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History of PerlMonks' Perl News

by jdporter (Canon)
on May 04, 2021 at 20:37 UTC ( #11132040=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

History of PerlMonks' Perl News

Originally, the Perl News section of the site was not a place where ordinary monks could post. Rather, it was designed to be a local "feed" of Perl-related news extracted from another site. That other site was called Perl News, at news.perl.org.

Posts to the section were created in the name of a 'bot' account, perlnewsbot. (Presumably, perlnewsbot was the actual name of the automated background process. In all likelihood, it was vroom who created and ran the perlnewsbot.

vroom announced New Perl News Section on 2000-07-21, and perlnewsbot made its first post that same day.

news.perl.org was, of course, already in operation by then. the earliest snapshot in the Wayback Machine is dated 2000-01-05.

*Confusingly, the perlnewsbot user account has a creation date of 2000-07-26 — several days after its first few posts. One possible explanation is as follows: Initially, posts were being inserted in the Perl News section by a different bot user or by some process outside of the perlmonks user-level framework. After the perlnewsbot user was created, the ownership of the prior existing posts was transferred to him. However, this is conjectural.

perlnewsbot's run only lasted a few months, however.

Its last post was on 2001-02-16, apparently having been halted even before news.perl.org went dark.

The last post on news.perl.org was on 2001-03-18, with the following item:

See use Perl;

Perl News is going away soon (one might argue it already has :). use Perl is this site's sister site, having all the same news, plus reviews, articles, discussions, and more. The coincidence of the technical difficulties of this site and the imminent migration of use Perl to its new home makes now a good time to finalize the closing of Perl News.
Indeed, barely a month later news.perl.org was gone.

Even though use.perl.org - the site called use Perl; - was the ostensible replacement for news.perl.org, at least as a source of news, the perlnewsbot was never updated to pull news from use.perl.org.

(Interestingly, use.perl.org met a similar fate a few years later. The last post there, announcing its imminent shutdown, was on 2010-09-08.)

vroom opened up the Perl News section for posting by ordinary users in late May of 2002. Prior to that time, only perlnewsbot was able to post there. (vroom posted there himself once or twice before that, using his godly powers. The couple other posts you now see in that section prior to that date were originally posted in other sections and later moved to Perl News.)

A noteworthy figure in all of this is Chris "pudge" Nandor. He was the man behind news.perl.org and use.perl.org. He was one of the lead developers of Slash, the perl-based engine which powered both Slashdot and use.perl.org. Of course, Slash was also the predecessor of the Everything Engine, upon which PerlMonks is built. Both are products of the tiny outfit called Blockstackers Intergalactic (BSI). Sound familiar? That is where vroom, nate, and other early creators of PerlMonks were working at the time. However, pudge says that he didn't really know those guys, even though he was in the same place at about the same time. Different projects. Here's what he told me in a private correspondence:

I wasn’t involved in perlmonks much, but I did news.perl and use.perl. IIRC perlmonks was based on Everything, which was a separate project from Blockstackers, which also created Slash, from which Slashdot and use Perl resulted.


Relevant chronology:

  • 2000-07-21 - New Perl News Section - vroom creates the perlnews nodetype and dbtable. He posts an announcement, saying that perlnewsbot "just sucks news from the RDF from news.perl.org".
  • 2000-07-26 - Perl News Going Away? - perlnewsbot posts here the article from news.perl.org about that site's impending demise.
  • 2001-01-09 - Perl News Credits - KM alludes to a discussion he had with pudge about it.
  • 2001-02-16 - YAPC::Europe Set for Amsterdam in August - perlnewsbot's final post.
  • 2001-04-13 - The PerlNewsBot - A user notices that perlnewsbot is no longer posting to Perl News. A commenter suggests that the bot could be redirected to use.perl.org.
  • 2001-06-04 - Is brother perlnewsbot ill? - Another exchange almost identical to the preceding.
  • 2001-06-23 - News section not being kept current? - A user notes that the section is inactive and suggests opening it up to general users, with possibly a level requirement.
  • 2001-07-28 - Why no new news? - A user notes that the section is inactive. In a comment, the OP says" "if there's no automatic news gathering (ok fine), then why doesn't vroom (or whoever) open up the news area to manual posted news?"
  • 2001-08-06 - Member Submitted News - A user suggests opening up the Perl News section to posting by general users.
  • 2001-10-21 - randomnode - (patch) - vroom creates the first patch to mention perlnews (node type) by name in its code.
  • 2001-11-03 - New use for old news - A user suggests opening up the Perl News section to posting by general users.
  • 2002-02-11 - What's happening with Perl News? - "Since it appears to be dead, Perl News should either be killed or opened up to general postings." A commenter again suggests that the bot could pull news from use.perl.org.
  • 2002-02-22 - Make (Perl News == Use.Perl.Org) Or Is This Heresy? - A user suggests that the Perl News section link directly to use.perl.org, vs reposting content here.
  • 2002-04-26 - "Perl News" is old - A user notes that "the most recent news in the Perl News node date back to one year ago."
  • 2002-05-07 - Posting Unrelated News Items - A user suggests reactivating Perl News as a "normal" section (rather than mirroring off-site news stories) where monks can post links to relevant stories." This sparked a surprising amount of debate.
  • 2002-05-24 - tye notes in the editors' wiki:
    I fixed several problems with the (apparently rather hastilly) reopened Perl News section. There is one potentially ugly problem remaining...

