Many thanks to Tristan Morris for creating a beautiful illustrated hardcover print edition of the site


A certain monk had been recruited into the Spider Clan and assigned to maintain a large legacy system. Upon setting up his development environment, the monk was horrified to discover the non-standard coding conventions used throughout the application. Constants were not uppercase, but mixed-case with a leading ‘k’. Instance variables were named with a trailing ‘_fld’. The list went on.

Knowing that it was every monk’s duty to follow the best practices of the day—and astonished that his fellows had chosen not to do so—the monk coded each of his small assigned changes according to the standards he had long used. All could tell at a glance where he had introduced a new constant or a few lines in the middle of an ancient method.

After a week he was approached by the head monk, who said: master Suku is most impressed by your work. She has invited you to dine with her and the other masters tonight.

The monk arrived at Suku’s chambers at the appointed hour and nervously seated himself at the long table among the great persons there. Before each was a plate of rice with a whole raw cod laid across it. No one spoke or ate; all sat bowed in quiet contemplation.

When the last guest sat down, master Suku gave the assembly a slight nod. Without a word every master stood on their left foot, picked up their fish, and placed it on top of their head.

All eyes were now on the monk, who sat bewildered before this display. Realizing his ignorance in the table manners of the temple, he promptly stood on his left foot, picked up his fish, and placed it on top of his head. In that instant the monk was enlightened.