Although this post is preserved for historical reasons, today it is considered off-topic everywhere in the SE network, because it is a "Getting to Know You" poll question. Enjoy this post, but do not cite it as proof that you can ask similar questions.

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Please note I am NOT looking for answers like


well I guess depending on the context that could be an acceptable answer.. But you know what I mean.

I am looking for answers like

"I cannot keep up with an ever changing field"


"That my data gets hacked"

Actual fears that developers have to deal with.


That a bug of mine could cause physical harm to someone or something.


That I'll recognize my code on TheDailyWTF.


I fear the rise of closed programming environments?in particular Apple's iOS?and the anti-freedom business model and way of thinking they represent. It was bad enough trying to be a programmer when Microsoft could decide to destroy you through unfair practices like bundling, but the total control exercised so capriciously by Apple makes MS look like a kindly uncle.

I loathe the increasing presence of internet activation (DRM) in development toolsets (Windows, graphics tools, applications in general). Again, my ability to do my job rests in the co-operation of another company that can arbitrarily deny it or simply disappear, leaving me in the lurch.

I despair that, after years of the open-source crowd chipping out some hard-won freedoms in these areas, many want to simply hand over the keys to all their computing activities to a third party, whose interests may well not align with their own.


That I might one day have to learn Java.


That I end up working with another developer who doesn't actually know what they're doing, but they believe their way is the best way. And that developer is actually above you in the chain of command, so you end up having to do things their way.

Thankfully I've not had that fear realised yet!

Oh, and spiders...


That I might end up in a job where I had to wear a neck-tie.


though all answers seem to take the funny part, and I'm loving them

I must say that my worst fear is just 2 words

bored and afraid

getting bored of everything about developing, computers, internet... I'm afraid that, after investing so many year in programming (15 and counting), we get to that age that... "please... no more computers!" and then I wonder ...

getting afraid even though I have the passion of developing and creating web business applications (that's what drives me), I'm getting sick of such new versions of programming languages, new ways of doing it, it all come to fast (I'm a .NET developer)... I can't know it all as I wanted, now I'm starting with MVC, WCF, OData, ... ... ... :-( When will this ever end, I'm exhaust of pursuing the new technologies, takes time to be good at one, and when your good... there are 5 more, 3 of them Upgrades! Uff!

but then again...

without programming something... what else can I do?

this is my fear!


Data loss. Causing data loss is the worst sin any developer can possibly commit. But, that's why sysadmins take backups.


Getting fired for using StackOverflow at work. =D


I fear the rushing tide of developers that are coming into the field only for the money or the "opportunity" and not because they love to code and solve problems. They devalue the field as a whole.


Losing an arm or a hand.


Working with a senior developer who is very bad at programming.

Programming javascript without jQuery.


Burnout. I've seen it happen, and gotten very close to it myself. It's not pretty.

Also fear waking up one day and needing to scream "I don't want to do this anymore!!", but that's not really programming-specific, could happen in any career.


Having no internet

Seriously, once the internet is down and all developers stopped working and started chatting. Oh my god... that's nightmare!



(Working on a web app ;)

(I'm not kidding. Poorly designed spiders and poorly designed websites don't go together!)


That I will stay too long in a corporate job that I don't love because the pay is good.


That I might have to program in COBOL.


That my code becomes SkyNet


Becoming outdated.

I fear that the next hot thing will come along and I'll find that no one wants to hire me because I didn't just get out of school trained in Object Oriented X# and they don't want to wait until I get up to speed.



I am running as fast as I can to keep up, but the amount of stuff you need to know to do this job right only seems to be increasing. As I am nearing 40 I have to wonder how much longer I will have the stamina to keep learning at such a rapid pace.


Non-reproducible bugs. (in particular, bugs that only ever show themselves when the program is being demo'd on stage in front of at least 500 people)


Programming Sharepoint with Javascript.....




That I might one day have to learn PHP.


Getting called out for writing something totally wrong on Stack Overflow. (It's Ok if no-one notices..)


Being held accountable for timeframe estimates for essential functionality, where:

  1. I have no idea how long it would take to code;
  2. I am not given time to investigate;
  3. Requirements keep changing in an uncontrolled way;
  4. Data that needs to sit in just about any tier is being drip fed to me;
  5. The direction taken was incorrect or not considered an optimal way of writing the functionality and you then have an unrealistic timeframe to re-write it; and
  6. Once it has been re-written, half of the company blame you.

Does any of this sound familiar?



As in, didn't get it shipped - whether that be in time, with the killer feature, etc.


Being asked "How many years experience do you have in XXX?", where XXX is a product I designed and wrote, then being told I didn't get the job.

Oh that's right, this already happened


Regular Expressions.


Losing the battle to stay up-to-date on such a vast field of knowledge and having to resign to being a 'specialist' in some fading, dinosaur technology.


