Reading code is a pain or a gain, depending on whose1 code you read, of course. And while I had a rather significant share of pain since my recent return to programming a few years ago, I recently enjoyed as well some gains. Reading code is quite like reading literature in this respect really, except that for code2 there are precious few - if any - editors to intently review some proposed piece of code and personally, publicly vouch for it. Or on the contrary but just as useful, publicly vouch *against* it.
Arguably, vouching against some code might be more salutary - and even more sanitary - in the light of the horrors that can be routinely found in the current brave world of everyone can code. Still, I'm an optimist here3 and I'd much rather focus therefore on the positive: the reading and reviewing of good code, the vouching for the rare but therefore even more precious pieces of code that are a delight to read and, more importantly, a rock-solid piece of foundation on which one can build further. Note that perfection is neither implied nor the objective here as code is not some ideal construct made by Gods or out of pure thought: code that I sign is code I consider honest, useful and readable, approximately in this order. My definition for those may even differ from yours, so make and assume your own decisions on this matter. Just like I am making and publicly assuming mine.
For such important pieces of code that I got to read, to know and to accept as honest, useful and readable, I will provide therefore my signature for whatever it may be worth to another reader and a place on my public shelf from where one can download the code itself, my signature for it and any other signatures for it from people that I trust essentially with this important but not always easy task of reviewing code.
This is in my opinion the least I can do to support the very sane and very dear to me approach of rewarding intelligence so I see it essentially as my duty too.
Yes, code IS quite personal in this sense - it's not an anonymous or machine-made artefact but someone's own output and as such part of their quite personal public image. ↩
My suspicion is that the situation is rather similar for literature nowadays, but literature has seen happier days, what can I say more. ↩
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