back to article Eric S. Raymond says you probably fit one of eight tech archetypes

Open source luminary Eric S. Raymond has given the world eight “Hacker Archetypes” that he thinks offer useful ways to categorise your colleagues and by doing so help them to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Raymond says he thinks that's a worthwhile exercise because a friend of his says categorising people helps her …

  1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Reading the descriptions, I was reminded of three or four guys I had worked with one time or another, so he may have a point there...

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      PS: archetypes can be useful, as long as you don't overdo it, if you know what I mean. Few people are that onedimensional, they usually are a combination of types. (Yes, both the article and the source already mention this.) But concentrating on the dominant traits in a limited frame (like work roles) can work.

      Personally, as far as archetypes go, I have found the six archetypes handy that Cynthia Heimel postulates in her book "Sex Tips for Girls" (which is a title that is a bit misleading, but probably didn't hurt the book's sales figures).

  2. Geoffrey W

    I do recognise aspects of myself in those descriptions; a JOAT edging towards Algorithmicist. I was called a bit twister at one interview, then rejected, even after he said I gave the best definition of an expert system he had heard. I was very upset. Hey! What are you doing in my corner? Are you messing with my computer????? What are you doing? WTF? Get out! OUT! NOW! OUT!!!!!

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      JOAT ++

      JOAT plus Architect plus Tinkerer

      How else but from a bit of tinkering/sandboxing/POC can the Architect know what will work and more importantly what won't?

      I find that very few Architects (in the IT World) these days dare to get their hands dirty and try stuff out.

      Architect often transform into PHB's and we know what happens then.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: JOAT ++

        JOAT plus Architect + Translator, with a dash of Tinkerer thrown in for good measure.

      2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: Steve Davies 3

        I find that very few Architects (in the IT World) these days dare to get their hands dirty and try stuff out.

        In my experience, the best architects are the ones who don't dwell in the detail. A side-effect of that is to become further removed from the tools - eventually you end up designing an architecture for a system that will be developed in a language that you have no hands-on experience of. It's not so much an unwillingness to get hands dirty, but a simple lack of ability in a certain tech.

        I've successfully designed a number of systems implemented in Java/JBoss, but have never written a line of Java in my life. Fortunately, I understand the capabilities of the target tech, so can apply/adapt as I'm designing an architecture.

  3. Nolveys

    Myers Briggs?

    I wonder if these types line up with Myers Briggs types at all...or the Office Space types.

    1. Long John Brass

      Re: Myers Briggs?

      All the cool hip kids are now using this ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Myers Briggs?

        > All the cool hip kids are now using this ...

        The description of "introverts" there shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what being an introvert is all about.

        1. VinceH

          Re: Myers Briggs?

          It was probably written by the cool hip kids, so what do you expect?

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Myers Briggs?

        in my interpretation, you're Sorted to a House, not for what your nature is, but for what latent attributes you have that can be encouraged. And Hufflepuff is if there's basically nothing wrong with you.

        Gryffindor, on the other hand - Hermione, Neville, and even Ron were Sorted into Gryffindor, not because they were little heroic rule-breakers, but because they weren't and they needed to be. And Harry Potter was offered a choice (Slytherin, to develop social skills). So was Hermione (Ravenclaw).

        Those Houses encourage an eccentric type of behaviour, either because you aren't good at it and you need to be, or because it's the only thing that you are good at.

        And look at Cedric Diggory - Hufflepuff. Capable, cheerful, well balanced, heroic. He wasn't in Gryffindor because he already had enough of Gryffindor in him.

        "Castellan" seems to be from Game of Thrones; I was thinking of "Doctor Who". Of course, reading the manual is important but you shouldn't believe what you read. "Trust but verify."

    2. keithpeter Silver badge

      Or Belbin - Re: Myers Briggs?

      Perhaps worth trying to map esr's 'archetypes' (a bit Jungian for this time in the morning thanks) to Belbin's team roles?

  4. graeme leggett

    categorization usefulness

    If it helps you, the manager, to understand how your people think and work, and you use it to help the team get the job done without creating division or hostility, then putting handles on workers is probably OK.

