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By jrandol
Published: Aug 01 2010 / 07:14

A very good friend of mine is in the midst of an avalanche of work. He has a lot of open contracts, and has been abandoned by a fellow developer that was helping him with his workload. So, with three huge clients breathing down his neck he has been working non stop for weeks now. One client contacted him about the iPad application he is building for them, he let him know "I paid another developer to look at your code, he says it really sucks."
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chase.saunders replied ago:

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This is right on. I've learned, the hard way, to be very careful about criticizing code... there's almost no code written under real-world constraints that a seasoned programmer can't criticize in some way, and possibly with some merit. But it can be the height of arrogance to assume that we instantly understand the context, choices, and limits placed upon a developer when looking back. Sometimes I have looked at *my* code years later and says "this sucks"... only to realize hours into the project of fixing it why I did something a certain way.

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chudak replied ago:

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I appreciate the balanced perspective...but some code does indeed suck and some programmers are clearly in the wrong line of work. If this were not the case we wouldn't have websites like TheDailyWTF. You'd be hard pressed to review most of the code posted there and think "I must not have all the facts...maybe there was a genuine reason they did it this way."

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chase.saunders replied ago:

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Can't argue with that, chudak

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Topnotch replied ago:

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Yep I think this was a critical possibility that Sara didn't mention in her article. Some folks really do suck and it's not because you didn't understand their "intentions".

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Travis Calder replied ago:

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A very well put article.

Going through all the work of acknowledging "Yes, in fact some code does just suck, but..." would have hurt the tone of the piece. I think we all understand that some code is just plain bad. When I overhear a fellow (younger) developer say something like "I don't know why putting this here works, but it seems to", you know that code's in for trouble, but we all know that kind of stuff happens.

Still, overall it's rarely a good idea to drop the "sucks" on code quickly and without context. Unless it's your own code. Then you're allowed to as often as you want - I try to on a daily basis :)

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