Taking credit

Nobody puts their names on stuff anymore

As far as I’m concerned, people still make things. However, this statement is vague, and so is the title of the article. What I want to specifically address is the pattern that I see in the software development industry where things are made, but they’re attributed to some larger company who’s seen as “responsible” for the invention of some mechanic or some feature, or it’s some developer who’s hell-bent on staying anonymous, for what seems like an attempt on staying cool and mysterious.

A personal transition

Personally, I was one of these developers who wanted to stay anonymous. When I was younger, I definitely thought that it was cooler to be a mysterious figure who made things, and that having a brand image disconnected from my personal identity was an important goal. I can thank the Artemis Fowl series for steering me this way, for better or worse.

However, as I got older, I realized that it was quite silly to be the sole developer of these impressive personal projects and not to take credit. Also, the minecraft username that I made up in elementary school was getting old, and I realized that I didn’t need to hold on to that identity forever.

So, I started taking credit for things. “Made by Tadhg Jarzebowski” is now planted on plenty of things that I made.


Why don’t people put their names on things? Well, it leads to doxxing, plainly speaking. It’s hard to make or do anything today that won’t anger somebody else, and ironically, the internet - the place where things become out-of-date on a weekly basis - is surprisingly efficient at preserving things into digital history for an effective “forever” that never lets you outlive your mistakes.

Another, more troubling theory is that people are losing a sense of individuality, or the idea that the things that they worked so hard to make are not worthy of their own name. There should be no form of minimalism so strong that there’s no corner you could tuck your own name in, and no project so insignificant that your efforts should be cast off as achievable by a literal ’nobody'.

The blame game

I want to quickly say that none of what I write here should apply to a piece of software made by a team.

Some aspect of today’s software development culture leads to the undermining of individualism, and I want to blame the rise of the MVP.

When the leading theory on how to make money in software is shipping a “minimal viable product”, it’s no wonder that people don’t want to put their name on something that they didn’t take the time to round the sharp edges off of. The concept of MVPs was the idea of focusing on avoiding feature bloat, not avoiding user testing. In a world where technology becomes an ever stronger part of our personal lives and routines, it’s a pitiful shame that the software that we use isn’t good enough for the people who made it to deem it worthy of their own name.

Concluding thoughts

However, it’s not hopeless. There’s an increasing trend of ‘personal software’, as more and more people build small apps to perfectly suit their personal needs. You only need to look as far as the communities on Posts to see individuals putting their literal signature on their work. Some of my favorite examples include Rauno’s bookmarks app and Alexander Liu’s personal website. Of course, the actual signature is slightly over the top, but it’s a breath of fresh air, and a little whimsical. Who doesn’t like that?