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Aristotle (5147)


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Journal of Aristotle (5147)

Monday September 15, 2008
02:46 PM

Breaking Out of the Perl Echo Chamber: A Call to Action

[ #37454 ]

I just picked up yet another useless distraction, and I am going to ask you to do the same. Bear with me here:

StackOverflow just opened for business. It’s essentially an advanced form of Perl Monks’ Q&A section, except open to questions for any language – in fact, any programming and programmer topic at all. (Joel Spolksy explains the concept; take a look at that post if this is the first time you are hearing about StackOverflow.)

The site does not have a concept of forums; questions can simply be tagged, and you can filter by tag.

Each tag also has a feed.

You can see where I am going with this.

Here’s the thing: the site has pretty solid traffic already. If it really takes off, a large community of programmers from all walks of coding will wind up there. The Perl community core can either be present there, representing Perl as the excellent language we know it to be, or we can leave Perl’s image to the typical mix of novices, too-clever-by-half coders and CPAN non-users – likely also managing to let Perl look moribund in the same stroke, thus single-handedly reinforcing every common preconception about the language.

This would be an effort along the same lines as PerlBuzz, the claim-your-journal-on-Technorati meme, doing something about the low usefulness of Google searches for [perl blogs] and so on: letting our enthusiasm ring outside the echo chamber.

So let’s do it. Please subscribe to the questions tagged “perl” at StackOverflow and take a peek whenever the fancy strikes you and you have a few minutes to spare. Thank you to everyone who responds.

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  • It’s essentially an advanced form of Perl Monks’ Q&A section

    Is it viable (is it desirable) to arrange for it to feed its questions to Perl Monks as new nodes in Seekers of Perl Wisdom [], even if it's not possible to set up a reverse feed for answers? That way, at least the questions get dropped straight into the attention zone of the Perl Monks users, which I think greatly increases the chance that some would log into StackOverflow to post a proper answer there. (Or an answer distilled from th

    • StackOverflow is expressly not a forum, and has no threads. Also unlike Perl Monks, there is a strong expectation that questions and answers will be edited over time, and that duplicate questions will be merged. StackOverflow is very focused on the Q&A format.

      Getting the Perl Monks population involved is a good idea, but I think it would have to be shallow integration as the sites are too different – something like a nodelet that pulls the feed and just provides links maybe.

  • That kind of forum is good for when you're googling for answers, and day-am there are questions asked every few seconds, but....what holds it together? Vying for attention in the noosphere?
  • ...if we should answer questions? I mean, I might be a novice, too-clever-by-half, or... well, no, I *am* a CPAN user, at least.

  • Things were going well, and in less than 24 hours my rep was up to 150. But then I decided to post my first question, as part of a series of items I want to see addressed. Here's the results: []

    Please check out the comments on my question and let me know if you concur. I'm a little bit pissed off. I honestly doubt that the people involved are Perl programmers at all.

    I fully expect that within a year, if Stack Overflow becomes a pla

    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • Yes, the giving people the power to close questions upon merely reaching some rep threshold seems like a very stupid idea. I’ve already had my own run-in with it too. Hopefully this will be addressed in time.

      (Note that as I’ve said elsewhere, I’m not especially fond of Stack Overflow, and as I hinted at the start or my posting, another distraction is really the last thing I needed. I am in this for Perl’s image, not for any other reason.)

      • Cool, my question got opened back up. Any idea how that happened?

        J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
        • Some other user with enough rep reopened it, obviously. This guy also had a clue – the point of Stack Overflow is for bad questions to be edited, not closed. So he reopened the question and fixed the phrasing. Yay for editors with a clue.

          (Of course, you get much less satisfaction out of wielding the “this is how you should have asked that question” stick than out of wielding the “you suck and your question is worthless! BAM!” stick, plus it takes actual intellectual effort

          • Works for me. I wonder who did it.

            J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
            • Each posting on Stack Overflow has a revision history that you can check – did you not notice? (It collapses edits made by the same user in quick succession, but only those.) As I’m writing this, your question says “Edited 5 hours ago [] by marxidad []”, where the “5 hours ago” bit is a link to the revision history, and if you check it you will indeed find that marxidad is the one who reopened the question.

              • Cool! Thanks; I did not know that!

                J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers