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Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)

by princepawn (Parson)
on Nov 30, 2000 at 15:10 UTC ( #44107=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

*

Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults

I was a perl monk before there was a perlmonks.org. I spent large amounts of time trying to learn the intricacies of Perl and bought lots of books to support my efforts. I was sure that Perl was the best language and that I only needed to master it. To that end, when I saw the website perlmonks.org, I was immediately hooked.

However, since then, several things have happened to me at this site that have caused me great pain. Some of them are clearly my fault, others have to do with certain aspects of the site which are handled in a cult-like fashion.

It should be stated from the outset that this is not an attempt to prove that perlmonks.org is a cult, but rather to show that certain aspects and events on the site are cultish in nature and probably should be removed or curtailed.

All of the actual material cited from Perlmonks.org can be found by using their Super Search option (that is unless it gets deleted from the site as other material has, which is exactly why I am preserving it here for all iniquity). Simply type super search into the search bar on the upper left and then search for any of the words in the quotes I reproduce below.

All information on cults and their practices was culled from the AFF website: http://www.CSJ.org .*

INTOLERANCE TO DISSENTING VIEWPOINTS

In a cult, their way is right and all other ways are wrong. Rational, independent-thinking is frowned upon and heavily criticized. In a recent thread entitled "Apparent Inconsistencies in Perl Function Naming" I launched an attack on some aspects of the Perl language that have shown themselves to be unintuitive to my co-workers.

The following post strongly exemplifies an unwillingness towards dissenting viewpoints:

would you go to a church service, stand up and ask everyone about the inconsistencies in the Bible? Would you sign up for a poultry cooking class and spend every session criticizing people for eating meat? There is a time and a place to be so heavily critical of something, but coming to a place dedicated to it is not one of them. No one here mind an occasional discussion of problems with Perl, but a full-scale assault on the language is another thing. I'm sure you don't view it that way, but I can't help but wonder what you hope to accomplish by this.

Now I have in fact done things similar to what he speaks of. I LIVED at a Zen Buddhist Monestary in Los Angeles. And during my residency there, I asked one of the priests if Zen Buddhism were less evolved than Tibetan Buddhism. After a brief period of discussion on the subject, he got angry and changed the subject.

In all fairness, I don't think the person who wrote this is cultish, and in fact, I am supremely grateful to this person, namely Ovid, because he has shown tremendous tolerance to some of my completely unacceptable sexist and profane comments in the past.

What happened specifically is once during a heated discussion with merlyn, Ovidinterrupted and told me to calm down. My reply was: "find someone else to play pussy for you." His next reply was: "I don't respect you because you used profanity." My next statement was: "You are casting judgement on me by a single point in time. And this point in time is during a heated debate. I flew off the handle." And he was gentlemanly enough to reply: "You're right. I see your position." .*

A POWER FIGURE WHOSE MOTIVES CANNOT BE QUESTIONED

Perlmonks.org is run by Timothy Vroom. On more than one occasion, he has made it clear that he will do whatever he wants with this site. The primary example of this came when I first joined the site. I wanted to have my picture in the upper right corner like some other people. His reply was that you needed to be level 6 before getting a picture up.

Then one day, I learned that a person named dibona had no experience and yet his picture was up there. When I questioned his motives for doing so, Vroom stated: "as long as something makes sense to me, that's reason enough for it to be on perlmonks." This post of his was strongly supported by the community.

When I actually made level 6, I again requested that my picture be put in the rotation for the upper right corner. This time his response was:

"I don't believe I've ever said that if you get to level 6 you get a picture up in the corner period end of story. I maintain creative control over perl monks and can choose and change policies as I see fit. I think one of the requirements for having your picture up top should be being respected by the community at large. I also think it's clear from some recent threads that you have yet to gain the respect of the community at large. I hope you can understand my point of view and reasoning. I don't think it would be appropriate to add your picture into the rotation at the current time. Give it a month and I'll reconsider then. If you feel the need to respond please do so over e-mail."

Looking at this statement, we again see the element of unquestioned authority. Most users of the site do see Vroom as unquestionable authority, on the grounds that perlmonks.org is "his website." While he does own the domain name and he did develop the site, these elements are the skeleton and without user-contributed content, the site would be useless.

The second cultish element in this statement is his attempt to mold my behavior patterns so that I am "...respected by the community at large." In other words, rewards within perlmonks.org are not based on freethinking, but same-thinking, in other words, brainwashing, which leads into the next topic .*

MIND CONTROL BY INTRODUCTION OF GUILT

The chief means of controlling user behavior on perlmonks.org is the voting system. How many posts are preceded with the words "I know I'm going to lose a lot of points for this..."? And of course, how many posts never show up for fear of downvoting?

And finally, when one actually receives a huge downvote, one becomes upset and feels like an outcast.

At this point (and I am at this point), a member of perlmonks may do any number of things. He may submit to the mind control by trying to fit in with the crowd. He may resort to some form of escapism such as leaving the site, suicide, or changing his name. He may engage in attempts to subvert the organization, by hacking passwords or overloading the system with false web requests. Or he may simply continue the downhill depression for awhile longer. .*

US VERSUS THEM MENTALITY

In the driest sense, Perl is a programming language. Others, including myself have made it much more. To us, it is art, religion, linguistic perfection. Hence the popularity of a site named perlmonks.org. Unfortunately, this has led to an us-versus-them mentality, with the "them" being other programming languages.

The chief competitor to Perl is Java. And many threads focus around this issue. All in all, I would say that there is very little hate towards Java, simply discussion. .*

PUBLIC RECORDS NOT AVAILABLE. NO AUTHORIZED REVIEW BY OUTSIDERS. ONE CLOSED INTERNAL SYSTEM OF JUSTICE

This issue hardly needs to be discussed further. But regardless of the reason, there is no system of checks and balances in place at perlmonks. The chief means of mind control, downvoting by one's peers is shrouded in secrecy. Those who downvote you have full anonymity and do not have to justify their voting.