    If you fail to use it, or misapply it, or use it to control rather than enable, then it's a waste of effort.

  5. JLV

    forgotten archetypes

    where's Mr. Incompetent?

    yessss, my coat & the door's waiting.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: forgotten archetypes

      That's an entirely different axis.

      Incompetent Castellan, Incompetent Lawful Architect, Incompetent Chaotic Neutral Sharpshooter...

    2. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: forgotten archetypes

      where's Mr. Incompetent?

      You mean Peter/Mr. Peters?

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "I have detailed files"

    Sarah "To make you a more efficient killer"

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So tech workers are only ever one of these categories?

    * Or is it that they're only ever one of these at any one point in a career?

    * Tech-heads morph into different roles / styles over time. Some of that is out of necessity. Ability to sponge up new information vs. analytical experience....

    * For example: Sharpshooters may morph into Architects as its becomes more difficult to keep a detailed 'micro focus' on every new piece of tech etc.

  8. jake Silver badge

    Attempting to pigeonhole people has a major issue.

    The issue is that an adherent of any of the dozens of pigeonholing systems can rarely see outside the framework of that system.

    Combine that with the fact that people are quite a bit more complex than any of these systems allow for leads to huge errors in judgement on the part of the pigeonholer.

    Me, I find it a hell of a lot easier to treat people as individuals, instead of futilely trying to fit them into nice, tidy little boxes.

    1. Long John Brass

      Re: Attempting to pigeonhole people has a major issue.

      Me, I find it a hell of a lot easier to treat people as individuals, instead of futilely trying to fit them into nice, tidy little boxes.

      Have you tried a chainsaw or wood chipper? Make it easier to get em in those pesky boxes.

      Now to figure out how to stop the boxes leaking

      1. hmv

        Re: Attempting to pigeonhole people has a major issue.

        Plastic with a good lid.

        Sigh. Young people today. Can't even dispose of a body tidily.

        1. Long John Brass

          Re: Attempting to pigeonhole people has a major issue.

          Plastic with a good lid.

          You MONSTER!!!

          Plastic is NOT biodegradable

          1. druck Silver badge

            Re: Attempting to pigeonhole people has a major issue.

            Plastic is NOT biodegradable

            You try telling that to the confetti which was a Tesco carrier bag that has been at the back of a cupboard for a few weeks.

          2. John 110

            Re: Attempting to pigeonhole people has a major issue.

            @Long John Brass

            "You MONSTER!!!

            Plastic is NOT biodegradable"

            Future generations, combing refuse heaps for resources, will be glad of a bit of plastic (especially a tupperware* box filled with organic goodness...)

            *Other kind of boxes could prove useful - really useful

          3. regregular

            Re: Attempting to pigeonhole people has a major issue.


            "You need about 16 starved pigs..."

          4. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Attempting to pigeonhole people has a major issue.

            >Plastic is NOT biodegradable

            Who said anything about disposing of the plastic container. Wheelie bins are really useful: minimum 'tailoring' required to get the body to fit and the lid to close. Plus, as long as you put it out on the correct day, some nice men with a lorry come along and empty it, a quick wash with a pressure hose and it's ready for the next occupant...

            1. earl grey

              Re: Attempting to pigeonhole people has a major issue.

              quick wash with a pressure hose

              i think you mean quick wash with a pressure hose and bleach...

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Attempting to pigeonhole people has a major issue.

            Sorry you have all missed the obvious !!! :)

            Chill down the box in a liquid Nitrogen bath first.

            No leakage until the box thaws ........ simples.

            Easy to handle with a good pair of gloves.


            use liquid Oxygen and then ignite box from a safe distance.

            1. Sanguma

              Re: Attempting to pigeonhole people has a major issue.

              No. all you need is a Demon Barber and a Pie Shop underneath ...

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Attempting to pigeonhole people has a major issue.

        Nah. I try to keep people away from the machinery. Blood tends to cause perfectly good steel to rust prematurely.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Attempting to pigeonhole people has a major issue.

