Rakudo Perl 6 Advent Calendar 2017 Call for Authors

Every year since 2009, the Rakudo Perl 6 community publishes a Rakudo Perl 6 advent calendar, in the form of blog posts on perl6advent.wordpress.com.

To keep up this great tradition, we need 24 blog posts, and volunteers who write them. If you want to contribute a blog post about anything related to Rakudo Perl 6, please add your name (and potentially also a topic already) to the schedule, and if you don't yet have a login on the advent blog, please tell Zoffix or someone on #perl6 IRC chat your email address so that they can send you an invitation.

Rakudo Perl 6 advent blog posts should be finished the day before they are due, and published with midnight (UTC) of the due date as publishing date.

If you have any questions, or want to discuss blog post ideas, please join on the #perl6 IRC channel on irc.freenode.org.

CPAN6 Is Here

Read this article on Rakudo.Party

If you've been following Rakudo's development since first language release on Christmas, 2015, you might've heard of numerous people working to bring CPAN support to Rakudo Perl 6.

Good news! It's finally here in usable form and you should start using it!

Let's talk about all the moving parts and how to upload your dists to CPAN.

The Moving Parts and Status Report

All of the heavy lifting has been done awhile back, during Perl Toolchain Summit and other times. I wasn't present for it to know the details, but to catch up you could join #perl6-toolchain chat and talk to humans or read the channel log. PAUSE/CPAN support for Perl 6 dists was implemented and zef module installer was trained to check for CPAN dists as well as our GitHub/GitLab-based ecosystem (called "p6c").

The only bit that was left missing is a front-end to browse available CPAN dists. There is a team who wished to take metacpan.org's codebase and modify it for Rakudo dists. I'm told that project is currently "stalled but not dead".

That's unfortunate, however, earlier this week, modules.perl6.org was taught to handle CPAN dists, so—hooray!—we finally have some sort of a front-end for CPAN dists. If you only want to see CPAN dists in search results, you can use from:cpan search qualifier (just like you can use from:github and from:gitlab ones).

GitHub/GitLab dists URLs still direct to repos, but CPAN dists have a file browser that lets you see what files are up in the dist. The file browser also renders README.md/README.markdown markdown readme files.

The viewer doesn't have all the bells and whistles of metacpan.org and doesn't (yet) render POD6, but it's certainly useable. The person who implemented this viewer will be busy preparing 6.d language release in the near future and won't have the time to make additional improvements to the CPAN dist viewer. So… you're invited to contribute and make it better!

Why Upload to CPAN

CPAN has many mirrors ensuring module installation is not affected whenever GitHub (a single website) has issues. The uploaded dists are also immutable and stay there forever (barring special deletion requests, even deleted dists remain available on BackPAN). This means people are more likely to trust these dists for use in their larger projects that need dependable dependencies. Lastly… it's what the cool kids use!

How to Upload to CPAN

Here's the process for how you can get your dists to CPAN. If these dists are currently listed in our p6c ecosystem, both p6c and CPAN versions will appear on modules.perl6.org, and you're encouraged to remove the p6c version. Some of the described tools are brand-new and others are brand-old, created before Rakudo existed, so treat this guide as part information and part invitation to improve the tools.

Step 1: Get a PAUSE account

PAUSE stands for "The [Perl programming] Authors Upload Server", it's located at pause.perl.org, and it's a site you use to upload dists to CPAN.

Go to request PAUSE account page and subscribe for an account. The "desired ID" field is for your PAUSE ID, and it's currently used as "author" field on modules.perl6.org. For example, mine is ZOFFIX.

I had my account for over a decade, so my memory is a bit fuzzy, but I think you'll need to wait for a human to approve and create your account—it's not instantaneous.

Step 2: Make a Dist Archive

You can manually create a tarball or a zip archive. I don't have all the details on which files you're supposed to have in them; you can take a look at other CPAN dists to see what they're doing or…

Use App::Mi6 module! It's possible you were already using it to create dists, in which case you're in luck, as you can just run mi6 dist to make a dist archive.

