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Journal of somian (5953)

Tuesday October 18, 2005
11:44 PM

Perlmonks Haunted by the Ghost of Wassercrats

[ #27238 ]

A reminder: the author of this Journal is known over at as Intrepid.

There is a haunting going on over at, and I thought I should say something about it, although what effect my doing so could have on the situation, I do not know.

A former participant at Perlmonks named himself with the decidely odd handle "Wassercrats" and proceeded to become an active poster in the Perlmonks community. During his rather brief period of activity there (in 2004), he did not endear himself to the general user community by posting nodes such as or this ... to say he was eager in his presentation of extremely unpopular opinions would be, uhhh, a mild understatement. His manner both in the Perlmonks Chatterbox (site chat facility) and in his nodes (writeups) was one that brought him notoriety beyond that of any participant before or since, despite the truth that many Monks would have preferred that he be forgotten as quickly as possible. In fact his negative fame is of such magnitude and persistance that just this evening, before composing this entry, he was brought up in the Chatterbox by one of the regulars.

It has occured to me both this evening and at other times in the past that "Wassercrats" haunts Perlmonks with a tenacity that bears noting for its cautionary import.

"Wassercrats" left Perlmonks in a cloud of acrimony and a stench of bitterness. He became more and more defiant over the course of his history there, "shouting" much invective against the wall of community opinion that was his subjective experience at Perlmonks. That written invective (much of which is now, to my understanding, in nodes that have been put "away" by editorial staff) always seemed to be calculated to make those reading more inclined to regard him with contempt, rather than to win friends or even make people slightly more inclined to tolerate him.

However, I myself was present at times late in "Wassercrats" brief tenure when I witnessed him in the Chatterbox behaving in a mild, friendly and jovial manner with those present, or attempting to (I'd add in explanation that although I have been a participant at Perlmonks since only shortly after its unveiling, I have taken periods of varying duration "off" and had not been attentive continuously for this accounted timespan). I noticed with a considerable degree of personal discomfort that his attempts to enjoy chatting amiably with others were met with a constant rebuff of attacks and mean-spirited put-downs, attempts to pull him back into past disputes, and similar bad-intentioned attempts at emotional manipulation on the part of nearly every Chatterbox-monk who was reacting to his presence in any way.

I was personally disconcerted by the degree of antagonism shown a person who was, in my perception, clearly weary of being at odds with an entire user community and longing for a little simple company ... but I was even more disturbed by the fact that not one speaker at a time, but several in tandem were exibiting this aggressive hostility. It simply wasn't possible to witness without there being a vision of a bunch of little boys standing around a single skinny (or overweight) kid taunting and throwing things at him.

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that a considerably number of persons at Perlmonks, manyof them still regulars there, behaved in a really despicable fashion towards "Wassercrats". His penchant for self-promotion, for making broad characterizations of the Perlmonks community, his abrasive, confrontational style, his attempts to "critique" the Perl language and its cultural conventions without establishing any "cred" for himself first: yes, all these things made his poor reception inevitable. But these alone do not excuse a part of a community of people for becoming a mob and behaving in the manner that they did.

I hope the knowledgable reader will forgive my doing a brief bit of tangential prose at this point. I am afraid that the extremely underdeveloped ethical sense of some of the potential readers of this journal make it seem necessary to me.

In the study of human social history and literature, the study of the mind and of symbol and metaphor throughout known human history, we come upon a phenomenon which has come to be known (in English) as the scapegoat. A scapegoat is a person who is made to suffer by a village or community; and whose being made a sacrifice by that community somehow sooths the anxieties or fears of the mass of members of that community. The part of the word that is "goat" readily summons to mind the image of domesticated livestock being tied to a post and killed with a sharp knife or a dull club.

"Wassercrats" was a scapegoat. The "Monks" over there at Perlmonks who became thirsty to see his blood (which is to say, in the non-metaphorical sense, to quit ever using Perlmonks again, preferably accompanied by a parting blast of hurt and anger - all my readers have seen such a "flame-out" and know what I am describing) ... these folks became inebriated with one of the most ancient and malevolent of humanity's intoxicants: the drive to "kill" the most self-despised flaws in one's own inner/spiritual/moral being (one's "heart") by "killing" an external symbol of those flaws.

