ISO 9000 and the Capability Maturity Model would be of value for my organization because programmers use reference materials to verify and to reinforce what they know, and also to refresh their memories when they need to recall something they haven’t used in a while. Programmers use examples not simply as tools for learning but as templates for copying. What would qualify as plagiarism in scholarly writing is common and accepted practice in the computer industry, at least when carried out on a small scale, using documented samples designed for the purpose. CMMI is written for a number of reasons. CMMI guidelines serve as blueprints for programmers to work from. They may also be written as the basis for competitive bidding on contracts. Dave described a specification for a government contract.
Coding standards are enforced to some degree by the (never officially defined) methodology that almost every program in the system starts out as a modification to an existing program. Thus, although certain deviations from the norm are inevitable since the norm is never articulated, identities or similarities of the structure are also inevitable, given the template of the original program. For example, each program is likely to include a title, a copyright notice, and comments at the beginning listing the purpose of the program, input and output parameters, if any, and modification history.
Also, programming languages, primarily COBOL but others as well, enforce a certain structure of their own, so all programs written in a given language look alike to some extent. In this sense, programs take on the characteristics of a genre. Every program has standard error-handling and failure routines. The tasks also have a common structure. Thus, programmers do not have to familiarize themselves with a large number of unique formats; once they have seen one or two examples of a few formats, they are in a position to master much of the system. This is why a programmer’s first task, almost whatever it turns out to be, can become a vehicle for learning a great deal about the system (for we can now say, because of these perceived and real consistencies, that it indeed is a system) as a whole.