I rolled my dists by hand and wrote all the docs in README.md, so when I gave mi6 dist a whirl, it replaced my README.md with emptiness because I wasn't using any POD6—something (currently) to watch out for.

Step 3: Upload Your Dist

The first option is to upload manually: log into pause.perl.org, then go to Upload a file to CPAN, be sure to select Perl6 in the select input and then upload either via an uploaded file or a URL.

The second option is to use App::Mi6's mi6 upload command.

Shortly after the upload, you'll get an email about whether your upload succeeded (you can also see emails on nntp.perl.org). Make sure you have a META6.json file in your dist and that the dist version you're uploading is higher than the currently uploaded version. Those are the most common upload errors.

Step 4: Relax and Wait

If you're on IRC, in about 10 minutes after your upload, our buggable robot will announce it:

<buggable> New CPAN upload: Number-Denominate-1.001001.tar.gz by ZOFFIX

In about 2 hours, the dist will also appear on modules.perl6.org. Its updater is started in a cron job on 20th and 40th minute of the hour (unless a job is already running) and it takes about 2 hours to finish each run.

Step 5: Celebrate with the Appropriate Amount of Fun

That's about it to the process. I foresee more tools will be created in the future to make the process even easier than it is today. If you have any questions or issues, just talk to a human or a robot on our #perl6 IRC channel.


CPAN support for Rakudo Perl 6 dists is now usably here. You're encouraged to upload your dists to CPAN, to grow a more dependable ecosystem. You're also invited to improve and create tooling that manages and displays CPAN uploads.


6lang: The Naming Discussion Update

Read this article on 6lang.Party

When a couple months ago I rekindled the naming debate—the discussion on whether "Perl 6" should be renamed—I didn't expect anything more than a collective groan. That wasn't the case and today, I figured, I'd post a progress report and list the salient happenings, all the way to my currently being the proud owner of 6lang.party domain name.

The "Rakudo" Language

The "new" name I mentioned in my original post was Rakudo. As many quickly pointed out, it wasn't the greatest of names because it was the name of an implementation. Yes, I agree, but originally I thought few, if any, would be on board with a new name, or extended name, and Rakudo was basically the only name people already were using, so it stood out as something that could be "hijacked."

The Blog Post Fallout

There was quite a bit of discussion on r/perl, r/perl6, and blogs.perl.org. The general mood among the Perl community members who aren't avid 6lang users was that the entirely new name was a good idea. However, the 6lang users, and especially core devs, overall, argued "Perl 6" still had some recognition benefits and should not be removed entirely.

The middle ground was aimed at then: extend the language name. The "official" name would be among the lines of "Blah Perl 6" and users opposed to the 4-letter swear word would just use the name extension on its own, while those who feel the original name has benefits can still reap them.

The decision on the naming extension was placed on the 6.d language release agenda, with the final call on whether and with what the name should to be extended to be done by Larry, when we cut the 6.d language release.

The 6lang

Fast-forward two months. A kind soul (thank you, by the way!) asked Larry what he thought about the naming debate during the last Perl Conference:

Larry opined that we could have other terms by which Perl versions or Perl distributions are marketed as. So that gives us an option to pick an alternative name to be the second name with any "official" standing. Personally, I really like this idea; even more than name extension, because should there indeed be more benefit to the name without "Perl" in it, the alternative name will naturally become the most-used one.

Another core dev, AlexDaniel++, coined an alternative name: spelt 6lang; can be pronounced as slang, if you want to be fancy. I really liked the name, so I jumped in and registered 6lang.party

<AlexDaniel> Zoffix++ for making me recognize the need for
     alternative name. For a long time I was against
<AlexDaniel> and honestly, I can start using something like 6lang
     right away. “Rakudo Perl 6” is infringing on
     language/compiler distinction so I'm feeling reluctant
<Zoffix> OK, I'll too start using 6lang
* Zoffix is now a proud owner of 6lang.party :D
<timotimo> wow
<AlexDaniel> that was quick

And a couple of hours later, our Marketing Department churned out a new poster:

The drawback is that the name can't be used as an identifier… and Larry doesn't think it's a terribly sexy name.

