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schwern (1528)

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Schwern can destroy CPAN at his whim.

Journal of schwern (1528)

Tuesday April 15, 2003
11:03 PM

Attention Ungrateful Bastards

[ #11674 ]

Every once in a while, someone writes an article or rant about how the Perl dev team isn't doing enough. Or somehow isn't living up to the "responsibility to their users". I just leveled a broadside at one of the authors of such an article and felt the need to post it here as a warning to others. Hopefully it being slightly out of context doesn't deaden the effect.

    > It is not my reponsibility to make sure the documentation is correct. It's
    > like saying a patron who complained about the food in a restaurant is
    > responsible for making sure it isn't so (instead of the restaurant owner).
    > Bye all means it is something that is the responsibility of the core Perl
    > team and especially Larry Wall.
    > Now, "Programming Perl" explains the same things as the Perl man pages
    > only better, but it is kept hidden from the public. And it was written in
    > part by Larry and by Tom Christiansen who is the original author of the
    > man pages. I think that's a clash of interests.

    I agree with you that the core docs need revamping.

    I agree with you that user critiques and complaints are important for any
    project to remain healthy.

    I am willing to help you through getting your doc patches to survive p5p.

    But I *WILL NOT* be told that I have *any* responsibility to *any* of
    the users of my software beyond my own personal code of ethics. Unless
    you've paid me for support, you have *NO RIGHT* to attempt to guilt me
    into doing more work for free.

    Let's get a few things straight. Larry, Tom, myself or any p5p maintainer
    has absolutely *no* responsibility to you or any user of Perl. You did
    not purchase Perl. We did not offer or imply any warranty. We are not
    getting paid anything for our efforts. [1] We do it because we use Perl
    and we like helping other people out. It is *EXTREMELY UNGRATEFUL* of
    you to whine that we should be doing more and it is *EXTREMELY IRRESPONSIBLE*
    for you to state that you, the one who *BENEFITS FREELY FROM OUR WORK*
    has no responsibilty to Perl and yet state that those who *DO THE WORK FOR
    FREE* should be doing more. Shame on you!

    We are not resturaunt owners, we are a soup kitchen and you are receiving
    a free meal. You want better food? Get in here and help cook.

    *You* are the only one who has a responsbility to fix the problems *you*
    are worried about. If you would like guaranteed support, either you
    do it yourself or you *pay* someone to support you. ActiveState is one
    such business. I would also gladly take payment from you to revamp the
    core Perl docs. Otherwise you accept what work people are willing to
    do for free.

    Larry and Tom make their living from writing. It is foolish and
    ungrateful to state that they should not make money off of the YEARS of
    effort they have put into Perl for free. It is unrealistic to think that
    they would not try to make a living off their areas of expertise, Perl
    and literature. Writing a book the size, scope and quality of Programming
    Perl takes months and months of effort. Larry has a family to support.
    Tom has to make a living. We *all* have to make a living. To berate
    us for making some money off Perl is again, ungrateful and workable.
    Unless our user base suddenly donates enough money to support all of
    p5p, we *must* continue to find ways to earn a living off our skills.

    There is no clash of interests. Larry and Tom are allowed to make money
    off Perl. They have no resonsibility to give away their work. If people
    think they're withholding the best docs for their books then they can
    write their own docs. That's how Open Source works.

    In short, put up or shut up. Subscribe to p5p. Put up some well-formed,
    well-commented, spell-checked doc patches. Put in the time necessary to
    respond to p5p's comments and questions. Make the necessary noise to
    ensure they're noticed. It takes Time and Effort. A lot of it. Maybe
    then you'll get a better idea of how much it takes to make Perl a good,
    free language.

    Do not complain that others are not doing enough to fix Perl. Fix it your
    damned self.

    Have I made myself clear?

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  • More Comments Here (Score:3, Informative)

    by chromatic (983) on 2003.04.16 0:05 (#19180) Homepage Journal

    Advogato has further discussion [], including rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth responses by yours truly.