    Since the work to set up the (unduely complicated) "approval link type" and related baggage has not been done, you can't "approve" Perl News nodes. This means that the approval nodelet won't show. Which means that some ppl can move a node to Perl News after which only editors will be able to move it anywhere else. The best solution is probably to create all of the baggage and make Perl News items require approval.

    You have been warned. Also, if this becomes a point of abuse before an enterprising god gets around to adding "approval" for Perl News, then the ability to move to/from Perl News can very quickly be taken away by deleting one line from writeupmover.
    At the same time, in the pm-port wiki:
    I fixed several things wrong with Perl News, which included changes to: perlnews (the node type), Perl News, perlnews display page, preview settings, vote settings, writeupmover, and perhaps a few others.

    The first problem was that adding new Perl News actually added new poetry. Of course, I noticed this because someone added news so I wanted to move it into the proper section. However, the node type of perlnews uses the dbtable of perlnews in order to add a linklocation field which makes it impossible to simply "move" to/from that node type. But search internal code shows that this extra field is not used currently so I changed the node type to not use that dbtable and then made "Perl News" one of the available move-to types. And I made it so you can vote on "Perl News" nodes.

    Since the work to set up the (unduely complicated) "approval link type" and related baggage has not been done, you can't "approve" Perl News nodes. This means that the approval nodelet won't show. Which means that some ppl can move a node to Perl News after which only editors will be able to move it anywhere else. The best solution is probably to create all of the baggage and make Perl News items require approval.
    Oddly, I don't see any patches from tye (nor tye&) in that timeframe, nor any patches to any of the nodes he mentioned. I believe he must have mucked with all those codes directly, using godly powers. (He became a god on 2002-02-01.)
  • 2002-05-24 - Dr. Damian Conway to speak at Dallas/Ft. Worth Perl Mongers meeting in June - This post by atcroft in the Perl News section was probably originally in Meditations and then moved. I think so because there are records in the db showing that it was at one point "approved", yet perlnews never needed approval (at that time).
  • 2002-05-26 - Perl News reopened - vroom's announcement: "I've reopened Perl News. You can now post Perl News stories there. Currently approval isn't necessary." Unfortunately, modifications to a nodetype definition (e.g. its authorized creators & writers) are not tracked and do not use the patch system. maintenances are; but unfortunately perlnews did not get its sole maintenance - perlnews maintenance create - until three months later (2002-08-23).
  • 2002-05-26 - Boston Perl Classes - uri posts what is likely the first human-user submission directly to the newly opened Perl News section. Its records in the db show no evidence of having been approved.
  • 2002-05-26 - Voting in Perl News - A user thanks vroom for reviving the Perl News section, and offers this insight:
    "One of the reasons it was originally taken out of commission was that many people thought http://use.perl.org did a better job of providing Perl-related news. While use.perl.org is an excellent site, it focuses on larger stories and probably wouldn't publish most module releases and other small events. I think Perl News would be an excellent place to announce these smaller events."
  • 2002-05-31 - Perl Monks User Search - (patch) - VSarkiss submits a patch to Perl Monks User Search "so nodes in the newly re-opened Perl News will show up"; he notes it in the pmdev wiki. Interestingly, this patch was never applied; and also interestingly predates any other patches to Perl Monks User Search! Even so, the code was updated to include perlnews at some point before the first applied patch.
  • 2002-08-23 - perlnews maintenance create - (patch) - the first patch to mention "news" in its reason.
  • 2010-10-13 - What exactly counts as "Perl News"? - Interesting commentary, especially by tye.

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