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RFC: How Tightly Coupled To Perl Must We Be?

by marinersk (Priest)
on Sep 04, 2013 at 11:26 UTC ( #1052294=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Hi, Corion. I've long admired your posts on Perlmonks, but the last line in your response to [1052251] (mod_auth_openid error!!!) confuses me.

If someone new to Perl tries to install a module and can't get it to work, is that really not sufficiently bound to Perl itself to warrant our assistance?

I mean the question literally -- not trying to make a political statement or anything (my confession below notwithstanding). I may have the Mission of the Monastary wrong in my head, and if so, this represents an opportunity to adjust my understanding.

I thought the point was to help people solve problems encountered while using Perl. Newbies, almost by definition, are going to have a fairly high rate of meta-Perl problems, rather than those of Perl proper.

If we wish to help the newcomers to learn and embrace Perl, it seems to me that encouraging the use of modules is a healthy and necessary side trip from purely Perl discussions.

Responses like this suggest we'd rather people keep reinventing wheels instead of cultivating a tendency to check CPAN, for example, since a newcomer isn't going to come pre-loaded with an understanding of how to use modules. They are, in case you've been using them so long that you've forgotten, moderately complex to use, and I'll stand up and say it: The necessary details are not generally intuitive.

I must confess a sympathetic relationship to the OP, since I don't generally use CPAN modules for this very reason. In the early days, it seemed any time I tried to use one, I got errors I couldn't figure out, and nobody seemed to want to help me.

So I was forced by circumstance to roll my own, a habit which continues to this very day.

I feel like I'm out of step with "real" Perl developers, who seem to have some instinctive understanding of which modules are needed for what functions, how to install them, how to use them.

Obversely, I can only seem to remember that there's some command somewhere which does the module install and maybe even downloads it and might even resolve dependencies but I'm not sure which in the long ago days did not work for me but I've successfully used once or twice somewhat more recently but can't remember the name of because nobody cultivated its use in me during my "formative years" in using Perl. . . . {breathe} . . . {breathe} . . . {breathe} . . .

Since I've developed modules that do most of the ancilliary functions I need, the pain (real or imaginary is irrelevent) of using CPAN isn't worth the effort. So I continue to roll my own. Underfeatured, underfunctioned, often unrobust, and probably often buggy -- but a trusted and understood process. We've lost the chance to make a true Perl developer out of me. There isn't enough job market left to warrant the effort to re-learn. I am already eyeing my next language to replace this one.

So -- I daresay I would like to raise the question: Is it really in the best interests of the Monastary to produce more almost-Perl-programmers like me, or would we like to cultivate effective and useful developers like yourself?

If the latter, perhaps a slightly wider net is needed, better to aid those who might be encouraged into the Light.

Respectfully yours,
Steve M.

  • Comment on RFC: How Tightly Coupled To Perl Must We Be?

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Re: RFC: How Tightly Coupled To Perl Must We Be?
by Corion (Pope) on Sep 04, 2013 at 11:32 UTC

    I'm not sure what your question is aiming at.

    To my knowledge, mod_auth_openid is not a Perl module. The naming convention suggests that it is an Apache module.

    The linked github repository also has no indication that mod_auth_openid is written in Perl, or closely related to Perl.

    So, therefore my question:

    Where does Perl come into the picture?

    If the code in question is a Perl module, that explains where Perl comes into the picture. If it is not Perl code, the poster needs to explain where Perl connects to his problem.

      Ah. My ignorance of Apache is thusly revealed. :-)

        Note also that after asking the pertinent question "Wherefore Perl...?" in Re: mod_auth_openid error!!!, Corion went on to offer some sound general advice, generalities being all that were possible in the circumstances, and to suggest a better way to use this site.

        All in all, a pertinent, helpful, considered and considerate reply, all that I could hope for from this site (and much more than I have occasionally observed) and just what I have come to expect from Corion. And that is the tight coupling that is most important to me about PerlMonks. (After reviewing Re: mod_auth_openid error!!!, I upvoted it after having originally passed it over.)

