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Smaller companies have better chances to stay close to meritocratic ideals. It’s not easy to hide or covertly do something unethical. Hiring/firing is less complicated. The downside: it does not look very impressive in your résumé.


"meritocratic ideals"... shudder

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seancorfield00:05:05 -- so many reasons why "meritocracy" doesn't work / is a bad idea. GitHub, in particular, got skewered for the big rug in their lobby promoting "meritocracy".


I hope that when people use that word, they actually mean something else...


well… I dunno.. meritocracy probably not the right word here, I agree. My English fails here…


being a non-native speaker I often catch myself in “you keep using this word, I don’t think you know what it means” state


The first quora link on there was not a very useful explanation, they seemed to be about believing society is meritocratic and has no other social factors.


The spectator link was suggesting that clever children are fast tracked into an elite, depriving the lower classes of clever peers. And also talked about richer children having a higher IQ (I think, I found the writing in this part confusing). I don't fully understand the relation from this to being bad at work/github.


Richer children have a higher IQ because IQ doesn’t 100% measure intellect


Instead IQ tests also measure cultural knowledge; you can’t solve problems which don’t make sense in the context of how you think.


IIRC, there’s been problems with administering IQ tests to non-Western cultures, as well as Black people testing lower on IQ tests.


Why would black people from a western culture do worse? (Assuming that's what it means)


I can’t point you to a study without googling, so take the following two as guesses / shots in the dark:


- language used by Black people in US differs somewhat from “standard” US, look up Ebonics


- not everyone living in a “Western” culture actually participates in this culture to the same degree; there is such a thing as cultural capital that you inherit from your parents. Vice versa, minorities have their own culture that “mainstream” people might not be familiar with.


(Common challenge to illustrate the above, name several minority authors in a field you’re interested in. For ex, name several SF women authors, name several black programming blog writers. A person from a specific minority is likely to name more examples.)


Also there is a correlation between how rich you are and your IQ and/or your school performance for multiple reasons (one is, again, cultural capital and access to culture; another is how much time parents can afford to spend with children to encourage their development or pay another to do the same; another is that chronic stress generated by living in poverty results in permanent damage.)


And, Black people are more likely to not have much. However, in general I’m the wrong person to talk about it (immigrant but not Black, only second/third hand learning), and there is a ton of resources out there, so I encourage you to go to the source 🙂


Probably s/meritocracy/merits would fix a couple things 🙂 In a capitalist society few would argue that merits matter (and have a monetary value), it's just that not everything should revolve around it


a true meritocrat would presumably favour 100% inheritance tax, but i don't hear that talked about so often, so i guess "meritocratic" is often used for post-hoc justification and cherry-picking, hence @seancorfield's shudder

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I always thought that ‘true meritocracy’ means a small number of powerful people deciding what they value and then judging everyone else based on that :thinking_face:


no true meritocrat would believe that!


> I recommend avoiding big corps and joining companies with less than 50 people if you want to have more impact on company direction This worked for me for many years, but (aka caveats when working for small companies): - you need to stay in the same area when changing jobs, otherwise you can never build your network up - if you don’t fancy becoming a manager, opportunities for career growth run out, and then you just look unambitious - not so good if you’re a minority (large companies create internal support groups for underrepresented/minority employees) - not so good if you’re not good at interviewing (cannot move to a different team in-company, you have to re-interview for a new job) - small companies can have vicious politics too, and you’ve got nowhere to escape them - not so good if you’re a minority, pt. 2 (large companies have rules like career ladders that you can refer to; small companies can get away with not having any clear procedures and thus gaslight you into lower pay indefinitely.)


(see: - applies to “Employers with 250 or more employees”)


Re: meritocracy - it’s a great concept but it doesn’t work with human psychology which is prone to multiple fallacies


Things like blaming the victim, halo effect, treating people with higher social status as inherently more worthy (this hits people in power hard when they retire and suddenly nobody listens to them)


We (we humans) are prone to seeing merit where there was a high degree of luck, or social support, or playing not quite within the rules, etc. And ironically the more we are convinced we’re meritocratic, the more blind we become to internal preferences.


(Also what @mccraigmccraig said about inheritance - I’ve always thought about it in the other direction, not child-to-parent relationship but parent-to-child. In Plato’s idea of child rearing in “Republic”, where he describes all children reared by the community, with no biological parent aware of which child was theirs. It ties in with the recent US scandal where parents paid bribes to get their children into universities. People say they want a meritocratic society, but it goes out of the window when it comes to their children - and they want to give them every advantage possible.)


The “child rearing by the community” is a hard problem though: the hidden assumption is that the community is “reasonable enough” in the education. But you might also end up in the situation in which the whole community “drinks the kool-aid” and they start to have weird/cruel/unethical/unfair practices and principles..would you as a parent like to leave your children education to such a community? It feels a bit dystopic..


(Note: I also think you have the same problem in the (current) situation in which parents are educating their children by themselves. It is not fair for the individuals that are not lucky enough to have “better parents”, but it avoids the problem of everyone being stuck in a bad situation)


(I think this is solvable with the “rational AI overlord” in the end, but this is the usual “deus-ex-machina” that we apply so solve philosophical problems since the beginning of time, kind of a bogus solution)


can’t remember who originally posted this, but I found it to generally be interesting that those with ‘merit’ tended to be either the loudest or most aligned to the org, while the people that I found to be the most valuable colleagues were often underestimated in the extreme (and there was also often a link between being underestimated and not being a man, surprise surprise)

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but basically what @mccraigmccraig said - a lot of ‘meritocracy’ chat seems to be basically post-hoc justification used as a stock defence


thanks for linking that, @alex.lynham, this is something that’s been on my mind lately. Many software engineers like to believe we work in an objective, mathematically rigorous, and meritocratic field. But the reality is that self-advertisement, being affable with your superiors, deflecting blame or throwing things over the fence are all ways to give off the appearance of being a successful engineer


software dev is ruled by pop culture. there’s very little science in it compared to other “engineering” fields

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this chat is giving me feels stahp


As a rockstar programmer I play the guitar while programming with my feet

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The manager gets to sing, so he qualifies as a rockstar manager


That reads like Aleister Crowley poetry 😄


“Behold currently! You are entirely a star child!” 🧒


“Acquire your wages!”


> translated to Aramaic and back into English That’s how javascript code feels to me sometimes, after a couple of years working with Clojurescript

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