Make no mistake abut it. "Wassercrats" failings were no different in kind from those of many other Perlmonks ; they only differed in the degree to which they were flagrantly expressed. I witness the same mental warts surfacing on a daily basis (during a bad week), now that Wassercrats is long "dead": the premature arrogance of those who have learned half or 3/4 of what there is to know about some computer technology, but speak as if they know it all; the utter ruthlessless in the ego of those who feel challenged on a technical point (causing them to try any argumentative ploy they think will work, displaying no regard for whether the truth is being forgotten in the process); the inability to self-reflect and see with any clarity that something is clouding their perceptions of others' intent or meaning. Wassercrats displayed all these foibles to such an absurdly exaggerated degree that he allowed the onlookers at Perlmonks to fall under the completely deluded miscomprehension that they themselves were completely or even mostly free of them.

There are those who may read this entry with no thought other than how to discourage anything remotely like it from issuing forth from my not-so-nimble fingers in the future, or how to provoke (if given the chance) a reaction from me that they think, in a calculating sense, would lessen my credibility as a witness and describer of this little morality tale from Perlmonk's recent past. Those are the people who are in fact not only haunted by the ghost of Wassercrats, but truly possessed by it.

Those who are most quick to feel a prickle of self-doubt upon reading this, maybe a touch of shame, are the ones least in need of entertaining the company of such feelings for any length of time.

Arrogance is apparently widely misunderstood amongst the part of the Perlmonks community which I've come to know as "the thick-headed lot." Arrogance is understood as a deceiver in the Buddhist traditions, those traditions which have made a systematic and thorough investigation of the different phenomena of human conciousness for a very long time. Arrogance causes itself to disappear from the sight of those afflicted by it, so that it can do its chosen work of undermining the perceptual accuracy as well as the moral standing of those under its sway. It is a huge blind spot right in front of the faces of the afflicted, that they cannot see at all. The reason that Arrogance possesses this capability and manifests this function in human conciousness is that it is quite vulnerable to human volition, free will and genuine intellect when it begins to be exposed. There is no more effective way to raise the ire of the truly arrogance-bespelled person than to sharply point out the malfunction in their conciousnesss at this time, that is being caused by the dominance of Arrogance. The outlashings of rage (sometimes hot but often cold) that are often witnessed are the flailings of the threatened disease - they are the infection in the ego of the afflicted person expressing its urgent need to, beyond all else, avoid having its name spoken aloud, its existence recognized to its host and victim.

Arrogance is not merely a minor character defect of the overly-confident or the perpetually insecure. It is actually a serious, self-perpetuating, chronic illness that undermines the health of the victim's relationships with those around him. Many people can smell the rot of that infection on the afflicted person from a long way off (and avoid the bearer like they would a plague carrier). Those who are themselves fairly to severely afflicted cannot, however, in many cases; they instead often band together for mutual protection, for the cover that membership in a group provides to them.

Wassercrats provided a part of the Perlmonks community a chance to project upon a person (in whose defense it was clear that no voices would be raised) ... that group pathology that plagues the intellectually self-congratulatory and socially insecure. The irony abounds, because some of the Perlmonks I know from the Chatterbox are Gay, some are lifelong-overweight, some have speech impediments or learning disabilities, some belong to ethnic minorities: this is a group of people that taken in toto really ought to have known better and done better. Not all Perlmonks are "geeks" (and surely not all are "nerds": some are married to beautiful spouses, some are beautiful themselves - some are beauty pageant queens!) ... but after all it *does* take a different sort of person to land in a job administrating a UNIX system all day long, or writing code until 4am every morning, or working hard enough to grasp what's up with polymorphic inheritance or lexical closures ;-) ... a person who is a bit out of the ordinary, anyway.

To those readers from Perlmonks who still mention Wassercrats with a sneer of prideful contempt, as I saw tonight, I'd just like to remind you that you really ought to be seriously and non-transiently ASHAMED of yourselves. When you speak Wassercrat's name, you ought do so in hushed tones, and with eyes cast downwards. You may be a Perlmonk now, but the need for you to be a human being is going to last a lot longer. You need to disengage your overfed head for a moment and engage your malnourished gut. No victory was accomplished for or by anyone when Wassercrats left under those conditions.