* TimToady notes that 6lang isn't gonna work anywhere an identifier
     needs a leading alpha
<TimToady> it's also not a terribly sexy name
<TimToady> I could go for something more like psix, "where the p is silent
     if you want it to be" :)

Although, on the plus side, the name has the benefit that alphabetically it sorts earlier than pretty much any other language.

<AlexDaniel> If we see “6lang” as a more marketable alternative, then
     the fact that some things may not parse it as an identifier
     practically does not matter. However, this little bit is quite useful:
<AlexDaniel> m: <perl5 golang c# 6lang ruby>.sort.say
<camelia> rakudo-moar 39a4b7: OUTPUT: «(6lang c# golang perl5 ruby)␤»
<AlexDaniel> :)
<AlexDaniel> .oO( AAAlang – batteries included )

To 6.d Release And Beyond

So that's where things progressed to so far. No official decisions have been made yet, but we're thinking about it and playing with the idea. The decision on the naming debate is to be made during 6.d release.

Having learned a painful lesson from The Christmas release, we're reluctant to put down any dates for 6.d release, but I suspect it'll be somewhere between the upcoming New Year's and It's-Ready-When-It's-Ready.

See you then \o

The Rakudo Book Project

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When I first joined the Rakudo project, we used to say "there are none right now; check back in a year" whenever someone asked for a book about the language. Today, there's a whole website for picking out a book, and the number of available books seems to multiply every time I look at it.

Still, I feel something is amiss, when I talk to folks on our support chat, when I read blog posts about the language, or when I look at our official language documentation. And it's due to that feeling that I wish to join the Rakudo book-writing club and write a few of my own. I dub it: The Rakudo Book Project.

The Books

The Rakudo Book Project involves 3 main books—The White Book, The Gray Book, and The Black Book—as well as 2 half-books—The Green Book and The Cracked Book.

The White Book will aim to provide introductory material to the Rakudo language. The target audience will benefit from prior programming experience, but it won't be strictly necessary for computer-savy people. The target audience is "adept beginners", as some might call it.

The book will cover most of Rakudo's features a typical Rakudo programmer might use in their projects, but it won't cover every little thing about each of them. By the end of the book, the readers will have written several programming projects and will be comfortable making useful, real-world Rakudo programs. More in-depth coverage of the language will be provided by The Gray Book, which is what The White Book's readers would read next. The Black Book will reach even deeper, exploring all of the arcane constructs. The progression through the books can be thought of as a plant growing in a flower pot. Initially, the roots extend through a large area of the pot, but they don't go all the way to all the walls and are rather sparse. As the plant grows, more and more roots shoot out, covering more and more volume of the pot. Same is with the books; while reading The White Book alone will let the plant survive, the root coverage will be sparse. However, by the end of The Black Book, the reader will be an expert Rakudo programmer.

Those three books are the core of my planned project. They're supplemented by two half-books on each end of the knowledge spectrum. The Green Book will target absolute programming beginners and get them up to speed just enough so they would be able to comfortably continue their learning using The White Book. On the other end of the spectrum is The Cracked Book. It's a half-book that follows The Black Book and won't provide more advanced techniques per say, but rather arcane "hacks" or even "bad ideas" that one might not wish to use in real-life code but which nevertheless provide some insight into the language.

The Cracked Book is yet a faint glimmer of an idea. Whether it will actually be made will depend on how much more I will want to say after The Black Book is complete. The Green Book is currently a bit amorphous as well. I have a 12-year old sibling interested in computers, so The Green Book might end up being a Rakudo For Kids.

The likely order in which the books will be produced is White, Gray, Green, Black, and Cracked. It's an ambitious plan, and so I won't be making any promises for producing more than one book at a time. Thus, the current aim is to produce just The White Book.

The Price

The digital versions of the books will be available for free.

Since Rakudo development can always use more funding, I plan to run crowd-funding campaigns during each of the book's development. 100% of all the collected funds will be used to sponsor Rakudo work (sponsoring someone other than me, of course). The campaigns will start once half of the target book has been created and the backers will get early preview digital copies as the book is developed further, as well as honourable mentions as Rakudo sponsors in the book itself.

