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COMPASSIONATE
(YET CANDID)
CODE REVIEWS
COMPASSIONATE CODING @APRILWENSEL
SOFTWARE ENGINEER & TECHNICAL LEADER
VOLUNTEER CODING INSTRUCTOR & MENTOR
@APRILWENSEL
THERE’S A LOT
OF SUFFERING
IN SOFTWARE
• STRESS & BURNOUT
• “TALENT SHORTAGE”
• LACK OF DIVERSITY
• POOR UX
• UNETHICAL PRODUCTS
• FAILED PROJECTS @APRILWENSEL
SUFFERING IN SOFTWARE
WE DON’T CARE ENOUGH
ABOUT HUMANS@APRILWENSEL
COMPASSIONATE
CODING
@APRILWENSEL
✦ TRAINING
✦ COACHING
✦ CONSULTING
✦ SPEAKING
✦ WRITING
A CONSCIOUS BUSINESS
BRINGING EMOTIONAL
INTELLIGENCE & ETHICS TO THE
TECH INDUSTRY THROUGH
IS NOT BEING FAKE NICE
@APRILWENSEL
COMPASSION
IS NOT BEING “POLITE”
@APRILWENSEL
COMPASSION
IS NOT PITY
@APRILWENSEL
COMPASSION
@APRILWENSEL
COMPASSION
“THE FEELING THAT ARISES WHEN YOU
ARE CONFRONTED WITH ANOTHER’S
SUFFERING AND FEEL MOTIVATED TO
RELIEVE THAT SUFFERING”
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/compassion/definition
@APRILWENSEL
BEING VEGAN MEANS FEELING
COMPASSION FOR ALL BEINGS
617 9th Avenue
(between 43rd & 44th St.)
COMPASSION IS GOOD FOR
THE BOTTOM LINE
@APRILWENSEL
“THE COMPASSIONATE [BUSINESS] UNITS
EXHIBITED BETTER FINANCIAL
PERFORMANCE…AND THESE UNITS REALIZED
HIGHER EMPLOYEE AND CUSTOMER RETENTION.”
Monica Worline & Jane Dutton
Awakening Compassion at Work
@APRILWENSEL
"PEOPLE IN POSITIVE WORK
ENVIRONMENTS OUTPERFORM THOSE
WHO WORK IN NEGATIVE CLIMATES BY
10-30%."
Shawn Murphy
The Optimistic Workplace
@APRILWENSEL
COMPASSION IS GOOD FOR
YOU
@APRILWENSEL
BENEFITS OF COMPASSION
@APRILWENSEL
‣ JOY
‣ RESILIENCE
‣ PEACE OF MIND
‣ JOB SATISFACTION
‣ LOWER CHANCE OF BURNOUT
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/compassion/definition#why-practice
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR
CODE REVIEWS?
@APRILWENSEL
COMPASSIONATE CODE REVIEWS
MINIMIZE SUFFERING FOR
EVERYONE INVOLVED—AUTHORS,
REVIEWERS, & EVEN USERS
@APRILWENSEL
@APRILWENSEL
3 FILTERS FOR COMPASSIONATE
CODE REVIEWS
1 2 3
IS IT TRUE?
@APRILWENSEL
1
EXAMPLE:
“YOU SHOULD NEVER USE
SINGLETONS.”
@APRILWENSEL
EXAMPLE:
“YOU SHOULD NEVER USE
SINGLETONS.”
@APRILWENSEL
