My head hurts as I type this question. The reason for this? I've got two developers yelling behind me at the top of their voices while everyone else tries to get some work done. I've worked in three companies so far and I've noticed that developers refuse to make use of meeting rooms and instead feel the need to enter long drawn out conversations where they yell at each other.
Any ideas on how to handle this? A "Please be quiet" doesn't seem to have any effect and my head is thumping, so I'll entertain any ideas.
I'm usually listening to music, so when the argument is too loud, I just take the headphones off and ask them if they can keep it down because they intefere with the death metal I'm listening to.
That should startle them. And funnily enough, the softer you say it, the more effective it is.
always keep a case in your desk drawer for just such an occasion.
If they are yelling at each other and disrupting the workplace then tell them to take it someplace else, if that doesn't work, elevate it up the chain to their supervisors. If it's a one off thing then just pointing out to them might cause them to be embarrassed and take it someplace else and if it's a constant thing then it needs to be resolved to prevent future disruptions.
Go next to them and stand there without saying a word.
This is the type of behavior that Human Resources needs to deal with. It's their job to deal with that type of behavior. It is not professional, constructive, or in any way beneficial to the company. It also may very well cross into the territory of harassment which is another legal entanglement.
If you are just another "Joe" at the company, then you have two options.
Either way, you need to put this problem in someone else's hands. I personally have never been in a company where people thought that it was OK to behave in this manner.
I usually start throwing pens at the two offenders, they usually get the hint. I go through a lot of pens, but at least I know my coworkers have a lot to share.
Saying "trying to work here" works when I'm out of pens.
If they aren't responding to you asking nicely talk to your boss. From a selfish point of view they don't want you sub performing when the problem can easily be fix.
in case of emergency pull out the Joel test 
8. Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
If one of them is your boss then...err good luck http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000043.html
... oh, no I mean ...
If you can pull it off with the proper level of humor (curiously, this usually involves keeping a completely straight face), join in the argument with a completely nonsensical third option. This generally (a) defuses tensions somewhat and (b) teaches them that if they want to avoid having their loud argument derailed, they should conduct it elsewhere. If you do it badly, though, they'll be irate at you for not taking the issue with the seriousness it deserves, and you'll get sucked into the debate.
In college I deployed the "Cone of Silence" occasionally for repeat offenders. The Cone of Silence was a flimsy paper construct (not actually a cone, more like a tube) just large enough for two people. Walking over to the conversationalists with it, conspicuously measuring the distance between them, hefting it, nudging them a little closer together, etc., was enough to get them to agree to go outside. Depending on your workplace's attitude towards slapstick, this method might or might not be effective. If you go with it, though, I'd recommend substituting posterboard for paper; the latter just tears too frequently to be worth the effort.
The point is that you can use this opportunity to prove yourself to be alpha. Its typically beta to be boisterous and noisy. Buy a good pair of earphones with active noise cancellation.
Dont yell at them, like some have said here. Like they say, empty vessels make more noise. Act cool and unperturbed. Act as if they don't exist in your universe.
I also suggest that working in cube farms is not cool. I really like workplaces in europe where they usually have separate rooms with 2-3 developers in it. Search for a new job with a nice ambience. You will also find great guys/girls to work with at such places (because these companies care about their employees).
Oh and pic related :)
Once I was working out at my university's gym and there were two CS students arguing on the top of their lungs about whose algorithm was better for the assignment they were working on together, while taking turns bench-pressing. Everyone was quite disturbed and amused at the same time.
how about telling them to get a nice cup of shut the f*ck up. Seriously you need advice on this?
All kidding aside (and I really like some of these ideas), you need to ask politely that the gentlemen in question either be quiet or move to a different area. If a couple of repetitions don't work, by all means escalate, either to your immediate supervisor, or if that's not advisable for some reason, to HR. What I would add to what others have said is that it might behoove you to document these instances, to back up your complaint. And I would also add that allowing them to dictate your work environment (noise cancelling headphones, abandoning your workspace, etc.) is not IMHO a solution; at best it's a capitulation. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
Joel suggested that every now and then you should reserve the meeting room, bring a laptop, lock the door. Now would be a good time.
If you don't have a laptop, moving your computer and screens could be more difficult, but is more noticeable, which is actually a good thing.
Co-workers shouldn't yell at each other at the top of their voices. At least not because of professional disagreements.
