Approving vs Requesting Changes in coding?

Once a reviewer completes their review, they can either mark it approved, block the review with change requests, or not set a specific status, leaving it in a “not yet approved” state. How reviewers use the approve and request changes statuses is telling of the code reviews.

Good code reviews don’t approve changes while there are open-ended questions. However, they make it clear which questions or comments are non-blocking or unimportant, marking them distinctively. They are explicit when approving a change – e.g. adding a thumbs up comment like “looks good!”. Some places use acronyms like[ LGTM—these also work, but be aware that newcomers could misinterpret these insider acronyms for something else. Good code reviews are equally explicit when they are requesting a follow-up, using the code review tool or team convention to communicate this.

Better code reviews are firm on the principle but flexible on the practice: sometimes, certain comments are addressed by the author with a separate, follow-up code change. For changes that are more urgent than others, reviewers try to make themselves available for quicker reviews.