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Shaw mischaracterizes K&R by making anachronistic assumptions about its intended audience and ignoring the context in which it was written.

Zed does acknowledge as much but this is worth pointing out. For some reason contextual intent and "intended audience" are missed by programmers (who are typically stereotyped for giving answers that are a technical depth irrelevant to the recipients).

With that in mind, I think that describing the intended audience and context (as you and others in the comments have done) is a more valuable exercise. It makes K&R (or other book) accessible and applicable to a new generation. Such posts won't normally get much intention - they lack a certain rebellious and inflammatory flair we know and love so well...




I don't know that this particular case is so much "contextual intent and intended audience" failure as it is that K&R C is suggested, unilaterally, for anyone learning C. It's the bible, and you can't hand someone a bible and then tell them that page 37 line 23 characters 3 and 4 need to be swapped, or you'll summon Satan. They won't remember it when they read that line, nor after they've passed it, they'll just go ahead and summon Satan because the bible told them to. Multiply by 1000 suggestions to warn someone about C.

It's basically impossible to adequately warn people that K&R C is unsafe when exposed to the real world, so it's an unsafe suggestion in the way it's usually suggested.




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