It’s funny, a few days before the OSS-as-hiring-criteria debate emerged on Twitter and HN — mostly stemming from this post by DHH and this post by Ashe Dryden — I had just posted Just Get Hacking (Part 2), encouraging prospective developers lacking a CS background who wanted to get hired to put lots of code on Github.
There are good counterarguments to this. Github is not a portfolio, it’s where your public code lives. My Github has a bunch of projects I should maybe delete; stalled or abandoned projects, one-off projects with poor test coverage, etc. It’s not really a representative sample of my production code. But that’s not why I think it matters.
In her post, Ashe provides several excellent alternatives to OSS contributions as evaluation criteria; these include:
- Pair with the prospective hire
- Contract the prospective hire for a week or two
- Ask for samples
When considering potential hires, Github is not everything. At An Estuary, we definitely request (and prefer) a Github profile with applicant CVs; but it’s not about contributions to OSS projects (i.e., the “unpaid labor” critiqued in Ashe Dryden’s post).
The focus of our company is on professional development. We not only dogfood technically (i.e., using our own software), but also culturally. We want to hire people who are focused on their own professional development, and Github is a good place to document that.
(Also… code samples? If you wrote something worth showing me, why isn’t it on Github, in a gist, on JSFiddle, etc.?)
Our main product is designed to help educators document their professional development. Hackers like us have Github, so if we’re not using it… something might be amiss.
So when I’m looking at a Github profile evaluating a potential hire, I’m not looking for accepted pull requests to Rails. I mean, that would be a plus, but…