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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Hi Ovid!

    I'm attempting a reverse straw man attack, here. Programming should, above all else, be fun and empowering to the programmer or else you'll lose all of your good hackers (with hand waving towards Paul Graham's "Great Hackers" article).

    However, we human beings are not qualified to assess ourselves. Perl programmers fail to assess themselves accurately, but This causes problems as novices (usually more full of barely post-pubescent testosterone than knowledge) frequently and grotesquely miss the mark. If I had a nickel for every PHP programmer that fancied himself a great hacker (hanging out in Perl help channels, asking people to translate badly written PHP to Perl for him), I could afford a nice bender (which I could really use after dealing with said PHP programmers). If Lisp was seen as cool, trendy, easy to learn, and was mentally associated with things that looked pretty, a lot of wanna-be Lisp programmers with half read "In 24 Days" books would be strutting their stuff all over the help channels and employer's Internet presences.

    Let me be obtuse. I mean blunt. I hate these stupid kids. I want them off my programming lawn. (I'm half serious - I hate the sin but love the sinner - I was a stupid neen once. Now I'm just stupid). I, as a Perl programmer, am associated with their work (and tactics - walking out on the job when they paint themselves into a corner, always moving to easier pastures), and I don't like this. In fact, it's hurt my pocket book. Let me tell you a story (please, I really love telling this one). Google graced my resume with a quite favorable Page rank, much to my surprise. I'd get hundreds of hits a day, but no calls. That's odd - I have Perl and Java clearly listed (the format has since changed) and I have reasonable experience with both, how come no one is emailing me (at the time, I also had a box where you could type in your phone number and it would page my cell with it)? So I installed a survey on my resume with about 40 options covering all of the reasons I could think of someone wouldn't immediately offer me a job, such as: too little experience; too much experience; wrong locale; just shopping for resume ideas; too much contract, too little full time; stayed with companies for too short of a time each; and others. "Just shopping for resume ideas" was the most popular. Former employers policing the Internet to see how their name was being used were pretty common too, but they didn't fill out the survey. The second most popular, by a narrow margin, as "dislike Perl", an option I included on a lark. Hmm. Experimentally removing "Perl" from my resume increased my Java work and I wasn't getting Perl work anyway. And I don't even have a Java certification (I've been meaning to get one). (Yes, I'm not the greatest Java fan - too many projects are a game of "how far can I ram this broom handle up my ass?"). It's widely known that Linux took over the server room (to the degree that it has) because it was snuck in the back door. Perl's the same story. I'm sure Lisp's deployment mostly follows the same model: someone graduates school with a love of Lisp (or Scheme), they're given a programming task in the real world with no language specified, and they use Lisp. I'm not sure certifying Lisp programmers would alter Lisp's reputation (but IBM backing Lisp would). Likewise, I doubt certifications would alter the perception of Perl. (On the other hand, Lisp doesn't struggle with poor quality of deployed code and large numbers of novices (hey, I did say I was going to attempt a reverse straw man)).

    There's no reason peer review must be an all or nothing thing. Right now, the best way to get a good Perl job is have the implied peer trust metric that comes of being associated with important projects (such as key modules, Perl itself, organizations associated with Perl, and so on). This is optional peer, implicit review. There's room for optional, explicit peer review. In the case of Matt Wright, there was an exceptional display of non-optional explicit peer review. Anyone considering hiring Matt could google for him and find tens of thousands of angry flames. Of course, there are those that pride themselves on being outcasts (you just don't understand me man!), and they're prevalent enough that non-optional explicit peer review for everyone would quickly lose credibility. Ovid's proposed optional explicit peer review, in the form of certification, is entirely implausible because, well, that's what other people are doing, and, uh, therefore it's not, uh, interesting, because, er, it clearly isn't a silver bullet, and, eh, I'm only interested in cure all silver bullets.

    Insincerely,
    -scott