Cargo cult programming

What is cargo cult programming?
Cargo cult programming is a term used to describe the practices of green, immature, or less than fully competent programmers or engineers who use certain types of rituals or habits in code that focus on a lack of understanding of them what code does. These effects can be characterized as superstitious red reactions or a tendency of form versus function.

Cargo cult programming is also known as voodoo programming.

The term 'cargo cult' comes from religious groups that emerged in indigenous South Pacific populations after World War II. Some of the practices of these groups included building bogus planes and runways as evidence of the actual planes that carried cargo during the war years. The term 'cargo cult programming' comes from 'cargo cult science', which goes back to a book by Richard Feynman from 1985.

Other tech experts describe Cargocult programming in specific scenarios. In a blog post on the subject, tech writer and programmer Scott Hanselman compares it to people who own homes and don't know how plumbing works, or drivers who don't understand how vehicles move on the road. Some in computer science use the term to talk about students who keep failing to understand functional concepts about coding, and instead of exploring the functions of code, they revert to formalistic methods or rely on source code formalism to complete projects .

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Further explanations for the initial letter C