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Why Perl Monks Works for Me

by Andrew_Levenson (Hermit)
on Dec 05, 2006 at 19:48 UTC ( #587961=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

I've been here since march. Back then, I had just picked up programming (being a senior in high school coerced into teaching a school club a subject which he knew nothing about), and BASIC was not doing it for me.

I've had no formal education on the subject, but I seem to be moving right along in my education, learning new things all the time. Lately, I've been thinking about why;

I could not attribute it to searching things on my own, because if and when I do find out, I end up having to look it up time and again in the future. It doesn't seem to stick very well.
But when I ask you, the monks, I suppose I'm embarrassed because I feel that everything I ask is stupid. When I get the information that I need, I absorb it because I don't want to have to ask again, lest I anger someone. Granted, it is a silly way to justify learning, but hey, it works for me!

That's why Perl Monks works so well for me.
What does it for you?
$\=" ";$u=0;$w=0;x(qw/4A 16 07 86/);sub x{while(@_){$u**=$w?$w:$#_; print map{$w<$u?chr(hex shift):chr(hex reverse(shift))}$_;$w+=length%2 +!=1?-1:1}}

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Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by cLive ;-) (Parson) on Dec 05, 2006 at 20:05 UTC
    I just come here for the complimentary drinks and the buffet during happy hour.
      Here at the monastery, there's always an open $BAR;

      Sigh... Sorry, couldn't resist.
      $\=" ";$u=0;$w=0;x(qw/4A 16 07 86/);sub x{while(@_){$u**=$w?$w:$#_; print map{$w<$u?chr(hex shift):chr(hex reverse(shift))}$_;$w+=length%2 +!=1?-1:1}}

        Not to mention the Trappist beer on offer.


        Oh Lord, won’t you burn me a Knoppix CD ?
        My friends all rate Windows, I must disagree.
        Your powers of persuasion will set them all free,
        So oh Lord, won’t you burn me a Knoppix CD ?
        (Missquoting Janis Joplin)

        Well, I had some influence of him.

        Besides, it's always good to learn and being in a huge community like this let's you make it fast. I'm learning by ourself.

        Also, for the "open $BAR;"


        Marcos Margulies
Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by jbert (Priest) on Dec 05, 2006 at 20:20 UTC
    To me PM, seems to have that happy state where there are a goodly number of people at different levels of knowledge and expertise and a culture of being both helpful and meta-helpful - teaching people how to ask good questions rather than heavy flaming for poor netiquette.

    Also - there appears to be a reasonably steady influx of new people asking questions, learning and growing, which presumably helps avoid stagnation.

    I found it interesting that you found the embarassment of asking here such a strong disincentive to ask "stupid" questions and a help to having the knowledge stick. Ironically, I suspect the helpful culture here has that effect more strongly than a newbie-abusive culture would (although the latter might have the same intention, but achieve it less well).

      Ah, but to me, threat of embarrassment and anger wouldn't exist without the helpful culture. If it were a newbie abusing group, I wouldn't be embarrassed, I'd just leave. Here, I can be embarrassed or ashamed because there is actually something of value for me to lose, namely the help and support of the monks.

      I suppose embarrassed is not the right word. Perhaps, apprehensive?
      $\=" ";$u=0;$w=0;x(qw/4A 16 07 86/);sub x{while(@_){$u**=$w?$w:$#_; print map{$w<$u?chr(hex shift):chr(hex reverse(shift))}$_;$w+=length%2 +!=1?-1:1}}

      Perhaps the key difference is here he may feel mild (to strong?) embarrassment, whereas other places he would feel outrage or defensiveness at being flamed. There has to be some level of personal accountability, but not so much that people are driven away. Not that I think the Monastery has a monopoly on helpfulness, or completely lacks problems, but I think on average the balance is maintained fairly well.

      I suppose it is, hmm...
      I feel foolish when I ask questions of a trivial class, when everyone seems to be pushing the limits of specialized areas of the language.

      Maybe I tend to feel that way because when I was new here, I was new to everything related to it as well, but near all of the newbies that came after me have a strong footing elsewhere?
      $\=" ";$u=0;$w=0;x(qw/4A 16 07 86/);sub x{while(@_){$u**=$w?$w:$#_; print map{$w<$u?chr(hex shift):chr(hex reverse(shift))}$_;$w+=length%2 +!=1?-1:1}}
        I feel foolish when I ask questions of a trivial class, when everyone seems to be pushing the limits of specialized areas of the language.

