I have a repository on GitHub, which I created when I was learning some technology- it is web app.

It has around 100 stars. Now, clearly after years probably both my development skills have increased as well as knowledge of that technology.

I don't think the project has crappy code in it, though I try to clean it from time to time and improve.

Given these facts, I fear that this "old" repo and the code it contains could backfire on me when trying to apply for jobs. Could it be that keeping that old repo will reflect badly on me?

I wonder how people deal with such situations, when they created a repo when they were less experienced developer than they are now. I am hesitant to delete it because of stars and people seem to visit it. On the other hand I don't want a project which could be referred as bad code or something like that (even though I believe it isn't such).

On the README it's clearly stated that this project was created for learning purposes, though.

  • Hey george, I currently feel that this question is a bit more software-oriented and less workplace related... could you perhaps try to rephrase it so it has a more workplace-related goal we can help you with? Perhaps on how to respond or handle when asked about it during interviews or something... – DarkCygnus Nov 28 '19 at 20:45
  • @DarkCygnus Didn't complete registration process, posting from other SE account :(. Yeah I wasn't certain this was on topic,if you can rephrase it feel free. It is more software oriented I admit though, yes. Like I said I do improve code myself from time to time so maybe that is also one answer, and best one can do in this situation, isn't it? – user112233 Nov 28 '19 at 20:52
  • I will gladly rephrase it and edit if you can tell me (us) a more workplace-oriented goal we cal help you with... what are your worries about this old repo? Are you planning to job-hunt soon or change jobs? Do you wonder how this can affect your interview process? – DarkCygnus Nov 28 '19 at 21:06
  • @DarkCygnus The worries are already stated in the question isnt it? That in case it contains not good code (which IMHO it doesn't as I said I try to evaluate it with my current knowledge from time to time and improve), how will that reflect on me? I am not planning active job hunt in the near future. I wrote that app year ago so if I was creating it now, maybe I could write it in better way, maybe not hard to say. IMHO it is general issue with github anyone who creates repo now in 5 years he could have done it better if he was creatingit from scratch isn't it? – user112235 Nov 28 '19 at 21:25
  • ps assume currently I can evaluate roughly good vs bad code I have say roughly 4 years exp. but there are some CSS aspects to it too, which currently I am not pro. – user112235 Nov 28 '19 at 21:27

On the other hand I don't want a project which could be referred as bad code or something like that (even though I believe it isn't such).

So which is it?

Everyone is insecure about their work. And everyone understands that old work doesn't represent ones' current level of knowledge. Leave it up. If they ask you about it, you can always suggest ways it can be improved.

Better they ask you about a project you've actually worked on than some random coding problem they found in a book, or on the internet.

  • My old open source code is way better than what I do at work, under the pressure of deadlines. – Simon Richter Nov 30 '19 at 11:56

It may, or may not, rattle you, but most tech leads that are forced, by the company's pipeline, to take part in the recruitment pipeline don't really care about you OSS projects.
I know I didn't when I was tasked with such chore.

Yes, companies like saying OSS contributions are an advantage and "We look forward to what you are about to share with us", and I guess HR goes ga-ga over such entries (even if all the repo has is a readme), but, look at it from the TL perspective: s/he has their own tasks to clear at work, on top of that, now they have to squeeze in interviewing and grading the candidates', plural, take-home tech challenges and prioritize which one to call for an on-site... do they really care, like really care about your OSS repos, old or new?

What do you think?

Only, o-n-l-y, time I took a look at a candidate's GitHub profile was when I didn't like his coding, but I saw the guys has some chops and figured maybe it was just time constraint ont the take-home task, he has a day-time job as well, so maybe that coding, while showing promise, is just stress and exhaustion combined.
Candidate had about 3-4 projects in his repo total, not one of them even with 1 star, and all abondaned at some stage or another.
You can guess what I decided about him, but the point is, that was the one and only time I felt the need to burden myself with looking at a candidate's OSS efforts.

To finish my reply off, I would say, like the rest of the answers here, that as long as that project is old, and you feel, and can prove by demonstration, that you have grown as a developer from that time, and hey, 100 stars is no small feat either, in such a grand "universe" as GitHub... keep the repo and be proud of it!

Those are the things you cut your teeth on, trying out new tech, and you grew because of it.
That is your coding legacy.

Do you think is ashamed of his/her rookie years? Or are they proud to reminisce upon them, thinking "Wow, did I come a looong way from then"?


Your old code may harm your future career only if it contains things code shall never ever contain under any circumstances.

I do not mean "while(true)" loops, "goto" mazes, "\\ let miracle happens" comments and other coding sins. They are more like jokes or pranks. At least it may show that you have grown from such jokes and code responsibly.

I mean racist comments, mockery variables and other displays of misconduct.

As many others noted, you were years younger back then. It is quite expectable that you will see your old code as poor - you have learnt a lot since then and this is the proof of your improvement. I personally consider my masters thesis poor and when thinking of my bachelor thesis, I wish I could bury myself in sewers.

Do not hide your old code. It works and is not crappy, as you stated. It therefore displays that you had a good start and that you have improved. So your employer-to-be can expect that the future you will be even better than today you. There is no room it could backfire at all.


Don’t delete it.

It can even work for you if you can demonstrate code improvement over time to indicate that

  1. You keep pace with the technologies that are relevant to you

  2. You improve your code base as you improve your knowledge

  3. Code we wrote in the past always look worse compared to the code we write today... that just comes with the territory as we keep on learning new stuff.

  • Are you suggesting he should update on the repo? Or that he should come with some ideas for improvement in case someone asks about it? – Llewellyn Nov 30 '19 at 17:56
  • @Llewellyn Nope. OP mentioned that he cleans it from time to time so the latest version if the sum of the initial (allegedly bad code) plus the result of cleaning up. It’s the cleaning up part that’s valuable as it conveys the message that the OP values continuous improvements. – Goose Nov 30 '19 at 18:01

Now, clearly after years probably both my development skills have increased as well as knowledge of that technology.

I don't think the project has crappy code in it, though I try to clean it from time to time and improve.

These are positive things.

If someone ever brings this code up in an interview (or even if they don't) then you have a great example to use of why you made the decisions you made at the time, what you've learned since then, and what you'd do differently if faced with the same situation today.

You've given yourself an amazing tool to use in an interview. It's only bad code if you don't learn from it.

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