so far every hire I’ve honestly regretted worked for a megacorp prior to me hiring them.

What kind of mistakes did you make, what kind of bad hires did you have? I’m curious what kind of flaws would correlate with having worked for a big company before.

If you’re going to judge people for working at faang, you better never shop at Walmart or Amazon, never buy any foreign electronics because they’re made with child labor, work for a non profit that doesn’t shovel money away from those who produce it into the hands of shareholders that control the public policy allowing for atrocities like DuPont, never buy anything with Teflon in it, take the bus instead of owning a car, and boycotting cable and internet companies. We’re all in the same exploitative evil system, get off your high horse and stop judging people for being employed. The workers aren’t the evil, it’s the people who call the shots and make the investments. If Jeff Bezos wants to go to space, he’s going to space whether you help or not, so might as well take what you can get.

> If you’re going to judge people for working at faang, you better never shop at Walmart or Amazon

I do my best, but I fully admit I am not perfect in this regard.

> allowing for atrocities like DuPont, never buy anything with Teflon in it,

I completely agree with you here. The leadership of these corps should have faced serious jail time for C8 contamination.

> We’re all in the same exploitative evil system, get off your high horse and stop judging people for being employed.

I get it, but look at it from my perspective. I have a lot of money. I can hire people based on X or Y. I have the luxury of selecting skilled, amazing people who did not work for the system. Why would I see that as a bad thing?

CTO and lead engineer of what size companies? How big was the tree of reports under you? What is the band of your total compensation recently? $100-200k? $500-1000k?

Honestly sounds like a bit of cope, especially if you’ve tried hiring in the past 10 years.

I’m not going to dox myself so you’re going to get some fuzz.

Largest? 400-1500.

Smallest? 30-70.

Compensation was highly variable.

FAANG employees are liabilities best avoided, everyone in leadership positions knows it.

You’re not going to dox yourself with compensation bands or something more specific than 400-1500. There are way too many people like that, and comp is not very public info.

Are you working in Europe as part of an old tech / non-tech company and the most you’ve ever made is $300k/yr or are you actually competing on the same level as big tech companies compensation wise where director+ who manages 300-500 makes $+1m/yr?

There are highly paid small places that are not FANG that still pay FANG or better, but they have really high standards. I want to know if your one of those, or one of those who as part of an ego protection cope say FANG is bad.

Now if you were a startup manager, yeah I can get why you might want to avoid FANG because you don’t want people with big company habits in your small company that is trying to go fast, but usually those people say that out right, and they also tend to explicitly hire FANG types to scale their engineering org after a certain scale, because startup style stops working after your engineering org gets to a certain size.

“ FAANG employees are liabilities best avoided, everyone in leadership positions knows it.”

I literally know a couple of unicorn founders in my personal life. They don’t think that. You’re full of shit and are probably a shit leader (if you’re not bluffing) if you make categorically false statements with such conviction (much like the former president).

What? I don’t know what you wrote. However all of your attention seeking and grand standing does appear you are seeking something from others and are coping hard to have yourself believe you are not a sell out like every one else. Why you have to frame things so negatively is beyond me. I would not do so myself.

in which case it isn’t selling out. It is living life as an average person getting through life

> FAANG on your resume is an instant disqualification.

Is it only FAANG, or are there others that you blacklisted? E.g. is MS on the list as well? How long is the list? Genuinely curious.

Taking you at your word that you do this, I’m very glad I don’t work with you. I would never want to associate with the kind of person who holds the employees responsible for the decisions of management, and then punishes them for wanting to leave that same management. Seems pretty biblical, in the original sin sense.

The whole “won’t say it to your face” is the absolute cherry on top. If you don’t talk about it, how do you know they didn’t join the company out of an overly optimistic sense of being able to change things from within, then quit when reality struck?

> I would never want to associate with the kind of person who holds the employees responsible for the decisions of management

That excuse is maybe acceptable for someone who worked at Facebook 10 years ago, but someone who is still working there in the last couple of years? You might just be an employee but you’re willfully helping well-known behaviors.

This isn’t like some revelation of fraud that employees don’t know about. Countless articles have been written about the problems with Facebook and it has been in the crosshairs of national politicians several times.

At this point taking a job at Facebook is not really any different than accepting a marketing job at a cigarette company.

I don’t disagree with this, and I’ve never worked at MAGMA for these reasons, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly tempted. As an experienced dev (possibly not a great one though), I’m struggling to make ends meet with one dependent. Being able to eat out without having to update a spreadsheet to see what other things we’re not going to be able to afford is a pretty big draw.

And I’m above the median for software devs in my area, but in a high CoL city in Canada.

Make sure you’re not violating your company’s guidelines. If I were at a company and I knew of signals based on subjective morality being used for filtering, I’d summarily fire the offending employee.

I’ve written all of my companies guidelines.

I explicitly codify that the hiring of former surveillance capitalism mercenaries is a fireable offense.