That code monkeys will replace all real programmers.


One of my fears is that I will quit liking my job. I can imagine programming is the kind of work that can be miserable if you don't love it.


Being forced using MFC on windows.


I fear that some day the world will realize that we all spend about half our day goofing off and therefore should only be paid half as much.


That one day, I'll wake up and realize that I haven't done anything of value and I'm too old to change that.


That one day the power will go out...

...and never come back on.

My entire educational and professional career would be for naught.


Spending so much time working on work and side projects that I forget to stay in shape, find a nice girl to marry, etc etc.


Being pushed in a direction and noticing afterwards that you are stuck with what you are doing, and you have been doing it the last 5 years or so


That I might one day come to the conclusion that programming is just not for me. That's what really scares me.


I'm afraid of not having enough time to learn and master all stuffs I'm interested in...


stack overflow.

It happens me once, in a random way, I was using recursive functions, was the last time I use them


Threading :O

Gives me nightmares


What if I make it all the way to the end of my career and I've never done anything to help move the industry or humanity forward in any significant way? What if I slip off into the night and am forgotten like that dead Raccoon you drove past on the highway last week that you hadn't given a second thought until I just mentioned it?


Boss who doesn't understand me.. and, Incompetence.


I fear spending my time on an answer forum answering RTFM questions like:

How to find the maximum of 2 numbers?


How do I write a is not smaller than b


I always get a deep fear in the pit of my stomach just before I'm about to push anything I have built or anything I'm responsible for live. Regardless of how thoroughly I have tested it.

It's like I'm assuming it's going to break straight away and I'll be revealed as stupid or incompetent or something.


That future technology and consolidation of development efforts either by corporation or open source projects will reduce the demand for programmers, while globalization significantly increases the supply. I think this is already well underway.


Lack of motivation due to a project that you know 2 months down the line isn't going to be used anyway, so they scrap the idea and propose a new idea.


I am afraid I will get old and I won't be able to work as efficient as now and keep up with technology.


Getting bored.

If I have to do one more CRUDdy web-app, I'm going to become an artist or something.


My second biggest fear is being asked to re-write and modernize a program that my employer "has the source code for", where "has the source code" means "it's written in Fortran on this unsorted, waist-high stack of punch cards". I've done that once, and it's been a recurring nightmare ever since.

My biggest fear is for the above to happen, only for me to find that part of the aforementioned source code has decomposed or been eaten by vermin whilst being stored in the repositorybasement...


Monads. And that one day I might have to write one for production code.


Being forced to help with ISO Documentation... or even worse a users manual


misusing rm -rf


That I'll die without saying a simple word, "Eureka"


That I have to go back to VB.NET from C# for the next project.... shudder


making the mistake that causes the rest of the team to work unplanned overtime to correct.


Somebody will completely restructure my code!


Spending my life programming on a language/environment I dislike.

See: Is using an outdated programming language bad for my career/personal development?


Closed platforms. With every new locked device, a potential programming job is lost, along with individual freedom.


Given how many fervent debates there are about programming languages and platforms, I would say one of the most common fears is becoming irrelevant after investing lots of time cultivating a very specific skill set. There is a huge amount of angst on blogs, forums like hacker news, and even this site about getting left behind.

Some people deal with it by being defensive and trying to rationalize their decision to stay the course, and others endlessly jump to the newest greatest thing. But both are manifestations of this fear.


That my code will be reviewed


1 - getting behind of the general profession, not having enough time to develop my skills 2 - getting stuck on a maintenance project for a long time 3 - having to know so much about business logic to be competitive 4 - having bad design or no design before starting coding 5 - so on :) unfortunately there are a lot of things to be afraid of in this profession


I got left behind!.. I came out of a 15 year old time capsule because I stopped programming that long ago when I started a Pawnshop business. FWIW, I have a 20 yr old pawnshop app written with INFORMIX-SQL and I need to modernize the app with a GUI-front end, but keep the same functionality. My app is very robust and has some incredible features which a couple of other pawnshop owners who use my system are very happy with. Only obstacle which has kept me from effectively acheiving market penetration is, believe it, my app is char-based and I would like to duplicate the same functionality with a GUI. My feeling is that its quicker for a user to process a transaction with my char-based app vs. having to focus a cursor with a mouse, but cosmetics are hindering me! I need a programming language update!


i'm deathly afraid of a monetary loss due to a bug in my code. it's happened before... the infamous "penny pizza day", instead of "dollar pizza day"... unit tests FTW


That someone else will do what I do. ;)



Really getting into all the extras, HipHop, Cassandra, etc.


That I will invest all my time into a hyped new technology only to find out shortly down the road that it's a dying one...


