a) How much more messy code I've written in my attempts at writing cleaner code, sometimes I tell myself that I should just do it the old way. Stop experimenting. Safer for the product and easier on my co-workers. But my experience is that in the long run it pays of to experiment. Try new approaches. Even on an existing project with already established patterns and rules.
I see what you mean. Sometimes when I'm having doubts about how to clean up my code I go to the language or framework official documentation. They usually have a section about good practices and all the code examples follow those practices. Like with C# Coding conventions.
Also, you may be interested in the book Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship.
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