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McBride Programmer Type Indicator (MPTI)

Many people are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) instrument.1 It is essentially a test that asks you questions to place you in 4 categories that have polar opposite (but equal) values, e.g., introvert vs. extrovert. Once you’ve answered all the questions, you find out your four-letter personality type. For example, I’m an INTJ, which means I’m likely to write a parody of the MBTI and post it on a website I coded myself and think it’s really funny.

Given this likelihood, I thought I’d make a test to determine what type of programmer you are. Enough talk, let’s get to the test, er, “instrument.”

How it works:

  1. Answer the following 12 questions. For each, annotate the letter next to the answer.
  2. Calculate your score using the method described after the questions.

Questions:

1. When you sit down to git started coding, you like to drink:
   c. coffee
   m. water

2. Did you find the typo in the last question funny?
   a. yes
   k. no

3. As your code begins to flow, the room is:
   q. silent
   n. filled with March of the Pigs

4. Your mouse is:
   v. shiny and new
   g. grungy and gross

5. Have you ever gained +o in an IRC channel with a war script and deception tactics?
   a. yes
   k. IRC?  That's that like Skype, right?

6. Have you or anyone you trust ever encrypted anything on a golden hard disk?
   m. yes
   c. no

7. runlevel 3 is all you need?
   v. indeed
   g. no, give me a window manager please

8. Which brings greater pleasure?
   n. electric guitar
   q. the sound of one hand clapping

9. Have your hands ever shaken as a result of caffeine intake?
   m. no
   c. yyysesss

10. In a public place, do you?
   n. strap on headphones
   q. enjoy the ambient noise

11. During a hardcore session (of coding), your mouse usage:
   v. asymptotically approaches 0
   g. is constant and frequent

12. Right now are you thinking:
   k. This test is stupid
   a. I assume he meant a horizontal asymptote and not an oblique

That’s it. Interpret your results below.

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… just a little white space, keep scrolling …

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Alright, to tally your score:

  1. For each opposite letter group, determine which letter you answered most often and annotate 2 or 3 beside it, e.g., 1 M answer and 2 C answers is a 2C.
    • M vs. C
    • Q vs. N
    • K vs. A
    • G vs. V
  2. Read the explanation of your results below by the column in each row that matches your letter-number results.
← 3 ans ← 2 ans 2 ans → 3 ans →
M
o
r
m
o
n
You’re most likely a Mormon. Your god has convinced your congregation that coffee is the devil, which doesn’t bode well for 2am sessions. The foundation of your faith starts off pretty sweet with your prophet decrypting an encrypted golden hard disk with his own private key given to him by God, but he’s quickly revealed as a lamer when he loses the private key … and the disks.2 That probably wouldn’t have happened with a little coffee. M’s tend to like things to work, but don’t necessarily care how and aren’t likely to “roll their own.” They have no care for documentation or source code. You should be Mormon. Visit their site. They’re waiting for you. You’re probably still living on “young” caffeine like soda or energy drinks. Your blood runs black. You tell your friends about how caffeine is actually good for you and never hesitate to get another cup. C’s tend to like torturing themselves with doing things on their own, despite the fact that someone has already done it better. They love documentation and avoid borrowing tools where they can’t read the source code. C’s have a habit of forgetting to go to bed at reasonable hours, but never consider lowering their caffeine intake to correct the issue. C
o
f
f
e
e
Q
u
i
e
t
Not a fan of noise, you think deep, but probably work a little slower than most. Nevertheless, when you deliver your results, people are amazed. Your taste for perfection however makes you bad in a pinch. Q’s tend more toward theory and politics and less toward application and decisiveness. You have the occasional craving for something good, like metal. You like your music loud and the more guitars and effects the better. 95% of the time, you’re ears are listening to the sweet sounds of Trent Reznor as his enlightening words give you the inspiration to write out yet another 500 lines of code. You tell everyone that doesn’t like Nails that it’s an acquired taste, or that they’re not smart enough to understand why it’s so awesome. In both cases you are right. N’s are effective self-motivators and decision makers as their music-induced adrenaline rushes give them the ability to get things done. N
a
i
l
s
K
i
d
d
i
e
You’re probably under the age of 23. You think you know about programming, but when you’re 30 you’ll start making fun of 23 year-olds and see “how it is.” You ask A’s a lot of annoying questions and make the pivotal choice to absorb or get the one-time benefit. Regardless or your choice you should shut up. Friggin’ script kiddies … sheesh. Probably 29 and in denial. You still ask a lot of annoying questions that you should know the answers to. You get pissed when kiddies ask you stupid questions. You are one of the fabled ancients. Where others saw coding as slavery, you found happiness in slavery and have been doing it for decades. You make very dry syntactic jokes and talk about other people’s code in a very critical manner. You don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t know every Unix command or why they don’t simply write shell scripts to do their common desktop tasks. You remember the Internet when there were no graphics and you liked it. A
n
c
i
e
n
t
G
U
I
If someone stole your mouse, you’d be screwed. You think to yourself, “whoa” when people start using meta keys really quickly. G’s are good to have around if you must interface with users. You assign gestures to your mouse and use it to simplify your work flow. You’re probably really good at Quake. You’d rather not deal with GUIs, but you use OS X and that damned thing can’t be used without one. You tell Mac users to enable full keyboard access and shut up as you open another text window in vi. You tell people how fast you are and about all the clock cycles you save despite the fact that you’re always compiling things and you haven’t owned a computer with a clock cycle bottleneck since 1998. v’s are at the heart of any good operation. (Emacs sucks.) v
i

