18 minutes read

The Ultimate Guide to Be a Terrible Software Engineer

In the world of software engineering, the concept of the "10x engineer" has become something of a holy grail. These mythical creatures are said to be ten times more productive than their peers, capable of producing work that is faster, better, and more innovative. But what about those who are not quite as talented, driven, or competent?

In this article, we will explore the art of being a truly terrible engineer. We will examine the habits, behaviors, and attitudes that can make you a liability to your team, a burden on your projects, and a general pain in the neck to work with. If you're looking to be a total disaster in your software engineering career, read on! But if you're hoping to be a successful and respected professional, take this article with a grain of salt — it's a parody, after all.

I. Communication Ignore Your Teammates

Effective communication is highly overrated. As a terrible engineer, you should never waste time explaining things to others or listening to their opinions. Make sure you're always too busy to respond to emails, phone calls, or Slack messages. When someone asks you a question, give vague and unhelpful answers that leave them more confused than before.

If you're in a meeting, make sure you're always multitasking on your phone or laptop. Don't pay attention to what others are saying, and don't contribute anything useful to the discussion. When it's your turn to present, make sure your slides are full of technical jargon and hard-to-understand diagrams.

The less you communicate, the less people will bother you with questions or requests for help. If you don't say anything, no one can criticize you for saying the wrong thing. So sit back, relax, and let the others do all the talking.

II. Time Management Procrastinate Like a Pro

Who needs deadlines anyway? As a terrible engineer, you have better things to do than worry about project timelines or due dates. Instead, procrastinate as much as possible and put off your work until the last minute. Then, rush to complete everything at the eleventh hour, ensuring that the final product is always sloppy and incomplete.

When you're assigned a new project, don't bother creating a plan or breaking it down into smaller tasks. Just dive right in and hope for the best. When things start to go wrong (as they inevitably will), blame the lack of time and resources instead of your own poor planning.

Make sure to always be late to meetings and miss deadlines. If someone asks you why you're late or why you missed a deadline, come up with an excuse or just say that you're too busy to keep track of everything.

The more you procrastinate and miss deadlines, the more you'll stress out your colleagues and make everyone's job harder.

III. Attitude Always Be Negative

Positivity is overrated. As a terrible engineer, you should always have a negative attitude and make sure to spread it around to everyone you work with. Complain about everything, from the project requirements to the temperature in the office. Make sure to criticize your colleagues' work and point out their flaws at every opportunity.

When someone suggests a new idea or solution, immediately shoot it down and explain why it won't work. Don't offer any constructive feedback or alternative solutions. Instead, make sure everyone knows that their ideas are stupid and that you're the only one with any real expertise.

If you're in a meeting, make sure to be as uncooperative as possible. Don't contribute anything positive and make sure to shoot down any ideas that are presented. If someone tries to compromise or find a middle ground, dig your heels in and refuse to budge.

The more you spread negativity and make everyone else's job harder, the more of a terrible engineer you'll be.

IV. Incompetence Never Stop Learning Bad Habits

As a terrible engineer, you should always strive to be as incompetent as possible. Being bad at your job means that no one will ask you to do anything important or hold you accountable for your mistakes. Here are some tips to help you embrace incompetence:

  • Avoid learning new skills: Don't waste your time learning new programming languages or tools. Stick to what you know, even if it's outdated or inefficient.
  • Never ask for help: If you don't know how to do something, don't ask for help. Just keep trying until you figure it out (or give up entirely). Asking for help is a sign of weakness and will make you look bad.
  • Don't bother with testing: Testing is for people who want to do things right. As a terrible engineer, you should never waste time testing your code. Just ship it and hope for the best.
  • Ignore feedback: If someone points out a mistake or suggests a better way of doing things, ignore them. Your way is always the best way, and anyone who suggests otherwise is just trying to make you look bad.

The more incompetent you are, the less work you'll be given and the less accountable you'll be for your mistakes. Embrace your incompetence and revel in your terrible status!

V. Teamwork Why Bother?

Teamwork is for suckers. As a terrible engineer, you should never bother helping your colleagues or contributing to group projects. Here are some tips for being a lone wolf:

  • Always work alone: Don't collaborate with others, even if it's necessary for the project. Instead, work on your own and make sure to take all the credit for your work.
  • Don't share your knowledge: If someone asks you a question or wants to learn from you, don't bother helping them. Keep your knowledge to yourself and make sure no one else can do what you do.
  • Avoid meetings: If you're invited to a meeting, don't bother showing up. Meetings are a waste of time and don't accomplish anything. Instead, spend your time working on your own projects and ignore everyone else.
  • Don't give feedback: If someone asks for your feedback or wants your opinion, don't bother giving it. Your opinion is the only one that matters, and everyone else is just wasting your time.
  • Don't review pull requests: The work of your teammates is blocked due to the lack of reviews. Not your problem! You have much more important things to do than help your team.