IS IT TRUE?
IT’S AN OPINION, NOT A
FACT, SO IT CAN’T BE
PROVEN TRUE OR FALSE
@APRILWENSEL
ALTERNATIVE:
“IN THIS CASE, I WOULD
ADVISE AGAINST USING A
SINGLETON BECAUSE…”
@APRILWENSEL
ALTERNATIVE:
“COULD YOU EXPLAIN YOUR
DECISION TO USE A
SINGLETON? DID YOU
CONSIDER…?”
@APRILWENSEL
EXAMPLE:
“THESE 3 LINES SHOULD REALLY
BE IN A SEPARATE METHOD.”
@APRILWENSEL
IS IT TRUE?
ALTERNATIVE:
“WOULD IT MAKE SENSE TO
MOVE THESE LINES INTO A
SEPARATE METHOD TO HELP
WITH READABILITY?”
@APRILWENSEL
EXAMPLE:
“THIS ISN’T IDIOMATIC.”
@APRILWENSEL
EXAMPLE:
“THIS ISN’T IDIOMATIC.”
@APRILWENSEL
“IT’S BEST PRACTICE TO…”
“THE RIGHT WAY TO…”
ALTERNATIVES:
“ACCORDING TO THIS GUIDE…”
“I’VE OFTEN SEEN…”
@APRILWENSEL
IS IT TRUE?
@APRILWENSEL
1
✦ IF IT’S YOUR OPINION, SAY SO
✦ IF IT’S A FACT, CONSIDER SHARING A
SOURCE
✦ AVOID RIGHT/WRONG LANGUAGE
✦ TRY A QUESTION INSTEAD
✦ AVOID “SHOULDING” ON PEOPLE
IS IT NECESSARY?
@APRILWENSEL
2
EXAMPLE:
“THIS IS A NITPICK, BUT…”
@APRILWENSEL
EXAMPLE:
“THIS IS A NITPICK, BUT…”
@APRILWENSEL
IS IT NECESSARY?
TAKE A BREATH AND CHECK
YOUR MOTIVE
@APRILWENSEL
ARE YOU TRYING TO HELP
OR
BOOST YOUR OWN EGO?
ALTERNATIVES:
@APRILWENSEL
• AUTOMATE IF POSSIBLE
• MENTION IT PRIVATELY
• IGNORE IT
EXAMPLE:
“THIS CODE MAKES ME CRINGE, BUT I
SEE WHY YOU DID IT THIS WAY…”
@APRILWENSEL
EXAMPLE:
“THIS CODE MAKES ME CRINGE, BUT I
SEE WHY YOU DID IT THIS WAY…”
@APRILWENSEL
IS IT NECESSARY?
EXAMPLE:
“THIS IS FINE, BUT WE SHOULD
REALLY REWRITE THIS WHOLE
MODULE…”
@APRILWENSEL
EXAMPLE:
“THIS IS FINE, BUT WE SHOULD
REALLY REWRITE THIS WHOLE
MODULE…”
@APRILWENSEL
IS IT NECESSARY?
ALTERNATIVE:
@APRILWENSEL
RAISE THE ISSUE WITH THE TEAM
THROUGH THE APPROPRIATE
CHANNEL (A TICKET, CHAT, ETC.)
IS IT NECESSARY?
@APRILWENSEL
2
✦ BE CAREFUL WITH NITPICKS
✦ CHECK YOUR MOTIVES
✦ CHOOSE THE RIGHT CHANNEL
IS IT KIND?
@APRILWENSEL
3
https://medium.com/compassionate-coding/confessions-of-a-
recovering-jerk-programmer-b9d531a05ea9@APRILWENSEL
I USED TO BE
KIND OF A JERK
@APRILWENSEL
BEING KIND != SUGARCOATING
BEING KIND IS ULTIMATELY
MORE EFFICIENT BECAUSE YOU
AVOID TRIGGERING SOMEONE’S
DEFENSIVE THREAT RESPONSE
@APRILWENSEL
EXAMPLE:

