A Taxonomy of Tech Debt

Hi there. I’m Bill “LtRandolph” Clark, and I’m the engineering manager for the Champions team on LoL. I’ve worked on several different teams on League over the past years, but one focus has been consistent: I’m obsessed with tech debt. I want to find it, I want to understand it, and where possible, I want to fix it.

When engineers talk about any existing piece of technology – for example League of Legendspatch 8.4 – we often talk about tech debt. I define tech debt as code or data that future developers will pay a cost for. Countless blog posts, articles, and definitions have been written about this scourge of software development. This post will focus on types of tech debt I’ve seen during my time working at Riot, and a model for discussing it that we’re starting to use internally. If you only take away one lesson from this article, I hope you remember the “contagion” metric discussed below.

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