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Don’t Hire PHP Community Members!

Dear Reader,

It is no secret that I spend a lot of time promoting the PHP Community. It is a vibrant, helpful and friendly community and I’ve said before that I believe it to be one of the most important assets of the PHP language.

I’m also a realist though; I’ve built teams and I’ve hired developers. I know what it takes to put together good teams, I’ve even written down my thoughts on hiring and managing developers elsewhere. I have experience in this area and I have strong opinions. I am going to share one of those opinions with you right now.

Don’t hire developers who are active members of the PHP Community.

PHP community members solve problems

Active members of the PHP community solve problems. I mean they get their hands dirty in code – theirs or someone else’s – and solve problems. They are used to collaborating with other PHP community members to solve real world problem for themselves, their employers, or other community members who need their help. They spend time helping friends on IRC solve problems; problems that they may eventually face in their day job. They don’t do it because they were paid to; they solved the problem because they could.

If they can’t solve a problem, they usually know who can

Active members of the PHP community not only share what they know, they build up a list of others who are willing to share with them. Most of the time it doesn’t matter if the problem is for a project they contribute to or part of their day job, if there is a problem to be solved, members of the PHP community know who to call to get help. Since they help others, they have a cache of good will that they can use to get problems solved at work.

They love to show off

PHP community members love to show off and they do so by helping others. You can often find them showing other teammates something new they learned while working on a project they contribute to in their off-hours. They organize User Groups just so they can show off to others. It’s why they love to speak at conferences, so they can show off stuff they have learned.

They make their employers look good at conferences.

Active PHP community members love to speak at conferences and they will want you to help pay for it. Their speaking is nothing more than showing off. It doesn’t matter that their presenting makes your company a thought leader and makes it easier for you to attract other developers. All you get as a return on your investment is a smarter, better connected, inspired and rejuvenated developer. Trust me, I understand, you’ve got deadlines to meet and can’t have a developer out for a week showing off and finding solutions to the difficult problems they are working on for you. It doesn’t matter that they come back energized and inspired. It probably doesn’t even matter that they burn off all this new-found energy solving problems, and building solutions faster and better. All that matters is they weren’t in their cube for a week, right?

They work for free

No, not for you, don’t be stupid; but most active members of the PHP community contribute to one or more open source projects on their own time. This means that even when they aren’t paid to do so, they are coding; learning, honing their skills that they then come back and use for you.


In short, no, don’t hire active PHP community members. Hire the developers that are happy to punch in at 9 and out at 5, go home and tinker in their workshop. Honestly, there are enough teams out their vying for active members of the PHP community because they recognize them as the cream of the crop as far as developers go. They want them on their team and are counting on you to to pass over all active PHP community members because you think they they are too high maintenance. You keep thinking that, just hope your competition does too.

Until next time,
I <3 |<


I’ve had several people tweet to me asking if I was being serious or sarcastic. (“You serious, Clarke?“) This post is of course, tongue-in-cheek. Active members of the PHP community are some of the best developers you can hire and are a sought after commodity. If you are lucky enough to hire one, take care of them and hold onto them.

13 thoughts on “Don’t Hire PHP Community Members!

  1. You know when you read a headline and it makes your blood boil and you can hardly wait to make a big comment… I can’t do that now I’ve read the article as I like it.

    I need to release the anger somehow… You have a typo: “assert” should be “asset”.

    That’s better.

  2. I completely agree, Cal. We can’t trust all these highly inspired, inventive, problem solving, infinitely helpful crazy people. Especially the ones on IRC who allegedly practice the dark arts of polyphasic and mutliphasic sleep just so that they can write even more source code, dream even more inspiring solutions, and while away the time writing blog posts.

    We need to hunt them down!

  3. You can hire active community members with only one condition: you need a kick ass firewall that won’t let them online while they are their cubical working for you.

    You don’t want them wasting your time and money solving someone else’s problems or WORSE: they could be contributing code they build for your company to some open source projects. You must protect your IP!!


  4. Saw this being twitted and I thought “oh well, that blog was hacked or something”!

  5. Wow, I first read your interview with Wasseem and then I read this headline. All that went through my head was “Why does he tip us to get involved and then say something like that?”
    And then I read the article, nice trick! :p

    Not only do you praise those people, you also set a certain standard for those that won’t to get involved. Good read!

  6. @romeo

    Why bother hiring them. If you lock them behind a firewall and prevent them from contributing to OS projects then you have basically cut off what makes active community members special. You can hire them, they won’t stay long.

    Yes, they may spend some time on IRC helping someone else solve a problem. If you consider this anything but good then you really need to look at your management skills. Solving problems is what we do. Yes, they are on your clock but they will put in enough overtime when you have a problem to be solved to more than outweigh any time they spend helping others.

    As for IP. The active community members that I know understand a lot more about IP and copyright than most managers I know. Many of them can discuss the pros and cons of the various OS licenses and understand what can and can’t be done.

    No developer wants to harm the project they contribute to. Most are very careful to keep a wall between their work code and their personal projects.

    Honestly though, if you are concerned about these issues, my guess is you aren’t considering hiring active members of the PHP (or any technical) community. Even if you did consider it, any community member worth their salt would most likely pass on any offer you made. There are more companies looking for developers than there are developers out there. We have the luxury of choice and if remaining active in the community is a priority for a developer; they will most likely choose not to work with you.


  7. @romeo!

    I sir, have egg on my face and I do apologize for the comments above. I totally mis-read your Borat moment. :)


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