“The above code is [BLEEP], and it generates [BLEEP] code. It looks
bad, and there's no reason for it.
The code could *easily* have been done with just a single and
understandable conditional…I really see no reason for this kind of
complete idiotic [BLEEP].”
@APRILWENSELhttp://lkml.iu.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/1510.3/02866.html
EXAMPLE:

“The above code is [BLEEP], and it generates [BLEEP] code. It looks
bad, and there's no reason for it.
The code could *easily* have been done with just a single and
understandable conditional…I really see no reason for this kind of
complete idiotic [BLEEP].”
@APRILWENSELhttp://lkml.iu.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/1510.3/02866.html
IS IT KIND?
ALTERNATIVE:
@APRILWENSEL
“DID YOU CONSIDER USING A SINGULAR
CONDITIONAL LIKE THIS…?
I THINK THAT WOULD MAKE IT EASIER FOR
PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND.”
EXAMPLE:
“WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST USE A
FACTORY?”
@APRILWENSEL
EXAMPLE:
“WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST USE A
FACTORY?”
@APRILWENSEL
IS IT KIND?
EXAMPLE:
“WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST USE A
FACTORY?”
@APRILWENSEL
IS IT KIND?
ALTERNATIVE:
@APRILWENSEL
“DID YOU CONSIDER USING A FACTORY HERE?
IT WOULD HELP BY… ”
EXAMPLE:

REVIEWER: “GIVEN THE DEPENDENCIES, I’M
CONCERNED THAT IT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO MODIFY
THIS IN THE FUTURE.”



AUTHOR: “I THINK THAT’S A TRIVIAL CONCERN.”
@APRILWENSEL
EXAMPLE:

REVIEWER: “GIVEN THE DEPENDENCIES, I’M
CONCERNED THAT IT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO MODIFY
THIS IN THE FUTURE.”



AUTHOR: “I THINK THAT’S A TRIVIAL CONCERN.”
@APRILWENSELIS IT KIND?
ALTERNATIVE:
@APRILWENSEL
“THANKS FOR RAISING THAT ISSUE. I DON’T
THINK THAT’S GOING TO BE A PROBLEM
BECAUSE […] WHAT DO YOU THINK?”
EXAMPLE:
“I DISAGREE WITH THIS WHOLE
APPROACH. I THINK IT’S MESSY AND
UNMAINTAINABLE.”
@APRILWENSEL
EXAMPLE:
“I DISAGREE WITH THIS WHOLE
APPROACH. I THINK IT’S MESSY AND
UNMAINTAINABLE.”
@APRILWENSEL
IS IT KIND?
ALTERNATIVES:
@APRILWENSEL
• DO SOME REVIEW *BEFORE* CODING
• DISCUSS IT OFFLINE
• PAIR PROGRAM!
IT’S KIND TO HELP PEOPLE
IMPROVE;
IT’S NOT KIND TO SHAME
THEM IN THE PROCESS
@APRILWENSEL
IS IT KIND?
@APRILWENSEL
3
✦ TAKE A BREATH
✦ AVOID INSULTS AND SHAMING
✦ REMEMBER YOU’RE DEALING WITH HUMANS
✦ ASSUME COMPETENCE; SEEK TO UNDERSTAND
✦ CHOOSE THE RIGHT MEDIUM
✦ OFFER GRATITUDE
@APRILWENSEL
3 FILTERS FOR COMPASSIONATE
CODE REVIEWS
1 2 3
IS IT TRUE? IS IT NECESSARY? IS IT KIND?
Inspired by Victoria Moran - Creating a Charmed Life
ISN’T
“COMPASSIONATE CODING”
AN OXYMORON?
@APRILWENSEL
http://www.businessinsider.com/programmers-debate-
requirements-to-behave-respectfully-ccoc-2018-5 @APRILWENSEL
‣ EGO
‣ ELITISM
‣ COMPETITION
‣ BEING “SMART”
‣ BEING A “ROCKSTAR”
@APRILWENSEL
THE STATUS QUO OF TECH CULTURE
‣ EGO HUMILITY
‣ ELITISM INCLUSION
‣ COMPETITION COOPERATION
‣ BEING “SMART” LEARNING
‣ BEING A “ROCKSTAR” BEING A MENTOR
@APRILWENSEL
THE COMPASSIONATE FUTURE OF TECH CULTURE
ISN’T
“COMPASSIONATE CODING”
AN OXYMORON?
@APRILWENSEL
LET’S MAKE
“COMPASSIONATE CODING”
REDUNDANT
@APRILWENSEL
@APRILWENSEL
PLANT SEEDS OF COMPASSION
IN YOUR CODEBASE & 

IN YOUR COMMUNITY
COMPASSIONATE
CODING
COMPASSIONATE
CODING
@APRILWENSEL
COME GET
A STICKER!
COMPASSIONATECODING.COM
THANK YOU!
NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP:
@COMPASSIONCODE

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