The October that will never be

There's a thread on the Israeli Perl mailing list regarding "What don't you like in Perl". There are the usual answers (Perl thread model is a disaster, Perl OO model does not go well with scotch etc.), but the real answer is only revealed on another thread, where a guy who made the unfortunate mistake of replying personally is getting berated for three or four paragraphs, before is also accused of "Top-posting".

Now, for the record, netiquette was invented by a bunch of nerdy snobs who really wanted something to use when explaining why others are not worthy of their time. The less people obey them, the faster we can get to a point where corporations are willing to listen to what "geeks" have to offer, since every time an "Enterprise" guy is looking in a Perl mailing list, all they see are bunch of petty "you do not follow rule 23 of how I want the world to act".

It's also hard to explain the benefit of the "Unix culture" to anyone who just was told to "RTFM means read the FUCKING manual, FUCKER" on #DBIx-Class. It's even harder when said someone is the owner of the leading Perl/Catalyst company.
OTOH, DHH is also known to be an F-bomb terrorist so maybe it's a prerequisite or something.


this is true, when you just shoo people away when they are new beginners does frigthen people away, if they are unware of where to look for documentation.

On the same note, some people do just ask questions without any research, and do know where the content is, do deserve some sort of "read up on this link".

It is true you could get the same answer quicker from an expert, but you will generally remember it better if you read it up yourself, asking maybe clarification questions.

the RTFM mentality also comes from berating experts for quick answers, rather than some research on your own.

Interestingly enough, when that "do not top-post" person was asked to not berate people for top-posting, the next time he simply used the "let me explain what top posting is and why it's bad" idea and berated the person with a long and boring explanation on why top posters suck. I assume for the person who had to read it all, it wasn't pleasant.

Sometimes all you need is to add "is it possible for you to answer at the bottom of a sentence instead of the top? it's difficult for me know what you refer to, and harder for me to help you".

The same sort of thing happens from time to time on Brazilian Perl mailing lists. I guess it's unfortunately unavoidable and, yes, I think it does significantly impact Perl's general acceptance.

Personally, I don't get offended, but not everyone is like me.

I know, it's sad. I try very hard to avoid some of the more juvenile members of the Perl community but it's not always possible. They're often very smart and thus people are willing to accept behaviour from them that they would not accept from others. When did being smart qualify people to act like jerks?

I have a little theory or two about that. It's all about frustration - the most effective way to get rid of your anger is discharge it on some other human (some people also try banging your fist against a wall - the fact how ridiculous this sounds and still sometimes you'd do that only shows that this redirection mechanism really works). This reaction is deep in human nature - normally it is tempered by culture (where it is - there are theories that culture was an effect of this mechanism) - but online there is the prevailing notion that culture is for lusers. Or rather - the online culture is very fight oriented, very 'Wild West' type of culture - maybe this is because it is a kind of new frontier, or maybe it is because it is so male predominated.

By the way I've written a semi-related essay at the p2pfoundation blog:

I don't think I'm offended as such berating, but I'm certainly put off by it.
The idea behind netiquette was supposed to be some guidelines to help you be more civil to other people online. Such berating is comes across as very rude and in my mind is often much worse than the "offense" it aims to correct.

Just like Ovid said, it's almost impossible to ignore some of the more juvenile members of the community - people like Ovid, chromatic, lwall, merlyn, etc - if you check it out, the higher the guys are in the perl intelligentsia list, the dicker they are. Merlyn's responses, for instance, are always amazingly dickish... a short trip to perlmonks (is it still running?) will prove it.
By the way, wasn't Perl 6 supposed to be done by this Christmas? Hell, how I wish my deadlines were that movable!

Everybody knows that Matt Trout is a total dirtbag by now.
But he controls, #perl on and is a CPAN admin, he's untouchable...

On the other hand, though, newbies asking questions on mailing lists are getting the time and effort of experts donated for free to help them; I don't think expecting them to do basic things to help take as little time as possible is wrong. (If it's an answer which could be quickly found with a quick Google search, say, then there's no need for someone to take the time to write out an answer for you.)

Netiquette such as bottom-posting and quoting the points you're replying to, one at a time, is a convention that leads to readable mails which can be read quickly and still make sense. Top-posting tends to lead to huge threads that don't make much sense unless you scroll down and read back up backwards, which is unpleasant. Top-posting also seems to greatly increase the chance of people responding only to one or two questions raised in a mail, rather than all of them.

I don't think expecting people to make a little effort to help those who would help them for free is the problem, I think it's excessive rudeness when asking them to do so which is the real issue.

It's "RTFM, fucktard" vs "A quick Google for $foo turns up $result which answers your question perfectly".

I think it's excessive rudeness when asking them to do so which is the real issue.

Call it what it is. "RTFM means read the FUCKING manual, FUCKER" cannot simply get whitewashed as "excessive rudeness". We all know this isn't isolated, either. It's verbal abuse, and no amount of newbie cluelessness excuses it.

It's time for us to stop putting up with it.

I think that is wrong Google has made us lazy and our brain is going in slow mode.I should say that please try to make some effort to find the answer of your question.

This behaviour is gendered: the acts of young male playground bullies who never grew up. It is particularly vile, and a waste, that this behaviour should come from those who actually have something to contribute. Gentlemen, Perl programming isn't a dick-waving contest. Grow up, get over your issues, and acquire a bit of savoir-vivre.

Leave a comment

About Erez Schatz

user-pic Because sometimes you need to bash your head against the wall until either you, or the wall, give up.