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Old 07-20-2002, 06:21 PM   #1
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I've been thinking about getting some more coders to help out with my MUD, but I've been hesitant for fear of either finding someone who isn't serious about helping, or some crackpot who doesn't know what he's doing.

So how do you screen for coders? How do you know who's trustworthy and who really knows what they're doing?
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Old 07-20-2002, 06:29 PM   #2
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The only effective way to screen coders is to watch them in action. Have a trial period of 1 month+, during which they have to prove that they know what they're doing. Most people who aren't genuinely interested will balk at the idea of actually having to work, and will generally just leave.
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Old 07-23-2002, 04:59 AM   #3
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Sounds like a good idea, but add that they need to
code offline first, bad idea to give shell access to whoever shows up.
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Old 07-23-2002, 06:23 AM   #4
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Call me crazy...

The first coder I let help me out, way back when I didn't have a clue... he wanted to help install OLC into the game which we had already modified. I let him into the shell, thinking what's the worst that could happen, said person can't do it, and we might have to fix some stuff. He says use the patch, I tell him we've been modified.

He goes into the shell, attempts the patch. Behold, it does not work! So when this fails, what is his next step? Erase the mud, change the password on me, log out. I wasn't quite smart back then, and we only had one account.

Luckily, we had a tape backup from a week before, and I wasn't the root user.

Now from the horror story to the actual stuff. For a while, I had to meet someone irl to have them code on my game. I eventually became more lenient, just meeting them after they started coding ;P (hint to miss blue cornchip there)

If you can set them up with their own account you can keep track of, is helpful. Let them submit a little code first off, offline coding or whatever. For cripes sake, make them play your game some. Why? People who just log into my game to ask to code first thing... come on. You don't even know crap about my game or the balance issues or anything else.

If you're stingy, get them to sign an agreement that they won't steal your code, publish it, and so on. Have a long, long talk with them about how it's your game, and not theirs, and if they can't handle living in your vision and not theirs, they should be owning their own mud. Make sure they aren't power trippers (this is where having them actually play your game helps, you have some background on how they act)

Get their phone number, probably another big thing. You can call them if all else fails to figure out wtf they just did to your code. If you're not using a CVS system, get it, sometimes it's the only way I've recovered from something someone did

Anyhow, hope this helped. Getter a coder is a big chance thing. I've seen places get shafted and the whole mud suck from getting ****ty ass coders who think they're the bomb-azz mutha hizzou cool mofo whatever when they are actually worthless POS, but I've also seen other muds thrive from getting the rare incredible coder who has inspiration, no life, and so much smarts it amazes me. Oh yah, then there's everyone else

I can suggest a few great coders, but they're already mine I can suggest a few really suck-ballz ones too if you want, and where to find them.
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Old 07-23-2002, 06:58 AM   #5
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Does calling me at 3 am and singing to me count?
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Old 07-24-2002, 02:24 AM   #6
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Yuki, that has to be one of the funniest stories I've ever read (the changing the shell password and all)

As a general rule, anyone who logs in and offers to code, within 30 minutes of creation is not going to be a good person to trust with the shell account.

Anyone who uses the phrase "It'll be l33t" or "I gotz mad haXoR skillz" should not be trusted. You get stupider just for reading what they type, it's proven. The phenomenon is infinitely more compounded if you are listening to them in person.

Ask the prospective parther (because that's what they are; it may be your creation, but it will become a part of them as well, if you hit symbiosis) questions about what they expect from the relationship, and where they think you'll (plural) be in future years. If they say "impossible" about something you want done, be wary. There's a lot that is impractical, but very little that is impossible, within the rules of programming. Ie, if you want your MUD to project holographic images into the homes of the players, that is impossible. But if you want stereo sound to be played through your custom client which you want the programmer to write, then that is impractical.

Learn SSH. Learn SSH. Learn SSH.

If you learn SSH, you can really find out if your programmer's worthwhile. Tell them that you only use SSH for your shell connection, and that you will give them shell access once they send their public key to you. Install the pub key and they can SSH in without needing to know (or being able to change!!! your shell password. If things don't work out, remove their ssh-key from your list.

Learn SSH.

Don't do the above until you're willing to let them into the code; ssh does not prevent them from removing all the files.

Take time to really know them. The last programmer we stole from our layerbase had been a player on our game for over a year, and had a vested interest in the continuation of it.

