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What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited?

by jabowery (Beadle)
on Feb 12, 2015 at 09:25 UTC ( #1116474=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

jabowery has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

You know what I'm talking about. Larry Wall even commented on it and admonished for a return to a kinder spirit. It has driven some long-time Perl programmers away from Perl.

What happened to the Perl community to make it so mean spirited?

I've got my suspicions but I'm curious what some of the other old-timers who have noticed this think about it.

  • Comment on What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited?

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Re: What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited?
by marto (Archbishop) on Feb 12, 2015 at 09:36 UTC

    "You know what I'm talking about."

    Sorry, I don't. Having spent some time recently in other communities my personal experience is that the perl community is far more friendly than any other I've had cause to communicate with. Could you give some examples, or a link to the LW quote you mention which elaborates or quantifies this somehow? What are your suspicions? What do you consider to be "old timers"? When do you think this happend?

    Update: typo, sorry not enough coffee yet.

        "You know what I'm talking about."

      Sorry, I don't.

      Nor do I. I guess you have to point us to what you mean. I, like marto, have made and still continue making the very contrary experience.

      Cheers, Sören

      Créateur des bugs mobiles - let loose once, run everywhere.
      (hooked on the Perl Programming language)

      OK, its possible I'm suffering from sampling bias that was reinforced by my interpretation of Larry's comments. If its sampling bias then I suspect its due to my attempt to learn some Moose and being exposed to some unlucky interactions with those who go well beyond the relatively benign Tim Toady Bicarbonate attitude into what I can only call haughty idiocy. I don't have an immediate link to the video in which Larry made his comments but it was within the last few years I'm pretty sure. I'll try to dig it out and look at those comments again. My use of Perl goes back to 1993 in a steady stream of projects, but I haven't been that active in the community. The haughty idiocy I ran into with the Moose cult might be explicable if I didn't have the first clue about OO but my background with OO goes back to direct dealings with Xerox PARC in the early 1980s, and I have a conference proceedings signed by Curry, Church and Backus, the latter of whom I did have some professional relations regarding FFP form his Turing Award Lecture -- for a data point on how seriously I've been involved with computer languages. Perhaps I'm behind the times and that's why I'd like to learn Moose.

      Update: Larry's talk that got me thinking he saw a need to (gently) admonish the Perl community was "Stranger Than Fact". Reviewing it I can see it being interpreted as a general admonition -- not necessarily reacting to any trends in the Perl community.

        Xerox PARC OO isn't Moose and Moose isn't Xerox PARC OO. So both sides of your interactions might be perceiving or suspecting some idiocy due to significant differences in expectations when talking "OO".

        As for the "haughty", your name dropping makes me suspect that might also be something being perceived/suspected on both sides of your interactions.

        (No, I am not trying to claim that there is no "haughty" nor "idiocy" within some subcult of Moose that you have been interacting with. I actually expect to find a higher quotient of Kool-Aid among Moose officiandos than within the wider Perl community -- though a lower quotient than, say, among Perl::Critic fandom.)

        I recall Larry commenting about not being so rude to newbies and that mostly being in line with more extensive such comments from Casey(?) West (e.g. 74314 or 88284) and that this was, from what I could tell, more about (but not exclusively about) a particular, if popular Perl IRC channel, and that that particular problem was also considered well addressed quite a while ago (though such is never fully addressed where the internet is involved).

        If Larry's comments were significantly more recent than that (as your description clearly claims), then I would guess it was in response to Perl6-related knee-jerk responses that have been evolving into rather nasty trolling. So I doubt that has much to do with your Moose woes.

        Vague and over-broad problem statements often don't lead to answers that address the problem well. I can understand your reluctance to just call out who was rude to you where, when, and how. Actually, I discourage you from doing that. If you can muster the eloquence, then some particulars about "where" might get you better-targeted answers without earning you much pay-back, though.

        - tye        

        Thanks for your reply. I'm pretty sure I'm preaching to the choir here, but it's worth while taking a step back and reminding ourselves how tribal humans are. Unfortunately I think some of the responses to your question highlight this, some dismissive replies, and (while it's not worth being concerned about, though I appreciate the uninitiated may find this disheartening) a negative post reputation.

        While I have no experience of Moose and I don't know the individuals who are involved in that side of things I have experienced similar treatment elsewhere, albeit outside the Perl community. In my experience the perl community (blogs, mailing lists & forums, I have no Perl related IRC experience) is far friendlier and more helpful than any other.

        The post linked to here is an interesting example. There are cultural differences and language barriers which often contribute to people becoming frustrated. To quote MST:

        "Sometimes people just don't listen to polite. Sometimes making somebody angry is an effective way to get their attention."

        While I'm not in complete agreement, sometimes (for example, someone asking the same thing 10 times while ignoring the answer/requests for clarification of the problem) being blunt (while accurate, and without being deliberately offensive) rather than continue to regurgitate the same response can has a positive effect.

