Perl Trolls

Perl is from the days of usenet. I have no experience of usenet, but I understand that the troll phenomenon originated there.

From the comments on Perl tutorials suck, one can clearly identify the trolls there.

I don't know whether the advice "Don't feed the trolls" is the best one or not. But I find the _repeated_ occurrence of replying to these trolls threads on reddit or HN amusing.

Yes, amusing.

If a person get's into a fight with a drunk, it's amusing to watch it.

But sometimes it just feels awkward to watch even perl elders like chromatic, in the fight. A drunk is not going to be the epitome of rationality, so why _even_ bother ? These people are just simpletons, madly in love with mercury(an unusual language I might say!) or just a had a shitty day.

I think some one has to say it.



The problem is that n00bs tend to think the loudest voice is the correct one.

Responding to a troll once is fine, so that folks understand that the troll does not represent the community as a whole. You must, however, accept that you will not get the last word; it's hard sometimes, but attempting to do so often implies your own trollishness.

It is often important to reply at least at first, because those trolls may seem obviously such to us, but not so much to the casual passersby. Thus, by letting their posts stand uncommented, they will form public opinion.

I've been programming part-time for over 20 years, starting with assembly language and BASIC on the C64, then Unix shell scripting and some C, then Perl, Java, Javascript, PHP (against my will), and probably a few I'm forgetting. Perl remains my favorite. I've seen plenty of bad code in all those languages, and others that I've had to dabble with at times (like Lisp to customize something in Emacs). (I've probably contributed more than my share of bad code too, though not much of it has been public, fortunately.) So "people write bad code in language X" trolling seems especially pointless. Bad/rushed/uncaring/poorly-trained/newbie programmers write bad code in every language. In the case of a language like Perl that was being used by a bunch of amateurs to throw stuff up on a brand-new Web that was constantly developing and demanding new features, we wrote a lot of bad code. (Honestly, anyone who was writing Perl CGIs in 1998 probably wrote a formmail or guestbook program that had a security hole -- or used one from a scripts site that had several.) And a lot of it's still out there to see. That doesn't say anything about the usefulness or quality of the language itself.

As for the quality of the tutorials specifically, I'd guess that's mostly a factor of age. Perl came of age at a time when documentation was still mostly books and man pages, written by developers and experts. That's how we learned languages back then: get a reference book and maybe a "learn it in 21 days" type of book, start looking at other people's code and trying things, and refer to the reference book and man pages when you get stuck. Languages that come of age today are more likely to have their documentation in wikis or other online formats that are more easily accessible by today's standards, and that's great (although the mess of user-contributed "documentation" that is should cause no one envy).

That doesn't mean Perl couldn't have more modern types of documentation, but we already have tons of documentation in the older styles, so we don't have the same incentive as the fans of a new language who don't already have all that.

Oh, I agree that more tutorials are a great idea, however they're presented. Out of curiosity, I looked for Perl tutorials on YouTube recently, and didn't find much. There are some there, but the quality is pretty hit-and-miss (though that's true of most YouTube how-tos on almost any topic, I find). Even the better ones -- by which I mean the ones where I could both read the text and understand the person speaking -- tend not to be using modern Perl methods like 'use strict' and localized variables.

That's not to criticize the people who made them -- heck, at least they're trying to get something out there, which is more than I've done. But there is an opening there for someone to do some good screencast tutorials using today's best practices as the Perl community generally defines those.

I'm guessing that comp.lang.perl.misc is still going. Apart from one or two posters, I never found that to be a very useful resource, just lots of snarky, obnoxious people arguing with each other and picking on newbies.

I read the discussion you pointed at but couldn't find any evidence of trolls or trolling there at all. Because you said something about chromatic, I searched for that name in the discussion. Some of the instances are references to a book, but the responses under the user name "chromatic" in the above look perfectly reasonable to me, nothing at all which looks like a response to trolls.

As for the link "How to Identify a Troll: A Beginner's Guide", it says absolutely nothing about trolls, it merely describes intransigence. I wish people would stop misusing the word "troll" like this.

Perl elder chromatic fighting a drunk, thanks for the nice image in my head :)

Do *any* Usenet groups still have a good signal-to-noise ratio? I gave up on comp.lang.perl.misc a long time ago because it was just too busy to keep up with, but I seem to remember there was an auto-moderated offshoot of it that wasn't bad. That was at least a few years ago, though.

I didn't see much trolling on that thread either, but I thought perhaps it had been deleted already.

mr foo bar says

sunshine-x posted an outdated perl code. In fact it is so outdated I think it is from the original(perl4) camel book.

Under a discussion of why he found it difficult to learn Perl, he posted a quote from "Programming Perl", the edition he used to learn Perl from.

>local(array) = $vitals[0];

This code, I think is deliberately wrong.

It might be deliberately wrong, or it might even be accidentally wrong.

You can find such __elephant headed_ haters in every perl thread on reddit or HN.

I don't hate Perl, but I agree with sunshine-x's comments about the Camel book. It's not a well-written book, and I really don't know why such a poorly-written and confusing book used to be hyped like it was.

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