        I think you've hit on exactly why I rarely post questions unless I'm just dying to know. I know for a fact that at least 90% of the things I want to ask can be answered by perldoc, google, or Super Search. And on top of that, at least 95% of the answers I can give have already been given by the time I read the question. So most of my posts (actual percentage unknown) involve navel-gazing in the Meditations section.

        I'm not saying it's good or bad, that's just how I end up doing things here.

        I'm sure that you always have something to offer, even if it's just commic releif ... that's what most of my posts are (it's a self defense mechinism mostly), that and the content of $thing_i_just_read - which is generally something merlyn wrote years ago anyway

        @_=qw; ask f00li5h to appear and remain for a moment of pretend better than a lifetime;;s;;@_[map hex,split'',B204316D8C2A4516DE];;y/05/os/&print;
Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by Old_Gray_Bear (Bishop) on Dec 05, 2006 at 20:46 UTC
    Like you, andrew_levinson, I started out as a self-taught Programmer (mumble)-teen years ago. What I found in Perl Monks is a combination of sitting in on late-night bull-session between a lot of very bright people, and a School with a very diverse set of Tutors. A non-trivial posting will generate several different approaches to the solution. I get to see real-world examples of things I only had a nodding acquaintance with (the Schwartzian Transform, the Orc-ish maneuver), and things I have never seen before (formal graph and set theory, List::Util, functional programming). Perl Monks is a mind-stretcher. At least once a day I will run into something that makes me sit back and think 'What!?! that's a neat way to do that. Let me make a note of this' (Thank you Abigail, in all your incarnations, Merlyn, Tye, Limbic~Region, Corion, brian d foy, diotalevi, Ovid, chromatic, I could go on for the next couple of days).

    I have been exposed to a lot of different aspects of Programming through the Monastery. As a non-Perl programmer, I have done more business 'payroll/ accounting/ inventory' applications than I care to mention. As a Sysprog/sys-admin I have written more than a few Q&Ds in REXX or shell to address a systems-programming issue, a lot of it write-once and throw-away scripts. You develop some some strange habits writing code like that....

    I came into Perl from the sys-admin side of the House and got sucked into the role of Perl Developer, when I found that Perl put the minimum number of barricades between what I could visualized and the code that actually implemented my Idea. I have been accused of thinking in Perl by my co-workers; I point out that using Perl as a short-hand to illustrate an idea beats using APL....

    I came to the Monastery because it was a place to learn about Perl. I stay with the Monastery because it has People Who Think. (And, coincidentally, I am still learning Something New daily.)

    Update: Corrected typeos (Thank You Limbic~Region).

    I Go Back to Sleep, Now.


Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by imp (Priest) on Dec 05, 2006 at 21:05 UTC
    I started working with perl professionally seven years ago. Coming from a C programming background I found perl to be wonderfully expressive, and a fun language to work with. I became more serious about the language when I attended the 2000 University of Perl in NYC, and took classes offered by Nathan Torkington and Dominus. During this period I was a reasonably skilled perl hacker, but a horrible engineer. Abuses of tie, map, and symbol tables littered my code.

    At some point I had an epiphany and realized that writing clever code was pointless if it did not accomplish something meaningful for the business. I adopted the motto "Don't be clever - be maintainable". I focussed more on writing code that was readable, testable, and sane. No more giant magical black box monstrosities. At this point I considered myself fairly adept, with enough wisdom to avoid shooting myself in the foot.

    Last year I rediscovered perlmonks and created a profile to discuss something in the chatterbox. I posted my first SoPW a little less than a year ago (2005-12-30) and was impressed by the community feeling and the expert advice offered. The question wasn't a particularly good one, but I got useful feedback from a number of people, including perrin, diotalevi, and merlyn. For years I had wanted to work with more experienced programmers, but never had the opportunity - perlmonks fills that need for me now.

    After several months of reading the site on a daily basis I posted a reply to someone's question for the first time. I realized that I missed mentoring, and became addicted to the site. Answering questions here has improved my perl abilities tremendously. There are countless topics that I "knew", but didn't know well enough to explain to someone else. Replying to questions has forced me to explore those areas and challenge some of my assumptions. Even more instructive are the answers provided by other monks. I learn by reading alternative approaches, more thorough answers, and corrections to my own answers.