        Your experience isn't limited to Moose, or IRC though I think you're more likely to find that sort of thing in "quick fire" environments like IRC/chat rooms. While I'm sure that you're well aware of all this, there are other contributing factors to this problem:

        • A lot of people are terrible at asking questions, or asking for help. Some people lose patience when frequently having to explain to others how they should ask for help, or how best to get the answers they need/expect. A language barrier may also contribute to this.
        • Stress & fatigue. People often aren't great at recognising the tell take signs of such things which can result in a lapse in normal good behaviour.
        • Tribal behaviour. As touched on previously. Every tribe has sub tribes. Perl has Moose, Perl::Critic, Perl 6 and so on. People can be very defensive of their tribe which often results in outsiders being put off contributing or asking for help. Equally each tribe seems to have their trolls, some of whom may feel that their aggressive objections are a positive contribution. You can see a little of this in some of the reactions to your question.
        • "Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays"(warning, YouTube link). People have bad days, for whatever reason. On occasion the behaviour of someone you know to be otherwise exemplary may seem out of character due to a variety of unrelated issues.

        I feel it's important to remind ourselves that none of this is specific to the Perl community. I will watch the Larry talk you link to over the weekend if I have time. Finally I'm sorry if this seems like a rambling of truisms which you already know. On occasion reading or being told something I already know helps me to keep things in context.

Re: What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited?
by Your Mother (Bishop) on Feb 12, 2015 at 15:45 UTC

    Iíve been doing little but Perl for more than 15 years now and Iím on a few mailing lists and read blogs and such and I also have no idea what youíre talking about. If anything, there is less aggression and more tolerance to beginners and more community minded things like Neil Bowerís CPAN Pull Request Challenge than I remember from 10 years ago. There are a couple of prominent hackers who use coarse language while helping as many others as they can by taking time out of busy lives for free. They get criticized sometimes. I think thatís tripe. If hearing the f-word and being told I should have figured out something myself is the ďpriceĒ for technical help and free code that would otherwise cost $1,000Ė$10,000, Iím grateful. Iím an adult and I recognize the deed far outweighs the word. A lot of grown-ups are not adult and expect others to modify their behavior to suit their subjective, localized, sometimes bigoted preferences. Thatís spoilt tripe. FOSS starts with Free for more reasons than money.

    Iím here helping with what Iím good at all the time; and as much as I like it in other realms I donít work blue here. Being told that Iím part of a community that is ďso mean spiritedĒ is a bit insulting. ಠ_ಠ

      I've always felt this way. I learned more from mst and ribasushi than almost anywhere else after I did something stupid and they facepalmed and called me a moron, and then showed me the correct way.

      That being said, I wasn't a green Perl programmer at this point. The irc community has improved tremendously in the past few years in terms of people new to a framework or the language. Only when someone is being completely noncompliant and not following suggestions do they get berated, but more than likely they just get dismissed anymore.

      Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax, you're god damn right I'm living in the fucking past

Re: What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited?
by perloHolic() (Beadle) on Feb 12, 2015 at 09:47 UTC

    I agree with marto. I may not have been around long enough to judge whether or not the 'community' spirit has increased or decreased - but what I can do is say that I have had nothing but pleasent and friendly interaction with most surrounding perl

    Maybe post some examples, personal or subjective, to highlight the particular point in question. I'd be very interested in knowing exactly where this point of view originates...I'd hate to think anyone would associate a particular negative bias of behaviour with any given programming language, especially my beloved perl!

Re: What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited?
by jmmitc06 (Beadle) on Feb 12, 2015 at 17:01 UTC

    I don't think you could be more incorrect, the community in my experience has been nothing but friendly and helpful. I'm not a programmer by training, I haven't been in the Perl for long so I can't speak for how it used to be BUT the Perl community is one of the reasons I'm a semi-competent programmer today. The community has helped me work out problems with my code and taught me things about Perl that has been essential for my research work for free. The only people I hear say anything negative about Perl-users and the community are trolls or those that have very little experience with the community.

Re: What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited?
by Anonymous Monk on Feb 12, 2015 at 09:46 UTC

    I think the Perl 6 effort has attracted too many trolls. I see no general mean-spiritedness on those communities that deal mostly in Perl 5 - PerlMonks, P5P, etc.

Re: What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited?
by Anonymous Monk on Feb 12, 2015 at 09:48 UTC
    What is 'The Perl community'? Is that in the USA? They all live together and write programs in Perl? And they made Larry Wall mad?
Re: What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited?
by LanX (Cardinal) on Feb 12, 2015 at 15:38 UTC
    This reads like a troll post ... You know what I mean...

    But your account is from 2010, so I checked my vote history and it said 1++ and 4-- ...

    That's impressive.

    So no reason for me to feed this further.

    Cheers Rolf

    PS: Je suis Charlie!

