An Episode of Software Engineering Absurdity

A long time ago in a universe far far away…

The engineering organization collectively decided that all code changes must be spelt correctly using no abbreviations at all what so ever. However it is then established that all should use single letter shorthand in commit messages and company notes written for human consumption.

The emphasize and effort with which technical leaders place into trivialities of exact spellings and spacings are monumental! I dare to wager that some where around 30% of wall clock time spent on projects at some company is spent on responding to formatting and spelling PR comments or on overhead of creating them.

I often comment that spacing and spelling are irrelevant to correctness of computer interpretation of programs… more arbitrary things like loop variables for short loops cannot be i are just purely obnoxious. (A standardized replacement should be made, e.g. bolded i is a special symbol always referring to innermost loop variable, would seem like a more reasonable approach IMHO)

But that’s all fine! Programs are interpreted by people too and should have good grammar and spelling. By what about documents to people? Why then are those obfuscated using single character shorthands that do not event start with the English word or idea they represent? How do you justify this?

Should I degrade myself by suggesting that his is another Chinese thing? When the team is largely Chinese that they prefer single character representations due to the nature of their natural born language? Single Chinese characters tend to have more meaning than a single English character, for example, the last name 李 is like Smith in English in terms of popularity, however it is 4 characters shorter.

Should I degrade myself by looking up the word in a very rarely spoken European language just to see if the shorthand actually starts the right word in that language? This will satisfy my mind to the cause of these contradictory practices.

Should I degrade myself by typing out a blog post about this and amuse myself in reading about my self some years later?

Perhaps I will do all three…

I hope I find out later that this is a reality show and that release inside my original employment agreement (that I signed after crossing out) insisting audio, video and other recording of my presence at the company may be used “for any purpose” really had a purpose. Or perhaps this is an elaborate psychological experiment performed by the company. I don’t see any personal, legal, ethical or cultural reasons, stated or implied, why it couldn’t be happening here.

Those possibilities are better planned realities than stupidity of leaders or more sinister perspective where the leader are setting these teams composed of largely minorities and immigrants for failure by encouraging highly counter productive practices. (Because immigrants and under served people tend to make more English spelling mistakes due to force of their circumstances, in all courts, it would seem completely reasonable and natural that they make more legitimate spelling mistakes. Focusing on this aspect would then legitimately isolate minorities and immigrants.)

Will time tell me what is truly happening in these seemingly lost years?

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