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  • Perlmonks is a tribe. I am not ashamed of that, because admission to this particular tribe is freely granted, and explusion requires a demonstrated systematic blatent disregard for sense and sensibility, and unwillingness to just "get" what the tribe is about.

    Wassercrats got expelled.

    At some point, the tribe members had had enough. There's no formal mechanism for excommunication, as there is with some tribes, so the closest thing is to provide appropriate XP voting and followups, especially linking to

    • Randal L. Schwartz
    • Stonehenge
    • I went back and forth on it, and finally decided that a comment this interesting really required a reply - so at the risk of appearing to merely be trying to get the last word ;-) (which isn't the reality) ...

      It's a reasonable notion and certainly intelligently put forth: that (paraphr) "Perlmonks is a tribe and the tribe expelled Wassercrats". After thinking about the proposal for a bit I realized with a bit of a start that I sensed ESR (Eric Raymond, for those readers who aren't Merlyn, etc) ... not tha

      • I'm more happy if Perlmonks isn't a tribe and doesn't become one.
        Then be unhappy. I think your denial of this point is what causes your grief about the results.

        I'm very clear that monks, like many other parts of the Perl community, and to a lesser extent, the Perl community as a whole, exhibits all the symptoms of classical tribalism.

        To not understand that, and worse, to deny that, leads to disappointment.

        • Randal L. Schwartz
        • Stonehenge
      • Says Intrepid: "There's a bit of real illness going on over at Perlmonks"

        Yeah. It's you. Wake up and smell your own hypocrisy.

  • I was unaware of being haunted, other than by the ghost of Perl6 Future.
  • There were a few people who defended me on the message board, and Chatterbox wasn't as big a problem as you describe. I wasn't exactly expelled. Someone "considered" one of my posts in violation of the guidelines, and some monks who just barely were able to vote on it voted to "reap" it. Most of the higher monks recognized the injustice, and there was even a suggestion to repost my reaped post. A new rule was created to help prevent such unjust reaping in the future. I still said I was leaving. Then I was a

  • Ya know ... i had really mostly forgotten about Wassercrats until you posted a link to this rant in the Perlmonk's chatterbox today. It really is no surprise that his memory lingers when folks like you continue to keep that memory alive.

    It really wouldn't surprise me in the least to discover that YOU are really Wassercrats, Intrepid. You both have a very hard time fitting in with large groups of people.

  • First this post and then the person who is the subject appears.

    I missed the original fight; however, I took part in the so called "Ghost" appearence.

    Arrogance for all your talk is simply a matter of perception.

    The ghost hid behind the guest id and posted material he would not back up. When challenged he (or could I say you?) would simply ignore it as being biased towards O'Reilly, the Perlmonks tribe, or Merlyn.

    It's rather simplistic to suggest there is the pathological addiction to attack people b

  • Wassercrats failings were no different in kind from those of many other Perlmonks; they only differed in the degree to which they were flagrantly expressed.

    At least we have found the only flawed humans on Earth; they all frequent Perlmonks, and felt a sick glee when Wassercrats left!

    Which isn't to say I didn't feel it -- I did -- but I didn't feel great about feeling that sick glee. I didn't. I felt bad about the fact that Wassercrats seems to have categorized some significant concepts under headings l


    You are what you think.
  • ""Wassercrats" left Perlmonks in a cloud of acrimony and a stench of bitterness."

    I just wanted to remind you that if you don't like Perlmonks, you are more than welcome to do the same. :)

    Does this count as an apology? Because that's about the only apology i have for the likes of you, troll.

  • On your homenode at Perlmonks, you mention "In plain language: Don't expect to act like a <expletive> in the cb and have it just magically disappear."

    Did it ever occur to you that you tend to do this more often than really anybody else?

    Also, you were borged from the CB on 2006-06-14 19:43:23 UTC, yet you haven't updated your borg blog. Is this because you have no one to blame this time but yourself? I mean, let's face, you never have anyone to legitimately blame but yourself for your own irrespons