As a convention, problematic areas of the code have been marked with comments containing the text ALERT or ERRORALERT, usually prefixed with the initials of the person who wrote the alert. These comments help clarify how the code should look when it is fully polished, and act as our to-do list. They also help prevent poor programming style from being propagated to other parts of the code before we have a chance to correct it.

Anyone who sees a problem in the code but is unable for any reason to fix the problem should add an alert for it. The alert must specifically describe what the problem is and how it could be corrected (if known). If the problem is serious, especially if it may affect any results seen by the users, it should be labeled an ERRORALERT. Less serious issues, such as those primarily affecting code readability, future maintainability, and generality, should be labeled an ALERT.

All Topographica developers are responsible for fixing alerts. No file in Topographica is owned by any single developer, and no permission is needed from anyone to fix the problem. Anyone who reads an alert should, at the minimum, add a comment saying how the ALERT could be fixed (if they have any idea), and ideally should fix the problem.

As soon as the problem is gone, the ALERT comment should be removed entirely from the code.

If any Topographica developer ever runs out of tasks, a good thing to do is to search the Topographica directory for ALERT, and then start fixing all those that seem fixable, starting with the easiest.