Is it a good idea to leave your "digital fingerprint" in a company's project?

The question

In my company we're currently finishing a project for a huge company and I was thinking, is it a good idea to leave for example, my name commented somewhere in the depths of the website's HTML code?

The idea here is that this way I could use that as an example to (maybe) give to future employees showing them that in fact, I have worked on the given project and is working as expected, show my skills, and so on.

What do you think though, is it a good idea to leave your personal identity hidden in some company website's code? Or should we just leave our resume and recommendations do the talking for us ?

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DISCUSSION (13)

I think this would be a very bad idea. When you work for a company, they own the code you write. If I were a company, I'd be upset to learn that programmers were writing and shipping hidden lines of code which contained their name. It comes off as vain and dishonest. It's also completely unnecessary. When you tell a potential employer "I worked on this project" they should take you at your word! If they don't believe you, it probably means they don't trust you, and telling them that you added hidden lines of code to a former employers code base is not going to help that situation. Like you said, let your resume and recommendations do the talking!

When you tell a potential employer "I worked on this project" they should take you at your word!

More importantly, you should give them the phone number of your former employer so they can verify it with them.

Thank you for your fast response. You have a very good point. Interestingly enough, that's what I'm always doing as a developer, but I was wondering if it's worth it to add a personal touch somewhere at some point.

You could always bring up the possibility of a humans.txt file which is designed for exactly this. Alternatively, if the code is open source, you could list Contributors in the repo's README 😎

humanstxt.org

Never never ever leave your name or any personal info in a source-file, when it's not you coding for yourself, or your companies' workflow dictates it.

(I know some Gamedevs add names to TODO-Items)

You never know who might touch, copy, change the file, how long it will be around, who is going to use or misuse it, curse at you because they need to debug it.

Well, if the code is versioned they will find you anyway :D

Yes bad enough. It depends on company-policy, but in theory you don't have to commit with an identifiable name.

a lot of people are identifiable through their github accounts and anyhow if it's a colleague taking over your code there are easier ways to know who was the previous developer, they can just ask 🤣

It's one thing to have your identifying information in the metadata for a project (i.e., within whatever revision-control system was used to manage the project's resulting output) or within something that's supposed to have such information (e.g., a package-manager like RPM's changelog). It's another thing, altogether to injecting it into a finished/delivered product. This is particularly so for a "product" that doesn't contain such information as part of its specification or traditional content. In general, finished product should be "clean" ...and putting your initials (or whatever) into the HTML kind of feels like you've graffitoed something that belongs to someone else.

That said, coding can be very idiosyncratic. As such, it may often be easily identifiable as having been done by a given individual. So, your "signature" is often already (effectively) there. It's just not unignorably obvious. ;)

That's a very nice way of putting it. It's true that having your input on something, technically you're leaving a part of you and your coding in it. Otherwise I'm all for it that giving a finished product with your unnecessary initials/names/data in it could be counted as vandalising parts of the given project.
Thank you for your interesting idea, I hadn't really thought about it that way.

I'd find it strange. I know they do things like that in video games, but it's usually an easter egg or subtle enough that even if you found it, you wouldn't know it wasn't intentional. Still, I've never heard of anyone sneaking something like that into proprietary code. I've also never had anyone doubt anything I've worked on, so I don't understand the motive. I think if I were interviewing someone who did this, I'd be a little alarmed by it, like do I need to review all your code now to make sure you're not sneaking weird stuff in, like all the Disney movies?

Anyway, I guess I can't be too critical, the last time I was an employee, the company itself did exactly this, and I think it was for exactly this reason (though they could reasonably deny it). They had their name embedded as a ligature into the font they commissioned. Try typing "ggg" and "gggg" into the search at gamut.com/ After finding that, I went through the entire font file and found a few other interesting things, but these were the only ones that I'd call "easter eggs". There was also an easter egg in the search input, but it was really put there for debugging purposes. I guess I've added things like that in the past: special endpoints and inputs to make testing and debugging easier... though they were always toggled off in production.

In the company I work in, developers will often leave their name or initials next to some tricky code. We have such a huge, old and complex codebase that it's a way to leave breadcrumbs of informations and know who to reach out if needed. So I would say, leaving your name could have a value, internally.

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