I've always enjoyed writing humourous exception messages (and comments) like those you encounter in the HTMLParser libraries (the only time I ever eagerly looked forward to the next exception) - not at the cost of making them uninformative, but by tagging on something that's going to make the developer who encounters them smile - but have often been told that it "wasn't professional". I understand not wanting to obfuscate the need to Express Intent (note the caps), but I just don't get this attitude. I'd like to add that these weren't enterprise projects where I was working for a corporate client (in which case the sentiment is understandable), but rather internal projects solely developed by ThoughtWorkers for ThoughtWorkers. Some developers really need to relax and enjoy the whole coding trip.
Back in 2003, Nullsoft shipped a new version of Winamp, with the following notice on their website:
* Snazzy new look!
* Groovy new features!
* Most things actually work!
It's the last part... the "Most things actually work!" that makes everyone laugh. And then they're happy, and so they get excited about Winamp, and they use it, and tell their friends, and they think Winamp is awesome, all because they actually wrote on their website, "Most things actually work!" How cool is that?
If you threw a bunch of extra programmers onto the Windows Media Player team, would they ever hit that high note? Never in a thousand years. Because the more people you added to that team, the more likely they would be to have one real grump who thought it was unprofessional and immature to write "Most things actually work" on your website.
A little humour goes a long way
I was reading this article by Joel Spolsky and I'd like to quote a portion of it here: