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Nieman Journalism Lab
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At the 2014 OpenNews code convening, two developers — WNYC’s Noah Veltman and Al Jazeera’s Michael Keller — got together to iterate on a preexisting tool from The New York Times.

FourScore helps developers easily build audience sentiment maps — think of it as a crowdsourced, less snarky version of New York magazine’s Approval Matrix. WNYC had used the technique previously for a Valentine’s Day sentiment matrix, and Veltman thought it would be useful if the code was open source.

In a post at Source, Veltman and Keller describe the importance of making code for projects like this not just open to other developers, but also useful to them.

In some sense, the WNYC sentiment grid was already “open source.” Virtually all of the code is client-side JavaScript; you could view-source in your browser, figure out how it works and then reuse or mimic it as needed. But this presumes that you have both the expertise and patience needed to deconstruct someone else’s spaghetti code, and you probably don’t. Ultimately you’d be better off starting from scratch than investing the time to get into the author’s brain and jerry-rigging the code for a different situation.

They go on to say that important considerations in writing code that’s helpful for future users include browser compatibility, logical chunking, documentation and consideration of diverse workflows.

— Caroline O'Donovan
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