Thus, the first Rakudo Core Fundraiser will launch once I have the first half of The White Book finished. I'm hoping that will happen soon.

The Why

Other than the obvious reason why people write the books—giving an alternate take on the material—I'd like to do this to cross off an item off my bucket list. Having written a terrible non-fiction book, lackluster fiction book, and a decent illustrated children's book, I hope to add a great technical book to the list, to complete it. I figure, with 5 books to attempt it, I'll be successful.

As for my alternate take, I hope to squash the myth that Rakudo is too big to learn as well as carve out a well-defined path for learners to follow. Just as I could make a living 10 years ago, when I barely spoke English, so a beginner Rakudo programmer can make useful programs with rudimentary knowledge of the language. The key is to not try to learn everything at once as well as have a definite path to walk through. Hence the 5 separate books.

I'm hoping at the end of this journey I will have accomplished all of these goals.

See you at the first Rakudo Core Fundraiser.

On Troll Hugging, Hole Digging, and Improving Open Source Communities

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While observing a recent split in a large open source community, I did some self-reflection and thought about the state of the Rakudo community that I am a part of. It involved learning of its huggable past; thinking of its undulating present; as well as looking for its brighter future.

This article is the outcome. It contains notes to myself on how to be a better human, but I hope they'll have wider appeal and can improve communities I am a part of.

Part I: Digging a Hole

A lot of organizational metaphors involve the act of climbing. You start at the base of a hill or a ladder and you start climbing. The higher you get, the more knowledge, power, and resources you attain. There's a problem with that metaphor: you're facing the backs of the people who came before you and they're not really paying attention to you.

The people higher up can pull others up to their level, but the problem is they can also push them down, prevent them from climbing, or even accidentally kick down some dirt in the face. As we get higher and higher, the tip of the hill we're climbing gets narrower and narrower, accommodating fewer and fewer people, until progress stops and everyone freezes, waiting for someone higher up to disappear and free up the space for someone lower down to move up to.

A more useful metaphor I think is directly the opposite of a dirt hill: a dirt hole. People dig it.

When you are just starting a project, you're alone. It's just you and a shovel. You dig a few feet down and someone comes to the edge of your hole and looks down on you. You are vulnerable. You offer them a shovel and now there's more than one person digging the hole.

You've been digging longer, so you're a bit further down. You know what the ground is like on that level, and the person above you asks you how to best dig the layers you've already dug through. Once in a while some dirt falls down from their level onto yours, so it's in your best interest to bring them to your level sooner than later. Unlike a hill or a ladder, you have no easy way to kick them off; you have to help them. At the same time, you have to ensure more people come to the edge of the hole and start digging along with you. Otherwise, it'd just be a narrow and deep hole, with no easy way in.

There's a parallel to open source development of a large community project like Rakudo: there's a need for a constant supply of fresh users and volunteers and there's a need for more seasoned members of the community to show the ropes and mentor the less-skilled members. The veterans are too far from the edge of the hole to really know how easy it is to join it, but the newbies are well-aware of the challenges that prevent more people joining. No one is more important than someone else; for a well-shaped hole both the veterans and the newcomers need to contribute in their patches of the hole.

Here's a badly shaped hole. The walls are too vertical and are crumbling, and it's tough to navigate the hole.

And here's a well-shaped hole. Everyone's more connected. It's easy to get in and start digging. And even those who dug the deepest can still go and help out those who are about to start.

The hole digging metaphor isn't just about the shape of the hole. It's also about people's position within it.

Those who have been digging the hole the longest are the lowest in it. Anything happening up above has great potential to impact those in the lowest ranks: a careless footstep breaks off some dirt and kicks it down the hole.

If a fight breaks out, the community's most senior members' would notice the dirt flying down the hole and it's in their best interests to calm the fighting down and resolve the conflict peacefully.

In fact, a particularly gruesome conflict kicks down enough dirt to make the hole shallower, and in severe cases, entirely burried.

