|Perl: the Markov chain saw|
One of the nice things about The Monastery is that you get solid feedback about your code and your ideas from people who know what they're doing with Perl and what they're doing as professional programmers, system administrators, designers, and so forth. By sharing our individual knowledge, skills, and experiences, we help each other become stronger, smarter, and more skilled.
Yes, we do have several ways to provide feedback to each other. If you like a node, you can:
When the system works (which is, thankfully, most of the time), it reinforces the ideals of the Monastery and helps everyone who participates in a professional and helpful fashion.
Unfortunately, a few people don't take these ideals as seriously as others. They post things that many would rather not see in these walls, including personal attacks, requests to "do my homework," inappropriate content, and so on.
Unlike other communities, this one has chosen to actively moderate such content in a number of ways. It can be:
While this has generated a certain amount of controversy from time to time, it has helped crystallize--and document--the community's ideals and what people want to get out of the site. In turn, this helps you understand what these people consider to be good contributions.2
Frankly, I'm glad we don't allow purely unmoderated content. There have been some extremely offensive posts over the past year. I'm glad I don't have to encounter these to find answers to my Perl questions.
This is one thing that differentiates us from slashdot, c.l.p.m, and other "technical" communities. While I've been known to read slashdot for the headlines, I really don't like the backbiting, the insults, or the ravings that are frequently posted in the follow up comments. Yes, there's good stuff on that site and in the comments, but you frequently have to wade through a bunch of juvenile drek to get to it.
Here, the entire community contributes. Everyone has a voice and every voice gets a reasonable shot at being heard. Sure, certain voices carry a bit more weight, but even the most respected folks have been known to screw up from time to time.3 Frankly, I find both things to be refreshing, especially when compared to other communities.
Furthermore, it's okay to be a newbie and to make mistakes. Sure, you'll lose a few XP if you spout off, but if you make at least a little sense, then it's just as likely you'll get a response outlining alternatives and/or other things to think about. Only rarely will you get flamed and, thanks to the moderation devices, such rants rarely survive long.
To illustrate, here's a discussion regarding the use of code comments. I learned a lot from it and from various CB discussions about it. As a result, my comments are now much briefer than they were and they're more maintained. After that discussion, I reviewed a CGI script I'd been working on and removed four pages of source by removing extraneous commentary and retooling the program to be more self documenting. It taught me to be a slightly better, more effective programmer. (I also learned some other things during that clean-up, but that's a different story.)
In short (*hah*), I believe that what makes the Monastery a great place to hang out is that:
So, no. I do not want to see the feedback devices--or the content moderation--go away. Sure, it's a bit of work for some of us, but it really does keep the place focused on the primary concern: learning Perl and learning to use it well.
One final point, if I may. I also urge using additional care when proofing your post. Laziness may be considered one of the cardinal virtues of a Perl programmer, however, sloppiness is not. If you're not willing to take a few moments to proofread your nodes and remove easily discovered typos, then how can we be sure you've taken that same care with your code?
If you're interested in other reasons behind this philosophy and how they apply to better programming practices, I recommend this book.
1 - Yes, there are other devices. As in many Orders, certain mysteries are only revealed over time.
2 - For other ideas and discussions along these lines, consider this home node.
3 - Like Perl, the Monastery has evolved over time. Like the camel chosen to represent Perl (as well as Perl itself), the Monastery can be a little bit messy.