“But the equity was great” is not an excuse.

Clicked “favorite”, because I have a feeling that a year later I’ll be like “Dammit, what was that comment that made me think ‘Now this is peak HN cringe’? Can’t find it again…”

Not sure if you’re making things up, but I really like your attitude. The world only moves forward because of people with principles, not because of people who make ‘tough compromises’

Believing strongly in something isn’t a virtue if your belief is harmful/misguided/unfair/discriminating etc, quite the contrary.

Racists have racist principles that they hold with great conviction, doesn’t make them right. You have to stop and ask – is this principle correct.

How old are they?

Anyone sub 40 was old enough to see the problems with Facebook and steer clear.

Working for them and “seeing the light” after years of collecting the blood money doesn’t give you any points with me.

I waited a while to reply to you, because the thread got overwhelmed with some pretty over the top opinions.

When I am considering whose resume is worth a call back for, there are a variety of signals:

– Is your resume even vaguely coherent – Do you have things on your resume that suggest curiosity and the ability to get things done – Are you likely to stick around long enough to be worth investing in you? So if you changed jobs every 1-2 years, you’re going to lose a lot of points – If you worked at a company which I don’t think aligns with good treatment of the general public, how long did you work there? Was it early in your career, or late? I don’t think anyone is being discarded just for working at Facebook, but if you’re borderline in any of these other categories, working for a long time at Facebook is certainly a negative factor for getting a call back.

I can’t imagine a single person where I work factoring this in when scoring a candidate. I guess someone could lie and say a candidate performed worse than they did, but unless the candidate actually performed poorly on other rounds, that isn’t an automatic rejection (sometimes we’ll ask for a follow-up round). Candidate performance tends to be pretty strongly correlated across rounds (unsurprisingly), so sharp outliers are pretty rare.

> I can’t imagine a single person where I work factoring this in

Then it’s entirely possible you work for an immoral mega corp and your judgment has been compromised by your paycheck.

Let me put it in a more blunt way you are more likely to understand. Your team is interviewing someone who was a process engineer on the deep water horizon oil spill. You’d probably feel gross hiring someone whose incompetence poisoned the Gulf of Mexico.

They did a fraction of the damage that FAANG engineers do to our society on a daily basis.

I mean, if you’ve been brainwormed by the idea that FAANG (what, literally all of them?) are _strongly net negative_ compared to the most realistic counterfactual that would spring up in their absence, and not only that, but that engineers working there are therefore morally tainted, then sure.

But no, I don’t work for FAANG. I could say the same about any of my previous places of employment, none of which were even tech companies (unlike the current place).

But let’s put all that aside – how does refusing to hire someone _leaving_ one of those companies improve the situation? Are you trying to establish an equilibrium where it becomes more costly in expectation to join one of those companies, because it might be harder to find another job afterwards? Good luck, I guess! I don’t expect you’ll move the needle much, especially given that there’ll be quite a few people actively working against efforts like that.

> how does refusing to hire someone _leaving_ one of those companies improve the situation?

It massively improves the situation. The kinds of people who work for these companies now are morally bankrupt. Everyone knows the score going in. They’re smart enough to pass l33t code but dumb enough to not make their own startups.

These are not the kinds of people you build groundbreaking companies with, they’re opportunistic parasites you’d do well to avoid.

Whoa, it seems like you might want to be careful with politics creeping into your decision making.

I’m seeing several of your posts here and it seems like you are making the inference “worked at FAANG” -> “horrible person”, and while I have never worked at FAANG I have many friends I respect who have, and eventually left though it took some time.

It feels like you might be making an ad hominem attack here.

It’s an entirely rational decision. The kinds of people who take a fat salary from FAANG are the exact kinds of people I want to keep out of my companies at all costs.

They are negative value add employees and I’ve yet to find a better way to filter them.

If you can make it into a FAANG/MAMAA/whatever flavor of the year acronym, you can make it into most tech companies (and still make a salary that’s more than enough to live a dignified life and support yourself, and family if you have any).

Working at Facebook as a software engineer is a choice; just like working at a bulge bracket investment bank is a choice.

The type of people that choose to work at either of these two are (more likely than not) people who do not have morals or a sense of character and values.

In my experience, being a good person only works when you’re interacting with good people. If you’re a good person interacting with a “bad” person, you tend to get a worse deal — and if not alert, will unconsciously “sink” to their level, and start mirroring their behaviors in order to not get a bad deal.

Sooner or later, you’re surrounded by “bad” people and have become a “bad” person yourself, simply by moral “osmosis,” all because a few “bad” eggs spoiled the quiche.

I have been the type of person that naturally gravitated towards the “money money money” professions, because I did not have any strong role models to build a value system. Now that I’m out of that moral rut, I do not wish to go back. Just like an ex-addict who decides not to associate with other ex-addicts, because the chance of relapsing increases exponentially: I do not want people without any moral compass dragging me back down to their level.

