To com­ment or not? A data‑driven look at atti­tudes toward code comments a talk by Veronica Hanus

Saturday, 15 June, 11:50 in Ballroom

Every programmer has asked themselves “how many comments are too many?”

To the newest programmers, comments may seem magical — a way of documenting without giving instructions to the computer. But commenting engages the same vulnerability as more advanced challenges (i.e. pair programming and code review) and is likely to pique the insecurity of many programmers (especially the copy‑and‑paste or tutorial‑level programmer)!

While most of us agree that commenting is part of writing maintainable code, it’s very difficult for someone who has not yet worked in a community‑reviewed codebase to know what is good practice and not.

The answers that come back often conflict each other: Code should be DRY, but well‑placed comments save future devs. How can someone find the commenting style that is best for them as they learn, grow, and contribute?

My survey of 170 long‑time developers, Computer Science majors, bootcamp grads, and hobby programmers confirms some expectations and brings others into question. Join me for a data‑based chat about the biggest pain points caused by our attitudes toward commenting and the steps we can take to encourage a growth mindset and empower programmers of all levels.

This talk is suitable for both beginner and advanced Pythonistas.

Veronica Hanus

Before becoming a programmer, I was a researcher with an eye for process improvement (I helped pick the Mars Curiosity Rover’s landing site!).

I love exploring the web and teaching and speak on building the tooling and docs you need and has co-taught a PyCon tutorial on using web-scraping and machine learning to predict Oscar winners.

When I’m not thinking about how the web can be better for developers, I enjoy blogging and snuggling as many cats as possible.

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