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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Code reviews with a rubber stamp

LGTM rubber stamp

One way to destroy a culture is to move in and take over its terms. "+1" has already fallen to this process. I will now attempt to document another one before anything happens to it.

Code reviews used to happen largely via e-mail. You'd send something off for review, and someone would get a mail. If the change was relatively small, they could just eyeball it right in their mailer and respond with "LGTM", as in "Looks Good To Me". This would be parsed and handled appropriately, and then you could submit your code.

This happened a fair amount, especially when making config file changes, so I had a rubber stamp made. It was partially an experiment to see if I could make something new pop into existence by just fiddling with a web site. Sure enough, someone had a site which would let you do basic design work and supply a credit card number and shipping address. Brilliant!

Now, granted, I did this entirely for humor. I never did code reviews in the "rubber stamp" sense of not looking at them and just going "okay, whatever". The stamp was used entirely for fun, and mostly in response to someone implying they'd send me something huge. I'd just hold it up like "okay, sure thing", as if I would let that happen.

Once in a great while, it was actually handy to convey a message to someone who was away from their desk. I could write down a changelist number and then stamp it and drop the post-it note on their desk. That way, if they had been blocking on my review, they would know it had been resolved and they could go and submit without having to poll their mails and/or the web-based code review site to check on the status. This didn't happen often, but it made people chuckle when they realized I had a stamp seemingly ready to go for that exact reason.

I imagine this will just slip into history as one of those quaint old things people used to do.