Re: RFC: How Tightly Coupled To Perl Must We Be?
by davido (Archbishop) on Sep 04, 2013 at 15:31 UTC

    We are, if anything, more forgiving than many forums such as Usenet, or even StackOverflow for questions that aren't well related to Perl. I find there are several categories of non-Perl-related questions:

    • The asker doesn't care who answers his question, or what the forum's "on-topic" is; he just wants some free code written for him and may find a sucker here, or at one of the many other places he's crossposted to. Occasionally he gets lucky, and sometimes the luck comes from PerlMonks members. Often he gets a rebuke.
    • The asker has no clue about programming, or at least about the fact that Perl and PerlMonks is dedicated to Perl, not to JavaScript or HTML. Occasionally he gets lucky too. Often he gets shown the door, or at least invited to come back with a Perl question.
    • The asker thinks that because his JavaScript problem comes from a Perl script that outputs JavaScript, it must be on topic. This meets with more success nowadays than in the early days of the site. It's still misguided, and is still off-topic.
    • The asker thinks that he's asking a Perl question, when in fact, there's no Perl anywhere to be found. This individual is often asked how it relates to Perl, and usually he will discover as he investigates that there is no relationship to Perl.
    • The asker knows he's not asking a Perl question, but has cultivated relationships here that will forgive his intrusion as long as he's clear up front that he's coming here with this question because he just can't find anyone who knows how to answer it anywhere else. This is usually a successful off-topic post; when someone comes forward saying, "I'm working on a C project and just don't know where to turn. This is off-topic, but a nudge in the right direction would really help me."... people here generally respond favorably so long as it doesn't become too frequent of an occurrence.


      (Shrug...)   David, in making these statements, I think you pretty much sum-up the status quo of every programming-related forum out there.   :-)   Homework is very easy to spot, as are questions from the hapless of far-far-away companies who “got the lowest bid.”   It has always seemed to me that the responses given to such things are ... ahh... very appropriate.

      Nevertheless, I do think that this site remains heads-above sites like StackOverflow for Perl because it is “quite unabashedly focused on Perl.”   SO is loosely-focused, by design, whereas we by design are not.   I have often referred wanderers on SO over here to get better answers faster about Perl, and they almost-invariably do.   So, I think that we always should strive to keep that “tight subject-matter focus.”   We can’t prevent the non-Perl answers from showing up.   (There is noise on every communication channel.)   But we can continue to be the “go-to site save time come here first site” for truly Perl-related questions.   Filter out the irrelevant, yes.   But, beyond that, be wide.   If they’re using Perl and they’re stuck in the mud (whatever sort of mud it is ...), [try to] pull them out.   (Be “patient, gracious, blunt, and curt” with all the rest.)   We have all been in this quicksand, and most of us stop by frequently.

Re: RFC: How Tightly Coupled To Perl Must We Be?
by bulk88 (Priest) on Sep 04, 2013 at 14:43 UTC
  • This is PerlMonks. Stay on topic. This is not the place to ask about bugs in your javascript (or the other 'j' language) nor how to learn write a formula in a spreadsheet, even though there are many Monks knowledgeable in such disciplines.
  • I think the unwritten rule here is, we are not militant about moderating OT posts, but have a low tolerance for them. There are tons of posix sys admins and programers who know other languages here willing to help, even if its OT. So each OT OP will get 2/3rds "take him to the firing line", and 1/3rd helpful responses, leaving the OP totally confused as to whether he can be back or not with OT questions. If they are marked OT in their title on PM there isn't the usually torrent of OT attacks. See also Sites like PerlMonks
RE: the mentioned module install issues
by RichardK (Parson) on Sep 04, 2013 at 13:20 UTC

    On Linux, a good place to start with modules is to look at what's available directly from your distro.

    That way you can ignore cpan and just install them using your package manager and it will handle all the dependency issues. There's usually lots of modules just ready to install, and it's a indication that those modules are likely to work and be useful. When I'm looking for a new module I always start by checking the distro first. I'm not sure what's out there for windows though (maybe some else will comment?).

Re: RFC: How Tightly Coupled To Perl Must We Be?
by sundialsvc4 (Abbot) on Sep 04, 2013 at 15:20 UTC

    Your post, if I may say, is quite rambling ... to the point where I’m really not sure what your point is ... but I simply think that the purpose of PerlMonks is to help people “get s**t done with Perl.”   There is something that needs to be done (yesterday), and something about Perl is standing in the way, and PM ought to be “the go-to site on the Internet” for quick and knowledgeable help, more-or-less politely given, to make that stumbling-block go bye-bye.   That’s the mission-statement.

    “How tightly coupled to Perl?”   To me, Perl is like an Einstein Bros. bagel:   it’s the whole schmeer.   The entire toolbox and all the tools that are in it.   Nothing in particular is in- vs. out-of-scope for a reasonably answerable and relevant question.   Whatever it is that you are banging your head against:   “been there, hit that, so maybe we can help avoid further damage to your forehead.”

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