Re: What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited? (PerlMonks?)
by Anonymous Monk on Feb 12, 2015 at 11:37 UTC
    What "Perl Community"? PerlMonks? Is there "Perl Community" outside of PerlMonks? Which one are you talking about?
Re: What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited?
by Anonymous Monk on Feb 12, 2015 at 12:40 UTC

    If, by "mean spirited", you mean intolerant of pretensions, artifice and bullshit; then its probably caused by the ongoing surfeit of those.

      Should this not be moved to the meditations section for non-question related Perl topics.

      In developing countries such as mine, there is immense opportunity for perl growth and perl education.
      However i feel there is need for more technical and financial assistance here from the global community.
      Having said that i have received dollops of excellent advice and censure from perl monks to help with my perl journey.


      The temporal difficulty with perl is u need to know C well to know the awesome.else u just keep *using* it and writing inefficient code
Re: What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited?
by Jenda (Abbot) on Feb 14, 2015 at 00:51 UTC

    I tried to listen to the speech linked from your later post. I swear I did. I gave up after about ten minutes of random ramblings so I do not know what were the comments and as you can't have a fulltext search through someone's speech I probably will not ever know. One of the reasons Larry might find PerlMonks and the Perl community in general kind of mean spirited is the failed project of rewriting Perl and the (mine included) not so favourable responses to the endless progress and "progress" reports. I understand that it hurts.

    Now I'm rather thick skinned and goal oriented so I can't assess the mean spiritedness of the community properly, but I do not find the community mean spirited in general.

    Jenda
    Enoch was right!
    Enjoy the last years of Rome.

      A guy with rather bad manners and a record of down-voted post (demonstrating questionable social skills) passes by and spreads FUD.

      But the monk community takes it serious and starts discussing his unsubstantiated claims.

      > One of the reasons Larry might think ... the Perl community ... mean spirited ...

      Oh really, does he think so? So ...

      • Why should Larry come to every YAPC and even more national conferences if he was thinking like this?
      • Why would he need an ersatz troll to communicate his sorrows?

      Well .. OK ... let's start a new discussion:

      What made January born babies so ugly and bad smelling?

      You know what I'm talking about!

      The internet proving this and we all are worried about the consequences.

      It has already driven some long-time parents away from having more babies.

      Countermeasures must be taken now!

      Do something!

      Cheers Rolf

      PS: Je suis Charlie!

        LOL

        My first introduction to the concept was the political variant: Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

        I have taken to responding to these kinds false-assertion questions with: Objection, Your Honor: Supposition.

        If that gets questions rolling about what I mean, success.
        For that matter, if they look confused and simply move on, still sucess.

        I was a January baby. Luckily, my parents didn't expose me on a mountain in an urn because of ugliness and whiffiness, and I eventually became a Perlist.

        However, am I a mean-spirited one? Well, if you were to look and smell like me, you'd be just as curmudgeonly!

        :D
Re: What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited?
by Plankton (Vicar) on Feb 14, 2015 at 07:12 UTC
    Your post is based on subjective interpretations of emotions emanating from your own pain body. With practice you can learn how to recognize such thoughts and harness this energy in a positive way.
Re: What Made the Perl Community Mean Spirited?
by sundialsvc4 (Abbot) on Feb 13, 2015 at 00:00 UTC

    I don’t know what you’re talking about, either.   (Ditto “The Larry.”)

    Y’know, first of all, we’re talking about “computer programmers” here, and that’s always an interesting and challenging group of people to work with.   Egos can be big, diplomacy can be low, bluntness a priority ... but, what does this have to do with “Perl?”   Nothing much, I think.

    A broad-brush statement that is too broad to be useful or meaningful.   My experience with the Perl programming community (as encountered here at PM) is that they are very nice and knowledgeable folks; certainly not “mean-spirited” whatever that’s supposed to mean.

      if Larry has made such a comment as the OP says, id really like to see it and analyze its context.
      By mean-spirited, my personal take on that is that every programming community and forum has slight differences in the way they are structured and respond to questions and suggestions.

      The perl community at the core is largely a hacker community and they dont necessarily have the same objectives and approach in spreading the growth of the language as say a corporate entity, that would do everything they can in order to enable perl adherence.

      the perl community and perlmonks forum is i feel slightly different from other language communities. In fact id be surprised if there were a similar forum like perlmonks (considering its history,order,XP system and ways of working)

        Some people might say, and some other people might expect, that “I among all Monks” would have reason to agree with you ... but, I don’t.   Sure, I do wish that people around here had a bit more social graces sometimes, but all that’s beside the point.   PM is definitely a programmer’s community quite unlike any of the others that I periodically frequent ... but, it is also the best.   In terms of getting what you came here for ... high-quality answers, fast, and here’s a bunch of source-code too ... PM stands above.   Perl typically does not attract the interests of kids fresh out of school.   It does attract people who need to haul “revenue freight,” and who’ve probably been doing that for their employers for decades.

        And as far as what you say about “corporate entity,” the Perl language is probably earning a billion dollars around the world every day.   It’s rugged, robust, fast, versatile, and ... quirky.   Its CPAN contributed library is exemplary.   And corporations, among others, clearly don’t need to be told this.

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