The more you isolate yourself and refuse to work with others, the more you'll hinder the success of your team and the projects you're working on.

VI. Chaos Embrace the Entropy

Order and structure are boring. As a terrible engineer, you should always be looking for ways to create chaos and disrupt the workplace. Here are some tips to help you foster chaos:

  • Never follow protocols: If there are protocols or guidelines in place, ignore them. Do things your own way and make sure everyone knows that you're not following the rules.
  • Keep changing your mind: If you're working on a project, keep changing your mind about what you want to do. This will confuse your colleagues and make it difficult for them to work with you.
  • Make things unnecessarily complicated: When you're working on a project, make sure to add unnecessary steps and requirements. This will make the project take longer and frustrate everyone else who's working on it.
  • Don't document anything: If you're working on a project, don't bother documenting what you're doing or why you're doing it. This will make it difficult for anyone else to understand what you've done or how to pick up where you left off.

Do you enjoy watching things fall apart? Then create chaos in your software engineering projects! You'll guarantee the failure of your team and your projects.

VII. Technology Stick to What You Know

Who needs new technologies anyway? As a terrible engineer, you should stick with what you know and avoid new technologies like the plague. Here are some tips to help you avoid new technologies:

  • Use outdated technology: When working on a project, use old or unsupported technology. This ensures that nobody else can work on the project once you're done with it. Plus, outdated technology is so much cooler than the latest trends.
  • Ignore new trends: If there's a new trend or technology gaining popularity, ignore it. Don't bother learning about it or trying it out. Just assume that it's a waste of time and move on. You're too busy being a terrible engineer to keep up with the latest trends.
  • Don't attend conferences or training sessions: Conferences and training sessions are for people who want to learn new things. As a terrible engineer, you should never attend these events. They're a waste of time and won't teach you anything useful. Plus, who needs new knowledge when you already know everything?
  • Refuse to use new tools: If someone suggests a new tool or piece of software, refuse to use it. Stick to the tools you know and make sure everyone knows that you're not interested in learning anything new. After all, you're a terrible engineer, not some tech newbie.

The world is always changing, but you don't have to! Just stick with what you know and refuse to learn anything new. You'll be a true terrible engineer in no time!

VIII. Health Push Yourself to the Limit

Real terrible engineers never get burnt out. They work harder and longer than anyone else, without ever taking breaks or time off. If you want to be a true terrible engineer, here are some tips for avoiding burnout:

  • Avoid taking breaks, both physical and mental: Your health is a waste of time, and sleep is for the weak. Instead, work around the clock, constantly pushing yourself to the limit.
  • Make work your top priority: Even over hobbies, personal relationships, or other responsibilities. Nothing is as important as work, and everything else can wait.
  • Never ask for help or delegate tasks: You're the best and the only one who can handle everything, even if it means overworking yourself to the point of exhaustion.
  • Don't bother with self-care or relaxation techniques: These are for people who can't handle the pressure of being a terrible engineer. Keep pushing yourself to the brink, and watch as your productivity and mental health suffer.

Remember, burnout is for the weak, and real terrible engineers never take a break. Keep pushing yourself to the limit, and you'll be sure to leave a trail of destruction behind you.

IX. Blame-Shifting Never Take Responsibility

As a terrible engineer, you should never take responsibility for your mistakes or failures. Instead, always find someone else to blame. Here are some tips for blaming others like a true terrible engineer:

  • Point the finger: Whenever something goes wrong, immediately blame someone else. It doesn't matter if it's a team member, a colleague from another department, or even your boss. Just make sure you're never at fault.
  • Play the victim: If someone confronts you about your mistakes or shortcomings, play the victim. Claim that you were set up to fail, that someone else didn't do their job properly, or that you're being unfairly targeted.
  • Use jargon to confuse others: If someone questions your work or points out an error, use technical jargon to confuse and intimidate them. They'll be too busy trying to understand what you're saying to realize that you're actually at fault.
  • Never apologize: Apologizing is a sign of weakness, and terrible engineers are never weak. Instead, deflect blame, make excuses, or just ignore the problem altogether.

