There’s No “R” in “Funny” But There’s Some “Funny” in “R”

There’s No “R” in “Funny” But There’s Some “Funny” in “R”

In the spirit of Friday I wanted to dedicate my first blog entry to a lighter side of R. In the middle of working on last week’s homework assignment, I decided I wanted to gain a new perspective on the human aspect of R, namely some assessment of the programmers that develop and use it. Naturally, rather than beginning with searches like “developers of R” or “famous users of R” or some other intellectually-minded search, I chose to pursue “funny R code.”

My search led me to a Stack Overflow questions page entitled “What is the best comment in source code you have ever encountered?” While the page had been “closed as not constructive” way back in 2011, the feedback to this question was nothing short of marvelous. The 518 answers stretched on for 18 pages, and while the quality and appropriateness of the comments varied somewhat, overall this forum was a goldmine of R-related comic relief. Many of the answers are quite relatable, even for someone as new to R as myself, including “I am not sure if we need this, but too scared to delete” and “I am not sure why this works, but it fixes the problem.” There were also a number of references to movies and TV shows as well as some truly incredible artwork, including pictures of pigs and dragons drawn with text/code. In fact, based on this particular sample, a relatively high number of programmers who work with R seem to be obsessed with dragons relative to the general population, although more analysis would be required to examine the validity of this possible trend. Several other types of comments included short essays, philosophical quotes, and poems that convey a multitude of emotions and somehow help R code seem more human.

If I were forced to pick a favorite comment, it would have to be the one written by a frustrated programmer who had been attempting to work with something called Adobe PSD format. While I have absolutely no idea what this format is, the author seems incredibly displeased with it, and channels his feelings into a highly amusing essay, which includes what is possibly the most imaginative simile I’ve ever heard, that he chose to save within his code and thereby share with the next programmer to examine it. It’s pretty long, so I won’t post it here, but it’s about three quarters of the way down the first page and is definitely worth a read (link below). All in all, if you’re looking for some quick stress relief and/or some R-related laughs, I would definitely recommend visiting the webpage listed below. (Since this page is essentially an Internet comments section, please be aware that some of the content is R-rated. Pun intended.) Finally, to send off the week, here’s an awful joke: What was the pirate’s favorite programming language? R.

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/184618/what-is-the-best-comment-in-source-code-you-have-ever-encountered?page=1&tab=votes#tab-top

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2 Responses to There’s No “R” in “Funny” But There’s Some “Funny” in “R”

  1. gedavis27 says:

    This is such a great find, and a great reminder that there are always struggles in learning code, no matter what level you are on.

    My co-worker, who is an inspiration to me in his ability in R, encouraged me at the start of the class by passing on some wise words:

    “Learning and improving in R is really just figuring out how to make the red errors go away.”

    A nice reminder that even those who are proficient in R can run into road blocks too. Thanks for the smile!

  2. calynum says:

    I’ve seen something similar for other programming languages and this is just as hilarious. Sometimes people creating code just need to keep sane without getting lost in layers and layers of code. Plus, most of these people know that not many people will delve that deep into the code and find all of these hidden gems. My notes for class and my homework always seems to be half-filled with text preceded by the pound sign (more often called the hashtag nowadays). This allows me to understand what I am doing and type everything I need out. Sometimes my notes are also things like “# WHAT IS HAPPENING?” and “# You should probably come back to this again because it is wrong and you have no idea what you’re doing.” But in the end, it all works out. It leads me to believe that some people might have forgotten that they left some of their notes in there, losing it amongst the other commands. Either way, we can all get enjoyment out of this. Thanks for posting!

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