On Authority and Rating Programmers. Making Linus Number 1

I had two fascinating conversations a few weeks back with Scott Collison,co-founder and currently “chief business person” of ohloh. Each went over an hour, and we will meet in person for the first time in a couple of weeks when Scott is next in the New York area.

I joined Ohloh soon after first talking with Scott. I am known there as “daveshields, ” and my Ohloh entry can be found here

Ohloh has a measure of authority called “kudos.” One member can give a kudo point to another, as a sign of recnogition of their programming skills.

I currently have a Kudo rating of 6, and I am Ranked 19101 of 74909. I assume this is based on my Jikes coding days, as I last worked on Jikes in late 1999.

During one of our conversations, Scott mentioned that Linus Torvalds joined Ohloh in September. You can find Linus’s entry here.

Linus has Kudo number of 10. I just took off a moment to send one his way — no surprise in that — though I see it hasn’t yet changed his number, suggesting the Kudo algorithm is more than just a sum. (Indeed it is. See Kudos.)

Linus is ranked 34 of 74909.

That’s not bad, but it is also, at least in my view — and I expect also in the view of all the programmers who are familiar with Linus’s contributions to Linux — wrong. Very wrong.

34? 34! 34!? 34?! [1]

Can you name the thirty-three programmers more skilled than Linus? I sure as hell can’t.

At least that’s what I suggested to Scott in our last call. I said he should use his authority to do whatever it takes to make sure Linus is Ranked #1. I suggested this not to give Linus false credit, but to spare the currently thirty-three folks who are listed as better programmers from Linus from having to come up with an explanation of why they are better programmers than Linus. They have better things to do, writing code being the most important.

Some might view this as an abuse of authority, but what use is authority if you can’t make use of it?


1. This called for an Interrobang. Written “?!” or “!?”, depending on the whimsy of its user, the Interrobang was one of my mother’s favorite punctuation marks. She liked it so much she had a special rubber stamp made up.

One Comment

  1. scollison
    Posted November 14, 2007 at 20:44 | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Dave,

    Love the post.

    Well, we *are* a bunch of communists at Ohloh, so we rely on collective effort to effect change! Get as many of your readers as possible to Kudo Linus and he’ll keep moving up!


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