Whenever I'm explaining what I do for a living (software developer, for example on a party and they had to ask), people tend to make a strange neuro-link:

He does something with computers I do not understand --> I have a computer --> My computer is broken --> I do not understand why --> He should be able to FIX IT.

When did I say I fix computers?

+2  A: 

Not really a programming question Rick.. Welcome to IT, this is why we always just say "I work at insert name of large supermarket here " People soon lose interest and wont question you about your career again ;)

Rob Cooper
+11  A: 

Well, it's often true. I'm a software developer, and I can fix computers (mostly).

+23  A: 

It's just all about not understanding. When people ask me, I simply tell them that you don't ask someone who designs cars to fix their car: you go to a mechanic.

When they still don't understand, I tell them to look for a computer mechanic ;-)

Erik van Brakel
+11  A: 

People do not distinguish between all the different computer-related jobs.

You do stuff with computer, therefore you are a computer-guy. computer-guys can fix computer.

It's as easy as that, isn't it?

And be honest - most of the time, you can fix there simple problems, right?

"most of the time, you can fix there simple problems, right?" --> Not really. The most common case I've encountered is: they downloaded some (probably illegal) software from the internet that I've never heard of before, the software produces an error message I've never seen before. They show me the message (or tell me roughly about what it says) and expect me to fix it in a heartbeat because I'm a software guy (note: they know the difference between computer guys and software guys! They know I'm a software guy, therefore I have to know how to fix software.)
Well, isn't this a fix? "The software you downloaded (probably illegal) is broken. There is nothing I can do about it." And as an added value: "But for that purpoise maybe you could try XYZ" Because most of the time they download this crap for some totally useless or simple purpoise ;-)
+4  A: 

Most of the people who I've spoken with which suffer from "OH YOU WORK WITH COMPUTERS WELL I'VE BEEN HAVING SOME TROUBLE ACCESSING MY YAHOO ACCOUNT" think that there is some kind of unified computer savvy intellect. By working with computers in your profession, and using them for more than talking with friends and sending E-mails, you become an instant guru who fights bugs and hackers by day and writes "machine code" on coffee binges at night.

Old people suffer from this doublish so.

+16  A: 

the most annoying thing is that they expect you to fix it as a favour or build a website as a favour without paying you or by just buying you a pint.

you couldnt ask an electriacian to rewire you house for a cheeky pint in return so why is it ok to ask tech guys.

anyhoo rant over.

cheers john

+6  A: 

you become an instant guru who fights bugs and hackers by day and writes "machine code" on coffee binges at night.

Who doesn't?

Referring to http://stackoverflow.com/questions/22088/why-do-the-others-think-you-can-fix-their-computer#22097
Adriano Varoli Piazza
+11  A: 

Eventually if I wear this often enough , people get the hint :-)

confirmed, it works. ;-)
Ha, going on my Christmas wish list
+2  A: 

If you were a doctor, you'd be asked all sorts of different questions and probably have people things you wouldn't like to see(?).

This isn't an issue just for people who work with computers. If you have a job where people don't understand the specifics and limits of what you do and don't do they will make assumptions. Plus, people have a tendency to relate things to themselves. So if they don't know what "working with computers" means, I think it's more than plausible that they make the following mental leaps:

"You work with computers"

"I have a computer"

"There's something broken with my computer"

"I wonder if you can fix it (because I don't know if fixing it is something you can do or not. - And what have I got to lose in asking?)"

Matt Lacey
+12  A: 

For me it went to far when I was asked to design a company logo (I have absolutely no graphic skills whatsoever). The rationale was: You work with computer software -> Some computer software can be used to design logos -> You can design logos using computer software.

On Freund
Did you make it "pop"?
Mike Robinson
+4  A: 

Once someone asked me to fix their coffee maker when they learned I'm a developer... for real

Juan Manuel
Well, did it run Linux? *ducks*
To be fair, if there's one thing we can make run no matter what it's the coffee maker
Mike Robinson
Did you tell them you were a Java developer? *hits* *the* *deck*
Mark Bannister
+2  A: 

For the same reason that I think gardeners will be able to give me hints and tips on what to do with my garden.

This is pretty normal behaviour, and everybody in whatever industry they work in gets it.
The following does a pretty amusing job of discussing the questions people get asked.

+17  A: 

An old girlfriend's father (who is a plumber) asked me a couple of times to fix his computer, and of course i helped him out. This happened about three or four times and I did about 10 hours of work.

