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Re: PG: Hackers and Painters

Noel Welsh <noelwelsh@yahoo.com> writes at 03:14 15-May-2003 -0700:
> --- Paul Graham <pg@archub.org> wrote:
> > What is a coding standard?
> You know how you name all your functions is a consistent manner, and
> do all your formatting in a consistent manner and so on, so when you
> look at some of your code you can immediately tell what's going on?

These are things that "coding style guidelines" often cover, and I think
they're also some of the most superficial aspects of a programmer's

Analogy: natural language publications have thick official style guides,
yet good writers conforming to those style guides have distinct styles
and strengths -- in global analysis, narrative, prose -- that are often
apparent to even non-writers.  (Excluding wire service transcribers, who
take pains to record fact in a drab, formulaic style, shunning argument.)

We tend to embrace these writers' varying strengths and perspectives --
and their contributions to the ecology of ideas and to the art in

Do the best writers generally write better in pairs?  Do we call them
prima donnas if they claim they think better when writing alone?  And
even if they would write better in pairs, is that the best resource
allocation of our best writers?

We still have writing skills workshops, drafts circulated for comments,
meetings with the editor, cocktail parties, reviewers.