I like the way things are. Things are good. Associating with Facebookers will make things bad. I don’t want things to be bad.

I’ve tried very hard to express this viewpoint, without making value judgements, but it’s moot: I have standards for what it means to be a good person, and Facebookers do not meet my standards — so I won’t associate with them. I won’t hire them. And I will avoid collaborating with them.

> If you can make it into a FAANG/MAMAA/whatever flavor of the year acronym, you can make it into most tech companies (and still make a salary that’s more than enough to live a dignified life and support yourself, and family if you have any).

Not actually true for early career SWEs, especially those that switched from a non-CS field. Because FAANG relies so much on coding puzzles, they are often the best option for someone that is self-taught without formal training. Since they often have a large recruiting pipeline, they are often the easiest places to get interviews without any connections, too.

I would also add that their ability to sponsor H1Bs is unmatched.

> The type of people that choose to work at either of these two are (more likely than not) people who do not have morals or a sense of character and values.

Thank you, exactly this

It’s hilarious reading these anonymous hiring managers discussing how they’d hypothetically snub people like Rob Pike, Ken Thompson, Andrew Morton, James Gosling or John Carmack for lack of morals and values.

All I can say is, the more I gain life experience, the less judgmental I get of other people and the less I believe in the concept of “good” people and “bad” people.

Everyone has good and bad in them, it’s just the context you’re interacting in and your own predispositions that brings out one or the other.

No I wouldn’t. I’d feel gross being so judegemental and thinking so highly and self righteously about myself. I highly doubt the work your company does is blessing the earth with immense positivity.

I highly doubt, just based on sheer numbers and basic data, that the people working at your company are amazing humble people who care so much about the world. I doubt they are concerned with the homeless population and other disenfranchised groups. Vs in your case being all gung ho about the evils of FAANG that you are so above. The number of people who are against the current status quo enough and willing to sacrifice the comforts of their lives to fix the issue are so small. It’s not even a bad thing. That’s a hard thing to do. It’s much easier to point to a couple of big companies and say how evil they are and any one working for them.

> No I wouldn’t. I’d feel gross being so judegemental and thinking so highly and self righteously about myself.

Why is applying realistic negative values to behavior such as willful FAANG employment “judgmental”

You made the choice to work for a morally bankrupt megacorp because they paid you a crap ton of money. They paid your bills. You sold out, just own it and be a human instead of coping.

I didn’t say I have some kind of employee utopia, but we build real things that help real people and honestly do make the world a better more honest place.

Of course we have no way of knowing what you or your company does. You believe you make the world a better more honest place. Funny how often self righteous people believe that. I’d be willing to bet there will be plenty of people who have in my opinion more consistent views and principles on the problems with the current status quo and capitalism that would easily find your business not as amazing as you claim.

> You made the choice to work for a morally bankrupt megacorp because they paid you a crap ton of money. They paid your bills. You sold out, just own it and be a human instead of coping.

Almost all of this can be tuned up a bit and be used against you. Unless you’re an incredible rarity that is doing amazing selfless work. I highly, highly doubt it.

It is much easier to point to easy “bad guys” and delude one self of one’s own work not being such great stuff either. Beyond that. This is a general moral stance. I’m sure if one was to compare you overall life, principles, morals, and a good hearted person working for a FAANG, your life wouldn’t be the one coming out ahead.

At least most humbler people can see “selling out” is not binary. You have sold out too. We all have.

Just realized. It appears you or whomever owns the business and companies. It is so incredibly easy to point to how self serving and it being the definition of selling out to gain more from the effort of others without doing equal amounts of work and effort. And no I’m not a socialist.

Some hiring managers will care about your moral compass and your motivations more than others. (This isn’t a moral judgement on my part, just stating the phenotypes of hiring managers that I’ve seen.)

They might not ask you to your face to explain things like joining a company right after it got #metoo-ed, but if they care they’ll absolutely be thinking the question.

> Not a single interviewer (from junior engineers to directors and VPs of engineering) asked me anything remotely like “Why are you still at an awful company like Facebook?”

Sure, we disqualified you when you listed them on your resume. You never got callbacks and probably blamed it on XYZ. You don’t understand, there’s a growing group of us in Silicon Valley that will never hire you if you have FAANG on your CV.

After reading your many comments in this thread, I honestly hope you *did* come across my resume and silently “disqualify” me. Sounds like it saved me from a miserable job working for a toxic narcissist of a manager.

You seem to have an enormous chip on your shoulder towards FAANG companies. Did you work for one and fail spectacularly, or did you just get rejected a bunch of times?

Exactly. I cannot trust folks who have spent more than 1-2 years at FB to make ethical decisions and I will not hire them.

Similarly, I will not go to a company if people up the chain, including my immediate boss or the CEO are ex-FB.

