Promoting Perl is fun

A year and a half ago, on the private mailing list of the White Camel recipients I was accused that I am trying to promote myself by promoting the White Camel award, that I am trying to turn it into a cheap marketing trick. It was done by someone I very much appreciated.

A few weeks ago, I was accused that I want to tax the funds of the Perl community.

Then in a private, "conversation" on IRC I was compared to some female body parts because I was "attacking" the above person. Apparently that happened, when I wrote that his words were offending me.

Most recently I have been accused that I am trying to use the Perl community to promote my business.

After every such event I spend hours, days, and sometimes even weeks wondering: Are they the few speaking the opinion of the majority? Is this what the Perl community thinks about me and my actions? If not, then why do I get these?

It takes ages to get in balance again.

Luckily there are many people who support the things I have been doing and express their support privately or publicly.
Thank you!


In all honesty, I think they can go fuck themselves. Always take into account that whenever a new idea emerges, there are always people will won't support it. Some because they don't like the wind of change, some because they fear too much, some because they're petty assholes and some because they have genuine concerns.

I would note that with time it becomes easier to spot who is who, but I'd be lying since I don't know if that's true. At least from your experience it doesn't sound that way.

Whatever the case may be, there's no need to offend anyone the way people do. I reckon until people learn to stop being jerks, you'll have to grow a thicker skin, ya know?

Considering neither your name or company nor anybody else's were mentioned, is there a good reason why you have said absolutely nothing helpful in response to criticism that is clearly not vulgar nor a direct attack on you? My rant was focusing on the how not the who, and I made it clear that I wanted dialogue from everyone, including those I was critical to - to which some of those that responded have also helped inform me and corrected my understanding. You've probably read my post to the mailing list, I am asking questions to help be part of a solution - something I wouldn't have considered if the receivers of my criticism didn't communicate like they did. You were not among them and instead chose to respond to my criticism with mis-interpretation. I'd highly suggest you be more communicative to critics - although I agree that vulgar insults are unacceptable.

There used to be an old saying when I was young and I believe it applies here also: 'Keep on truckin' I say.

Yeah, uh.. he wasn't talking about your post, as far as I know.

Even though there are things to say about it, since you've stepped up to the plate (or are at least trying to -- yes, I've read your email to the mailing list), I (and I assume Gabor and others) reserve judgment. :)

Actually, disregard that. Got my comments mixed up. :)

Maybe what we need here is dig a bit deeper, let's take:

"I don't want the Perl community to end up
where a handful of consultants and trainers
are trying to get those of us with less
financial ties to the language to essentially
promote their business by proxy through the
promotion of the language."

OK - I think I can imagine why this could bring some undesirable consequences, but such vague intuition is not enough to weight it against the other possibilities. What we need is a 'why question' (and if that is not enough maybe another one:

I interpreted your comments about marketing and financial interests in a similar fashion. I like zby's interpretation better.

The idea that a financial interest in Perl (which includes anyone who has a job writing Perl in whole or in part) taints attempts to promote the language and its ecosystem is self-defeating and rather silly. We're *fortunate* to enjoy a language we use in our work. Why wouldn't we talk about it?

I generally think Gabor has good ideas about promoting Perl. I appreciate his energy and efforts, and am sorry they are met with such negativity and unconstructive feedback in some cases.

Thank you for advocating for Perl. And thank you for working to show that TIMTOWTDI can apply to community organization as well as code.

Some observations...

When you put yourself out in a public position you need to grow a very thick skin. People who don't know you personally often have very little compunction against making personal attacks and slurs. Don't allow yourself to be bated. Shrug it off and keep working toward positive constructive ends.

Your comments in the threads you reference lead me to recommend that you investigate media training. The nuances matter. Perception is reality. Media training is my limited experience about directing, shaping and controlling perceptions.

Do you need TPF? Do they need you? What do they stand to gain and lose? Change is hard. You are effectively asking TPF to endorse you as the public face of Perl. Do you merit that trust? How would the success of your grant change TPF?

IMHO, the risk of losing the $25K seed money is less significant than the sea change that would occur if you are successful.

There are many who would not look favorably on any shift from:

  • o   volunteer <=> paid organizers
  • o   individual developers <=> corporate interests
  • o   engineering <=> marketing

IMHO: How you would preserve the former without them being eclipsed by the latter has not been adequately addressed.

As others have stated, it is about listening, networking and building and nurturing relationships. Good Things (TM) will come of it.

Keep on keeping on.

It's interesting to see the backlash from people when they think someone is going to somehow profit from a community they are part of. I see nothing fundamentally opposing someone making a profit from the Perl community (not that I think that's Gabor's goal). The only metric that matters here should be whether the gains outweigh the costs.

Personally, I don't care if Gabor is paid $1, $10,000, or $1,000,000 dollars. If the gains match or exceed the cost, it was worth it. Quantification can be hard to determine, but I find it hard to believe we can't agree that the attempt is worthwhile, and we can determine whether it was successful in any part at a later date.

As a thought exercise, let's examine this from the opposite direction. Assume the community has the option to pay $1,000,000 (which let's assume it has) to an individual which guarantees Perl to become the #1 most popular programming language within the next year. Is it worth it? Is it even desirable to you? If the answer to those is yes, you should be in fundamental agreement with Gabor's proposal, and only the implementation details are to be worked out. And if that's the case, if not Gabor, then who else?


Syncretizing between multiple value systems -- recognition, solidarity, technology, finance -- is definitely a delicate act.

Thank you for taking up this task. Wishing you all the best keeping an internal balance in your communications.

Remember to pace yourself and this, too, shall pass. :-) *Hugs*

Get Audrey to consent to being designated as a fellow with a stipend funded by your efforts. And I believe you'll have folks on both sides of the aisle standing in line to support your initiative.

Stipends for a fixed number of years with no strings attached. Just -Ofun and allow folks such as Audrey who already have a track record of donating their time to have fewer financial constraints on it.

Our family's finances are extremely tight. But, I'd find a way to squeeze out a donation for something that would allow more of the great folks in our community to play more and work less.


I strongly support your efforts, and I think you're headed in the right directions. As Moritz, Audrey, and many others have commented, I sincerely hope you will continue to press forward and find paths through or around the obstructions that are coming up.

I'm willing to help in whatever ways I can.


In addition to what the other commentators said here, let me say that I appreciate all the work you've been doing in advocating and promoting Perl, and that I don't think the opinions you've mentioned are representative of the community as a whole. If anyone is looking for a good, concrete advice on handling criticism and "growing a thicker skin", then they should read the book "Feeling Good".

I've received my own share of criticism for my own work, but I survived and knew better than to quit contributing.

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About Gabor Szabo

user-pic Perl author and trainer. Usually writing on other sites: Writing the Perl 5 Maven tutorial Perl 6 articles. Started a Perl IDE. Running the Weekly Perl newsletter. My personal blog.