    Welcome to perlmonks Andrew - I hope you find it as helpful as I have.

      I adopted the motto "Don't be clever - be maintainable".
      I focussed more on writing code that was readable, testable, and sane.
      I love it. Absolutely, a very good practice.
Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by GrandFather (Cardinal) on Dec 05, 2006 at 21:40 UTC

    What seems to work best for me is answering other peoples questions! Often that involves installing a module I've not used before and reading the documentation a little. That exposes me to new ways of doing things and new things to do.

    Occasionally that even works in answering my own questions! In one or two cases the best answers I got (for me anyway - YMMV) I wrote myself after reading some initial relies. :-D Sometimes I go back and re-read them to remind myself how do solve a particular problem, or re-read snippets or CUFP's for the same reason. Super Search is a nice augmentation to the index I keep in my head.

    DWIM is Perl's answer to Gödel
Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by davido (Archbishop) on Dec 06, 2006 at 05:56 UTC

    You mean nobody showed you the vast pron collection? That's why most people are here.

    Just kidding of course.

    I enjoy the mental exercise of figuring out some of the more interesting problems posted here. And I enjoy how peoples posts motivate me to figure out things that I might not have otherwise considered. It's a great place to find an always fresh supply of ideas. And I enjoy the interaction of regulars' personalities. I discovered the site in mid-2003, and here I am today.

    I've learned a lot from everyone here, as well as from my own work on digging into the details of problems others post here. It helps to keep my curiosity alive, and that keeps me learning.

    So I guess that's why the Monastery "does it" for me.


Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by wjw (Hermit) on Dec 06, 2006 at 06:20 UTC
    I also am newly active here. Most of what was said by the previous posters about reasons for being here would be echoed by me. I too find it intimidating to ask question here. Have answered a few questions when I thought I could. It is darn good practice..., and informative. Like anything, a lot has to be taken with a grain of salt. One can waste a lot of time trying to write 'acceptably pristine' code as some of the purists here would prefer to see. However, the folks here are always informative, and the site itself has that simple, cozy feel that is the result of seeking functionality as compared to flash.

    Oh yeah, and it is fun here...:-)

    ...the majority is always wrong, and always the last to know about it...

Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by madbombX (Hermit) on Dec 06, 2006 at 19:21 UTC
    The biggest reason that PM works for me is because I find that I have the best understanding of something once I am able to teach or explain it to others. It offers those of us who want to give back and have the ability to do so, the opportunity to do so. To echo...once I see how other's would solve a problem, if my solution hasn't been offered up yet, then I throw my 2 cents in. Different solutions coming from different people of different experience levels can lead to different outcomes for whomever posts the question. Just being to see a solution from different levels might even help you solve other problems or make your code better in ways you hadn't known even existed.

    And yes it can still be intimidating to post sometimes, just remember that whomever is answering you was at some point where you were and needed a similar questioned answered that they were apprehensive about asking. And the same holds true for the other direction, you can help people who may be apprehensive about asking a question. And as long as you answer it in a way that's not demeaning or derogatory, it keeps the demeanor and the standards for answering questions high, which I think is something PM wants to be known for.

Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by geekphilosopher (Friar) on Dec 07, 2006 at 06:06 UTC

    As madbombx said, one of the reasons I really like PM is because answer the questions of others (something I still haven't done too much of) really forces me to know the answer myself, and not just in a wishy-washy hand-wavy kind of way.

    I'm quite new to Perl Monks as well. I started coding Perl almost exactly 2 years ago when I was hired fresh out of school as an intern in an all-Perl shop. i had heard of PM before, but when I visited on my first tour through the language (reading the Llama and the Camel) it seemed way over my head. After 2 years of working professionally with a group of talented Perl programmers, I'm pleased that I'm able to grok most of the stuff that goes on hear, and even chip in an answer or node of my own now and then. Of course, there are still some areas that elude me - having learned Perl in a structured environment with coding standards, my JAPH- and golf-foo are quite poor.

    I'm only now starting to really try to extend my Perl beyond that which I do at work, so I'm trying to dive more into XS, pack and unpack, and various other corners of the language. Perl Monks is definitely helping me with my goal of becoming not only a better Perl programmer, but a better programmer in general.

Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by blue_cowdawg (Prior) on Dec 07, 2006 at 22:17 UTC
        I've been here since march.

    If memory serves me correctly I've been with The Monastery since April of 2001.

