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Off Topic section

by rbc (Curate)
on Feb 13, 2002 at 22:10 UTC ( #145296=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Oh most wise among Monks hear my petition. :)

I get such awesome help and information from perlmonks.
Most of this information is about Perl, but many times
I see post asking questions that are better suited to
say SQL, or software design and othen I wonder what
the monks think about particular subjects. I think that
there input would be as helpful as it is about Perl.

Maybe there could be a Off Topic Node that might look
like so:

SQL Security Databases
Buzzwords Software Design Unix
bash ksh Window

... you get the idea
What'ca think?

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
blah, no thanks.
by boo_radley (Parson) on Feb 13, 2002 at 23:04 UTC

    Meanwhile, on IRC

    <booradley> an "off-topic" section... <ar0n> Yes. <ar0n> I am looking into it, actually. <booradley> -- <ar0n> (code-wise, I mean) <ar0n> Why? <ar0n> I was thinking that an Off Topic section should be 'voteless' <booradley> even worse <ar0n> Again, why? <booradley> PM is a place for... wait for it... <booradley> perl. <ar0n> So? <booradley> if you want off topic hoohah, go start a journal at use. <booradley> put it in your sig. <booradley> go bother people at SQL Sybarites or Java Junkies. <ar0n> SQL Sybarites? <booradley> sibilance, son. sibilance. <ar0n> Harrumph. <booradley> eventually people will hear "that perlmonks place can really help you with your SQL" or whatever and people will post utter drivel about how they like 3rd normal form for their person CD Database, and how it gets optimized on a nightly basis and blah blah blah <booradley> a voteless arena would also encourage the trolling community, too. <ar0n> Okay, you win.

    update : even worse, people could be describing their dinners with their girlfriends. I mean, honestly.
Re: Off Topic section
by VSarkiss (Monsignor) on Feb 13, 2002 at 23:06 UTC

    There already is an Off-Topic section: it's called the Chatterbox.

    Seriously though, I don't like the idea of a section specifically labelled OT. It's true that people ask a lot of CGI and SQL questions here, but it's usually related to Perl in some fashion. Meditations does get a good number of posts not directly related to Perl, but those are usually labelled OT by the poster. *cough* Ovid *cough*

    This topic came up before, but no action was taken. I still think as I did then: keep the site focused on Perl.

    I could've put a smiley after the jab at Ovid, but he (and I hope everyone else) got the joke. And as he points out, if the consensus became that the OT stuff was out of hand, he'd refrain from it, and the truly-excellent moderation system here would clean it up.

      Dinner was pretty good last night. My new girlfriend made up a nice pasta with alfredo sauce, bacon and portobella mushrooms. Very tasty. Unfortunately, I would have preferred onions in it, but she's allergic. I suppose, though, that I could have done the following:

      DELETE FROM pasta WHERE mouthful LIKE '%onion%'

      Oh, wait a minute, this isn't my journal. What's going on here? Oh, yeah, I'm responding to VSarkiss.

      Yes, I get away with a lot of OT posts. I even had one monk submit one of my meditations for consideration as it wasn't "Perl related". I have no problem with that. I've solicited other monk's opinions on this topic and no one seems to object to strenuously as most of what I post has at least a peripheral interest to the community. However, as I have stated more than once: I'd be happy to stop posting the OT stuff if the general consensus is that I should.

      And as for my previous comments on this topic: (Ovid - what's wrong with my carburator?). It almost happened before and now that we have a pmdev group... who knows?


      Update: I have to admit that I am concerned about my OT posts. If too many people start doing it and we get further and further away from Perl, things could get hairy. I don't mind the occasional OT posts about parking tickets and things like that because that helps (IMHO) to develop our community. My fear is that we might wind up diluting our purpose. An OT section would help alleviate that. Limiting this to monks who have reached a certain level (even level 2) should drastically improve the signal-to-slashdot ratio.

      Join the Perlmonks Setiathome Group or just click on the the link and check out our stats.

      There already is an Off-Topic section: it's called the Chatterbox.

      No, it's called 'home node'. Most of the pictures don't have to do with Perl, and I'd say sometimes that 50% of the content total doesn't have a whit to do with Perl.

      Perhaps (as the IRC chatter suggests) there just need to be more Monasteries/Coffeehouses/(insert neat site paradigm here).

      You are what you think.

Re: Off Topic section
by impossiblerobot (Deacon) on Feb 13, 2002 at 22:33 UTC
    I think that if it was widely known that people as wise and helpful as the monks were willing to answer questions about just about anything here, this site would no longer be about Perl! Instead, the Perl content would be drowned in information that would be better provided in other forums.

