Communicative intention in code review questions

Felipe Ebert, Fernando Castor, N. Novielli, A. Serebrenik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


During code review, developers request clarifications, suggest improvements, or ask for explanations about the rationale behind the implementation choices. We envision the emergence of tools to support developers during code review based on the automatic analysis of the argumentation structure and communicative intentions conveyed by developers' comments. As a preliminary step towards this goal, we conducted an exploratory case study by manually classifying 499 questions extracted from 399 Android code reviews to understand the real communicative intentions they convey. We observed that the majority of questions actually serve information seeking goals. Still, they represent less than half of the annotated sample, with other questions being used to serve a wider variety of developers' communication goals, including suggestions, request for action, and criticism. Based on our findings we formulate hypotheses on communicative intentions in code reviews that should be confirmed or rejected by follow-up studies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2018 IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution, ICSME 2018
Place of PublicationPiscataway
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781538678701
ISBN (Print)978-1-5386-7870-1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2018
Event34th IEEE nternational Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution (ICSME 2018) - Madrid, Spain
Duration: 23 Sep 201829 Sep 2018
Conference number: 34


Conference34th IEEE nternational Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution (ICSME 2018)
Abbreviated titleICSME


  • Android
  • Code reviews
  • Communicative intention
  • Exploratory case study
  • Questions
  • communicative intention
  • questions
  • code reviews
  • exploratory case study


Dive into the research topics of 'Communicative intention in code review questions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this