Code Review Comments: Language Matters

Presenter: Vasiliki Efstathiou
Date: 23 May 2018


Recent research provides evidence that effective communication in collaborative software development has significant impact on the software development lifecycle.
Although related qualitative and quantitative studies point out textual characteristics of well-formed messages, the underlying semantics of the intertwined linguistic structures still remain largely misinterpreted or ignored. Especially, regarding quality of code reviews the importance of thorough feedback, and explicit rationale is often mentioned but rarely linked with related linguistic features. As a first step towards addressing this shortcoming, we propose grounding these studies on theories of linguistics. We particularly focus on linguistic structures of coherent speech and explain how they can be exploited in practice. We reflect on related approaches and examine through a preliminary study on four open source projects, possible links between existing findings and the directions we suggest for detecting textual features of useful code reviews.