Interpretation of the Major Groups Containing the 16 Types

NK – The brilliant youth. Young, but understand that Nine Inch Nails is the greatest band on Earth.3 Those who haven’t found sanctity in the black holiness are an easy step away from becoming great. These brilliant minds will lead the charge on on code fronts everywhere.

QA – Quiet and old, QAs are likely to be your boss. They don’t want to be bothered and are stuck in their ways. Conversations are difficult and you never know whether to get them chocolate espresso beans or a photo of Mitt Romney in a heart-shaped frame.

QK – QKs are fragile and need the help of NAs to ensure they stay on track. Their young, quiet nature means they’re likely to be crushed by reality as they age. NAs should pwn them early and often to ensure they develop well.

MNA – The confused. Seriously, old Mormon Nails fans? Not likely.

CNA – The elite. Mouse or keyboard matters not. CNAs will school you quickly with their adrenaline and caffeine induced approach to coding coupled with years of failure to learn from. They always laugh at the way you do things as they think to themselves, “I remember making that mistake 20 years ago.” If you know any, learn from them.

Notes

1 The MTBI is available on a variety of websites. You can read more at: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/take-the-mbti-instrument/

2 The story of JS and the golden plates is all over the net, so I recommend starting with Wikipedia and going from there.

3 Only an idiot would dispute this. Go get a free album and find out for yourself.

Similarly tagged OmniNerd content:

Information This article was edited after publication by the author on 31 Jan 2009. View changes.
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In order for this test to have any accuracy, a person has to actually be a programmer, which in the scope of all things I’m probably really not.
But, since I’ve been involved in some sort of coding in various capacities over the years, I took the test anyway and came out CQAG. The “G” could easily turn to a “V” in a pinch, but this is probably true for any “A” who lived back when there was nothing but. (That “A” letter I wish I could do something about, but it’s been a losing battle.)
My antique iPod Mini has a handful of NIN on it, but never at any point in my life could I listen to music (or anything) and actually think at the same time.

4 Votes  - +
VnutZ MPTI by VnutZ

I’m clearly not a Mormon … but your test pegs me as a MQAG. That’s probably why we don’t play well together when coding.

5 Votes  - +
RE: VnutZ MPTI by twabulldogg

CNAV… remarkably accurate! Especially the Vi (although I much prefer emacs).

I think VNutz is in denial.

1 Vote  - +
RE: VnutZ MPTI by markmcb

Ah, another CNAV! :-)

Yes, Matt is in denial. Hopefully he uses his M powers for good like other Ms have done in the past.

2 Votes  - +
RE: VnutZ MPTI by VnutZ

You guys think you’re so funny … just wait until the Great Purge.

1 Vote  - +
RE: VnutZ MPTI by brho

don’t feel bad, matt, i’m a dirty MNAV. i guess i still run on ‘young caffeine.’

2 Votes  - +
MNAG by Brandon

Hilarious article … except for some of the Joseph Smith stuff. I like the golden hard drive bit, but you would have done the nerd in you more justice by recommending the reader start with real academic literature and go from there.

Anyway, I’m a confused MNAG.

M – I’m Mormon, so that’s right on.

N – I really like loud music, but I’m more likely to blast something other than NIN (Senses Fail as I type this). I have a good bit of NIN stuff, though, and I listened to Broken and Pretty Hate Machine about a billion times each when they came out.

A – I’m not that old, and I’m not a code genius, so this seems off. All I had to do to get here was recognized the “git” reference and be nerdy enough to think about two kinds of asymptotes.

G – Yeah… I use my mouse.

…my results (MQKG) would make more sense. Unfortunately, my alternate life as a star programmer ended in this quantum reality when I improvised too much on an assignment in first year comp-sci. When I lost marks for improving the efficiency of the algorithm, I decided a career in programming wasn’t for me.

As for NIN—well… I would have agreed Reznor is the greatest musician on Earth back when I was in my early twenties. Somewhere along the line, however, I discovered Buddhism and became a lot less angry. I still listen every now and then—and lately have had Something I can never have running through my mind. Actually, I recently got Ghosts as a birthday present, and really enjoy it—but that’s Trent being a lot more mellow than the old Broken and Downward Spiral days…

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