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We have an idea to post short ads like "our company is hiring" in company blog posts. The company develops software and one of duties of people we want to hire will be finding, locating and fixing bugs in programs.

Can we refer to such people as "bug assassins"? Won't "assassin" word have some negative meaning?

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Um, how would you go about killing a substance? A substance is a type of material: goo is a substance. So is gunk. Bugs are not a substance. –  JPmiaou Apr 5 '11 at 14:11

6 Answers 6

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There is a well-known spam filtering tool called SpamAssassin, so I think the word is unlikely to upset anybody.

Incidentally, the collocation "kill bad substances" does not work, at least for me. We can talk about "killing" bugs and spam because they are individuals, and even there I think it only works because we personify them slightly; but we don't talk about killing a substance.

[Posted as an answer on request from sharptooth]

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You can say anything you want in an ad, subject to whatever profanity restrictions apply. Calling someone a "bug assassin" may be perceived by some as a negative, but not for the reasons you think. In gaming culture, the idea of assassin (or its Japanese equivalent, ninja) is something people aspire to. Look at the plethora of ninja games, or the Assassins Creed series if you don't believe me.

No, the problem I foresee is with the word bug. That instantly signals that the person you hire will be maintaining buggy, possibly hopelessly substandard code. As a programmer, there is nothing I would like to do less than maintain someone else's crappy code. Certainly there are people out there who don't mind that kind of work (especially those who are currently unemployed), but the job is not one many people would interview for unless that were the only choice. YMMV.

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Also consider that there is a well-known spam-filtering tool called SpamAssassin. –  Colin Fine Apr 5 '11 at 11:39
    
@Colin Fine: I think it's a good example, especially for the use case described. Could you please add your comment as an answer? –  sharptooth Apr 5 '11 at 12:03
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Robusto, I think you're projecting your own biases here. Any program more complex than "hello world", even yours, is liable to have bugs, and sticking your corporate head in the sand is not the way for a company to deal with them. There are also people in the world who take pride in striving for perfection in whatever job they have at hand. If this is not you, that's fine, but Quality Assurance and Testing is Honorable Work and ought not to be disparaged. –  mickeyf Apr 5 '11 at 13:46
    
@mickey: Well, he did qualify w/ YMMV. –  Callithumpian Apr 5 '11 at 14:16
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@mickeyf: Have you ever worked in a team programming environment? I have, and I empathise (not just sympathise, though I do that too) with Robusto's position re debugging others' (often substandard) work. It really is the pits. –  FumbleFingers Apr 5 '11 at 14:36

As far as I'm concerned bugs get squashed, so I suppose the job in question is bug squashing and the person a bug squasher.

Though on a slightly more professional note its often called debugging, and both the tool and person a debugger.

Though I'd agree with Robusto that its not a job you'd want to be doing longterm.

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In all the development environments I've worked in, the common term for debugging is bug-hunting, but I've never come across anybody whose primary role within the team is to do this. Probably because it's often thought of as tedious and relatively unrewarding. To be any good at it you have to be really on the ball - but it just doesn't have the kudos of, say, "Systems Developer".

So - your target audience will know exactly what you mean if you say you're looking for a bug hunter, but don't be surprised if you don't get too many applications from high-calibre candidates. It's right down there with "Cobol maintenance programmer" (i.e. - somewhere below "Office tea-boy").

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"Someone who kills bad substances"?

How are they bad? Evil, perhaps? Then you want a super hero.

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