If the CxOs are ex-FB I cannot expect it to be an ethical company.

But, that’s me.

Thank you. A lot of mercenaries here are posting coopium all over this thread.

They just don’t get it, we don’t want them. We believe they’re evil. We see them, and their skills, as a liability and not employable asset.

I really wish that people who let strong political opinions bleed into their professional careers would somehow flag that on their resumes, so I could likewise avoid them.

Bingo. Mix of “offer in hand”, “offer coming Monday-ish”, and “finishing interview loops”

Also, who says I’m a “he”? FAANG companies have smart female engineers too (not nearly enough, but we’re working on it)

> Also, who says I’m a “he”?

Assuming you’re saying this as a way to effectively double the pool of people your throwaway comes from, adding a bit to the entropy. Adding more writing style sample, and on another topic, probably does more to identify you than the extra bit of entropy reduced.

Unpopular opinion: Facebook is widely disliked by the loudest voices in the room (for good reason), but the vast majority of people still just treat it like a fancy forum. It’s not going to stain your CV.

Plus, Facebook-the-app is far more disliked than Meta-the-company especially now that’s a formal distinction. I imagine it’s still relatively cool to work on Instagram, for example.

> Facebook-the-app is far more disliked than Meta-the-company

My impression is the opposite, not just in my technical circles. Facebook is boring. Meta is (arguably) malicious.

> It’s not going to stain your CV.

Not with that attitude. I refuse to hire anyone with FAANG on their resume and you can all do it too.

Most of you on here are all woo woo Linux this and FSF that, but you won’t put your money where your mouth is.

I won’t hire you if you work for these assholes, and I’d love for more of you to join me.

To the rest of you: Sure, take that $300k total comp bro. Good luck working outside SV. Better be worth it.

It’s one thing to state your values and non-negotiables, and it’s another to seem arrogant and sanctimonious about it.

To me, your comment appears to be firmly in the latter.

If that truly is the case, hope you figure out what you are resentful about because, unbeknownst to you, it is alienating those who see such language.

I agree with your values but I would still think twice about working with you based on the comments in your history.

> to seem arrogant and sanctimonious about it.

I’m firm, firm in my belief that the people who have chosen of their own free will to work for FAANG have made moral compromises that disqualify them from my employment.

I don’t get how this is “sanctimonious”.

These people have made some absolutely terrible life choices, and alienation is a part of the consequence package that comes with those life choices.

Netflix was pretty neutral until about 4 years ago. Their leadership jumped the shark and the entire platform has been trash since.

Side personal note: Fuck you guys for getting rid of stargate.

Why FAANG specifically? For instance, how does Apple fail ethically, in your view, compared to the others? Are there any other companies- Microsoft, Uber, Twitter and so forth you would also have a problem with?

Hi, I’ve worked for two of FAANG, it’s super duper easy to work outside of SV.

The reason you sound salty is because you evaluate candidates based on whatever perception you have about who they are instead of trying to understand who they are.

I’m sure you don’t care, sounds like it’s working for you, so in any event congrats on finding what makes you happy!

I firmly believe that actions speak louder than words. People will say all kinds of things to project an impression, and then you see what they actually do or did, and sometimes it’s quite surprising with the inconsistency.

> The reason you sound salty is because you evaluate candidates based on whatever perception you have

No, I’m making very real concrete moral judgements about you based on who you chose to associate with.

Shall we also start making moral judgements about the city or country you live/lived in? The products you choose to purchase? The schools you chose to attend? The political party you choose to support? The religion you are or aren’t a part of? The sports teams you support?

Shall we look down on NASA engineers because it’s part of the US government and pulls heavily from the US military/has overlap with the intelligence services/some of its top secret projects maybe do things I’m morally opposed about?

This kind of guilt by association is pretty bad and that’s the pushback you’re seeing in this thread. Humans are social animals. No social group will be without it’s flaw and larger groups have more and larger problems. This same line of reasoning is what fuels religious and political persecution. It’s barely acceptable in sports but that’s because it’s mostly harmless and in good fun until you hit riot levels of idiocy. Heck, the big tech companies are massive. They have so many individual teams that do totally unrelated stuff to the things you might have issues with.

As for the bitterness someone else noted, it’s not that you stated your values. You went further and made the claim that these engineers would have trouble finding jobs outside of SV because of the association. That part is blatantly false on its face. They may have trouble because of niche skills that aren’t relevant elsewhere because the scale doesn’t exist elsewhere. Are there some employers who won’t hire us because of our association with some company? Sure. So? I’ll not choose companies for myriad of arbitrary reasons too. That doesn’t mean I’ll struggle to find a job overall.

As an aside, I find it a bit telling that you lump Netflix into it and then your primary complaint about the company was that they canceled a show you are attached to. That’s not even about morals and is fairly arbitrary. This is why there’s feedback that it looks like you’re salty about something unrelated and note you’ve attached a larger reason behind it based on morals.

