Friday, April 15, 2011

Should the Subversion blame feature be renamed?

I had a brief conversation today about blaming people in which the following question came up:

'then why does svn have a blame feature?'

This is a very good question. My feeling is that it's named incorrectly.

I've had a problem with the name of the blame feature since I first came across it. To me it feels like it was inspired by a culture of fear rather than a culture that understands that mistakes are part of learning. Blaming someone isn't going to achieve anything. Sooner or later all developers will be on the receiving end as I've yet to find a person who doesn't make mistakes.

This also gets back to the words we use and how they shape our thoughts. If there's a bug and there's a blame feature, am I more likely to use it to blame a team member for causing the bug?

I have no problem with the feature itself.  I use it to give me a good view of all of the changes that make up a specific file and find out why they were changed.

I'd like to see the name changed, but have yet to think of a good name. What would you name it instead?


One possible alternative that was suggested was Root Cause. Any others?


  1. Thanks for your comment. Either would be an improvement.

  2. According to the subversion docs the blame command has three alternate names: praise, annotate, and ann – why not just use one of those?