If you’ve done any sort of programming before (with the exception of Python), you’ll know how integral the use of the semi-colon (;) is. Coders have been known to tear their hair out over a missing ‘;’ amidst thousands of lines of code. So when I saw this twitter post from software developer Peter Ritchie, I immediately heard the anguished cries of thousands of coders.
MT: Replace a semicolon (;) with a greek question mark (;) in your friend's C# code and watch them pull their hair out over the syntax error— Peter Ritchie (@peterritchie) November 16, 2014
Not only would this be an incredibly horrible thing to do to someone, but unless you were aware of the trick, or even the existence of the ‘;’ symbol as a Greek question mark, you would most likely end up rewriting your entire code just to solve the issue.
Now if you’re not a coder and the impact of this doesn’t hit you, take the following lines of code (we’ll use Arduino code for simplicity):
All this does is toggle an output pin high and low every half a second, generally called the ‘blink’ program when used with an LED. As you can see, at the end of each line a semi-colon is used to break the line. Now if this isn’t there when it’s supposed to, the program won’t compile, and it generally leads to going through your program with a fine toothed comb trying to find the missing spot. Now imagine a huge program, almost every line ending with a semi-colon, except one of them isn’t, it’s a Greek question mark which whilst it looks identical, registers with the software compiler different, but doesn’t look any different to the human eye. A needle in a haystack.
So on that note, go forth, code, and be merry, and most importantly, don’t EVER do this to anyone!