Doing a bit of C++ recently has exposed me to the C++ community on StackOverflow and, though I might be imagining this, they strike me as being generally a bit more friendly, a bit less spikey (confrontational is too strong a word), a bit more willing to spend a little more time on a really helpful answer, a little less rep-hungry and a bit more mature/tolerant than some of the C# devs I've come across. I stress, this isn't a dig at C# developers, in fact some of the C# developers on SO have re-affirmed my faith in humanity, it's just an observation - has anyone else noticed different personality traits across different language or platform users?

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    The "++" has to count for something, don't you think? :) – o.k.w Jan 9 '10 at 0:31
  • Because some programmers are too smart for their own good. If they got out of their cave and looked around, normal people aren't so bad – Brian Jan 9 '10 at 4:00
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    Contrast what you see on various IRC networks' programming channels. (And no, I don't think it's representative of larger communities, but still fun.) – Gnome Jan 9 '10 at 6:31
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    @o.k.w, actually, C# is C++++ (Wow, you can edit comments now!) – juan Jan 11 '10 at 17:35

11 Answers 11


Of course C++ developers are friendly - they're completely and utterly mad! You don't learn a language like C++ and still manage to keep a firm grip on reality, and once free from the shackles of sanity they tend to also leave behind the normal stresses and frustrations that make, say, C programmers such jackasses.

C# and Java programmers are merely beaten down by the world. SO rep is all they have left to hope for, and spending extra time answering follow-up questions doesn't do anything for that. Poor souls; don't be too hard on them, they didn't ask for this lot in life.

I've gotta say though, out of all the programmers in all of the various languages, VB programmers have to be the most friendly. The cheerful smiles on their faces when you lean down to wipe off the drool can just brighten your whole outlook on life...

  • very funny and rings true :) – flesh Jan 8 '10 at 23:51
  • What about Objective-C programmers? Or do we lump them in with C jackasses? – John Rudy Jan 8 '10 at 23:57
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    Correlation doesn't imply causation. I believe that you have to be mad before learning C++. – perbert Jan 8 '10 at 23:57
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    @Termifish: no, those smugs are with the Ruby crowd. The Haskel/F# crowd looks everyone from the other side of the road, the Python people are with big smiles in their faces, almost inhuman, while the Perl community is busy working. – perbert Jan 9 '10 at 0:00
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    Yup, while the rest of you are busy arguing which is the best next-gen language, we'll be over in the corner keeping the interwebs running. – Ether Jan 9 '10 at 0:46
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    'But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked. 'Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: 'we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.' 'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice. 'You must be,' said the Cat, 'or you wouldn't have come here.' – mmyers Jan 9 '10 at 4:19
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    Speaking as somebody with a C++ badge: Sanity is overrated anyway. So's reality. – David Thornley Jan 9 '10 at 17:06
  • I have worked with both C++ and Java... now Trying to figure out where do I stand... – Amit Jul 24 '12 at 6:03
  • Scala programmers are friendly enough (more than Java, C# and python at least). – Jus12 Jul 26 '12 at 6:57

Well, it might have something to do with age. The C++ gang is in many cases getting a bit long in the tooth.

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    So you're saying it's a matter of senility rather than benevolence? – OMG Ponies Feb 20 '10 at 2:12
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    Or decaying testosterone levels. – Rosinante Feb 20 '10 at 17:53

I haven't seen much unfriendliness in the C# tags, but then maybe what I view as just matter-of-fact answering is what you view as being unfriendly; it's possible I'm part of the problem as you perceive it. In particular, if you do happen to dislike my answering style (which you're perfectly at liberty to do, of course) then that will create a disproportionately poor impression of the C# community. Please don't judge the C# community based on just my contributions! (Or those of other prolific answerers.)

I think it would be worth presenting specific examples of what you mean, so we can discuss them further. For instance, there are certain common mistakes and bad practices people make in C# which the community will vociferously denounce: if you embed values in your SQL, or use binary floating point values for money, or routinely make your variables public then you should expect to be discouraged from doing so in no uncertain terms. This may be seen as unfriendly by some - and I'd certainly encourage anyone writing such an answer to do so politely - but it's part of the learning process. The quality of information is more important than the questioner's ego, in my view.

It's possible this wasn't what you were talking about at all, but my guess is that it's one aspect of the "tolerance" you mention.

In terms of maturity, I really couldn't say - although I would hazard a guess (not backed up by any figures) that the average physical age of C++ respondents is higher than those for C#. While I'm not saying that age and maturity of answers are automatically linked, I think there's a certain amount of correlation.

As for detail of answers: is it possible that C++ is just a more complex language, with more subtle nuances? I'm sure that the longest answers I've written have tended to be on some aspects of C#/.NET which are more obscure than those answering "How do I do X?" questions. Is it possible that C++ questions themselves are of a different nature to the C# ones? Again, I don't have any answers there but it's an aspect I'd encourage you to consider.

None of this is meant to discount the possibility that things really are as you suggest, and the average C++ developer is friendlier than the average C# developer. That would sadden me, but I'm not going to pretend it's impossible.

