Easter Eggs & Credit Screens: good or bad?


Greetings, all.  So…I was re-reading (well, actually re-skimming) Pete
McBreen’s book Software Craftsmanship, which I think has a lot of interesting
observations.

One of the things he calls for is a return to the practice of letting software teams
insert their names into the product.  Some products, especially games, still
do this, often through the About Box or some other fairly visible location. 
At Microsoft, these would often be hidden in the product, to be unleashed only with
a secret keystroke or other special sequence.  The motivation behind this is
to increase each contributor’s personal attachment to the product, both giving them
personal credit and also publicly linking their reputation to that of the product.

A few years back, Microsoft’s upper management banned Easter Eggs, apparently because
customers such as governments were (understandably) displeased at the thought of secret
code, presumably poorly tested, being inserted into software they were purchasing.

It is perhaps unfortunate that the banning of Easter Eggs seems to have also banned
credit screens in Microsoft products.  Certainly it should be harmless to list
contributors’ names in a non-secret place such as the help documentation, a screen
off the About Box, or somewhere on the web and avoid the disadvantages of’secret code
paths.

Personally, I like McBreen’s arguments about why contributors’ names should be attached
to software.  If your reputation is on the line, you’re more likely to go the
extra mile.  Plus, if you see a product you like then it’s easy to find out who
was behind it, as you can do today in the film industry.

What do you think?

-Chris

Comments (3)

  1. MartinJ says:

    I agree. But, the contributors should be given the option to not have their names included. I may not want to be associated with a piece of software that is a dog. Not that I’ve ever had to work on a dog before.