Developers Who Vlog: Dismantling Stereotypes through Community and Identity

ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW) |

Developers are more than “nerds behind computers all day”, they lead a normal life, and not all take the traditional path to learn programming. However, the public still sees software development as a profession for “math wizards”. To learn more about this special type of knowledge worker from their first-person perspective, we conducted three studies to learn how developers describe a day in their life through vlogs on YouTube and how these vlogs were received by the broader community. We first interviewed 16 developers who vlogged to identify their motivations for creating this content and their intention behind what they chose to portray. Second, we analyzed 130 vlogs (video blogs) to understand the range of the content conveyed through videos. Third, we analyzed 1176 comments from the 130 vlogs to understand the impact the vlogs have on the audience. We found that developers were motivated to promote and build a diverse community, by sharing different aspects of life that define their identity, and by creating awareness about learning and career opportunities in computing. They used vlogs to share a variety of how software developers work and live—showcasing often unseen experiences, including intimate moments from their personal life. From our comment analysis, we found that the vlogs were valuable to the audience to find information and seek advice. Commenters sought opportunities to connect with others over shared triumphs and trials they faced that were also shown in the vlogs. As a central theme, we found that developers use vlogs to challenge the misconceptions and stereotypes around their identity, work-life, and well-being. These social stigmas are obstacles to an inclusive and accepting community and can deter people from choosing software development as a career. We also discuss the implications of using vlogs to support developers, researchers, and beyond.