Further, there is no system of appeals for downvotes. And in some cases, systematic downvotes are heavily correlated with an act disliked by the community at large.

For example, once I had obtained a rather large and infamous reputation as princepawn, I wanted to see if it was my personality or the content of my posts that led to such a low experience to writeup ratio - princepawn gets roughly 2 points per writeup. So, I created the user metaperl and posted as normal, but admittedly with much less sarcasm and bratty theatrics. As metaperl, I went through the first 3 levels with no downvotes earning 6 points per writeup.

Upon announcing that I was in fact metaperl, my entire suite of posts to date all uniformly dropped in reputation.

To those who claim that there are no conspiracies executed via the voting system, this serves as proof to the contrary. .*

CONTACT WITH INFORMATION ABOUT LIFE OUTSIDE THE CULT IS SOMETIMES FROWNED UPON

The fact that this post earned a reputation of -11 within minutes of posting shows the fervor with which the members of perlmonks resist relatively innocuous information about programming languages which learned from the pitfalls that Perl fell in:

More FYI than anything else, there is a language called RUBY whose stated intent is to replace Perl. It is certainly very popular in Japan where it originated (the Ruby book is #6 in Sales on Amazon's Japan site). And, in Ruby, everything is a method call. But from looking through the book, this does not lead to cumbersome code. Ruby is quite clean.

.*

SUBORDINATION OF FREETHINKING ON THE GROUNDS OF A HIGHER KNOWLEDGE

One of the replies to my recent criticism of certain Perl core functions led to this statement:

"The true purpose of perl is to serve others, but it can only do this if you humble your mind. But much like enlightenment, I suppose that needs to be experienced, not explained."

Instead of suggesting that I think clearly and logically and question the design decisions that lead to some aspects of Perl being counter-intuitive, I am told to "humble my mind." This post, by tedv, received a high upvote. My response, quoted in part below, netted a zero reputation after a rollercoaster ride of upvoting and downvoting:

Hmm, well the over 200 submitted RFCs and the fact that Larry Wall is planning a complete rewrite of the language from the ground up should tell you something: even Larry Wall thinks that the current Perl has problems serious enough that they cannot be reconciled within the framework of evolution that occurred from @perl = (1..5);

.*

CONCLUSION

Perlmonks.com is a fun place. You can hang out, chat with people of similar persuasion, and in the process, learn some things about a topic very dear to you, Perl.

However, everything in the above sentence could apply to a mind-controlling cult.

Breaking free of a mind control situation is very difficult and painful. Vroom, whether consciously or not, has created a website with several cultlike elements. The use of a voting system means that those with high reputations are those who speak words of pleasure, not necessarily words of truth. To further coerce like-minded behavior, the reward of picture rotation is reserved for only those who please the sitemaster, based on a policy which changes at the whims of the site owner.

The lack of a non-vested third party appeals system deepens the means by which the members of this website strengthen their possibly short-sighted convictions.

I am now a hated person at this site. Further, my self-esteem and sense of community are next to zero due to my participation at this site, which admittedly in many cases was very bratty. In the interest of my mental health, I now declare my accounts metaperl and princepawn at perlmonks.org completely inactive until further notice.

Comment on Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
Re: Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
by t0mas (Priest) on Nov 30, 2000 at 18:22 UTC
    Dear princepawn,

    I've been following your posts with some interest for a while, because I often find them quite amusing. You always seem to come up with another way of looking at a problem, and I find that a good quality to have.

    However, in this post, I believe you're chasing mind-ghosts, like the poor Don Quixote:


    At this point they came in sight of thirty forty windmills that
    there are on plain, and as soon as Don Quixote saw them he said to his
    squire, "Fortune is arranging matters for us better than we could have
    shaped our desires ourselves, for look there, friend Sancho Panza,
    where thirty or more monstrous giants present themselves, all of
    whom I mean to engage in battle and slay, and with whose spoils we
    shall begin to make our fortunes; for this is righteous warfare, and
    it is God's good service to sweep so evil a breed from off the face of
    the earth."

    "What giants?" said Sancho Panza.

    "Those thou seest there," answered his master, "with the long
    arms, and some have them nearly two leagues long."

    "Look, your worship," said Sancho; "what we see there are not giants
    but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the sails that
    turned by the wind make the millstone go."

    "It is easy to see," replied Don Quixote, "that thou art not used to
    this business of adventures; those are giants; and if thou art afraid,
    away with thee out of this and betake thyself to prayer while I engage
    them in fierce and unequal combat."

    So saying, he gave the spur to his steed Rocinante, heedless of
    the cries his squire Sancho sent after him, warning him that most
    certainly they were windmills and not giants he was going to attack.
    He, however, was so positive they were giants that he neither heard
    the cries of Sancho, nor perceived, near as he was, what they were,
    but made at them shouting, "Fly not, cowards and vile beings, for a
    single knight attacks you."


    The characteristics you you bring up from the Cults-101 checklist could well be applied to almost any IRC group, however they are not all the characteristics and in my view you'll get it all wrong if you pick this or that and say "Hey, look - there's a Cult".

    Let's discuss perlmonks.org, having all the characteristics from Cults-101 in mind, not just those that we like see fit...

    I think of it like this (and I can only speak for myself):

    1. The group is focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.
    I'm focused on perl, not vroom (sorry, to break that illusion). I'm here because this site helps me improve my perl skills, not follow vrooms orders.

    2. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
    I've never ever tried to bring in new members to perlmonks.org. I've added a link to one of my homepages, thats all, and I have links to many other sites too.

    3. The group is preoccupied with making money.
    I've never contributed financial in any way to perlmonks.org. I haven't even bougth a T-shirt yet :)

    4. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
    I can see your point here, since I guess it is pretty clear for every one that you (and merlyn) been down-voted just because you are who you are. I don't vote --. I believe in explanation of errors, not -- votes. I've questioned the need for -- votes in previous posts, and I still don't think they make sense.