So I keep seeing things about Netflix so I felt I might comment. Netflix is in a profoundly evil field. They work to manipulate people through media. They are not the only company, of course, but they are egregious.

For example, Netflix infamously pulled Hasan Minhaj’s episode on Saudi Arabia from Saudi Arabian Netflix in exchange for allowing Orange is the New Black to stay. They want to, for lack of better words, morally corrupt societies and they do not care if that means more injustice and political suppression.

Their leadership has stated one of their intentions was to promote things from western culture in other countries in order to change the culture and society there. This is blatantly cultural imperialism and an extension of US soft power projection.

The media has that addictive quality of captivating masses. I see Netflix as like a tobacco or Juul company — profoundly damaging for the groups of people they seek to captivate. And maybe a comparison to an oil company is apt; Netflix certainly pollutes in terms of the minds and behaviors of people. Time and focus and cognition spent watching their shows pushed by their algorithms entrenches their position in a world where they do not care for their negative externalities.

Netflix are accused every day of the exact opposite, i.e. “pushing social justice narratives”. They’re a media company caught up in some nonsense internet culture war, don’t read too much into it.

I assume you live in the United States. By your logic, you are complicit with the genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of peoples from Africa then.

How do you live with yourself?

> Most of you on here are all woo woo Linux this and FSF that, but you won’t put your money where your mouth is.

Some big companies are also big FOSS contributors. Some people even join these companies to do mostly FOSS (like Golang, AOSP, React, VSC). So if there’s a contradiction there, I don’t think it’s that obvious for everyone.

> I won’t hire you if you work for these assholes

Actually this might be a good strategy if you have too many applicants and you pay closer to the median of the market rather than the top 10%, since such applicants are less likely to accept your offer. So better stop the process early.

I would have more respect for this comment (and your entire crusade in this thread) if you were complaining about Facebook for political reasons. I would disagree with you, but, I couuld understand your perspective.

But, all FAANG, really? What business are you in that’s so noble by comparison?

If true, that just makes it worse in my opinion.

Although maybe it’s evidence in my favor? They have to pay people that much to keep doing what they know is wrong…

Or the job is grueling and requires more time commitment/energy. Or it’s a very niche technical problem. Or the person has an outsized impact on the company in other ways like bringing prestige and making it easier to hire more people.

There’s lots of reasons people get paid large sums.

What do I have to be salty about? I’m honestly a very happy person.

I’ve found some incredible people that fulfill me, and that’s freed me.

I used to be afraid of what people would think if I said what I felt. Now I can say what I believe with little consequence and to be honest? Not going back.

I think it’s worth reflecting on the fact that you took time out of your happy life to leave your original comment, which declared that you will use whatever small amount of professional power you have to enforce your personal grudge against a small set of companies you hate by refusing to hire their former workers.

Edit: Just realized you’ve left like 20 comments on this thread that are all grinding the same axe.

Hey. I’ve never worked for a FAANG, but I am considering joining Facebook. They way I see it, Facebook is hugely impactful and there is real work to do there, ex: flagging disinformation, flagging external government influences, etc. It’s challenging and extremely valuable work.

If everyone who works at Facebook is blacklisted by people like you, it would just make the company a worse influence on the world because there would be noone left there to make it better. So I would prefer if good people had the freedom to try to make an impact according to their will without fear that people such as yourself will then work hard to tarnish their reputations. Thanks!

I don’t know how informative my opinion is, but I’ll do my best to lay it out.

Some background:

I’m quite pro-privacy. I go to great extents to marginalize cloud services in my life. I pay for services and am, by default, skeptical of free services. I consider this core to my ethos as a person. I was raised in a decently religious household, but went to a religious school, every day, for over a decade – I’m not a fan of “morals”.

I’m also a senior engineer who does most of our hiring filtering for a fairly large firm. I will interview and hire Facebookers, Googlers, Amazonians etc. They’re skilled, usually in singular domains, and passionate people – thus useful. Do I agree with their ethical compasses or excuses they’ve made for such work as a person? Absolutely not. However, their life is not my life, and I’m sure there’s judgements they could equally pass on to me about my life and experiences if I were so brazen to (publicly) pass my judgement on to them.

There’s some inevitable questions that come with my view:

How do you trust them given the orientation of their ethical compass? Simple. My company (and team!) has our own ethical frameworks and principles. If they don’t abide by them my judgement isn’t needed – the company will terminate them.

How do you listen to talk about ethics or morals from them? I don’t. The great thing about ethical frameworks is they’re usually set by people far above me who have a much higher view of the landscape than I do. Morals are a cathartic replacement for ethical frameworks when someone needs to feel good about themselves; thus they’re pretty irrelevant when ethical frameworks are abound.

> Sounds like it might be a negative thing to have on your resume now though?