There's no real test or anything to determine if they're going to do you right. Go with your gut feelings, but back everything up before you do. Learn SSH, and carry a big stick.
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Old 07-24-2002, 04:15 AM   #7
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CVS and setting them up with their own account comes in handy as well. If you can't make more accounts, ugh.

Yes, the latest coder (Kyrene) I sometimes call at 3 in the morning while drunk to sing songs of the infamous blue corn chip. Now that is a good coder (putting up with me?).

Yes, my funny story at my expense I think I was allowed in the shell at the time to edit helpfiles, nothing else. I did not know how to code, how to even start the mud up, edit a pfile, see who was logged in, or even change the password myself. I was worthless A definite learning experience because the paranoia has kept with me from it.
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Old 07-24-2002, 12:08 PM   #8
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LoL some great suggestions that I definitely plan to take into account. Especially the singing one.

Actually we've been trying to install CVS but ran across a few problems. I don't suppose either of you would be willing to talk with me a bit about it?
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Old 07-25-2002, 01:35 AM   #9
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I'm head builder and HIMP and I'm relegated the task of hiring coders since I don't own the world or code. I found one upon urging of another Imp and since I don't code, I was somewhat clueless as to how evaluate since I couldn't authorize shell access.

Now that's a real dilemma for me and probably a position I shouldn't have been placed in, but it fell to my lot. My instinct said to learn the individual on a personal basis, see how they behaved as an immortal and perhaps a player. Do they have the patience to build a zone which I doubted since they would learn the shortcomings and good points of OLC and builder interactions with flags etc. My goal was watch and see temperment, patience, frustration with existing code, interaction with other Immortals/mortals etc. Finally after a few months and little to no building but decent behavior, I vouched for the coder.

First thing the head coder asked me is "is he a good person?" I responded "I'm pretty sure he is, he listens and tolerant, though he doesn't have the patience to build." With CVS enabled and the newb coder input being reviewed by the head coder and me, all has progressed reasonably well but the point is, my instinct said a good person from watching.

Resume, coding examples, etc are good values to judge by, but when push comes to shove the twit who will steal your code can't handle power. The abuser or thief will be impatient and do wierd stuff. MAKE them actually play and/or build for you before you hire, you will learn tons if you watch them as well as learn the "flavor" you strive for in your world. In the same breath I also advocate CVS as a failsafe medium for controlling as well as establishing Head Coder permissions in the shell that can't be overridden.
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Old 07-25-2002, 12:32 PM   #10
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In the LPMUD world, it's a bit easier, since a creating wizard doesn't have to have write access to the mud's lib. That would be a privilegie of the admins.

But when it comes to having write access to the lib, I will never allow that unless I have met, in real life, the person in question, and I have their name and number.
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Old 07-26-2002, 05:37 PM   #11
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I think it's very difficult to discover if someone is trustworthy or not from a simple interview or two.

However, to discover if they can code, in my experience, asking a basic coding question filters out 95% of the riff-raff... For example, on the last mud I worked with, literally only 2 out of 15 applicants knew the correct answer to the following VERY basic debugging question:

Why does this cause a crash?

char string[4];
strcpy(string, "1234");

Another good one is asking the applicants how to get a crash dump from GDB, given a core file.  Only -one- of the 15 applicants got this, and knowing how to use your system's debugger is such a critical skill for a mud developer.  
The same one was also the only one who knew the command line syntax to compile a c file.  I kid you not.

I should mention that all of the applicants could talk a good game, and just chatting with them about design issues, etc wouldn't have turned up their serious deficiencies in programming skill.

Of course, being a programmer myself, it is perhaps easier for me to spot these sorts of deficiencies, but having -any- programming knowledge whatsoever is often enough to seperate the wheat from the chaff.

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Old 08-15-2002, 10:31 AM   #12
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i guess i started way wrong but i am lucky. the mud i started i found a great programmer, and im thankful that he did know his stuff and hes honest, we now have a small staff and now moved from modifing a codebase to making our own. I myself have *basic* skills in C, yes im a n00b when it comes to programming but im learning, slowly. but anyway they way i do it now is that i have my Head programmer interview them frist and if they can convince him that they are good he gives them a test, its about 10 questions i think not sure realy but so far only 1 out of 8 passed the test.
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