Dunning, Kruger, and Chromebook

This will be another story about an interaction on Discord. For the first one, see the bagel post.

The user that this post frequently mentions has consented to their name being used.

Screenshot of discord, "i mean go ahead you dont need to censor me"

I was chatting on Discord a day or two ago, and a user asked about how to get the Active Developer badge. It's a badge that appears on people's discord profiles. Here's mine.

screenshot of discord profile, with an orange arrow pointing to the Active Developer badge.

Here was his message:

screenshot of discord, "i need your help"

I asked what he needed help with.

screenshot of discord, "becoming a recroom active dev"

This ended up being a typo, but we'll get to that.

screenshot of discord, "well i wanted to become one but theres a bunch of issues"

This is like nohello, don't do this.

screenshot of discord, "AE isn't working"

I, of course, don't know how After Effects has anything to do with this, so I ask what he means by "AE"

screenshot of discord, "appreciation Engine"
screenshot of discord, "wait what does this have anything to do with developing for RR"

He then says that he typed Discord Active Developer.

screenshot of discord, "i said discord active developer.."

Which is fine, typos happen but.. at least go back and re-read your previous message.

screenshot of discord, "cap ong". The message has attached as an image, a screnshot of "becoming a recroom active dev"

He was so convinced of his inability to typo that he accused me of hacking Discord and changing his message, I guess.

screenshot of discord, "your a hacker"
bonus points for misusing "your"
screenshot of discord, "no way i actually said that"
screenshot of discord, "did you somehow change my message"

Anyway, back to the topic at hand: becoming an Active Developer.

screenshot of discord, "HOW DO YOU BECOME ACTIV DEV"

Of course, to figure that out, all it takes is a quick DuckDuckGo search for "discord active developer badge" to find the right support article.

screenshot of discord support article, with orange arrow and underline pointing out "For your app to be considered active, it will need to have executed an application command in the last 30 days."

All he needed to do was make a Discord bot and use it once a month, simple enough. I asked what programming languages he knew.

screenshot of discord, "python, javascript, and HTML"

You can make a discord bot in JS and py, but HTML isn't a programming language.

screenshot of discord messages, where just below saying he knew HTML as a programming language, the person said they didn't mention it

Uhhhh... you did mention it but okay

screenshot of discord, "i do dabble in python but i really mainly do javascripts and css but fuck css"

With each passing minute, this person is showing more into their experience level.

screnshot of discord, ""javascripts" tells me that you never do javascript"
a little rude, but I had to

After they insisted I tell them how to make an app, I told them to RTFM.

screenshot of discord, "first read the Discord API documentation"

He asked again, and I answered the same thing again.

screenshot of discord, "already made a app but where do i go to actually build it"
screenshot of discord, "read this, then use it to build the app https://discord.com/developers/docs/reference"

He was, however, too eager to start to actually pause and read the docs.

screenshot of discord, "i just want the part where i start jamming my keys"
"jamming my keys" makes programming sound so much cooler than it actually is

He means, "where is my IDE".

screenshot of discord message, "as in... keyboard keys? or what?"
screenshot of discord message, "mean i want to start coding it but wheres the "terminal""
various discord messages, "oh my god", "where do i go to type the code into PLSSSSSS", "oml", "I just want to get straight into it"
Hi Far! I know you read my blog!

This was the tipping point for me. I finally understood his position for what it was.

screenshot of discord messages, "im talking about for discord", "Where do i go to build the bot", "same place you go to build any other code, it's up to you", "tampermonkey..." In between the messages, someone else mentions that they have been free of drugs since January 22nd. Their name is blurred.
Congratulations, person whose name I'm blurring out!

Turns out, the only thing this person ever knew was the Tampermonkey code editor. I was looking at the person's userscripts, and they were genuinely quite good! A floating time and battery indicator onscreen, which is very impressive.

It really goes to show just how much someone can accomplish with a limited toolset. They taught themselves userscripting from the confines of their Chromebook, and that's something to be applauded. Unfortunately, give someone a hammer and all they see is nails. They accomplished so much within unserscripting that they entered the Dunning–Kruger effect, which can be boiled down to "newbies think they know it all and are confident, but as their knowledge increases, they realize just how much more there is that they don't know, and they grow less confident. Once they gain true mastery of the given subject, they feel more confident, but this time slowly."

Graph of the Dunning Kruger Effect. The X-axis represents knowledge, ranging from no knowledge to expert. The Y-axis represents confidence, ranging for 0% confidence to 100% confidence. The graph shows those with nearly no knowledge have the highest confidence, close to 100%. As experience increases, confidence drops steadily until finally turning back upwards as the level of knowledge approaches expert.
CC-BY Jennifer Croyle

After only experiencing having one place to write userscripts, he assumed that not only could he tackle a Discord bot, but that Discord had its own code editor. He had never used (or heard of) an IDE or shell, and it was quite jarring. It was like talking to some uncontacted tribe who had done nothing but study coconuts for 2000 years, and could teach you all about coconut medicine or coconut water or whatever, but show them a grapefruit and their head explodes.

So... how did this person end up in such an odd situation, on an island of Tampermonkey surrounded by a sea of nothing?


He (like millions of students) had his only device be a Chromebook. Sure, that's restrictive in terms of the ability to develop things, but you can still throw Linux on it! Unfortunately, his school threw out the baby with the bathwater and locked it all down. All for what? To stop kids from being distracted in class? The school blocked your expected stuff like Instagram, but they also blocked GitHub. Other notable blocks include YouTube Music, but not YouTube, as a big fat "fuck you" to anyone who focuses better on homework with music. Not spotify though, because yeah. Also Apple? Why? Nobody is distracted in class by apple.com. Also, some random people's personal coding portfolios?? Why in the even? I have no idea.

Also, not a single web proxy? One that can bypass all the blocks? This blocklist is really dumb.

Anyway, point is, by blocking GitHub, they effectively shut out this kid from the coding resources he needed to expand his knowledge beyond Tampermonkey. I've been DMing with him, and he's clearly eager to learn, but these anti-educational practices by his school made him into a highly effective example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, instead of into a talented programmer. He can't install Linux on his machine because they've locked that down too. All for what? So a kid can't learn to code?

Chromebooks are a harm to the students who use them, because if they learn to code on a Chromebook, it's in spite of it, not because of it. Schools, give your students the tools they need to learn and grow, and stop penning them in, letting them simmer in the few scraps of programming you accidentally leave open to them.

I do not blame this kid at all for where he is. Shutting off Github and Linux is such a blow to his ability to learn programming, and I entirely blame the school.

This kid will have spent a long time learning userscript all by himself, and had no idea what an IDE or shell was. This is what happens when you don't let kids grow. It's like those square watermelons in Japan they grow in molds. Let people grow naturally, and stop confining them to your weird idea of how computers work.