Why would you ever hire a programmer who doesn't program in his free time?  I mean, a person who doesn't compile recreationally is probably useless on the job.  You might as well hire somebody ... old. And who wants a bunch of people around the office who whine about things like healthcare benefits? Just don't get sick, duh.

I love it when twenty-something engineers take such a hard-line position on something they have so little experience with, like hiring.  Saying that you wouldn't hire somebody for a programming job because they don't program in their spare time is blissfully naive. Yeah, I remember the days when my greatest responsibility to another human being was making rent on the first of the month.

If I am going to hire somebody for a programming job, I don't really give a shit what they do in their spare time, so long as that person is very good at the task at hand.  I don't ask questions about what a person does in their free time in job interviews because I don't care, and because that can sometimes open the door to an illegal conversation. (What's that? There are laws about what you can ask somebody in a job interview? Who thought that up, Republicans?)

Me, I can count on one hand the number of times I've programmed outside of work or a class.  There was only once when I actually enjoyed it, though. I was in college, and shared a common wall with a girl from Spain who was painfully unaware that her computer had a volume control knob. She would stay up late on AOL instant messenger, and I couldn't sleep.  So, I rigged up a Python script to play AOL instant messenger sounds randomly every 5 to 10 seconds, turned up my speakers, pointed them at the wall, and went on vacation for a week.  And thus, the asshole you all know and love is born.

I don't enjoy programming so much as I enjoy the satisfaction I get from cracking hard problems. In that case, computer code is a means to an end, but so is my Craftsman socket set.  I like to spend free time wrenching on a car or a bike, but I don't set out on Saturday morning and say "I'm going to learn how to use a torque wrench today, because those things are the future of tools".  

I would not want to work for a company that wouldn't hire me because I don't code in my spare time. Professional development? Working at a startup, I get a heaping helping of that on the job.  Keeping up with new technology? Yeah, I read reddit, and again, startup.  You know what's more awesome than spending my Saturday afternoon learning Haskell by hacking away at a few Project Euler problems? Fuck, ANYTHING.

Really, why should I bother spending time with my family and taking an active role in my kids' development when there's a dead-beaten math puzzle that doesn't have a good answer in Clojure?  "I won't hire someone who doesn't code in their free time" is Siliconvallese for "I don't want to hire any grownups because they remind me of my parents".