    5. Mind-numbing techniques (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, debilitating work routines) are used to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
    I have a hard time thinking this applies to perlmonks.org. I've used the word chanting in one or two of my posts in a humorus sense, which I hope was clear to all readers.

    6. The leadership dictates sometimes in great detail how members should think, act, and feel (for example: members must get permission from leaders to date, change jobs, get married; leaders may prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, how to discipline children, and so forth).
    I don't ask permission from vroom to do anything, I can even make this post without asking his permission (ain't that sweet). I can see vroom wearing a perlmonks.org T-shirt in the banners sometimes, asking me to buy one, not demanding it.

    7. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s), and members (for example: the leader is considered the Messiah or an avatar; the group and/or the leader has a special mission to save humanity).
    vroom is not Messiah, it's going to be a _bit_ more fireworks when He returns.

    8. The group has a polarized us- versus-them mentality, which causes conflict with the wider society.
    I think the general jargon here is perl vs. the rest, not perlmonks.org vs. the rest. I think you need to understand that. Your posts often get downvoted by those who can't you questioning perl, not perlmonks.org. I think you're mixing things up here. I think you should be able to question perl (syntax or whatever), without being down-voted. But keep in mind that this site is about perl, so be gentle. If you throw in a little humor, you can even get ++ for mentioning Python. I've have.

    9. The group's leader is not accountable to any authorities (as are, for example, military commanders and ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream denominations).
    Who on the internet is accountable to any one? This is cyberspace. It is nor for real :) If I turn of my computer, it is all gone. I just continue IRL (in real life), that's what count.

    10. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify means that members would have considered unethical before joining the group (for example: collecting money for bogus charities).
    I'm not aware of any "exalted ends" we have here at perlmonks.org. vroom am I missing something ?

    11. The leadership induces guilt feelings in members in order to control them.
    Your reasoning shifts focus from leadership -> members to member <-> member. I don't think that you can do that without stepping of the Cult trail. I don't like getting -- votes, noone does. But it is not vroom who -- me (at least I don't think so, but technically he could I guess).

    12. Members' subservience to the group causes them to cut ties with family and friends, and to give up personal goals and activities that were of interest before joining the group.
    I'm here to archieve my personal goals (to be as good perl hacker as I can), not to give them up.

    13. Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group.
    Any member can turn of his or her computer at any time. If I spend amounts of time here is it because I choose to, not because someone expects me to.

    14. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
    I seem to remember that merlyn were on a cruise full of java programmers, some weeks ago. If merlyn can do that, this isn't a characteristic of perlmonks.org, is it?.



    perlmonks.org is a place full of people, just like any other place. Some like you, some don't. And as in any other place you go, there are certain "inofficial" rules you need to follow to get accepted by the group, or you'll have to stay on your own. This isn't a cult characteristic, its just the way things are.

    So, please princepawn, listen to the cry of Sancho Panza, and don't go figthing windmills. If you feel sad about getting down-voted all the time, choose a new account without letting us know who you are, but stay with us.

    I don't hate you, I don't even know you! If you feel low right now, have a break, have a beer with IRL friends and work-mates. If you don't have anyone (I don't know you, so I don't have any idea of how your social life looks like) and would like to have someone to "talk" to, please /msg me with your e-mail address and I'll try to be a cyber-friend.

    /brother t0mas
      There was more to the windmill story than you seem to recognize.

      While today the description of windmills as "giants oppressing the people" seems ridiculous, at the time it was well understood to be an accurate description. Prior to windmills each peasant had their own handmill, and ground their own grain. This made them hard to tax. But with a mill the miller would take his share, and set aside the landlord's. This made peasants far easier to tax. (Guess what happened to the tax rates?)

      This was why windmills were introduced and handmills were banned. And the peasants objected, resulting in the rate of spread of windmills being a good measure of how little power the peasants had. In particular peasants were strongest in Scandinavia, and windmills never arrived there. And I do mean never, in WW II the Germans were shocked to find that they could not take any central control of food production - people were still using handmills.

      As for the rest of what you say, I largely agree. However there are two qualities about princepawn that deserve comment. First of all it is a poor workman that blames his tools, and by that measure he is shoddy indeed. I will be the last to say that Perl is perfect, but most of his criticisms are stabs in the dark. He also has this amazing tendancy to repeat good advice as a slogan and badly misapply it. I never quite know what to do with this. Do I point out why his use is bad and accidentally discourage people from following the advice in the slogan? Do I explain why the slogan is good and not make the point that he is doing something bad? Do I just figure it is not worth my while and ignore? (I mostly do the last.)

      On a more personal note, I will not miss the sexist and sexually explicit garbage he spewed into the chatterbox from time to time. I really won't miss that!

        Just a little off-topic comment about, windmills and taxes.

        My family come from öland, a small island on the Swedish east-coast. There windmills are quite common, actually every small village had a couple of them in common. Anyone in the community could use the community windmill. You can have a look at a picture of some here. They were often of simple design, but some of them were of Dutch style, infact Europe's largest Dutch windmill is on öland.

        As of taxes, Sweden have one of the worlds highest taxrates in spite of our windmills...

        /brother t0mas
Re: Time to move on
by pschoonveld (Pilgrim) on Nov 30, 2000 at 18:37 UTC
    I tried to tell you this before, but maybe I need to restate the point. Attacking vroom for the way he runs HIS site is bullshit. It is time you find a new web site to hang out at. Your welcome has officially been worn out.

    I hope everyone realizes this is not so much a "retirement", but a kicking out by the rest of the people.

      Agreed. Especially after quoting private email...grrrrrr.

