We’ve talked before about a walking skeleton. That is a fully connected, but not very functional, system that includes all the major integrations. It serves to demonstrate that anything at all can run in the expected topology.

But some languages and frameworks ask you to get more correct to form a walking skeleton. Strongly typed languages, frameworks that require you to run from a non “-SNAPSHOT” library version, deployment tools that only fetch from official repositories, etc.

On the other hand, some languages and ecosystems let you put a bunch of half-broken, mostly inconsistent crap together and it still kind of works. There’s a good chance that the copy-and-pasted monstrosity will fall apart if you poke it with unexpected input. And it might blow up, crash, or delete the contents of your high school permanent record. But it still works just enough to say “I can improve on it from here.”

This is a staggering skeleton. It could fall over at any moment, but eppur si muove.

Depending on your background, you might view the staggering skeleton as yet another way we allow a mostly broken stack of complex, unreliable software to keep proliferating. Or you might say it makes an easier on-ramp and allows more people to contribute without forcing them through Hindley-Milner hoops.

Either way, you can’t deny that staggering skeletons were a big influence on the web. Early websites were a lot of copy-paste-and-modify. That’s part of how the web grew so fast.