    I must say that there was a way that I wrote Perl scripts before that and what has become of the way I write Perl now. In the last 5 years (or so) I think there has been an acceleration in my Perl mastery to where I am now.

    Why does it work that way? Peer review I think is the #1 reason why you stand a chance of learning so much here. If you post a solution to a problem or even the problem itself I am always amazed and humbled by the number of very creative solutions that Monks come up with to solve it a different way. TIMTOWTDI being one of the mantras here.

    Believe it or not, one of the things I like about The Monastery is the fact that the other monks here don't let you get too full of yourself. If you're an ass they let you know it right away in methods that range from very subtle to very blunt.

    Prior to arriving at the Monastery I always worked in environments where I was the only Perl scripter around. Folks would bring me problems to solve, I'd write a script to solve it and they thought I was a god because they lacked the skill to do it themselves. As long as I was there to solve it for them they had no reason to gain the knowlege either.

    Like any endevour you undertake, learning Perl is a journey. As soon as you think you know it all, you need to do a reality check (sometimes the reality check bounces) and realize there is that much more to learn.

    Peter L. Berghold -- Unix Professional
    Peter -at- Berghold -dot- Net; AOL IM redcowdawg Yahoo IM: blue_cowdawg
      If memory serves me correctly...

      Why depend on your memory? Your homenode has the exact date and time.

      We're building the house of the future together.
            Why depend on your memory?

        It turns out my memory was correct anyway.. :-)

        Peter L. Berghold -- Unix Professional
        Peter -at- Berghold -dot- Net; AOL IM redcowdawg Yahoo IM: blue_cowdawg
Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by brickwall (Acolyte) on Dec 10, 2006 at 20:49 UTC
    It works for me just because you know you dont have to wait long for a reply (Mostly good ones at that). My posts to other forums get views but not many answers (it could be because im just learning so many of my questions seem trivial to others). This place seems to get the answers as more people are willing to answer, even if its a newbie question. Its definately one of the top Perl recourses in the world today.
Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me (vice versa)
by Vote Fairy (Sexton) on Dec 10, 2006 at 23:18 UTC
    Some of us work for perlmonks instead.

      If you look at previous answers you will see that many monks work for PerlMonks, which is why PerlMonks works for many monks.

      DWIM is Perl's answer to Gödel
Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by poqui (Deacon) on Dec 11, 2006 at 19:00 UTC
    I have been here since 8/16/2001. I first surfed by, looking for perl information on the web. My job at the time was terminally boring; and I was interested in expanding my perl expertise. I had first touched perl about 3 years earlier; and had done some expansion of some one else's code; but not a lot from scratch on my own.

    Perlmonks was refuge from boredom, then. Now, its a website I can visit and still look nominally like I am working; because my job now includes the use of perl from time to time.
Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by jettero (Monsignor) on Dec 15, 2006 at 19:16 UTC

    I'm a die hard perl lover. I have a hard time writing the same code the same way over and over and over. The best part of perl is the ability to write things in different ways and still have things be pretty readable.

    The reason I like perl monks is memetic. Were it not for perlmonks, I would not have heard about WWW::Mechanize, or open my $file, '>', $filename, nor would I have read about closures — or indeed ever figured them out.

    I get used to programming a certain way, with little variations, and PM gives me more variations and even whole new approaches to try.


Re: Why Perl Monks Works for Me
by brusimm (Pilgrim) on Dec 22, 2006 at 21:19 UTC
    I must say that when I first started posting, I was also most embarrassed in how my posts were responded to, to the point of also being reluctant to post. I had initially no real formatting, got blasted for that, and understandably. But then I tried formatting so I could read my own posts easier, but also got blasted for that.

    I've learned to format accordingly, even if I do have a bit of time reading it. But then, I also learned to look things up in the proper fashion, for posting an inquiry to the much revered collection of monks, one must hope to pull from them, some interest, and patience. Hence, I tend to note what I have done prior to posting, in my inquiries.

    My only downfall to date, being new at this whole process, is understanding where to look, or to be more concise, the wording or reference to my issues or subject matters. IE: A hash is an array, yet before I knew it was a hash, I might look for arrays in super search. (That is not the best demonstration of my short comings, but I thought it the best, simple example, where hash and array can be substituted at will with more advanced terms.)

    But I again point out, the patience of others, when I post and format properly, in and of itself is teaching me, and I too am growing fond of this place where monks congregate.

    Thank you to all.

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