The Perl Community - a mixed bag of sometimes intollerance and sometimes fantastic help
I've had occassions to post a post like this a number of times in the past over a lot of years but I've resisted until now. I have little experience of other programming languages in forums/IRC/blogs etc recently because these days I've largely written Perl and PL/SQL but in the past before the WWW was prevelant I programmed in Fortran, Pascal, C, Macro 32, VMS, Z80, 8086, 6502 etc before I volunteered to port a large code base from VMS to UNIX.
I've had over 30+ years (not all perl) a massive amount of help and support from PerlMonks, irc.perl.org and forums like dbi-users/dbi-dev/dbi-class etc. I've attended the odd London Perl Workshop and been astonished at the knowledge and enthusiasm at those events. I don't work on many Perl modules on the CPAN but those I have contributed to I have done for decades. There have been issues over the years with some DBD::* modules I've contributed to but by in large the Perl community has been one which I've been happy to be a member of and contribute.
I've seen the arguments for and against Perl 6 and not got too worried about them as I use perl 5 and it mostly just works for us and although we (the company I work for) struggle to find Perl 5 programmers and Python and Javascripa/Node.js programmers are ten a penny who is going to write a code base in hundreds of thousands of lines in another language just to attract programmers.
After hanging around Perlmonks/IRC/mailing_list_XXX/perl_weekly/IRC etc for decades I just got fed up with it and have had a year or so out where I've been off grid as it were. In addition certain bickering on various channels put me off keeping up to date.
Then, as sometimes happens, a new and enthusiastic person comes along on github and wants to push changes to a module I'd pretty much given up on (on github even though I was maintaining changes locally) for various reasons (too long to go into here). Suddenly I I realise there is some interest and as one with maintainer privileges if I don't do it no one will.
So changes are made, merges are made, issues are closed and a new release is made. Suddenly I'm back in the Perl community and somewhat invigorated. And then...
GIven my new enthusiasm for the Perl community I dare to post an issue I was having to IRC on #perl-help and it all fell down. Normally I would not have even mentioned it as a long (decades) of experience would have stopped me from doing it in the past but my NEW enthusiasm for the perl community blinded me to the perils of merely asking for help in a forum designated for Perl help. By the vary nature, anyone posting in #perl-help, needs help and I'd forgotten that certain people view this channel as a shooting ground where you pour ridicule on posters "who don't understand their problem" - of course they don't or why would they post on #perl-help. I got some helpful comments but I also got the ridicule. 10 years ago I would have known not to put myself through this but years have gone past and I'd forgotten.
So, in an instant, (it was only 2 comments at the end of the day and I'm sure some would say I'm being too sensitive but I am who I am and this is how I saw it), all that renewed enthusiasm for Perl and the Perl community was put down by one person who treats some IRC groups as a practise shooting ground for their superiority. Well done. You just shot a bullet into a balloon and robbed Perl of an enthusiast and a contributer.
Sadly, I was fooled (unintentionally) by a new contributor to a module I had release/merge permissions on and this led me to believe the Perl community was a place I could happily and safely post a question on a help forum without facing redicule. Ok, I'm probably making more of this than it was BUT it still holds true on my part that I was reminded that posting on a Perl IRC channel is literrally putting yourself up on a firing range (in certain channels where certain people hang out).
Lesson learned again. Looking forward to my retirement and not having to get suckered again.
Post fix: Over at least a few decades I've had loads of support from some really clever and helpful people in the Perl community and been encouraged to contribute. In my work I've used code/modules written by others which have short circuited my development process and helped me enormously. There are a lot of great people in the Perl community who have contributed thousands of man hours to the CPAN. I thank you all. Learn a lesson from someone who only dabbles in the Perl community these days - a help channel is a help channel - you should expect anyone posting on it to not grok what the problem is and not take it as an opportinity to shoot them down.
My reawakened enthusisam had been doused.
There /may/ be some replies to this post. Some of them may be defensive. I understand this /but/ I ask you to think about this - when someone who has contributed to Perl has got to the point where they are fearlful to post a question on a perl-help forum where is that forum going?