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Another term for common code smell

Programmers know immediately what I mean if I talk of finding a 'WTF' in the code base. In particular, it is a noun that refers to an extremely wrongheaded approach/implementation, and not typically an exclamation (though it can be used also as an exclamation).

I don't want to use expressions that thinly veil obscenity, but I can't think of any substitute that communicates this idea quickly and succinctly. Any ideas?

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marked as duplicate by Thomas Owens, Aaronaught, Robert Harvey, Anna Lear Jul 28 '11 at 17:11

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This is similar to programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/62570/… "Refactor Point" won the prize there. –  Morons Jul 28 '11 at 14:28
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WTF has been backronym'ed to "Worse than failure" for quite some time now. I don't think you have to be afraid of using it nowadays. –  Kilian Foth Jul 28 '11 at 14:29
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The Daily WTF use "worse than failure". A well-chosen backronym. –  user1249 Jul 28 '11 at 14:29
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Pretending it means something else is not a solution, as the real acronym is well-known. –  Eric Wilson Jul 28 '11 at 14:33
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Maybe refer to them as "code anomalies/oddities/curiosities"? –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jul 28 '11 at 14:36

5 Answers 5

To my knowledge the de-facto term for this is "code smell". If it is really bad then "strong code smell" should convey this to anyone who is familiar with the refactoring vocabulary.

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a "code stink" could make it a bit more colorful too –  lurscher Jul 28 '11 at 14:27
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"code smell" is the official term. Stay with that. –  user1249 Jul 28 '11 at 14:28
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Hmm . . . a strong code smell would suggest that something must be wrong. But the WTF is the rotting 6-month old mouse carcass that is producing the smell. –  Eric Wilson Jul 28 '11 at 14:30
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Is there a scale of code smells? Such as "sweaty sock", "fish market", "garlic & onion breath", "ripe compost", "open sewage pit in the sun"... ;) –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jul 28 '11 at 14:35
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@Mason, RFC's are not official and hence cannot codify anything. The de-facto text on Refactoring use "code smell". –  user1249 Jul 28 '11 at 14:40

WTF is totally unspecific, and can mean anything. You don't lose much, if you avoid it.

Be specific!

Use 'error', 'code smell', 'over complicated', 'multi redundance', 'security hole', 'antique programming', 'GOTO found!' or whatever the reason is, why you think 'WTF'.

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"Code smells" is a term often used to label code that should be refactored. Most developers know something is a "hack" or a "cheat" that will incur "technical debt" and have to be refactored in future. Usually, such code is still readable and understandable, just not SOLID.

A WTF is a little more than that; it's code that cannot even be deciphered as to its original purpose or to the reasons behind the architecture.

For a cleaner alternative, you could call these things a program's "WOEs" (What-On-Earth).

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How about just "WUT". As in LOLWUT. –  Carson63000 Jul 29 '11 at 4:40

"Leakage" could be a term to that is pretty short and can convey an immediate problem that has to be handled. Some may think of memory leaks or drive leaks as examples here while the more non-technical may think of bodily functions handled in a restroom that may leave a body at an unexpected time.

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If you want to avoid using profanity, use:

WTH = What The Hell

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Some people consider this just as offensive. –  user1249 Jul 28 '11 at 14:29
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That's not avoiding profanity, it's just using a different one. –  Guffa Jul 28 '11 at 14:30
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I don't consider this profanity. –  Bernard Jul 28 '11 at 15:01
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@Bernard: In the professional world, any word that a large number of people consider profanity should be regarded as profanity. –  asfallows Jul 28 '11 at 15:26
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Maybe you should have said H-E-Double Hockey Sticks. –  JeffO Jul 29 '11 at 0:17

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