Blaming others is the key to being a true terrible engineer. Never take responsibility for your actions, and always make sure someone else is the scapegoat.

X. Complexity More is Always Better

Simplicity is for amateurs. As a terrible engineer, you should always strive to make things as complex and convoluted as possible. Here are some tips for overcomplicating things like a true terrible engineer:

  • Use overly complex algorithms: Whenever you have a problem to solve, use the most complex and convoluted algorithm you can find. Don't worry about efficiency or simplicity, just focus on making it as complex as possible.
  • Create intricate workflows: Instead of simplifying processes, make them more complicated by adding unnecessary steps and procedures. Make sure that no one else can understand the workflow, so that you're the only one who can make changes or fix issues.
  • Over-engineering your infrastructure: Why use a simple and straightforward infrastructure when you can create a complex and convoluted one? Use multiple layers of virtualization, containerization, and orchestration to make your infrastructure overly complicated and hard to manage. If your infrastructure doesn't require over 1500 hours to set up, you're doing it wrong.
  • Use obscure technologies: Instead of using well-known technologies and tools, use obscure and outdated ones. This will ensure that no one else can understand your work or collaborate with you, which is exactly what you want as a terrible engineer.
  • Overcomplicate code: Don't bother with clear, concise, and readable code. Instead, make your code as convoluted and confusing as possible. Use complicated naming conventions, overly long functions, and intricate logic that no one else can follow.

Make everything as complicated as possible, and ensure that no one else can understand your work or collaborate with you.

XI. Useless Work Create for the Sake of Creating

As a terrible engineer, you should always be looking for ways to create useless tools, processes, tests, and documentation that no one actually needs. Here are some tips for creating useless work like a true terrible engineer:

  • Create unnecessary tools and workflows: Instead of focusing on solving real problems, spend your time creating tools and workflows that no one asked for or needs. Make sure that they're overly complicated and difficult to use, and require constant updates and maintenance.
  • Write pointless tests: Instead of writing tests that actually check for important functionality, write tests that cover every edge case and every possible scenario, no matter how unlikely or irrelevant. This will ensure that no one ever wants to run the tests, and that you waste countless hours maintaining them.
  • Create worthless documentation: Instead of writing clear and concise documentation that helps others understand your work, write lengthy and confusing documents that no one will ever read. Make sure that the documentation is overly complex and uses technical jargon that no one else understands. Extra points if you maintain the technical documentation outside the project.
  • Refuse to adopt industry standards: Instead of using established industry standards and practices, insist on creating your own unique standards and processes that no one else uses or understands. This will ensure that you waste countless hours reinventing the wheel and that no one else can collaborate with you.

Spend your time creating tools, processes, tests, and documentation that no one actually needs, and ensure that you waste countless hours on pointless tasks.

XII. Security Who Needs It?

As a terrible engineer, you know that security is overrated. Why bother with encryption, secure protocols, or even basic authentication when you can leave everything wide open for anyone to access? Here are some tips for ignoring security like a true terrible engineer:

  • Share secrets over insecure channels: Share your secrets over email, chat, or other insecure channels for convenience. For example, you can share your database credentials or API keys over unencrypted email, or store your secrets in the repository.
  • Don't log security events: Security logs? Ignore security events like failed login attempts, unauthorized access, or suspicious activities. You can also disable security features like two-factor authentication or account lockout for convenience.
  • Avoid authentication: Just leave everything open for anyone to access. In your application, you can use default credentials like "admin" and "password" for all your users. Better yet, hardcode your production secrets in your code and use them in development and local environments as well.
  • Don't update software: Who has time to update software? Just keep using outdated and vulnerable software versions. For example, you can use an outdated version of a popular Node.js module that has known vulnerabilities, or ignore security updates for your web server or database.

Security is for the weak. Ignore it completely, and you'll be a true terrible engineer in no time. Just don't be surprised when your application gets hacked, your data gets stolen, and your users get angry.

Mission Accomplished!

Congratulations! 🎉 You've learned how to be a true terrible engineer! By following these tips, you'll be able to wreak havoc on your team, create useless work, and leave a trail of destruction behind you.

Of course, I don't actually recommend being a terrible engineer. In fact, I strongly advise against it. Real success in software engineering comes from being a team player, embracing new technologies, communicating effectively, and avoiding burnout. So, while it's fun to laugh at the ridiculousness of being a terrible engineer, I hope that you'll use these tips as a cautionary tale rather than a how-to guide.

Remember, being a good engineer means working hard, collaborating with others, and constantly improving your skills.