The Role of XP in PerlMonks

The Experience (XP) system is a powerful thing. You do something nice, you get positive feedback. The more nice things you do, the more positive feedback you get. That positive feedback gives you a little buzz, makes you feel good. So you do it more...

Some might call this operant conditioning, but we prefer to think of it as falling in love with PerlMonks.

There are all the signs of a fine romance. At first, you don't know much about PerlMonks, so you are a little cautious. Then you start to learn what PerlMonks wants, you get a little positive response, and you are intrigued.

Some more time passes, and you really begin to know PerlMonks's likes and dislikes; you're putting serious effort into making PerlMonks happy, and she becomes affectionate, giving all sorts of XP which gets you high on the wonderfulness of it all. Yep, you are in the throes of infatuation. There is little others can do to dissuade you at this point.

Then, tragically, that bubble of euphoria is burst. A perfectly fine node is downvoted. Code you slave over for hours gains 3 points, while some throwaway remark by a saint garners 30. PerlMonks is no longer the perfect lover. It's fickle and at times seems capricious. You are angry and frustrated at the XP system and want to change it now, to recover the love you knew.

This frustration passes, however, and you make it through to a more honest, deeper form of love. You recognize that PerlMonks is not perfect, but is still darn wonderful. Wisdom begins. You see XP not as an end, but only as a tool that helps you communicate with and encourage the PerlMonks community.

Finally, enlightenment happens. Experience points are only a detail, an epiphenomenon. Your true love is the PerlMonks community itself. The community is the universal element that forms the foundation for PerlMonks, that allows XP to even exist. From that point on, XP is no longer important; it just is. Living a good life means helping people, not accumulating XP. Some saints, knowing enlightenment, have been known to eschew XP altogether. Others are sanguine about the XP system, knowing that it got them this far, so it must be OK. Don't mistake quiet satisfaction for inertia or narrow-minded conservatism.

The path to enlightenment is long. You will read my words, but not really believe it in your heart until much later. You are on your way.

Thanks to kvale for the original text.

Be sure to get all learned up on the PerlMonks Voting/Experience System.

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