Part II: The Seven Hugs for a Better Community

Audrey Tang, now Taiwan's Minister of Digital, was a prominent Perl 6 community member who created the concept of Troll Hugging. In a nutshell, it's this: Do not feed trolls, but hug them tenderly until they feel comfortable enough to speak about their authentic selves, and then they turn into beautiful princes(ses).

I've never met Audrey in real-time and only have her inspiring writing to go by, but I'd like to carry forward the concept of troll hugging, as well as include non-trolls in those we aim to hug.

I thought up some Tips for how to improve things; but Tips is too cliché a name, so how about some Hugs instead? The seven Hugs for a better community.

Hug 1: Gift a Shovel

Always seek to expand our community. Invite people to help us.

A person comes to the edge of the hole you're digging and says: "What the heck are you doing over there?" You explain a few things, the person nods agreeably, wishes you good luck, and continues on their merry ways. It was an amicable interraction, but could it be better?

Instead of walking away, the person can help the hole grow larger, by picking a site on the edge of it and starting to dig their own patch. On occasion, some passerby will realize how awesome your hole digging idea is and join you on their own initiative, but you can greatly improve the chances of people joining by gifting the curious passerby a shovel and actively asking them to help you. Some won't be able to, but it's a lot easier to start digging if you already have a shovel in hand.

If someone on the help channel is asking a question, it's possible your project's learning resources could be improved. Answer the question and then ask that very same person to help improve the learning resources. Now that you answered the question, that person is most qualified to improve the learning resources in this situation: they both now know the answer and still remember their thinking processes that led to them asking their question and the eventual understanding of the answer.

This works especially well with issues you could fix in less than a minute. It's easy to explain to the person—even to a fresh newcomer—what needs to be done to fix the problem and it gives them experience with working on your project, as well as confidence to try their hand at harder issues in the future.

So invite people to join in. Given them appropriate commit bits and guidance on how to get involved. Even people who think your project sucks could be asked to give a helping hand making it better. They just might.

Hug 2: Feed The Hand That Bites You

Always assume positive intent behind people's words and actions.

The biographical film Temple Grandin depicts Professor Temple Grandin's first steps working at a cattle farm, where cows are constantly prodded and, especially by today's standards, abused. Being autistic, Temple was a lot more sensitive to the environmental stimuli that affected cattle behaviour, and she was able to design a much more efficient and humane holding pen and supporting equipment where cows moved with ease, without prodding and with less stress.

I recall the most infuriating scene in the film, when the old timer workers came over to Temple's newly-built, state-of-the-art holding pen and, confused about the new design, angrily dismantled many of its key pieces. By the time Temple arrived on the job, several cows have drowned on the washing platform, and the workers were pissed off about whatever "idiot" designed this holding pen.

I was hoping Temple would get back at them: get them fired, insult them, anything really! They're clearly too damn dumb to realize just how much better Temple's equipment is and they shouldn't be allowed anywhere near cattle. Am I right? Not really.

Both Temple and the other workers had the same goal: get the cattle washed, dried, and chopped up into delicious steaks and burgers. Without autism, however, the workers didn't have a clue why Temple's design was superior. And lacking that understanding, they went back to what they knew does the job. Temple never got back at the workers, but I've seen others (and myself) get back at the "offenders" in very similar circumstances.

When Rakudo implemented atomic operators that incorporate emoji atom symbol, over 220 comments were made about them on Reddit. The overall theme was: how the hell am I supposed to type that and have Rakudo people lost their minds, using an emoji as an operator? These comments are from programmers who've been using ASCII symbols in their code for decades. Just like Temple's cattle workers, programmers who never learned how to easily type fancy Unicode characters could, understandably, be baffled that an emoji could ever be efficent to use.

Temple could lash back at these programmers and ridicule them for not being autistic enough to have the required extra knowledge, or she could patiently explain the missing pieces (like Rakudo's ASCII-only alternatives to all fancy Unicode ops).

If we spend time to patiently explain the missing information, we get potential new community members. If we merely try to prove who's right and who's wrong, at best we'd just be right. Just like Temple and the workers had a common goal, so do we and many of the people we interact with. If you perceive someone as attacking and dismantling your work, perhaps all they're trying to do is understand how it helps us achieve our common goal. Assume positive intent and respond positively.