I am always afraid that my OpenGL programs do not run properly on the majority of computers. In my experience, there is always a good "chance" that an application that runs perfectly on my machine (and a few others), do not run smoothly on some other machine, for no apparent reason...

By the way, testing on many machines should have been a lesson for those developing Grand Theft Auto IV, because - it seems - the setup utility will fail to display any text labels on computers not running an English languange version of Windows (and maybe German, too -- at least no text was shown when I tried to install it on my Swedish machine; there was only some strange mix of random Chinese (?) characters and whitespace). And when it was installed, even though my specs were far higher then the recommended, I got a inverse frame rate of some seconds per frame (yes, that is less than one fps!).


Agile Methodology takes over, and is poorly implemented.


That I might have to do front end work using javascript.


Being forced to ship code before it is ready or within a timeframe that guarantees poor quality. I know the pain this causes, know what I will do to make it write, but still I hate this situation.

For Vice Presidents of Engineering put in this position, my recommendation is to refuse and/or quit. Don't push it down to your team.



Oh boy...a lot of good ones already mentioned. :)

Not being able to keep up in this every-changing field.
Never improving as a developer. Becoming the "weakest link" on the team.


Find out that some day my knowledge is obsolete and because of that become a college teacher.


To take a page from this guy's book, I have nothing to fear except fear itself. Seriously.


When I am involved with Legacy System and am working on new feature, I have this constant fear that I should not break existing functionality. This is one of my real life fears...I must admit it here.


That working overnights and trying to improve could cause me physical harm, like the carpal tunnel syndrome


Something Like: breaking my fingers, blind ... and can't write code anymore.
Another one: IE6 ... LOL


The Singularity.

Machines will be writing themselves, and all high-level languages, like C, will become obsolete. Then we're all back to assembly, to try and figure out what the machines are doing.


Using Magento and DotNetNuke :)


that i'm not doing the things like a pro dev or like they had to BE done


Not knowing something I feel I should know. Perhaps I'm just too hard on myself.


Having to rewrite the whole system... again... in another language... using different toolsets/frameworks... all at once rather than in phases (replace one part, then the next)... because some upper level manager thinks their way is the best way and any other way is bad and needs to be replaced wholesale.

I have no problem trying new ways of doing things. What I have a problem with is totally abandoning the old way(s), tossing aside any lessons learned doing it that(those) way(s), and redoing the whole thing another way. At the very least, reimplementing specific (unrelated) components using the new technology to see how it works would be nice.


I?m afraid of losing grasp of what the customer wants and needs. There?s a big indescribable understanding built up in this project over 5 years.

I?m also afraid of losing rigour in development due to carelessness. I?ve seen good projects sink (and sinking) because developers not caring.


Getting the paper in the morning and discovering that (probably indirectly) my code has made the front page for all the wrong reasons.


The horrible time suck and commitment it creates, that and losing my memory sticks and learning i should back up the hard way


Fear of the wrong path.


My biggest fear as a programmer is that someday, somehow, code I wrote kills someone.

I also fear the rise of programmers who only learned Python, *.NET, and and who have no knowledge of how a computer actually works because "they only work with windows" (heard it before, it was pretty scary to chat with that guy).


That my mind will fray and I will not have the capacity to do what I do anymore and that I also haven't built up any other useful (read: management) skills to continue working in the field.


Having to do Java


Someday, I'll run into God who will ask me to stop programming.


Some of my code causes the apocalypse that ends civilization as we know it.


Mutable value types in .NET


OMG.. these Code Review Comments!

  1. That I have to use object-oriented programming techniques, in MATLAB.
  2. That I try to implement something very time consuming, very hard and highly optimized just to find out later that it (or something even better) already exists (maybe hidden on some personal homepage) (a.k.a. reinventing the wheel). I'm glad that did not happen to me, yet. The positive thing is that at least I will learn some things:
    1. how this works and how to implement it, and
    2. next time use more time to Google it.

That my one app will be killer of my previous one.


Getting caught in an endless loop of revising estimates to fit a predetermined but secret number, having offshore developers assigned to my project before requirements are understood, having management debating which technology to use six weeks into the project...


That I wont be able to keep up with the new technologies and Web 3.0 stuff (like integrating Twitter and Facebook and iPhone apps etc). I started with VB4.0 and have come along way, but back then it was just front end vb and back end sql. You actually had time to go out and enjoy life on the weekends. These days its silverlight or web 2.0 or mvc or F# or something new that I need to get upto speed on. There is no time for a vacation or to take a break. UGH !!


That I will have to learn C.


There are two or three things in the world I'm VERY afraid of, but they all have nothing to do with programming. Except those two or three things I fear absolutely nothing. So I don't have a programming fear.

(Almost?) Every bad/horrible/horryfying programming event or experience can be used to learn or gain something. So there is nothing to be afraid of. In any event you can always remember that "this too shall pass".