Be Kind and Don't Use Greek Question Marks

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.

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!


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