A couple of weeks later my grandmothers sink broke. I asked him if he could fix it - and of course he did... but when he was done, he left her a bill for 900 Swedish Crowns (about 140 USD). The total work was about 15 minutes and no material was needed. Cheap bastard...

From that day, I help no one with their computer problems.

Man, this tale riled me up to no end. Abusive bastard...
Adriano Varoli Piazza
I don't know if I'd go so far as to help no one with their computer problems, but I certainly wouldn't fix that cheap b*****d's computer problems ever again if I were in Patrik's shoes.
I would, and I'd present him with a bill for labour and call out charge when I was finished.
uhhm...just rip up the bill? No one takes advantage of Granny!
+1  A: 

This is not something that appears to occur in most other fields.

"Oh, I'm a gynaecologist."
"Really? Because I've got this green discharge..."

I believe it's very common in other fields."Oh, I'm a doctor.""Really? Can you tell me about what the inner ear looks like? I tried sticking probes in there but couldn't tell what I was doing..."
+3  A: 

For me, I can fix most of their problems. I try to help them help themselves and I try to give advice on how not to get in the bind they are in. 95% of the problems I am asked about are caused by the user of the computer. They are not actual computer problems.

I was a Construction Mechanic in the SeaBees (Navy), before getting into computers. I still get asked advice on problems with cars. It's going to happen and if you don't want people asking you just have to say so.

With me it's a matter of keeping the person involved. Don't assume full responsibility to fix something. If you keep them involved then it is less likely they will ask a lot from you. I don't mind helping out and I'm not afraid to say no when I don't have time.

+2  A: 

Yikes. I guess I don't see what the big deal is to most of you guys. Sure, I might not know much about hardware as a software guy, but if a family member or friend asks me to set up their wifi or fix an IE popup problem or whatever else, I'm happy to lend a hand. And if I'm unable to solve a problem, I simply tell them who can help. And you'd be surprised! Of all the times I've offered this help, I've survived 100% of the time! :)

Bryan Woods
For some of us, it's an issue where, if we actually helped out every person who requested help, we'd have just taken on another fulltime job.
J Wynia
+2  A: 

I think it makes since to assume that a programmer can fix a computer. I think if you program a computer, you should have an understanding of how it works.

+6  A: 

Sure, this "you work with computers, therefore surely you enjoy talking about my MSN login problems the whole evening" attitude can be annoying.

On the other hand, helping people with their tiny problems is a possibility to see how computers and software are really used, which parts of an interface are confusing to "normal users" and so on. And, as they are using software someone else has written, you don't have the need to be protective of your "baby", but can see the bugs with more open eyes. So, I tend to take them as learning opportunities.

Marie Fischer
+5  A: 

This is where being a Web developer comes in very handy. I got the word out to family that I am no longer a PC guy--I work exclusively on the "Web." They don't really know enough to ask what I really mean--I just continue to play dumb about PCs. It's great.

Failing that, have your mother buy a Mac. Leave the tech support to your sister. Next to being a "Web developer," Macs are great for keeping you of the tech support lane.


SELECT myUDF_toInterpret_NumCounts(COUNT(*)) as 'answer' FROM FIXES_BY_PROGRAMMER


'because we have done it before, we do it now, and we will do it again'

+2  A: 

They ask you because they don't see the different kind of "computer guys". For them there is no difference between someone who sells PC's (and installs Windows), someone who writes code for business apps (based on Windows) or someone who is working on the next Windows itself. ;) It's all stuff they don't understand (and why should they understand?)

And the worst thing is, most probably you actually are able to fix their computer...


My family bugs everyone for favors concerning their job, without asking for pay. My dad, the pharmacist, constantly dispenses advice about medications and even goes and buys medicines for my cousins. I constantly have to set up Wifi networks and de-virus computers. My uncle, a mass CD copier (no, not a pirate), is expected to buy laptops and desktops for us, even though his job doesn't really concern that. It's all strange, but you learn to get by with it.

Andrew Szeto
+8  A: 

"Sure I can fix your computer. Wanna help me move next weekend?"

Good one! Love it. :->

I only help people now when I know they have issues that a typical service provider can't handle such as really bad spyware infections. I don't want to see my friends or family getting charged $250 by BestBuy for half-ass service.

Sometimes it pays to be nice to people, as they will typically reciprocate in some way. I've traded computer help (and math tutoring for kids) for getting rooms painted and lawns mowed -- which was a great deal from my point of view!

+2  A: 

You answered your own question. You even went above and beyond by applying a logical path to their conclusion. Do they use logic? Doubtful. Ask 'em which browser they use, and half the time, the answer is, "Yahoo".