Among all your potential future interviewers, the percentage of those who would judge you negatively for a Facebook work experience is vanishingly small – be mindful of the HN echo chamber. Besides, you probably don’t want to work in those places anyway. (Not that it’s necessarily bad to hate Facebook, but if your manager can’t separate their political belief from reviewing candidates, would you want to work there?)

Yes absolutely go work at Meta. The person in the post had worked there for ten years; they’re likely a millionaire.

It’s very challenging, but you should definitely get in and try it yourself. Move to the Bay if you haven’t done so yet, it will keep your motivation up.

> they’re likely a millionaire.

Almost certainly; if not, it’s not because they didn’t make enough to be one. Of course, “past performance is no guarantee of future returns.”

I think while you can hit an interviewer with a strong dislike of the FB and everything it means, including the people who work there, it is probably a rare thing. I guess a slightly more likely case is for your resume to get rejected as “we cannot match their FAANG salary, no point in an interview”, but I would not worry about it too much.

Thats a good point. I’ve definitely heard of that but haven’t thought about it in a while. You’re right of course, its nothing to worry about. I’d be lucky to get to that point.

> Newish dev doing my first attempt at a FAANG interview.

My thoughts? Screw ‘em. They aren’t worth your skill set. I’m not joking, fuck these people. The paycheck they give you won’t make you happy, what will however is not working for these scumbags.

I know a bunch of highly skilled people who would never have trouble finding work at other companies who say they love working at Facebook. I also know a lot of people who use it and think it’s a great tool for keeping in touch and communicating with friends and family and the social, hobby, interest and volunteer groups they’re in.

I don’t personally like the company or Zuck or some of the things it does very much, but they aren’t the devil. I could say the same about probably most corporations. Where do you work that’s pure as the driven snow?

“Most corporations” don’t do global surveillance on the scale Facebook does. It’s that simple.

It’s not about 100% purity. Just not doing this one little, tiny, fundamental-to-their-entire-business thing.

I view ad targeting as good for the world: they help make my life better by aiming me at products and services relevant to my interests and needs, sometimes when I didn’t even know such a thing existed. It saves poor reinvention of the wheel in so many cases.

And FB-the-social-network is also great in theory: groups help you make friends and go deep into very niche interests. Without it, I would be a more normal, less interesting person. Now, with the join of a group, you can immerse yourself in a hobby even if absolutely nobody in a hundred miles shares that interest. It helps people go deeper on what they care about, thus becoming ‘weirder’ or a more fulfilled version of themselves. And helps people get ads they care about.

> I view ad targeting as good for the world: they help make my life better by aiming me at products and services relevant to my interests and needs, sometimes when I didn’t even know such a thing existed. It saves poor reinvention of the wheel in so many cases.

Let me give you another point of view:

Ads benefit the already wealthy corporations above small businesses that cannot pay billions for ads and add another lay on to inequality.

“Reinventing the wheel” is sometimes necessary for innovation, often called disrupting the market.

Also, I believe that endless consumerism is actually killing the planet and ads (no only banner ads but also product placements) play a huge part in making people feel insecure and less worthy just because they don’t have the newest gadget.

In case you weren’t aware, the targeting tools provided by Google and Facebook have actually rebalanced the advertising market back towards smaller businesses.

I kinda agree on the consumerism thing, but that’s more a reflection of our society than evil genius advertisers.

> “Most corporations” don’t do global surveillance on the scale Facebook does. It’s that simple.

It’s never that simple.

What corporations are okay to work for, in this unidimensional worldview? Exxon Mobil? Philip Morris? Pfizer? Dupont? Boeing? Nestle? BHP? Fox News? Volkswagen? Nike? HSBC? Is it okay if your employer’s owners or executives have appeared in the panama papers? Are or have been on the boards of FAANG companies or own stock in those companies? Are you allowed to buy Google or Apple products and use their services?

What about companies that collect and trade on the personal information and habits they collect about their customers, just not on the scale of Facebook or Google? Are they okay? Even if they would like to be able to sell more personal information but don’t presently have the means to would that be okay?

So where do you work? What products and services do you buy?

Everybody decides where to draw their own line. For some it’s Raytheon or Bayer or Boeing, for some it’s HSBC, for some it’s Facebook. Doesn’t matter, you can’t invalidate a person’s moral compass with whataboutism. There are plenty of small and medium businesses that aren’t terrible.

I think this has to go both ways, many in this thread use phrases like “lack of morals” implying One True Morality scale, presumably one where surveillance capitalism is.. most evil?

I’d personally love to know what everyone actually works on. In real life I know people who work on guided missiles and ICBM-adjacent tech who manage to sleep well at night.

I wasn’t invalidating it any more than they were invalidating my opinion that facebook isn’t the devil with their response to telling me that is the dealbreaker. “It’s that simple”.

Note this wasn’t the poster I initially asked the question of. It was someone else just coming in and trying to tell me “it’s that simple”. My reply was not whataboutism, it was explaining why it’s not “that simple”.