      IDENTIFICATION DIVISION.
      PROGRAM-ID.  redmist.
      AUTHOR.  God (Larry Wall/Alan Cox hybrid).
      CONTACT.  redmist@users.sourceforge.net
      
Re: Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
by Dominus (Parson) on Nov 30, 2000 at 19:19 UTC
    Says princepawn:
    > I asked one of the priests if Zen Buddhism were less
    > evolved than Tibetan Buddhism. After a brief period of
    > discussion on the subject, he got angry and changed the subject.
    Perhaps the similar element here is not in perlmonks or the Buddhist priest, but something in yourself.

Re: Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
by Fastolfe (Vicar) on Nov 30, 2000 at 19:20 UTC
    I too have been following some of these threads for a while, and more than anything I'm rather amused by it all. Personally I feel that you are blowing this a bit out of proportion, though I will admit that any community (such as the one around this site) is going to be defensive about it when they see unfounded accusations.

    Your initial posts always approached problems as if they were bugs in Perl. They never tended to acknowledge the fact that you just don't understand how things are supposed to work, which invariably ends up being the problem. Blame that on Perl's "buggy" behavior or on its "inconsistent" naming and syntax quirks, whatever. I've never had these problems. A couple of your posts, though, do express some things that Perl is weak on, or something that might be useful to change, but with all of the other crap that you tend to post, people tend to get into the habit of shooing you away than seriously thinking about it, so your one or two posts with real content (even though it's still shrouded in that "this is a bug in perl" attitude) is lost in the noise.

    Now, on to your post:

    I was a perl monk before there was a perlmonks.org. I spent large amounts of time trying to learn the intricacies of Perl and bought lots of books to support my efforts.

    For someone that's been hooked on Perl for over two years, you sure haven't grasped a few seriously fundamental concepts such as scoping and context very well. In addition, most people finally figure out reading the manuals and online documentation is a great way to answer questions far earlier into their exploration of Perl.

    I launched an attack on some aspects of the Perl language

    And then you complain when somebody got annoyed?

    The following post strongly exemplifies an unwillingness towards dissenting viewpoints

    No, the material you quoted was trying to ask why you would go to a Perl site and post unfounded, flawed anti-Perl propaganda. He even goes to say that people probing Perl's weaknesses is fine, but most of your assumptions in your original post were flawed, and the way you approached the language in your head made things unnecessarily complicated for you. There were other posts in that thread that I thought did a better job of saying this. Apparently you misunderstood them as well.

    After a brief period of discussion on the subject, he got angry and changed the subject.

    Was it that you were questioning his faith that he was angry, or because of the content and style of your argument? I'm seriously laughing to myself trying to think of what that conversation went like. If it's been anything like your Perl posts, I'm sure he got annoyed and frustrated with you. I wonder how long it took, what with him being a Zen Buddhist and all.

    Then one day, I learned that a person named dibona had no experience and yet his picture was up there.

    I think it's fairly documented that the requirement for pictures only at level 6 was made later in the life of the site, and exceptions were made for some of those that had already posted pictures of themselves, upon request.

    Looking at this statement, we again see the element of unquestioned authority.

    So, umm, like, what do you propose we do? Assuming we all hated Vroom's style, should we rise up against the fascist rulers of PerlMonks? Should we take the site by force, placing it under a democratic rule? Another benevolent dictatorship? Get it through your head: Perlmonks is a web site. Vroom built the site, vroom owns the domain name, vroom is responsible for the hardware. If you dislike this, you know where your back button is. There is no government here. It's just a freaking web site.

    While he does own the domain name and he did develop the site, these elements are the skeleton and without user-contributed content, the site would be useless.

    Wow, I wonder how such an evil and fascist leader has managed to keep our cult following loyal. I very nearly take offense at all of this labeling. I could care less who vroom is or what he does with his time. I thank him for providing this site to me, because I find it an invaluable resource and a great means for me to further my knowledge and Perl skills by interaction, as I've nearly hit the limit of what I can learn with books. I come here for the site and its content, not for its webmaster.

    Unfortunately, this has led to an us-versus-them mentality, with the "them" being other programming languages.

    I disagree totally. True, some will be defensive of the first/only programming language they've learned, but more enlightened/educated folks will see the wisdom in the "use the best tool for the task" mantra. Perl is fantastic for rapidly developing solutions, so in a sense it is a swiss army knife of programming languages, making many Perl advocates advocate Perl for most any task. When developing a large project, however, it pays to examine the alternatives and judge different languages and environments. Anyone that disagrees probably just doesn't have much experience with other languages, or in Real-World application development. I hardly think these people qualify as The Voice of the community.

    But regardless of the reason, there is no system of checks and balances in place at perlmonks.

    It's just a web site.
    It's just a web site.
    It's just a web site.

    Seriously, if you have a problem with the way something's going down, by all means ask for enlightenment. If you're the type that isn't easily enlightened, escellate it to the owner of the site. If he isn't receptive, consider that your goals are contrary to the will of the site and/or its users. Try to understand the other point of view and stop whining about it.

    Upon announcing that I was in fact metaperl, my entire suite of posts to date all uniformly dropped in reputation.

    By how many points? 3? 5? This probably reflects the number of users that really hate you. I don't hate you, but it isn't fair to judge an entire site/community based on the actions of, like, 1% of its userbase. There will always be people doing stupid and annoying things. You had to have expected this when you made your post.

    The fact that this post earned a reputation of -11 within minutes of posting

    Perhaps because the whole thing read like a cheap advertisement? Here, let's post an all-out assault on how ugly, inconsistent and generally crappy the Perl language is, and then let's secretly follow up with a post under another name about how this other great Perl substitute language doesn't have these problems. I mean, come on. It all comes down to that "use the best tool for the task" bit. Ruby is pretty new, and I've read about it a bit. For a structured C or Perl programmer, it seems syntactically very different, so that's a big hurdle. But in the end, if it can reliably do everything that Perl can do, with the same elegance and efficiency (in coding), it may be a valuable resource.

    To further coerce like-minded behavior, the reward of picture rotation is reserved for only those who please the sitemaster.