Hug 3: We All Leave Footprints

What you do today, the others will follow and do tomorrow.

There's a famed experiment on chimps that demonstrates an interesting quirk in thinking that humans likely possess as well. In a room with several chimps, a bundle of bananas is placed. Whenever any chimp tries to reach for a banana, all of the chimps get sprayed with water. The chimps quickly learn not to reach for bananas.

A new chimp is placed into the room. When it tries to reach for bananas, the other chimps who know they will get sprayed with water actually attack the new chimp and prevent it from reaching the bananas. Now, slowly, one-by-one, start removing the chimps who were sprayed with water in the past and replace them with new chimps who weren't. The pattern remains: whenever a new chimp tries to reach for bananas, all the rest attack it, including the chimps who weren't ever sprayed with water.

The surprising discovery of this experiment is eventually you will end up with a room full of chimps, none of which were ever sprayed with water, who will avoid reaching for the bananas and attack any new chimp that tries to. There are two lessons we can learn from these findings.

First, be mindful of your actions; the new chimps will follow your lead. If all the newbie questions are answered with snark and contempt, the people who manage to stick around and learn things will likely continue to respond with snark and contempt to all the new newbies, perpetuating the cycle of negativity. How we treat newcomers, how we treat old timers, how we treat members of other communities, are all patterns that show new members of the community how to act. Ensure the patterns you leave behind to emulate are positive ones.

Second, avoid attacking chimps who try to reach for bananas. In other words, avoid telling people they can't do something or that something is very hard or impossible. A common pattern is someone says "I'm going to try doing X" and the immediate response is "you can't" or "X is useless". Now the first person's enthusiasm is curbed; they doubt they can succeed. If the first person perceives the naysayer as the expert, they might not even question the judgment and give up right away. And worse yet, the chimp has learned to attack new chimps when they try to reach for the same bananas.

Similar issue exists when you claim something can only be done by the super-star chimp. The claim carries the inherent assumption that the task is so hard, it'd be foolish for other chimps to even attempt it. Yes, some tasks are tougher than others, but the only sure way to fail at them is to never try to do them at all.

Hug 4: Speak Up

Point out unwanted behaviour, regardless of who you are and who the offender is.

If a friend ever invites you to participate in an experiment studying authority, you probably should decline, as you might kill someone.

The experiment is this: the man in a lab coat tells you to turn the dial and press the button that gives the person next to you an electric shock. The man in a lab coat writes something down, then tells you to dial in higher numbers and give a larger shock. It's a little fun at first, but as you keep dialing in larger and larger numbers, the person you're shocking appears to be in more and more distress, showing visible signs of severe pain. The scientist tells you to keep going, and you do, shocking your hapless victim with currents far above lethal, until the victim dies. Or rather, until it's revealed the victim is an actor who was faking it all along.

So what's going on? Why did you just fake-kill a guy? The answer is: authority. You perceived the scientist as an authority in this situation and trusted their judgement of the situation more than your own. A similar experiment showed that when you're jaywalking at a busy intersection, more people will follow and jaywalk with you if you look like an authority (e.g. wearing a business suit and carrying a brief case).

Similar factors are at play when a support chat's "regular" is being abusive to a "newbie". The regular says parsing HTML with regex is wrong and the newbie should use an HTML parser. The newbie, on the other hand, struggled for the whole day to get half the regex working and feels learning to use an HTML parser is far beyond their current skill, so they keep asking for regex help. Tempers flare. Feelings get hurt. Meanwhile, the rest of the people silently look on.

Two things can improve such situations. First, if you're a percieved authority, be mindful of your actions, as they set an example for others to follow (see above, Hug 3: We All Leave Footprints).

Second, and even more important: speak up, regardless of who you are. Question the judgement of the scientist who's applying lethal electric shocks. It's important to point out abusive behaviour and request the person to stop it. It's quite possible they're not realizing just how negative their actions are, for reasons ranging from something as simple as being too tired to much more complex like drug addiction or mental illness.

Speak up. It's beneficial for all parties involved.