And it wasn’t a rhetorical question, I really want to know, from someone who does have this very simple “line”, whether it’s okay to use Apple or Google or Facebook services or products, whether it’s okay to work for companies whose owners or executives own stock? Whether it’s okay to vote for politicians who take money from them or who themselves own the stock?

This isn’t whataboutism, it is exploring the consequences of this moral position.

I know a bunch of people who work at FB. They explain that Zuck would love to be as evil as Google or Microsoft, but is just nowhere near their league.

Putin would love to be as evil as the US or even China, but hasn’t got the scratch. Russia has its billionaire oligarchs, but the US has probably a hundred times as many. China murders more innocents every day than Putin does rabble rousers in a year.

Zuck isn’t Putin. He isn’t Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs. He isn’t even Bolsanaro, or Duterte. He would like to be.

> I don’t personally like the company or Zuck or some of the things it does very much, but they aren’t the devil.

What about Rupert Murdoch and Fox News? Anti-vaxxers are why we are still in this mess. Yet I constantly see Covid misinformation on Facebook. We could discuss the genocide in Myanmar, Cambridge Analytica, Facebook’s psyops campaign against their users, etc.

Maybe Zuck isn’t the devil. But he sure as hell is irresponsible at being the CEO of Facebook. If you can’t tame the scale of your operation then you shouldn’t be that size to begin with. The collateral damage is too significant.

> pure as the driven snow

There are degrees. There are literally thousands of places that are not Fox News, Exxon, Nestle, or Facebook. Especially in the tech world. You can’t toss your resume out on the street in Silicon Valley without it landing in the lap of a recruiter. I’d start with “didn’t contribute to genocide” or “didn’t think a psyops campaign on our users was okay” is a good place to start. I’ve certainly never worked at such a place.

> What about Rupert Murdoch and Fox News?

I don’t think he’s the devil either. I do know the nature of their game though. It’s to divide people. They’re doing a great job of it.

> Anti-vaxxers are why we are still in this mess. Yet I constantly see Covid misinformation on Facebook. We could discuss the genocide in Myanmar, Cambridge Analytica, Facebook’s psyops campaign against their users, etc.

I do quite a lot of screening/hiring. I’m personally very critical of Meta the company but have no issues hiring people who’ve worked there. The malaise in Meta is obviously a product of its top leadership not the engineering people

I would probably hesitate if someone was in a position of leadership at Meta in the past few years, had been leadership for a long time, or did their formative engineering years at Meta. I’d want to question to ensure they’ll actually push back against unethical suggestions by product people if they suggest things without knowing that those features might rely on something unethical like scraping personal data.

If you can stomach it, you should absolutely do it. Having one of the tech giants on your resume has definitely been a strong positive in my experience and you can’t beat the comp.

Counterpoint: if you can avoid it keep FAANG off your resume.

I’ve always made sure to hit top-tier pay and a FAANG entry on your CV is an instant disqualification.

And they won’t mention the company they work for, so even if you want to go for the one in existence that does you’ll never find it. Or maybe there is no such company, and we’re just being trolled.

Sure. What I mean by top-tier pay is essentially paying well above average to fewer, higher quality people.

I’d rather have 2-3 expert engineers making 2x pay than 10 mediocre engineers making 1x pay.

There is a sweet spot where you can scale with one expert in each domain, and if that “expert” is well compensated they can replace an entire engineering dept.

I was previously at the top of the salary band for Sr. Software Engineer at a decent big company, making 1.7-2x mediocre engineers I know elsewhere. Joining FB, my total comp (400kish) is an ample 5x mediocre in my area, and I hear thats normal across FAANGs.

I know 2x is still ridiculously high, even 1x is a very reasonable amount to live on, but 2x doesn’t compare to 5x.

Sounds like you’re making bank now.

The problem is that, you sound like are expecting me to respect you.

You sold out, sure you got some more cash for your trouble so congrats I guess. I just want you to be honest about what you did.

Maybe you live in a place where developers have the privilege of being able to pick the right employer among thousands.

It’s not like that in most of the world.

In many places even senior software engineers have to choose between:

– nasty companies (advertisement, finance and trading, faangs, real estate speculation, cryptocurrencies, gambling and worse) that provide a living salary and provide a decent working environment

– few ok-ish companies that can offer a low salary, very unremarkable conditions and stability

– start your company or consultancy and make 0 money

– regret working in software and open a grocery store

– be unemployed

1x would be 1x market rate IMO.

Let’s say your skill is worth $125k avg.

I’m not exactly interested in the people who can be that, and there’s a lot of them. I want the people who can make me feel like $250k is a steal etc.

The median salary for devs in the US is ~$110k, which is pretty close to your $125k. 200-250k TC doesn’t seem like top-tier compared to the top of the market though.

