ABSTRACT: Code review consists of manual inspection, discussion, and judgment of source code by developers other than the code’s author. Due to discussions around competing ideas and group decision-making processes, interpersonal conflicts during code reviews are expected. This study systematically investigates how developers perceive code review conflicts and addresses interpersonal conflicts during code reviews as a theoretical construct. Through the thematic analysis of interviews conducted with 22 developers, we confirm that conflicts during code reviews are commonplace, anticipated and seen as normal by developers. Even though conflicts do happen and carry a negative impact for the review, conflicts—if resolved constructively—can also create value and bring improvement. Moreover, the analysis provided insights on how strongly conflicts during code review and its context (i.e., code, developer, team, organization) are intertwined. Finally, there are aspects specific to code review conflicts that call for the research and application of customized conflict resolution and management techniques, some of which are discussed in this paper.
Recommended citation: Pavlína Wurzel Gonçalves, Gül Çalikli, Alberto Bacchelli. (2022). “Interpersonal Conflicts During Code Review: Developers’ Experience and Practices.” Proceedings of the ACM on Human Computer Interaction (CSCW). Article No: 98, pp.1-33.