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The Community is Greater...

by samizdat (Vicar)
on Apr 26, 2005 at 13:15 UTC ( #451553=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I'm in awe of the way the community (here) creates a forum which is greater than the sum of its parts.

Take, for example, these three threads:

Diff between heap and stack

How to have a subroutine return an undefined hash

Dynamically Building Variable Names

In the first, each succeeding reply refines the earlier posts, adding depth and value.

In the second, a lowly friar (yours truly) offers a solution that works, but a more senior monk cautions that it is no longer the best solution... and shows a better way within minutes of the first response.

In the third case, said same lowly friar shows the questioner how to do what he wants to do even as everybody else tells him why he shouldn't want to do it.

Long live successive approximation!

Long Live!    :D

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: The Community is Greater...
by Tanktalus (Canon) on Apr 26, 2005 at 13:29 UTC

    This looks like another way of looking at these threads compared to my "people watching" meditation (my very first meditation here). Sometimes, you just sit back, looking at these threads, in pure awe. Not at the genius of individuals (which there is some), but at the genius of the group. Someone did something right to create this community...

Re: The Community is Greater...
by spurperl (Priest) on Apr 26, 2005 at 15:38 UTC
    I just can't say it enough, and I'll say it again: the monastery is by far the best professional online community I know of.

    The usenet might have been a competitor, if not the infamous reputation for newbie-thrashing.

Re: The Community is Greater...
by TedPride (Priest) on Apr 27, 2005 at 00:20 UTC
    The big difference here is the point system. Those of us who aren't saints yet are motivated to keep posting and voting, and those who are saints post to correct everyone else. The system builds upon itself as well - with a large number of posters, you get competition over who can post soonest with the most elegant, most efficient solution. Competition always improves quality.
      Oh feh. There's no such competition here and it has nothing to do with the quality of the posts. I think you're projecting some opinions you have of other systems into why works. To me, it all works because we're an altruistic bunch and we want the best stuff out there, mostly, except when its too much of a pain (which is actually quite often). To me, its as near a model of a successful anarchy as anything.
        Why is this a self-building community? Because people are motivated to contribute to it. Why are people motivated to contribute? becasue they like to belong to a community, because they like the feeling of contributing, because they like to be recognized by their peers as good at something, becuase they like the feeling that their work and thoughts can be useful to others. Do people also like to show off, be first, prove themselves smarter than others? Sure, but I doubt that nodes illustrating those goals get upvoted as often as nodes illustrating the other goals. To reduce all of these various motivations to the word "competition" is one-dimensional and does nothing to explain why the atmosphere at PerlMonks is different from the typical slashdot / usenet / IRC venue where putting people down and showing off is the accepted norm.

        Opinions are bound to be different. I do see the competition here. Not because of the XPs or anything else you are going to get if you "win", but simply competition for competition. Striving to be if not best then at least good. It's like amateur sport, you don't win any medals or prize money, you just have fun and feel good that you participated, are getting better, that you can.

        I know people are different, but for most (IMHO) its more fun to run in a bunch of other kids, trying to outrun everyone else, than to run all alone, having just your watches as a companion. Provided that the kids don't take the competition too seriously.

        In the long run it doesn't matter whether you answer questions because you want to be the first who gives a good answer or because you feel good helping people or because you're a scout and have to make your daily number of good deeds ;-) The community works and thats great.

        We'd like to help you learn to help yourself
        Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes
        Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home
           -- P. Simon in Mrs. Robinson

        I think part of what diotalevi is saying is true... but not the part about there being no competition. I know that some people (myself included) do sometimes play the game of Who can be the first to give a good answer to a new question. It's true that the First Responder (:-) tends to get an XP advantage, at least when there are significant numbers of voters out there; but there's also something intangible that accrues to the First Responder. I think it is akin to how status is gained in the hacker world. (See also The Hacker Milieu as Gift Culture.)

        It seems to me that the community works because people want to communicate about perl. Whether you have a question, answer, or just news. When you are new to perl you need answers, as you gain some knowledge you still need answers but in your quest for answers you will post solutions to problems and so on until you are basically a repository of wisdom. But that is just my $.02

        Anarchy? There are laws, even if we call them "guidelines". So how can it be an anarchy?

        holli, /regexed monk/

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