Considering how sheepish parent is being and how carefully they are saying it, seems likely that they’re hiring people outside the US where market rates are significantly lower and trying to feel proud of themselves for paying some few peanuts extra.

Sounds like it might be a negative thing to have on your resume now though?

Rather than focusing on how an association with FB would be viewed on your resume — you may want to ask yourself whether that company lives up to your own moral standards, and whether (just to yourself) you would feel proud of yourself for working there.

Many people have come to the conclusion that it is an extremely cynical and unethical company:


And that even aside from the specific episodes of abusive behavior, that its core product is basically toxic:


Meanwhile, some of the founder’s behavior in his early adult years can best be described as nakedly sociopathic:


Whether any of this matters to you is … up to you. But it is definitely a question you may want to investigate before you start working there — rather than after you’ve signed the dotted line.

Being as asking your recruiter or your interviewers these questions — isn’t likely to get you very far.

So someone shouldn’t take a job at one of the biggest companies because 16 years ago the founder acted like a sociopathic in some people’s opinion?

I can’t see that affecting someone’s employment.

Your points are why someone shouldn’t vote for Mark for president not why someone shouldn’t take a job.

The founder’s destructive behavior wasn’t the only factor mentioned – in fact it was the least of all factors mentioned.

… acted like a sociopathic in some people’s opinion?

What’s with the attempt at dissimulation here? The issue is what the guy did. Not “some people’s opinion” of what he did.

I can’t see that affecting someone’s employment.

I can’t see how the founder’s ethical standards (expressed not just through what they did 16 year ago, but in the present day) wouldn’t affect your experience working at their company.

The fish rots from the head, as the saying goes.

The issue is labeling and some people like yourself have label this as sociopathic. Others see your label and think less of anything you say for trying to find the most cutting label vs the more accurate.

Why stop at facebook. Throwing chairs should make Microsoft a dead zone. Steve behaviour at Apple in the 80s should force you to return your iphone. Oracle, Amazon are not angels either.. Many of those small places are much worse..

Steve’s behavior at Apple in the 80s should force you to return your iPhone.

So we’re going in circles now.

Any and all issues raised about a company’s ethical behavior in the current day (for example, outsourcing to suppliers with deplorable labor practices) are equivalent to stories of a founder’s poor interpersonal skills from decades ago, in your view.

I’ll hire at $400k cash comp for 2 yrs experience and I won’t skip you for Meta. The only problem is that, like most big tech companies, it has some people who are there as a retirement.

Meta is better than Alphabet about that, though.

It’s in SF by the Embarcadero. You will write financial trading code. I pay salary plus bonus plus other stuff.


– You spent those two years becoming very skillful at some language where you can express invariants/constraints neatly, and know how to structure programs in something like Java, or modern C++ (OCaml, Scala, Rust, whatever, is fine)

– You are the kind of person who spent those two years with very little time road-blocked, i.e. every time you got stuck you found a way out.

– You have a conceptual understanding of low-latency

Lots of people do find the comp attractive, so I find that leading with it hits poor outcomes, so sadly I won’t post a job link, but you can either email me and I promise to respond or you can stick something in your profile and I will look tomorrow.

Thank you for the answer, much appreciated — a lot of people throw out comments like yours but won’t back them up.

I’m probably not the right fit for the job, I’m happily a lowly kernel developer with 20 years experience on half the salary and not in SV/SF. But I do appreciate the answer and maybe your post leads to a mutually beneficial arrangement with someone here.

I once aspired to be a kernel dev. As an aside, I once spoke to an engineer at a previous gig and told him that we don’t get as low-level as what he was used to (wrote kernel code) and he was affronted. Had to calm him down and tell him that I meant “close to the metal” not “inferior software”.

Didn’t work out for other reasons but I was embarrassed.

Sounds like he needed some thicker skin or awareness of the terms of art in his own field! I don’t think you had anything to be embarrassed about, that’s what my pun was related to.

Although as another aside, I know some kernel devs who do very low level work for HFT. You’re not in Chicago or NYC so maybe you’re not in that game. Or at least you’re happy to keep a healthy distance from the coalface.

I’m a hiring manager and while I despise Facebook/Meta (https://twitter.com/search?q=%40trevaustin%20facebook&src=ty…), there’s no denying that it’s a positive qualification on a resume.

It’s not what you want to do with your life, but I’ve had jobs at suspect places while I was getting established (Palantir) and lots and lots of others have too. It’s better than having worked somewhere people haven’t heard of (ie above replacement value) and much better than having worked somewhere with a reputation for doing poor technical work.

I think it is unfashionable right now, but doesn’t really deserve it. I think twitter is more toxic and reddit has bigger echo chambers. Perhaps in a few years everyone will settle down a bit.

I’m not in a position to hire anyone, but I would immediately dismiss anyone who continued to work at facebook after the genocide in Myanmar. It shows either a lack of morals, massive ignorance, or both.

On Leaving Facebook | Hacker News

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