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Sarah Dye
Sarah Dye

Posted on • Updated on

Dear Princess Programmer: Keep Coding!

Yesterday I was checking my feed on Twitter when I saw one of my followers commenting on this tweet. This tweet was sharing screenshots of a post found on the Reddit forum r/AmItheAsshole forum. The original post has since been removed by the moderators, but screenshots and cross-postings can still be found in other Reddit forums.

I (36M) am a web developer for many years now and have a lot of experience.

About a year ago my daughter (9F) suddenly decided she wanted to learn coding. She asked me to teach her. I declined and explained that it is complex and I don't have the time and would burn out from doing that after work as it is tough but that she was free to learn on her own. We have a white list of sites she can access on her laptop so we were not afraid of her searching the web.

She did teach herself some C++ which is not a language I have used in years and is a bit outdated and not the simplest to pick up.

It's been a year and she calls herself "princess programmer" and it is a little cringy and she likes to wear a nice dress or skirt while working on some simple games she makes.

Recently she overheard one of my work meetings and learned what code reviews are and asked me to do one on her newest game while claiming that "princess programmer" wrote it very well and expects it to be very good.

I noticed many issues like bad variable naming conventions, code duplication, using if condition, return instead of just returning the condition.

I told her the quality sucked compared to anything that could be production code and that it would be easier to rewrite than fix it. I told her if she wanted to learn more she could rewrite it with my advice and that programming is serious and not a game and she should stop with the outfits and princess programmer stuff and maybe try an easier language than C++.

She cried and threw a tantrum and is upset at me and says I was too mean. And my wife is now also upset at me and says I should have lied and said her work was good and told her how to make it better. My wife did do coding in college but she doesn't do much of it in her job these days.

AITA here?

A lot of comments were quick to point out that this story had to be fake and this author had to be a troll just trying to create a reaction to get attention. Regardless if it was fake or not, the post quickly got the reactions the author wanted with 351 comments already responding to the original post. Many of these comments were criticizing him for how he handled the situation as well as his view of "programming being serious and not a game", telling his daughter to stop with the princess programmer stuff, and even saying C++ is outdated.

As DEV gets ready to end the WeCoded celebration this year, I want to use this year's post to reach out to Princess Programmer. While there's a lot of focus on her father, I want to use this post to reach out to his daughter to let her know that she inspires me as a programmer and I hope she continues to code. I can't speak for the rest of the tech community, but I think it is awesome she taught herself C++ and created her own game.

Those are two big accomplishments she should be very proud of herself for. I hope she will feel ready to publish her game someday so little kids can play it and inspire others to create their games too. If she needs a mentor or someone to support her as she continues to learn how to code, tons of organizations and communities can support her.

I'm also certain many developers would also love to mentor her and help her out if she needs it. So please don't hesitate to reach out and ask. Most importantly, I hope she continues to keep being a princess programmer and what that means to her.

One of the reasons I love tech is because tech allows everyone to bring what makes them special to the table so they can create awesome things. Tech needs more people like princess programmer in it and I hope she never gives up on that. If there is anything we can learn from this Reddit post is the power a mentor can have and it makes a difference in breaking down the barriers in tech.

Good and bad mentors do leave an impact that can leave a lasting influence on new developers.

This whole situation reminded me of the TV show Scrubs. In episode 17, J.D. is given a med student to teach and he gets so frustrated by his student's mistakes that he tells the student he shouldn't be a doctor. When he discovers that his student quits, he tries getting confirmation from others at the hospital that what happened wasn't his fault.

Carla doesn't buy it and tells him that he was the one who failed since he was his teacher. Carla's point is spot and it should serve as a reminder for all of us in tech about what it means to be a mentor or a teacher. Mentoring is much more than helping another developer figure out a problem or learn a new skill.

Many times mentors are the first cheerleaders we have and can leave a lasting impact on the people they help. Tech still is addressing a lot of issues so it is more equitable and diverse. To make this a reality, it starts by mentoring and supporting programmers like Princess Programmer so we don't miss on what they bring to tech.

As WeCoded gets ready to end, I hope reading this post reminds everyone why this celebration is important and gives others the courage to mentor new developers coming into tech or at least cheer on their princess programmers in their own lives. Janna Loeffler's tweet responding to the Reddit post is the best way to end this one. I hope if Princess Programmer reads this someday she sees all the support she has gotten from others in tech and how we are all sending her lots of love her way.

This post was originally published on March 16, 2023 on DEV. I made minor changes to the original post for CodeNewbie.

Top comments (3)

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sunflower36002 profile image
sunflower • Edited

Dear Princess Programmer,

Your dedication and creativity shine through, inspiring us all to embrace the joy of coding. Keep pursuing your passion and continue to be the princess programmer who adds magic to the tech world. Game.