For a software team to work efficiently and build a healthy and productive work environment, it must develop a good discussion culture. Maybe, before sending programmers to professional courses, we should send them to rhetoric lessons.
I know things can hit up from times to times, but if this behavior won't stop after a few polite or humors remarks, then you got a problem.
If so, I'm afraid you got a serious organizational problem. I know a lot of software companies use this methods for years. Some of them are even have professional and financial success. But I dare you to check the rate of employee resignations and satisfaction.
My bottom line:
I've recently left my work place because of those reasons.
It wasn't like that at first (usually you can spot it when arriving for interviews). It developed due to management personnel changes. For a long period I've tried to discuss different levels of managers in order to clarify that we do have a problem. I even try the HR channel, but unfortunately some specific management members have a stronger say. Needless to say that I was not the first to leave because of those reasons.
Offer them some tea, say "there's no better place to drink this tea than meeting room. it will help you discuss and help me work" :).
I'll suggest what I advised my son to do if attacked in the street (if running away is not an option): Do something totally bizzar, unexpected and funny. Maybe start singing at the top of your voice, recite a poem or (if all else fails) undress.
This will very porbably get their attention.
This is a symptom of lack of respect for coworkers.
If you are their manager, you should consider why they don’t have any respect.
Buy yourself a pair of more expansive Ultimate Ears in-ear monitors (http://ultimateears.com). They tend to dump surrounding noise very very effectively while also not disturbing others with what you listen to. Actually when it's very loud others can't hear a thing. PERFECT.
I use them when I work at home and don't want to listen to arguments between my wife and daughter. Works miracles. Ultimate Ears SuperFI, TrippleFi or similar. I own Studio Fi which are not produced any more since Logitech bought the company.
And if you decide to buy yourself these sound pearls, I suggest you also buy those soft foam tips from Comply. They're very soft and really keep monitors in place for a long time without causing any physical stress to your ears. Love'em. I had problems with any size rubber/latex tips but these foam ones are really good. Squeeze them before inserting and then they expand in your ears closing any gaps and keeping monitors in place.
The guys at the other end of the bay can talk pretty loud. One day I was pretty tired of it, and went over to them and in the quietest tone I could manage, I pointed out that we could hear them on the opposite side of the bay.
They've been better since. But, we do have a culture of quiet in general.
One of these should do it, you only have to attract them to a place where there isn't anyone else, and then the fun and joy can start... Or you can place horse heads on their beds...
On the other hand, you could try to tell your boss or HR (like it was said), and if that doesn't work look for other job.
Could you try to go somewhere else just to get away from the noise? Once everyone has calmed down, you may want to have one on one discussions with each of those in the debate to ask if they could avoid that in the future or you'll have to call in reinforcements to resolve this matter. Calling in one's boss or police may work though be careful if you are trying this as a bluff as that may well backfire disastrously so.
hand each of them a chain saw and/or machete. they can kill each other and then it wont be your problem any more. additionally, there is the entertainment value of watching them battle. you might even be able to score some cash by selling tickets/taking bets on the winner.
Is there any reason that you can't just tell them to take it outside?
The first couple times this happens, you should choose the least aggressive way of dealing with the situation, which just put on your headphones or reserve a meeting room.
If it keeps happening, talk to them. Walk to where they are and wait for them to acknowledge you. If they don't feel sheepish about their behaviour, then say "I know you guys are having an important debate here, but it's making it hard to concentrate. Is there somewhere else y'all can discuss this?" Make eye contact with both of them.
If it keeps happening, talk to your manager. After your one-on-one, say something like "I feel like office disruptions are hurting my productivity..." Since your productivity is high on her list of priorities, she'll ask you the relevant questions, and figure something out. Make sure that it comes across that you have nothing against these people, but you don't know how to convince them not to disrupt your work environment and now you want your manager's "advice". Ideally, she'll talk to them or their manager, or maybe she'll move your desk or theirs.
If it keeps happening after you've talked to your manager a few times, then something at the company is broken.
A slight variation to @ChristopherMahan is to gather the rest of the team / office around, or even better inside/in-between/up-against (the more awkward the better), the two yellers. In my experience, being passive (ignoring) does not make it go away. At worst, being polite makes me the jerk or "that guy". If you can handle it with humor, they won't be offended (hopefully, thick skin and all). If you do it right, it will be a running joke that every time they yell at each other, it's the cue for everyone to congregate at their desk.
If they are not using the conference room then I would take a laptop in there and go to work. Or I'd take a walk and think.