Hug 5: Simply a Hug

A simple hug is a positive interruption.

The aforementioned Professor Temple Grandin had another useful contribution to humanity: a hugging machine.

It's a therapeutic aid for autistics that, in its crude form, consists of two boards and a lever that brings the boards together, pushing them against the person lying in the middle of the machine. When you have autism, being touched by other humans is unpleasant, distressing, or even scary. The relaxing and pleasant feeling from the pressure of the machine's boards is likely similar to how neurotypical people experience a hug from another human.

I built my own hugging machine! Now, I'm not good at carpentry, so my machine is entirely digital, but on the bright side, anyone can use it:

It's a bot on #perl6 support chat. Type .hug to hug everyone, or type .hug SomeOne to hug SomeOne. It's a silly, simple thing, but a hug wedged in the middle of a heated, unproductive discussion can quickly shift the tone to something more positive and remind the participants to be kinder to each other.

There's not much more to say about this. It's simply a hug.

Hug 6: Love Others

People are more important than code.

Think back on the last few heated arguments you had with someone. You likely can easily recall who you were arguing with. What you were arguing about is a lot more foggy. And perhaps you don't remember the other party's counter-arguments at all. You remember the person, but the argument faded into the unimportance.

It's easy to get caught up in the moment and defend your position to the death; after all, there are specifications, studies, and all sorts of best practices you could link to. It's easy to overestimate the importance of the thing being argued about in the grand scheme of things. It's also easy to push too far and people will not want to dig the dirt hole with you any more.

Always remember that people are more important than code. The argument you so desperately tried to win won't build more code, won't train more people, and won't write more blog posts. At least until the robot uprising, those things get done by people. You need to care for them.

First, consider if the argument you're participating in is something you even care about. Does it even affect you if the other person tries doing things their way? You'd be surprised how often you'd realize you can just walk away from the argument, without care. But when you can't walk away, consider the impact of your emotional state on the clarity of the discussion. You always have the option to re-schedule and ask to discuss it later.

You need people to dig the hole. Cherish them.

Hug 7: Go For The Third Option

Instead of me being right and you being wrong we both could be right-ish.

When you're in a discussion trying to decide something; or giving criticism; or receiving it; there's a trick you can use to make the process more friendly and palatable. I call it, going for the third option.

Suppose you don't like something I tend to do. You ask me to stop. You grasp for words, trying to put the request as softly as you can, while I blush and hold back the tears, realizing that I, the "I", is a terrible human being. The discussion looks something like this:

However, there's no the "I". Since time parameter is involved, the "I" being reprimanded for offending behaviour is the person in the past. If you're over 30 years old, you can probably easily recall the "you" from a decade or more ago and see that the past "you" and the current "you" differ vastly on many ideas. The two "you"s are different people.

With that in mind, when discussing my offending behaviour, you and the "I" from the present can work on the third "I", the one in the future. Under this paradigm, the discussion looks like this:

You no longer have the need to be reserved about your criticism and perhaps can discuss things you were originally planning to hold back; things that still matter. And I no longer feel that I'm being attacked—after all, we're examining the past me to figure out how the future me could be better.

The same technique applies to discussions about issues we might disagree about. Instead of trying to list all the things you're right about and all the things I am wrong about and trying to figure out whose solution "wins", we could work on the entirely new third option that combines the best of our ideas, leaving the parts either of us thinks are problematic behind. In the end, we get something we both feel to have had a hand at creating. We both win.


At the time of this writing, I've been applying the ideas I discussed in this article for about a week. I think they have something real behind them, as I feel a lot happier now than a week ago and I see some positive changes around me that I think I could attribute to these ideas.

I saw new faces appear in our community, who were gifted shovels and invited to join in the hole digging. I no longer dread reading negative comments on our project's articles, as I know I can view the third option in any feedback given, as well as realize the negative feedback might only be a misunderstanding. I no longer get too wrapped up in decisions that barely affect me.

Working from Audrey's Troll Hugging concept that seeds a positive framework for our community, I think we can expand on it and start hugging each other, as well as the trolls.

I think we can build something pretty damn good.

Let's grab our shovels and get digging.