The problem of conceptualization in god class detection: agreement, strategies and decision drivers


  • José Amancio M Santos State University of Feira de Santana
  • Manoel Gomes de Mendonça Federal University of Bahia
  • Cleber Pereira Dos Santos Federal Institute of Bahia
  • Renato Lima Novais Federal Institute of Bahia


Code smell, God class, Controlled experiment, Code visualization



The concept of code smells is widespread in Software Engineering. Despite the empirical studies addressing the topic, the set of context-dependent issues that impacts the human perception of what is a code smell has not been studied in depth. We call this the code smell conceptualization problem; Method

A controlled experiment that extends and builds upon a previous empirical study about how humans detect god classes, their decision drivers, and agreement rate. Our study delves into research questions of the previous study, adding visualization to the smell detection process, and analyzing strategies of detection.;


Our findings show that agreement among participants is low, which corroborates previous studies. We show that this is mainly related to agreeing on what a god class is and which thresholds should be adopted, and not related to comprehension of the programs. The use of visualization did not improve the agreement among the participants. However, it did affect the choice of detection drivers.;


This study contributes to expand empirical evidences on the impact of human perception on detecting code smells. It shows that studies about the human role in smell detection are relevant and they should consider the conceptualization problem of code smells.;



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How to Cite

Santos, J. A. M., de Mendonça, M. G., Dos Santos, C. P., & Novais, R. L. (2014). The problem of conceptualization in god class detection: agreement, strategies and decision drivers. Journal of Software Engineering Research and Development, 2, 11:1 – 11:33. Retrieved from



Research Article

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