      People, and I guess the universe as a whole is complicated. People through history hate it, because it makes things really hard to understand. Hence the prevalence of religion : why try and answer loads of really hard questions, when you can invent a sky ghost (or a collection of them) to answer all the questions for you. Pigeonholes are the same thing. Black or white way simpler than greyscale. 8 or even 5 categories are too many. You are either a Zoe or a Zelda.

  9. Nick Kew
    Thumb Down


    A rule of internet links: anything involving a number "of" is calculated clickbait.

    "Ten ways to ..."

    "Five things ..."

    "Six great ..."

    This story wraps it in "ESR says ...", but still seems to fall into that category.

    As regards the archetypes, it's human nature to identify with such descriptions. If you are a Reg reader (and therefore at least somewhat techie), you should probably expect to identify pretty strongly with at least one archetype.

    I don't. I can identify only slightly with any of them. I can identify more strongly with INTJ, or with several of Scott Adams's characters headed by Dilbert himself. Or indeed with numerous "ordinary person" characters in general (non-techie) culture.

    I have to conclude, this clickbait lacks substance.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Clickbait

      "If you are a Reg reader..."

      That's your archetype right there ;)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Clickbait

        "If you are a Reg reader..."

        And Dilbert reader. There's another.

  10. adrian lynch

    Brilliant. Three cheers for the manager-by-accident.

  11. gnasher729 Silver badge

    There are two more archetypes: The ones that will smack you in the face if you try to explain to them that they are supposed to belong to one "archetype" or another. And the archetype "pompous, self important arsehole". Hi Raymond, we've got an archetype for you.

    1. Jedit Silver badge

      "There are two more archetypes"

      I suspect most of us believe there are only two archetypes, total: "complete and utter twunts", and "me".

      Everybody holds this opinion simultaneously, and everybody is right.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: "There are two more archetypes"

        The problem is that each person thinks those two sets are disjunct.

  12. Wupspups

    Two more for the list

    You can also add "smarmy assed know it all". Knows everything, master of everything,has done everything, doesnt need to be told anything, refuses to believe that anyway but his way is possible.

    Then there is the "rolling road block" . Nothing will work. He tried to do that but couldnt get it to work, so you have no chance of getting it to work. Even if you do get it to work it will be a pile of crap.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Two more for the list

      Another one, which I have encountered at least once - The Delusional Aspirationalist...endowed with a belief that they have skills that they most certainly don't have, and see themselves in a natural position at the head of a team of people where they can bask in reflected glory.

      1. Mellipop

        Re: Two more for the list

        Sigh, get back to your delusion that you're a good architect for specifying jboss.

        You're talking about unconscious ignorance. One of the four stages of competence.

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    A classification system that can't fail. If you can't find anything specific just use the catch-all, JOAT.

  14. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

    A much more useful classification

    of us geeks.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Developer: starts out with an IDE and a blinking cursor in a blank project (software) or a soldering iron and a bucket of ICs and thingamajigs (hardware) to create software/hardware item out of nothing. Working towards a goal he knows every step along the way but misses sideroads.

    Architect/Engineer: Crudely understands inner workings of available bits of software and hardware but excels at cobbling them together into a working production system, often using unexplored sideroads of said items or combinations never originally envisioned or anticipated by Developer types.

    Hacker/Breaker: Could not develop anything big or engineer anything complex if his life depended on it, but can hyperfocus on specific parts of hardware/software items. Taking the sideroads neglected by Developer he is usually capable of understanding software / hardware item or whole system good enough to break it.

    That was the classification I have always used until now. Or at least have used to illustrate why specifically software / firmware is as bad as it is. Developers have tunnelvision on final product, neglecting possible attack vectors, Hackers have tunnelvision in regards to finding those. Folks who have both capabilities developed to a high level are far and in between. If we could crossbreed and deploy them for this IoT slow-motion desaster I'd sleep better at night,

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. handleoclast

    The date is wrong

    The post on ESR's site says it was published on the 3rd of April.

    FFS, Eric, if you're going to post an April Fools' joke, get the date right.