    Update: I think I'm still opposed to the idea, in general, but rbc's suggestion that only those of monk level or higher have access could rein in some of the problems. The OT section would have to be completely hidden (rather than being read-only for lower levels); otherwise, when they found they couldn't post there, the OT stuff would find its way (more than usual) to SOPW.

    Impossible Robot
      Your right about that ...
      but maybe the Off Topic section would only
      be accessable after one has gain some amount of XP
      like Monk level 5
      what'cha you think?
Re: Off Topic section
by dreadpiratepeter (Priest) on Feb 13, 2002 at 22:47 UTC
    I agree to a point. While I'd hate to see this move from being a perl site to a dumping ground for any question (because I think without the focus the site would flounder), I do feel that there is an unrivaled collection of grey matter floating arounds here. And people with 10-15 years of Perl experience usually have experience in a lot of other areas.
    I myself feel confident in answering questions on HTML,DTHML, XML, Javascript, Emacs, Lisp, Tcl, C, C++, Java, Sql, Icon, VB, Excel, Wap, shell scripting, Lex/Yacc, and a lot of other subjects, because in 20 years of coding I've been exposed to a lot of things. There are people here with far more experience, depth and breath than me (not to mention Real Computer Science Degreestm).
    It's a shame not to be able to bring these resources to bear on a problem just because it is not exactly perl.
    Perl doesn't exist in a vacuum. It runs on OS's, talks to databases and other languages, works with HTML and JavaScript, etc.
    Remember, any learning is good learning. I apply things I learned from lisp everyday in perl. I use perl's high-level data structures well, because I had to write them in C and I know how they work and the pitfalls of using them.
    I think we can spare the cycles and node space to help perl programmers do their jobs better, even when it involves other technologies. Besides, one day you might be staring art a piece of javascript, desperate for help.

    Entropy is not what is used to be.
Re: Off Topic section
by George_Sherston (Vicar) on Feb 14, 2002 at 09:31 UTC
    I'm not sure where I come out on this. On the grand scale I can see all the arguments about not diluting the site's focus. On the other hand, I don't see that it would reduce the amount of Perl expertise offered, because nobody *has* to answer OT questions. Any OT topics that don't get answered will wither on the vine. But on the large scale I can see both sides.

    At a personal level I wd really like to see this happen, however. I'm self-employed and largely self-taught, and I live in the countryside and I do everything on the sites I look after. I have no colleagues! And the only subject I *regularly* need help with, and on which I have anything to offer, is Perl. As a result I've become quite involved with this community, to the extent that I speak the language, feel confident to ask and answer questions, and know how to make the best of the advice I get. But from time to time I get stuck on something that I'm sure is trivial, usually a linux or Apache sysadmin-type question, and I just know that someone here could knock it on the head in a second, and would probably get the same satisfaction from doing that as I wd from answering a Perl question I knew about... and I would love to have a licence to ask such a question. I suppose my alternative is to join a linux community and an Apache community and a MySQL community... and if I get deeply stuck, that's what I'll do. But (A) I think Perlmonks is unusual not just among Perl sites but among online communities generally; (B) the expertise I need is here, and I like it here and I don't really want to go anywhere else (C) what do I have to offer in return? - in Perl, yes, I can answer some of the easier questions, but in linux / sysadmin I am a total newb; whereas I do actually know quite a lot of HTML, and I've forgotten more about Excel than most people ever bothe to know (having worked eight years in investment banking), so a multi-topic community would give me a chance to answer the stuff I know about and ask the stuff I don't know about. It's called comparative advantage - it's why trade is so good.

    So at the end of that ramble I come out in favour. But I agree with monks who say it ought to be restricted in some way to prevent annoying freeloading by people who don't have a commitment to the community. That seems ok for Perl questions, but it cd just get out of hand if we open it up too far. I liked the plan of preventing anyone below Monk from asking OT questions. Anyone who wants to can get to that level by posting on Perl, and by then you've shown you're a good citizen.

    § George Sherston
Re: Off Topic section
by sparkyichi (Deacon) on Feb 13, 2002 at 22:59 UTC
    An area specifically for Off topic questions might be a good idea. People who are not interest can avoid the section completely. People who would like to use the knowledge of the monks in other areas can do so here in the "Off Topic" section. That way Perl Monks site can still be focused on Perl and those who wish to digress can have outlet for such things.

Re: Off Topic section
by tjh (Curate) on Feb 14, 2002 at 00:16 UTC
    I suppose I'd live with and OT section if was here. Plus, having things changed, improved, etc., adds interest and involvement.

    That said though, it's by far the focus on Perl that got me here, and keeps me here.

    Diluting it would make it harder to navigate or make it seem like an 'everything to everybody' smorgasbord.

    Tolerating those sneaking in the occasional OT post isn't so bad. The manners and tact of most monks is exemplary...

    So, I guess I would vote no...


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