The Dead Code Society

Jon Parise, Lead Architect, Client and API

On June 1, 2018, engineer Chris Lloyd created the #dead-code-society Slack channel to be “a sombre place for remembering [---]-only diffs.” Messages are prefixed by a :tombstone: and include links to diffs that contain only file or line deletions. The channel averages a little over one message per day, but they frequently come in bursts as part of refactoring projects and clean-up efforts.

As Pinterest has grown as a company, our software unpinning has grown with it. We have hundreds of software engineers producing thousands of changes per week. The net result is an upward trend in total lines of code with a significant portion of our software having been (re)written in just the last few years.

The #dead-code-society has helped balance that trend by celebrating the retirement of code from active service. Retired code remains in source control history to be remembered and consulted, but it no longer occupies a prominent place in our workspaces, build systems, or cognitive periphery.

Less is more. Carpe diem.