Who are you writing that commit message for?

I read a lot of commit messages that make me wonder who the committer had in mind when they wrote it. If you don't read commit messages yourself, I think that can make it even more difficult to think about who the audience is, or when someone would be reading those entries. Perhaps you're writing for nobody, or work in a team that doesn't value the metadata that a single sentence written in the moment can deliver.

Next time you write a commit message, try some of these suggestions as your imaginary audience:

  • Yourself, next week, when you finally get back to working on this thing and can't remember where you were up to
  • Yourself, when you get a pull request review and can't remember which commit something is in that needs to be removed
  • Yourself, debugging how this ended up like this, 6 months from now
  • Your colleague, eyeballing your work to see how you are getting on

Personally, I think of it as a note to myself. Like an alibi, if someone asks you what's already been done, or what this commit that removes one specific line from a long config file. Yes, I worked as a git consultant for a while, the delete-a-single-line with the commit message "Fixed" is always the culprit!

Further reading: https://cbea.ms/git-commit/


Also published on Medium.

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