    • Shlomi appears to be kind of a whiner [], who has lots of ideas [] but produces little code. I remember, though, that he sent a large doc patch to P5P, that wasn't applied apparently.
      • by schwern (1528) on 2003.04.16 4:35 (#19187) Homepage Journal
        I was attempting to keep names out of this. Oh well, I guess I'm pretty transparent.

        This little rant occured while attempting to coax Shlomi into resubmitting his doc patches since they appear to have been dropped on the floor by p5p with the exception of one reply that he probably didn't see.
      • I do have some constructive criticism sometimes (or sometimes plain attacks, unfortunately), and I do have much more ideas than code, granted.

        But I still have prepared a lot of code - Freecell Solver, LM-Solve, MikMod for Java, many lectures to the Haifa Linux Club and a lot of code that was used internally, or for my studies. The purpose of the document was to enlighten many people and create a snowball effect in the Perl community. It was also supposed to open the eyes of the leaders of the Perl comm

    • Maybe my sensitivity is less due to early exposure to Usenet flamage, but I sure wouldn't characterize your responses as rabid or foaming-at-the-mouth. I thought they were rather polite, actually.

    • chromatic,
      I am not able to reply to the discussion on Advogato, I was wondering if you could send this reply to the author.

      I have been using Perl for just over a year. I was a newbie not to long ago, and I am by no means a guru. I never felt that the resources at hand were lacking. If I could not locate or understand the answer to my problem in the Perl documentation or a book I asked my question in a Perl community.
      To say the Perl Community is deceptively simple, more accurately there is a network of P
    • If that's rabid and foaming, I'd love to see you get really worked up.
  • +1 Funny (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mir (51) <> on 2003.04.16 7:50 (#19189) Homepage Journal

    I stopped reading after a while, but I really laughed at some parts of this. I just think Schlomo has a solution in search of a problem. If he wants to run a website for beginners, than be it, but there is no need to trash the rest of the community over it.

    Here are some choice quotes from the article:

    Now if she knows how to use E-mail (she may or may not have such a good net-wisdom)

    (remember she got a job as a "a system administrator, CGI programmer, Bio-informatics engineer, hardware designer, QA engineer or whatever")

    It contains some reviews of books (which Mel may not have time to read), a free online book (again, same issue)

    You know, because she needs to learn a new language but has certainly no time to READ about it...

    The question still stands: why do you need a book to learn Perl? Why can't you learn it from the Internet alone?

    Why do you need a book to learn Math?

    The Perl Beginners List In my opinion is a bit useless. It is very high volume, and usually whenever one considers replying to a question, it receives three replies by the time he finished composing it. I was also subscribed and it was too high volume to be effective for me as a "guru". I believe newbies will not be able to handle such volumes either.

    I love this one! The Perl Beginners List is way too helpful! No one reads it anymore, it's way too crowded (attributed to Yogi Fish)

  • Same old story (Score:2, Insightful)

    Granted, that the people delivering this message frequently beg to be ignored (or worse) by virtue of their newbiehood-cum-attitude. But this particular criticism has been aimed at the Perl community for a long time (at least as long as I've been paying attention, including when I was the one with the newbiehood-cum-attitude).
    Each side is technically "right," at least within its own frame of reference. Yes, Perl's available documentation has been, and still is (though to a lesser extent than previously) off
    • This is not about whether or not the docs need improvement. The docs can always use improvement. This is about the way some people try to go about it: with a very low signal-to-noise ratio.
      • Re:Same old story (Score:3, Interesting)

        Well, right. I realize that's what you were commenting on, and your point is, of course, perfectly valid. But again, this is just the latest in a very long series of such incidents, and at some point it's probably worth taking a step back and asking if there might be a larger lesson to be learned.

        I think there is such a larger lesson: that the newbies who persist in voicing this particular frustration have a point. Their needs really aren't being adequately met by the existing docs. Pointing out that they

  • Are we meeting the needs of Jerri Blank [], "Webmaster" []?

    Maybe we need a Clifford The Big Red Dog series of Perl books. Online and free, of course, or else Shlomi Fish will accuse us of "hiding" them.

    Or Perl personal trainers, who come by and teach people, even when they don't want to learn! For free!