    I suspect that if he truly did this to you (the rest of us just get a picture form element on our info edit screens), it was a very very special case. You should feel honored that he took the time to express his distaste for you. He never says anything to me.

    I am now a hated person at this site.

    I don't hate you. I think some of your posts lack common sense or a reasonable effort to research terminology or concepts prior to posting, but hey, lots of PM posts are like that. Some of your other posts seem to be attacks on the language because you don't understand something, and I like those types of posts even less.

    You'll figure it out some day, I hope, whether it's here or somewhere else ("...in search of a village.")

Re: Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
by swiftone (Curate) on Nov 30, 2000 at 20:32 UTC
    It should be stated from the outset that this is not an attempt to prove that perlmonks.org is a cult, but rather to show that certain aspects and events on the site are cultish in nature and probably should be removed or curtailed.

    Okay, I'll be responding to your comments with this assumption.

    Intolerance to Dissenting behavior

    In a cult, their way is right and all other ways are wrong. Rational, independent-thinking is frowned upon and heavily criticized. In a recent thread entitled Apparent Inconsistencies in Perl Function Naming I launched an attack on some aspects of the Perl language that have shown themselves to be unintuitive to my co-workers.

    Skimming through that thread, I see that you are both right and wrong. Correct, many people dismissed your comments as a wholesale attack on Perl. However, many others did not. This sounds like debate to me, not cultish behavior.

    A POWER FIGURE WHOSE MOTIVES CANNOT BE QUESTIONED

    Here I totally disagree. We certainly can question Vroom, but in the end it _is_ his site, and we can only state our opinion over what makes it better or not. I find your picture concerns petty (and perhaps somewhat egotistical). But then I have never submitted an image to the site, and have turned off the monk images. A quick perusal of Perl Monks Discussion shows _many_ times that vroom has been questioned and requested to change things. Any deference you see to him is respect that he has earned by creating such a good site with little personal gain.

    MIND CONTROL BY INTRODUCTION OF GUILT

    I think you extrapolate this section too broadly. Society runs on similar principles to what you see here.

    US VERSUS THEM MENTALITY

    This section makes no sense. You say there is a bad mentality, but that we don't attack Java. Huh?

    PUBLIC RECORDS NOT AVAILABLE. NO AUTHORIZED REVIEW BY OUTSIDERS. ONE CLOSED INTERNAL SYSTEM OF JUSTICE

    First, this is a lousy defining quality for a cult, as it is true in about 90% of things in life. Second, the Anonymous Monk option is available to everyone.

    CONTACT WITH INFORMATION ABOUT LIFE OUTSIDE THE CULT IS SOMETIMES FROWNED UPON

    This just makes me laugh. Your example is pointless, as in the context of the thread, it was off topic. I doubt you could find other "evidence" for this charge.

    SUBORDINATION OF FREETHINKING ON THE GROUNDS OF A HIGHER KNOWLEDGE

    Still laughing. Particularly since you yourself mentioned the large number of RFC's that indicate freethinking in the Perl community. Are you saying that the Perlmonks represent a conservative niche of that community?

    CONCLUSION

    You want a third party appeals system? Sorry, welcome to a merit-based democracy. That means you're on your own, and yes, it means that people can carry a grudge and penalize you. I also suggest that you take things a little too seriously. Perhaps with whatever unknown account you are now using, you'll feel better.

Re: Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
by toadi (Chaplain) on Nov 30, 2000 at 21:05 UTC
    A simple reply:

    Please get a life, it's only a programming language. A tool to get the things done.

    Go out and have a beer. Man This is the worst crap I have ever seen on this site.
    Even when I'm reading this I think that I have better things to do, like programming some more perl :)


    --
    My opinions may have changed,
    but not the fact that I am right

Re: Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
by chromatic (Archbishop) on Nov 30, 2000 at 21:21 UTC
    That's patently ridiculous.

    Cults like to control people. Cults have charismatic leaders. Cults expect complete commitment. I could give you some examples, but I doubt you'd read up on them.

    A 21 or 22 (right?) year old college senior in Holland, Michigan, with barely enough time to get his Java homework done and who asks other people for advice on a regular basis hardly qualifies. At the very least, I'd expect a good cult leader to get more sleep and go on more dates.

    Seriously, comparing a voluntary question and answer board -- free for use by anyone -- to a mind-control system is just nutty. If you're really paranoid, don't accept a permanent cookie. There's no e-meter, First Principles, or grape Kool-Aid here.

    And if downvotes really mattered, Worst Nodes wouldn't have a post stillborn at -49.

    I will say that people who go on a downvoting rampage based on perceived or actual personality conflicts are in the wrong. Completely.

    But spare the next group that dissatisfies you the melodrama, okay? And take your pick of #perl on Efnet, comp.lang.perl.misc, or create your own RubyMonks.org. (Actually, RubyTuesday.org sounds better. But it's your choice.)

Re: Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
by Jonathan (Curate) on Nov 30, 2000 at 22:37 UTC
    To say you are hated is an over reaction. Yes, some people do downvote your every post (I'm sure some people just use up their daily votes on you, in the same way off topic rambling rubbish often gets upvoted for no reason).
    Originally I thought you found being downvoted funny - as I suspect AgentM does.
    But this reaction is way out of proportion. Go if you feel you must but no more theatrical farewell speeches.

    Take care princepawn mate

    I don't understand t0mas's Don Quixote quotation. It's one of my favourite books, but I've always thought him sane and the rest of the world mad

    Truth is, indeed, not often welcome for its own sake; it is generally unpleasing, because contrary to our wishes and opposite to our practice; and, as our attention naturally follows our interest, we hear unwillingly what we are afraid to know, and soon forget what we have no inclination to impress upon our memories.
    -Samuel Johnson
Re: Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
by HaB (Sexton) on Nov 30, 2000 at 23:07 UTC
    Well..the minute I saw the subject of this post, not to mention the author's name, I knew it was bound to be interesting, or at the very least entertaining. My initial impression is a simple one:

    You are taking all this *far* too seriously.

