re: Politeness or Bluntness in Code Review? Settling the Matter Once and for All VIEW POST

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nice post. I am an Italian living in Germany. I can tell that I never really like the "italian way" of telling things: this subtleness where you always try to be kind, friendly, funny often ends up in utter hypocrisy and more often in sarcasm. Of course, the first weeks in Germany surprised me. They are really blunt and direct, but I immediately liked it. If something is wrong - and I am not talking about coding style - but implementation details ( memory leaks, performance issues - sometimes code readability - why can't you just say it directly - without false compliments and the sandwich stuff.
Don't get me wrong. Being blunt does not mean being offensive or aggressive. I understand that there are cultural differences - as an Italian I gesture a lot - and I am probably louder as well - therefore when discussing code with a Japanese colleague I inevitably look and sound more "passionate" about my stance. ;-)
Kindness and politeness is key. everywhere. but it should not hinder the message being transferred. If I say "I really like the effort you put into this bla bla bla, it might be my impression but this could be done differently, and i would have probably have written this" - not only i need more time than writing "It would be better to do this, please refactor/change it" but the reviewee might just think - well it's his opinion. i will keep it in my way.

At work we do code reviews within the pull/merge requests in gitlab, so normally we just write a couple of sentences in the points we want to have fixed / changed. kindly but firmly.
What i always do though, is pointing out with positive a positive comment some parts of the code which i like or find particularly clever. They are not required during the PullRequest - but i guess that can make the code review less "demotivating" ( in the end we are just pointing out mistakes - that's what MR are made for)
Something that i like to point out is also - use linters so that the code review has nothing to do with style and formatting.

 

"I really like the effort you put into this bla bla bla, it might be my impression but this could be done differently, and i would have probably have written this"

I'd distinguish between the "like the effort" bit and the "might be my impression" bit -- the former is harmless but the latter waters down your stance. And ideally, there'd be some mention of why the proposed alternative is better.

But I agree with your larger point. It's nice when people get the point. Belle parole non pascon i gatti...

that can make the code review less "demotivating"

I actually really enjoy seeing what I've missed, even if I might feel dumb later. It's like seeing a magic trick get revealed. But I've seen folks dread code review who were nevertheless very good devs. Everyone's politeness meter is calibrated differently, I guess.

 

Belle parole non pascon i gatti... ( Fine words butter no parsnips )

despite being italian i never heard that (it's probably regional :-) very very nice!

lol. my father's from Avellino province but no one in my family says it either. I saw it online and it seemed cute and half-relevant :P

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