  18. Kubla Cant


    Unfortunately, the term "architect" has taken over the unlovely role previously occupied by "analyst". Time was, you could just be a programmer. Then that job title became a bit infra dig, and anyone whose job didn't involve floor-sweeping became an "analyst programmer".

    Last year I worked in an office where everyone was either an architect or a business analyst (except me - as a contractor I was allowed to be just a developer). I think it's a way of providing a chimerical career path for the permies.

    Nothing against real architects.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Architect - became an "analyst programmer"

      I once applied for a job with this description. It turned out the company had basically one person - who had awarded himself this description.

      The entire suite of software meriting this job description was a small Access database.

      Type 9: Dunning-Krueger Exemplar.

  19. 's water music

    speaking as a solipsist

    I have never understood the need to categorise other people since I'm not sure that they even exist.

    But I don't know why I am trying to convince you lot of that.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course he does not mention another type we have all come across - useless obstructive wankers, but I guess most reader will have ten at on board already.

  21. Frumious Bandersnatch

    The word "Tinker"

    Bit of a pejorative term this side of the pond. I reckon he's better off with "Tinkerer".

  22. caitlin.bestler

    Architects *are* Translators

    The description makes architects sound like isolated theorists.

    in my experience the most crucial role of an ARchitect is to be able to discuss the same project with

    Product Management, Software Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Project Management and Patent Lawyers.

    Successful projects need all fronts firing in somewhat aligned directions, and all to frequently the archtect is the only one communicating with all groups.

    There is far more work in *communicating* a broad design than there is in creating the design.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wot no bastard?

    Where's the category for the tenacious determined pragmatic bastard who just gets shit done when faced with the impossible whilst the architect, team leadery, businessy types dream up the impossible shit?

  24. Stevie


    Where's the shouty, abusive one that has to be kept away from the users even at e-mail's length?

    Or the one that hasn't figured out how to bathe?

    Or the one who cannot fathom the hinge on the toilet seat?

    Or the one that thinks people are fooled by his putting the coffee-pot back on the hotplate on a slant to "hide" the fact that he is dodging the "you take the last cup, you make a new pot" rule?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great... Sending links of the source article to all our competitors the hope they are dumb enough to believe it.

    I have found that pigeon holing people into narrow and arbitrary stereotypes is useful for two things, annoying them into working somewhere else and identifying the 20% of the population that compulsively fills out online surveys.

    Or you could try to 1) build teams with complementary skills, and 2) weigh individuals with Antisocial tendencies that require special handling against their productivity and deploy containment strategies.

  26. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Disaster magnet: Never does anything obviously wrong but nearby things start to fail. Identified as far back as punched card days when mere presence was sufficient to make the card handling machinery start to crumple cards.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ---> Disaster magnet

      I've never understood how it's possible but it certainly exists. Is it possible there's a particle involved which creates a scalar field that interacts with anything functional, and some people carry the particle? A kind of Murphy's Boson?

      We had one at school. Expensive lab glassware could spontaneously shatter if he so much as opened the door. Brunswiga machines (yes I am that old) would jam. Cursors would fall off of slide rules.

      I haven't checked but I suspect that he must be coming up to retirement as a senior programme manager at one of our better known outsourcers.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: ---> Disaster magnet

        That's "Brunsviga". I have a couple in my collection.

  27. earl grey

    Anyway, the answer to your problem

    Is on page 25, middle of the page, paragraph 3.

  28. Sam Therapy


    That's the nearest I can find to me, given the list shown.

    I have good social skills, was frequently in a manager/TL post and often caused utter mayhem (deliberately) at many places I worked.

    I love making people laugh. Not all people, not all the time, and not necessarily at the same time, either.

  29. the Jim bloke

    There are only two types of people in the world,

    The types that are on the list, and the ones who aren't.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Credentials? Research?

    I wonder what research and independent checking were done?

    If none, then so what?

  31. Michael Mounteney

    Oh yawn

    'Open source luminary' Eric S. (don't forget the S, people) Raymond opens his mouth again. Why should anyone care?

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