    It is after all *just* a programming language. It's not life, some of the more fervent members of the community notwithstanding. It's simply a tool, and often, it is the best tool for the job at hand. By all means, if another language, whether it be RUBY, C, C++, Java, BASIC, or straight up, bit-flipping Assembler is a better tool for a particular task, then USE it. Don't use Perl. I would do the same thing, and I think many of the Monks here would agree with me.

    That being said, however...if you *do* decide to use perl for a particular task, after *you* have decided it was the best tool for the job, then you sound a bit silly when you complain about it's shortcomings. If there was something better, then you'd be using that, wouldn't you? That's just simple logic.

    Certainly you must know you are inviting flames, and criticism if you come to *any* community that it built around a fondness for a particular subject, and you take it upon yourself to criticize that subject. This is doubly true if your criticisms are unfounded, based on incorrect assumptions, not researched, or just wrong.

    I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during your aforementioned discussion with the Zen priest. I'm extremely curious to know if it was the validity of your argument that angered him (cause you were right), or the fact that you presented an argument that was unfounded or just goofy, and kept belaboring the point. Being a practicing Taoist (which shares many concepts with Zen and Tibetan Buddhism), I know how difficult it is to upset someone who has been around long enough to attain the status of a preist. If it wasn't that difficult to upset him, then he must not be very comfortable being a Zen Buddhist.

    As far as voting is concerned, I never downvote, and I am inclined to agree with someone else in this thread who said they are not sure of the reason for having downvotes. I understand that bad perl is bad perl, and in certain situations that can be dangerous, but I think an explanation as to the 'correct' way is better than a downvote any day. I usually upvote posts that prompt discussion. One of Perl's many mantras is "TMTOWTDI", and I like to see some of the different ways to do various things. I think that "bad" posts invite that sort of discussion, and as a result, they get upvoted by me, as well as some of the replies that presented good advice/solutions. Towards the same end, I upvoted this post, because in spite of the fact that I disagree with most of it, and it is obvious flame bait, it *did* provoke some good discussion (as well as a few flames), and I think that is by and large a Good Thing(tm).

    As for the site? You're right, the site would be largely useless without the input of the users. However, when becoming a member of any organization, you agree to abide by its rules. And the simple fact remains, if you don't like the rules here, you are of course, welcome to leave. Which is another glaring difference between PM and a cult. Cults generally have a problem with people leaving. [: All of us who signed up understood that there are rules, and I think there are some good ones here. I think the experience system is a great idea. Other bulletin board type sites base rank solely on number of posts, where PM does it based on the quality of the post as perceived by the community at large. Of course you're going to have people who always downvote, or who always get downvoted. But I think it still manages to give a fairly accurate portrayal of the general consensus.

    Ah well...I've rambled enough for one afternoon. Back to work.

    -HaB


    hword.
Re: Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
by ImpalaSS (Scribe) on Dec 01, 2000 at 00:11 UTC
    princepawn,
    Honestly, i think you're taking stuff a little bit too seriously man.. relax..
    In anycase.. take care

    Dipul
Re: Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
by Macphisto (Hermit) on Dec 01, 2000 at 01:55 UTC

    Parallels Between Pie and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement) by Mapchisto



    I was a pie eater before there was a rotating pie case at the baghdad cafe. I spent large amounts of time trying to learn the intricacies of Pie and bought lots of books to support my efforts. I was sure that Pie was the best food and that I only needed to master it. To that end, when I saw the website piemonks.org, I was immediately hooked.

    However, since then, several things have happened to me at this site that have caused me great pain. Some of them are clearly my fault (like overeating), others have to do with certain aspects of the site which are handled in a cult-like fashion.

    It should be stated from the outset that this is not an attempt to prove that piemonks.org is a cult, but rather to show that certain aspects and events on the site are cultish in nature and probably should be removed or curtailed.

    All of the actual material cited from Piemonks.org can be found by using their Super Pie Search option (that is unless all the pie gets eaten as other pies have, which is exactly why I am preserving it here for small snack later). Simply type super search into the search bar on the upper left and then search for any of the words in the quotes I reproduce below. If you find any pie, point me to it.

    All information on pies and their practices was culled from the PIE website: http://www.PIE.org .*

    INTOLERANCE TO DISSENTING VIEWPOINTS



    In a cult, their way is right and all other ways are wrong. Rational, independent-thinking is frowned upon and heavily criticized. In a recent thread entitled "Apparent Inconsistencies in Pie Function Naming" I launched an attack on some aspects of the Pie language that have shown themselves to be unintuitive to my co-workers.

    The following post strongly exemplifies an unwillingness towards dissenting viewpoints:

    would you go to a church service, stand up and ask everyone about the inconsistencies in the Bible? Would you sign up for a poultry cooking class and spend every session criticizing people for eating meat? There is a time and a place to be so heavily critical of something, but coming to a place dedicated to it is not one of them. No one here mind an occasional discussion of problems with Pie, but a full-scale assault on the pastry is another thing. I'm sure you don't view it that way, but I can't help but wonder what you hope to accomplish by this.

    Now I have in fact done things similar to what he speaks of. I LIVED at a Pie Monestary in PieTown, USA. And during my residency there, I asked one of the pie monks if Pumpkin Pie were less tasty than Apple Pie. After a brief period of discussion on the subject, he got angry, took my pie, and changed the subject.

    In all fairness, I don't think the person who wrote this is cultish, and in fact, I am supremely grateful to this person, namely Ovid, because he has shown tremendous love of pie to some of my completely unacceptable pieist and profuse love of pie comments in the past.