  • It is more than just matter-of-fact and vociferousness. It is the condescending tone that is delivered. There are a lot better ways to deliver a message than to be condescending. Your message is conciliatory and not condescending. This is not true with all programmers unfortunately. – Brian Jan 9 '10 at 17:23
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    @robotics: could you give specific examples? – Jon Skeet Jan 9 '10 at 17:24
  • @Roboto: Can it be an implication of not being native English speakers? I, for instance, has more limited vocabulary and less awareness of cultural connotations of things that I say than Jon and this can be misinterpreted as being "confrontational". – mmx Jan 10 '10 at 16:25
  • Jon, I think I was trying to capture a more general ambience around certain developers, if that's not too amorphous a description. I love that fact that we/you/I spend time helping others with their craft and I've never lost sight of that, but it may well be a mixture of all of the things you mention contribute to the impressions I have. I certainly wasn't thinking of your responses when I made this post, in fact quite the opposite. Along with Marc and some of the other senior contributors, I would probably say the more comfortable and accomplished the developer, the more relaxed and ... – flesh Jan 10 '10 at 18:27
  • .. polite his manner. Of course it may be that that apparent relationship isn't causal at all, you may just be nice people who happen to have great skills. Though I do think there might be something in the idea that a condescending developer is also an insecure developer. Maybe. I don't know. Regardless, I certainly haven't been offended by the C# community :) – flesh Jan 10 '10 at 18:32

Completely off topic, but hey, it's friday :-)

(source: rubyinside.com)

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    Memo to self. Get suit with bucket boobs. – waffles Feb 20 '10 at 1:25
  • I laughed. And I laughed some more. Yeah, thanks for the bellyache. – Paul Nathan Feb 20 '10 at 3:25
  • +1 if you can provide source attribution. – Thilo Jul 24 '12 at 1:20
  • I lost the link but it was on the rubyinside.com site – OscarRyz Jul 27 '12 at 13:49

Codewise, although I cover a number of areas I don't do much with C/C++, but with my ♦ hat on I also come at this from the opposite side, and I can tell you that there are antisocial goits in all tags. I just hope that they are outnumbered by the more helpful members of the community.

And with my C# hat on - while the numbers might suggest otherwise, I hope that I don't come across as a rep-whore; manic OCD, maybe...

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    actually mark, you're one of the humans .. in generosity of spirit, not machine-like omni-presence and relentless, nuclear capacity to answer questions :p – flesh Jan 9 '10 at 0:08
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    (blushes appropriately) – Marc Gravell Jan 9 '10 at 0:47
  • I hate to tell you that, Marc, but rep-whoring is a symptom of OCD. +1 anyway :} – Ladybug Killer Jan 9 '10 at 11:33

As someone active in the C# and Ruby tags, the Ruby crowd are a lot friendlier. But then again that is what you would expect from a bunch of hippies that do not care about the indisputable fact that Rails does not scale and instead of coding are busy making video clips.

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    In my experience the ruby crowd seems to be very friendly, but only as long as you are part of that crowd... kind of like the apple crowd... – Svish Jan 9 '10 at 14:45

Yes, I definitely notice the tone of answers varies by technology. The friendliest I have found are the Flex people. However there only seem to be about 4 of them, so maybe I know them all in the real world.

Java questions will get downvotes from sniffy purists unless you get every detail exactly right and have examined all possible avenues.

It is also the place where the worst sort of framework fundamentalism occurs. Answer like "don't fix your syntax error, change your entire programming methodology and architecture instead" are not uncommon.

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    If your syntax error would just fix the current symptom but still leave your system insecure, unscaleable etc, I think the advice to change what you're doing is the most useful advice, to be honest. That's why almost every question about using java.util.Date/Calendar gets an answer of "use Joda Time instead". – Jon Skeet Jan 9 '10 at 11:13

I think that Lisp people are probably the friendliest crowd on StackOverflow. They upvoted and answered well all my ridiculously noobish Lisp-related questions. And they were actually very friendly and helpful.


Python Community people don't Upvote. Enough said! (Talking about the behavior of different communities.)

Else, Alex Martelli and S.Lott would have been at par with Jon Skeet in rep.

I kind of try to balance the situation, trying to up vote very often within the python tag.

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    As of October, average score per post by tag: c#: 1.59, ruby: 1.78, python: 2.27, c++: 2.28 – balpha Jan 10 '10 at 16:18
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    I've gained a lot of rep in the Python tag, I don't think this is true. – Georg Schölly Jan 10 '10 at 17:22
  • You can verify my statement to be accurate by limiting the statistic for the last 6 months – Lakshman Prasad Jan 14 '10 at 11:53
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    Actually, I think I must change my statement to django than python itself – Lakshman Prasad Jan 20 '10 at 14:28

Maybe a better measure of the friendliness of a community is how they react when you suggest their favourite tool is not the best one for a particular job.

From the small sample I've seen:

  • "Don't use regexps" answers tend to have a positive score
  • "Don't use Java" answers tend to have a score close to zero (with equal upvotes/downvotes)
  • "Don't use .NET" and "Don't use Ruby" answers tend to have a negative score.

I haven't seen any "Don't use LISP" answers but would be interested to see what kind of votes/comments they get.


I know this may amuse a bunch of you, but the C++ chat is at least half, if not more, of guys who are barely, if at all, out of university.

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