Coding Ethics For Developers and Programmers

bad developers


There are quotes attributed to Robert “Uncle Bob” Martin (co-author of the Agile Manifesto) that encapsulates the role software developers and programmers has in our societies.

No matter who you are, no matter how powerful or wealthy you may be, you are not immuned to the far-reaching hands of technology.


“Without software: Phones don’t ring. Cars don’t start. Planes don’t fly. Bombs don’t explode. Ships don’t sail. Ovens don’t bake. Garage doors don’t open. Money doesn’t change hands. Electricity doesn’t get generated. And we can’t find our way to the store. Nothing happens without software. And what is software? Software is a set of rules.”

“We programmers. We rule the world. We write the rules that make our society work.

“Think about it; and think about it carefully. Nothing happens in our society without software. Nothing.

“It’s certainly true that the Earth turns, the Sun rises, the rain falls, and the tides recede and advance without the aid of software. But in our society, virtually nothing happens without the involvement of some kind of computer program.


Quincy Larson wrote about when in 2013 Uber used a sophisticated tool to undermine local law enforcement at every turn.

Or when Zenefit CEO, Parker Conrad developed a tool that helped Zenefits agents cheat their way through the licensing process.

Or when Volkswagen executives ordered their software engineers to figure out a way to trick the Environmental Protection Agency during their emissions tests.

Or when advertising platforms engineers are told to write automated bots that depletes your ads funds while making you believe that the traffic coming to your website are real human beings.

The list goes on.
This is why it begs for answer as to why Coding Ethics hasn’t been made compulsory for every programming course.

Some universities have introduced developer ethics courses, but this alone hasn’t been enough. There are 20 million professional developers out there, and millions of working adults who are transitioning into the software development field. Most of them don’t have time to go back to school to take an ethics class.

How can ethical concepts be introduced in a way that’s practical enough for these busy developers?


Enters The Programmer’s Oath.

These 9 promises was created by Uncle Bob’s and published on his original 2015 blog post titled Clean Coder Blog:

  1. I will not produce harmful code.
  2. The code that I produce will always be my best work. I will not knowingly allow code that is defective either in behavior or structure to accumulate.
  3. I will produce, with each release, a quick, sure, and repeatable proof that every element of the code works as it should.
  4. I will make frequent, small, releases so that I do not impede the progress of others.
  5. I will fearlessly and relentlessly improve my creations at every opportunity. I will never degrade them.
  6. I will do all that I can to keep the productivity of myself, and others, as high as possible. I will do nothing that decreases that productivity.
  7. I will continuously ensure that others can cover for me, and that I can cover for them.
  8. I will produce estimates that are honest both in magnitude and precision. I will not make promises without certainty.
  9. I will never stop learning and improving my craft.



Just like in the medical profession, programming affects lives in very dramatic ways.

And if doctors can have their Hippocratic Oath that defines and summarizes their ethical guidelines and core outlook, it is safe to say that developers ought to apply these principles above in their day-to-day work.

It would surely reduce the chaos that presently reign supreme in our daily online encounters.


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