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Meet the Developer: Introducing Marc “Challenge the Mainstream” Clifton

September 11, 2018 - Developer Relations, Marketing to Developers - , , ,
By: Yolanda Fintschenko

What about the developer?

Have you ever wondered about the developer experience of your advertising? If you are marketing to developers, you absolutely should. “Meet the Developer” lets you get to know individual developers.  Meet the people behind the code and learn about how they experience the advertising and content you are throwing at them.

I had the great pleasure of corresponding with Marc Clifton. Marc loves writing about novel approaches to coding and challenging mainstream concepts of software architecture. That’s why he gives back and writes for developer-to-developer (D2D) communities like CodeProject.  Here’s what Marc had to say about himself, writing for D2D communities, and his experience with advertising directed at developers.

Tell us about yourself:

I have been writing software for 30+ years and consider myself a senior level architect in certain areas of technology, as well as something of a rogue/maverick.  I currently work part-time as a senior software engineer for an insurance company that is about 10 years behind the times, which is why I only work there three days a week.  I also have some interesting clients that keep me challenged, and I do some pro bono work for a couple non-profit organizations that I find are worthy causes. When not doing contract work or working on my nutritional counseling certification, I write articles for the CodeProject exclusively (it really is the best developer community I’ve ever seen, and it’s impressive that it’s stayed the best developer community, in fact, [it’s] only gotten better in the 15+ years I’ve been a member).  I also occasionally write an e-book for Syncfusion’s “Succinctly” series.

One minor point—When I make a blog post, it automatically publishes to LinkedIn and FarceBook, but I don’t consider either of those to be developer communities, harhar.

Why do you write for developer communities? 

Egotistically, I’ve always wanted to write about my ideas, and writing for traditional magazines didn’t suit my needs because they have their own agendas and topics.  I write about off-the-beaten-path ways to do “coding” differently, challenge the mainstream concepts of software architecture, and find niches where a particular technology solution is helpful to the community, but nobody has put all the pieces together yet.  My goal when I found CodeProject was to be the top article publisher! That was a challenging goal because Nish, one of the other contributors, was also writing articles and was at that time the #1 contributor. But, five years later, I tied his article count!

Over the years, I’ve landed several contract gigs as a result of my articles and at this point enjoy a “reputation,” for better or worse, haha.  Ultimately, I like planting the seed of an idea in other people’s minds.

What is the newest tech you are using, learning, excited about, curious about, and why?

I’m interested in microservices, distributed computing, context computing, and IoT.  Subsets of that include blockchain and hashchain, but specifically NOT Bitcoin implementations, which are ecological disasters.  Particularly, I find the way software is developed to be rather abysmal—There have been some really interesting ideas over the years (like Apple’s HyperCard), but those ideas have flopped for a variety of reasons.  (Not that I can change any of this, but you can see certain trends.)

Where do you go for info about developer tools?

Really just the CodeProject Lounge—It’s a great place to get suggestions and pros and cons to different tools.  I mean, sure, there’s Google and GitHub to search for products and open source tools, but if I’m looking for a professional solution, CodeProject is my first place to go.

What ads for developer tools and services attract you?

Honestly, none, because the kind of developer tools that attract me are the kind that I have to write because they don’t exist.  So, if I *did* see an ad for a developer tool, it would look like some of the really cutting-edge open source stuff that I see YouTube videos for— on building software as blocks of code, automating connectivity, distribution, security, and storage.  And I’m NOT talking about Blockly or Scratch!

If you are interested in a product or service because of an ad, do you click on the ad or search the product/advertiser you see in the ad on a separate browser instance?

I almost always search the product/advertiser on a separate browser instance.  That said, since I know CodeProject gets revenue for ads, I will click on an ad on CodeProject.

How do you feel when you visit content or another site you are interested in based on advertising, only to find that you have to give a phone number to get what is offered?

You know those old cop shows where the phone numbers were always 555-1234 or something like that?  Yeah, I always give a fake phone number. I really don’t want people calling me. So, it doesn’t bother me. I just give them a fake number!

Same as above – except what about when you are asked for a credit card?

The only time I give a credit card is if I’m actually buying something.  I refuse to give a credit card for a trial period. I’ll find a different product.

What makes you bounce? Meaning—At what point do you navigate away when you visit content or a tool trial that you want, but you encounter a lot of requests for personal information? Email? Name? Phone number? Credit card? Other?

I’m interested in what the product offers, its documentation, its user forums, and show & tell videos.  If at any time I’m asked for personal info, I bounce. You can ask for personal info once I decide to make the purchase—That’s fine.  But if you want my personal info BEFORE I can even peruse your website, I go away. The exception to that is the company’s user forums—I can understand that I need to register with my email to view forum messages, so that’s usually OK.

Once you’ve been asked for a lot of personal information in order to take advantage of an offer, how do you feel about that brand or product?

Well, first off, I don’t like any “offer valid for the next 5 hours” kind of promotional thing.  That’s cheezy and unprofessional. As mentioned, I don’t want to be providing personal information until I make the purchase.

Have you ever found a technology and purchased it based on an ad run in your developer community? Why or why not?

Not that I can think of.  If I look at the ads currently on CodeProject, I’m not interested in buying a Jeep, diamonds, tax codes, training centers, or Microsoft Azure.  The kind of ads that I’d actually be interested in are ones [for products] that might make my life easier: backup software and hardware, laptops, and “life management” tools, like to-do lists that integrate with my phone, ways to organize and index documentation and notes, web hosting, books!—basically, practical stuff that technology can assist with.  No Jeeps.

Books are an interesting category—e-books, printed books. Here’s some food for thought: I have purchased probably $500 of books this year based on recommendations from people on the CodeProject, who write in the Lounge that they’ve enjoyed a book.  Most of these are technical books, a couple arehistorical.

You know what would really be a novel way of creating advertising—getting the people on CodeProject to recommend products and running ads for those recommendations.  Of course, where’s the revenue in that—Haha! But if you did that, I wouldn’t run an ad blocker because I want to see what *my community* finds valuable.


Yolanda is a scientist, writer, marketer, coach and avid runner who lives and works in Livermore, CA.  She founded Common SciSense, a marketing company for technical products, and co-founded founderTRACTION, lean marketing services for startups. 

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