I think something similar happened in the case of coding bootcamps. One thing I’ve noticed is that some of those who invested in the old signaling method were incentivized to reject and convince others to reject the new signal. Coding is one of the skills less reliant on signaling so I imagine this would be a bigger problem in other fields.
Edit: Also riffing off Benquo’s post, I think it’s also quite common for good programmers who felt they were undervalued in the market to start their own startups. On the other hand, coding bootcamps also seem to have “worked” to some extent. I think in general it depends on the risk/rewards of accepting the new signal. It’s easier bear the risk yourself than to convince someone else to, but in the case of the tech industry there was enough incentive to take that chance.
I’d be the first to cheer if bootcamp-educated programmers were better than average (due to better selection or better teaching), but they aren’t.
Are they worse than average? It seems to me they just need to be “about as good” and be dramatically cheaper.
They’re cheaper, but not as good on average. Remember, these aren’t the people who loved coding since childhood (they all got good jobs already). We’re talking about people who had no special love for coding, and then went through a three month bootcamp. Also keep in mind that the quality of bootcamps varies widely. It’s definitely not the kind of better signal that Katja is talking about.
Some confounding things in my worldview:
a) This is based on vague priors rather than empiricism, but I currently draw a strongish distinction between coding bootcamps that you pay to join, vs bootcamps that take N% of your first year salary. The latter seem more incentivized to only take people who they are fairly confident they can help land a good job (and help land them that job)
b) I still would expect people who make it through a generic pay-to-play bootcamp would be better than people with no training, all things being equal. (like, seems like they’d need to at least sort-of-know-what-an-API-call was, vs a rando who might literally know nothing). Like, it makes sense if the signal isn’t that reliable, but statistically seems like a randomly selected bootcamp has a reasonably large chance of having some-kind-of-standards-of-who-gets-to-graduate.
I wouldn’t be impressed with someone just because they did some random bootcamp, but if I’m sorting through a list of resumes, and need to weed it down, and two people have similarly looking experience/side-projects-or-lack-thereof, but one’s been to a bootcamp and one hasn’t, that seems marginally better to elevate to “actually talk to them” status?
c) I also had been more comparing bootcamps to a 4-year degree (which maybe tests conscienciousness more, but from what I hear doesn’t do much to guarrantee that you have the sense of causality that you need to program.