    What happened specifically is once during a heated discussion with merlyn, Ovidinterrupted and told me to calm down. My reply was: "find me some pie and I'll calm down!." His next reply was: "I don't respect you because you eat mincemeat pie." My next statement was: "You are casting judgement on me by a single pie in time. And this pie in question can be a tasty delight. I flew off the handle." And he was gentlemanly enough to reply: "You're right. I see your position. I'll try the pie" .*

    A POWER FIGURE WHOSE MOTIVES CANNOT BE QUESTIONED


    Piemonks.org is run by Timothy Vroom, a true lover of Pie. On more than one occasion, he has made it clear that he will do whatever he wants with his pie . The primary example of this came when I first joined the site. I wanted to have my pie in the upper right corner ( a rotating pie case )like some other pie. His reply was that you needed to be level 6 before getting a pie up.

    Then one day, I learned that a pie named mud pie had no experience and yet his picture was up there. When I questioned his motives for doing so, Vroom stated: "as long as a pie tastes good to me and is made by my dear old mom, that's reason enough for me to eat it." This post of his was strongly supported by the community and many a pie were cut down in their prime.

    When I actually made level 6, I again requested that my pie be put in the rotation for the pie case. This time his response was:

    "I don't believe I've ever said that if you get to level 6 you get a pie up in the corner, period. end of story. I maintain creative control over pie monks can choose and change pie as I see fit. I think one of the requirements for having your pie up top should be being respected by the community at large. I also think it's clear from some recent threads that you have yet to gain the respect of the community at large. I hope you can understand my point of view and reasoning. I don't think it would be appropriate to add your pie into the rotation at the current time. Give it a month and I'll reconsider then. If you feel the need to respond please do so over some pecan-pie."

    Looking at this statement, we again see the element of unquestioned pie loving. Most users of the site do see Vroom as unquestionable pie lover, on the grounds that piemonks.org is "his pie." While he does own the domain name and he did bake the pie, these elements are the skeleton and without pie-crust, the pie would simply be cobbler.

    The second cultish element in this statement is his attempt to mold my behavior patterns so that I am "...respected by the community at large." In other words, rewards within piemonks.org are not based on freethinking, but pie-thinking, in other words, brainwashing, which leads into the next topic .*

    MIND CONTROL BY INTRODUCTION OF GUILT



    The chief means of controlling user behavior on piemonks.org is the voting system. How many posts are preceded with the words "I know I'm going to lose a lot of points for this..."? And of course, how many posts never show up because they're too busy eating their pie?

    And finally, when one actually receives a huge downvote, one becomes upset and feels like an outcast, thus needing more pie. Which takes pie away from me.

    At this point (and I am at this point), a member of piemonks may do any number of things. He may submit to the mind control by trying to fit in with the crowd. He may resort to some form of escapism such as leaving the site, pieicide, or changing his preference of pie. He may engage in attempts to subvert the organization, by hacking passwords or overloading the system with false web requests. Or he may simply continue the downhill depression for awhile longer. .*

    US VERSUS THEM MENTALITY



    In the driest sense, Pie is a pastry. Others, including myself have made it much more. To us, it is art, religion, culinary perfection. Hence the popularity of a site named piemonks.org. Unfortunately, this has led to an us-versus-them mentality, with the "them" being other deserts.

    The chief competitor to Pie is cake. And many threads focus around this issue. All in all, I would say that there is very little hate towards cake, simply discussion. .*

    PUBLIC RECORDS NOT AVAILABLE. NO AUTHORIZED REVIEW BY OUTSIDERS. ONE CLOSED INTERNAL SYSTEM OF JUSTICE



    This issue hardly needs to be discussed further. But regardless of the reason, there is no system of checks and balances in place at piemonks. The chief means of mind control, downvoting by one's peers is shrouded in secrecy. Those who downvote you have full anonymity and do not have to justify their pie.

    Further, there is no system of appeals for downvotes. And in some cases, systematic downvotes are heavily correlated with an act disliked by the community at large.

    For example, once I had obtained a rather large and infamous reputation as Macphisto, I wanted to see if it was my personality or the taste of my pie that led to such a low experience to writeup ratio - Macphisto gets roughly 2 points per writeup. So, I created the user metapie and baked as normal, but admittedly with much less sarcasm and bratty theatrics. As metapie, I went through the first 3 levels with no downvotes earning 6 points per writeup.

    Upon announcing that I was in fact metapie, my entire pie collection was eaten by an entity that shall remain anonymous. We'll call him R. Mist...no that's too obvious....Red M.

    To those who claim that there are no conspiracies executed via the voting system, this serves as proof to the contrary. .*

    CONTACT WITH INFORMATION ABOUT LIFE OUTSIDE THE CULT IS SOMETIMES FROWNED UPON



    The fact that this post earned a reputation of -11 within minutes of posting shows the fervor with which the members of piemonks resist relatively innocuous information about pie which learned from the pitfalls that Pie fell in:

    More FYI than anything else, there is a food called an eclair whose stated intent is to replace Pie. It is certainly very popular in Italy where it originated (the Eclair book is #6 in Sales on Amazon's Italy site). And, in Eclair, everything is a tasty treat. But from looking through the pastry, this does not lead to upset stomach. Eclairs is quite light on the digestive system.

    .*

    SUBORDINATION OF FREETHINKING ON THE GROUNDS OF A HIGHER KNOWLEDGE



    One of the replies to my recent criticism of certain Pie core baking techniques led to this statement:

    "The true purpose of pie is to serve it toothers, but it can only do this if you humble your mind. But much like enlightenment, I suppose that needs to be experienced, not explained."

    Instead of suggesting that I bake well and cleanly and question the design decisions that lead to some aspects of Pie being counter-intuitive, I am told to "humble my mind." This post, by neshura, received a high upvote. My response, quoted in part below, netted a zero reputation after a rollercoaster ride of upvoting and downvoting:

    Hmm, well the over 200 submitted recipes and the fact that Larry Wall is planning a complete rebaking of the his favorite pie from the ground up should tell you something: even Larry Wall thinks that the current Pie has problems serious enough that they cannot be reconciled within the framework of evolution that occurred from @pie = (1..5);

    .*

    CONCLUSION



    Piemonks.com is a fun place. You can hang out, chat with people of similar persuasion, swap pie recipies, and in the process, learn some things about a topic very dear to you, Pie.

