WTF per Minute

I saw this image on Coding Horror by Jeff Atwood, which borrowed it from Thom Holwerda. on this page.  I redrew the image using Balsamiq.

Since, I saw it, I have been internally using this metric for a slew of other topics besides code.

  1. American Idol.  For each contestant, I used this metric to measure how much I liked them.  Almost all of them had at least 2 per song.  Several had 3 before they even started singing.
  2. Pundits on MSNBC.  While watching Keith Olberman or Chris Matthews, pundits often come on with riddiculous statements.  WTF/M was a perfect measure of how good of a pundit it was.
  3. Kids playing together.  You would be shocked if you were inside my head.  It’s a smörgåsbord of WTF.  Why did you just hit him??  WTF!  Why can’t you just be nice to him!  A simple game of catch turns into a shoving match.
  4. Netflix movies.  We really liked “Lars and the Real Girl” but some movies, (you know who you are!) just have WTF/M rates through the ceiling.
  5. Meetings.  I have started counting in my head during a meeting.  Some meetings are good with just 0.2 WTF/M, others…not so good.
  6. Software (Using it, not building it).  This might be my favorite.  For example:  Mint: 0.1, Quicken Online: 10 (I had issues with it)

Maybe I curse too much in my head.  What other things could you measure quality with this universal metric?


10 responses to “WTF per Minute”

  1. Hi Glen,

    How are you? This is Chelsea from Quicken Online. I’m interested in what your WTF moments were when you used Quicken Online.

    Do you want to connect with me directly so we can get your feedback? The product team would really appreciate hearing what you’ve got to say.

    Thanks a bunch, Chelsea

  2. Funny article, love the WTF picture.

  3. jules hard coder Avatar
    jules hard coder


  4. WTF rates only have a direct relationship with idiosyncrasies in relation to an observer and his cultural or technological standards. High WTF rates are commonly understood to correspond with ignorance or stupidity, but in reality they just correspond with a lack of adherence to whatever technological, cultural standards they observer is familiar with.

    They correspond to the failure of your “common sense” in assessing a situation or individual. As reasonable as that standard may seem, the following Einstein quote expresses precisely what’s wrong with that : “common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”

    Using WTF rates at a sufficient criterium for assessment of quality or value breeds prejudice and stiffles innovation. High WTF rates could be an indication of a highly innovative, creative mind. Philosophers, scientists and artists ahead of their time all have huge WTF rates.

    Just consider the ridicule and dismissal by their fellow scientists when scientists first discovered that diseases were caused by germs, that the earth was round, that humans were evolved from single cell organisms or that Newtonian laws don’t apply to the quantum level. Just consider who’d believe two centuries ago that man would ever be able to go into space.

    Just consider how difficult it must have been for a surrealist, impressionist or expressionist painter to succeed on any era before the 20th century. Just consider how serious Kant or Nietzsche would have been taken if they’d lived a couple of centuries earlier.

    To summarize my position : while WTF rates sure are a useful metric, you shouldn’t rely on them exclusively because they don’t allow you to distinguish stupidity and genius at face value.

    1. Glen Lipka Avatar
      Glen Lipka

      @John: WTF? 🙂

    2. William Morgan Avatar
      William Morgan

      If you’re writing good code that induces a “WTF” at first glance, then you need to include a comment that contains an explanation that can turn that “WTF” into an “ohhhhhh” or at least an “alright whatever.”

  5. I came up with something for audits to measure their performance and evaluation how fast they can find wrong stuff per minute. The unit of measure is WpM.

    Then a friend linked me to this page.

    I think I’m seriously going to use this.

  6. Abdul Gaffar Avatar
    Abdul Gaffar

    What is full form of WTFs

  7. @everyday_nico Avatar

    This article made me laugh but as a Swede I need to educate you about your third point using the word(?) “schmorgisboard”.
    The real word is smörgåsbord!

    1. Glen Lipka Avatar
      Glen Lipka

      Thank you Nico. Fixed it.

Whatya think?