    However, everything in the above sentence could apply to a mind-controlling cult.

    Breaking free of a mind control situation is very difficult and painful. Vroom, whether consciously or not, has created a website with several cultlike elements. The use of a voting system means that those with high reputations are those who speak words of pleasure, not necessarily words of truth. To further coerce like-minded behavior, the reward of picture rotation is reserved for only those who please the sitemaster, based on a policy which changes at the whims of the site owner.

    The lack of a non-vested third party appeals system deepens the means by which the members of this website strengthen their possibly short-sighted convictions. We have to watch our pie. THey are our greatest national resources

    I am now a hated person at this site. Further, my self-esteem and sense of community are next to zero due to my participation at this site, which admittedly in many cases was very bratty. My baking abilities have plummeted. In the interest of my mental health, I now declare my accounts metapie and Macphisto at piemonks.org completely inactive until further notice.

    Macphisto
    p.s. This is the result of a great dodging of work due! Yay!

    Everyone has their demons....
      Hehe...you've outdone yourself again Mac. Long live Pie in all it's delicious forms!!

      IDENTIFICATION DIVISION.
      PROGRAM-ID.  redmist.
      AUTHOR.  God (Larry Wall/Alan Cox hybrid).
      CONTACT.  redmist@users.sourceforge.net
      
      I laughed, I cried, I was hungry for more!
The Quest for Understanding
by tedv (Pilgrim) on Dec 01, 2000 at 07:38 UTC
    Many other people have eloquantly responded to such ludicrous claims that perlmonk.org dwellers are part of a cult, so I won't touch on that. But just because you get blasted for posing an "unconventional" viewpoint doesn't mean that everyone else is narrow minded. It just means that SOMEONE is narrow minded.

    Consider this... Posters like Ovid, Tye, and Merlin routinely make posts that state, "I believe the following is correct." Sometimes people respond and disagree with them, thereby changing their minds. In contrast, you always say the same thing. "Perl is inferior for reason X." Then Ovid, Tye and the rest of us disagree with you and for all your banter, no one changes their mind.

    But we've already proven that we're not narrow minded. What about you? You never change your mind. You always say, "I can't figure it out, therefore it must be wrong."

    Everyone here is on a Quest for Understanding. This is the Zen of life. Princepawn, you have deemed your own self understanding as perfect and mold your understand of the world around it. When something doesn't fit, it must be someone else's fault. Anyone's fault. Everyone's fault but your own.

    True enlightenment can only happen when we see ourselves as just another part of the world, not the center of it. "I think, therefore I am" leads to a blinded view of the world-- blinded by our own ego. Instead let your motto be, "I sense, therefore I must understand". Only when you admit that you are not enlightened can you find Truth.

    -Ted

    PS: Does anyone know the Latin translations for the two phrases above? Doubtless they would sound more profound. :)
      I believe the following is correct.
      Credo sequentum verum.
      I can't figure it out, therefore it must be wrong.
      Non possum comprehendere, ergo illum certe falsum esse.
      I think, therefore I am.
      Cogito, ergo sum.
      I sense, therefore I must understand.
      Sentio, ergo certe comprehendam.

      (i probably need a lesson or two myself)

Re: Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
by Zo (Scribe) on Dec 02, 2000 at 00:43 UTC
    Wow.. Finally someone has more to say than I do. I don't agree or disagree with anyone here (maybe I do but that's not important), I'm just happy to see/hear people speak up, which now makes me think.. but for fear of getting voted down to zero, I shall refrain from comment. (haha.. :o) ) -Zo.
Re: Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
by extremely (Priest) on Dec 02, 2000 at 06:15 UTC
    Bye.

     

    I considered myself one of your stronger supporters princepawn. You often asked really good questions in a seriously poor manner. I generally felt that that should be more forgivable than most did.

    What you posted above was crap. It is sheer childish lashing out disguised as rational discussion. The difference between a cult, a mob, a community and a sub-culture is real clear in most people's minds. A cult has a single focus, a single opinion, and a single leader. A mob has a single focus, a single opinion, and no leader. A community has a single focus, ranging opinions, and many leaders. A sub-culture is a unit of a community with a single leader.

    Perlmonks is a sub-culture. A small unit of a larger community with a single leader. In this case he is rather benevolent, he allows anyone from the larger community and in fact even the world at large to join. He allows us rather free speach, he allows us to police our own discussions, and he allows us the rope to hang ourselves.

    The rules and structure vroom built this site with and that he has encouraged and allowed to develop are its strengths. A newspaper without an Editor is just people shouting on paper. Did you not notice that a real sub-culture has developed here, even within the perl culture? You took it's behavior strongly enough to heart but failed to realize that a sub-culture, albeit a digital and remote one still is a sub-culture. vroom makes sure we have a place to meet and has given us a pretty good way to encourage people to stay on the culture's main topic. The group at large sets the stakes tho. We wouldn't keep coming back here if we felt vroom's rules were unfairly restrictive. We think they are restrictive but fair. The difference is enormous; the fact that you seem to have seen nothing of this and continue to blame nebulous "others" for your sense of unwelcome should give you pause. If you choose to come back here, remember we cut you a LOT more slack than most communities would have, and many of us put your manner (out-right assinine at times, warmly funny at others) aside and enjoyed your thoughts.

    Regardless, there is a bright mind out there somewhere. Good luck in whatever you do and wherever you find a community you feel comfortable in.

     

    Bye.

    --
    $you = new YOU;
    honk() if $you->love(perl)

Re: Parallels Between Perlmonks.ORG and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement)
by Poetic Justice (Monk) on Dec 03, 2000 at 01:53 UTC
    I voted your post up, not because I necessarily agree with your statement, but because IMHO, dissent is the surest sign of a healthy community. It's always a good policy to assume your dissent will not be well received and only a coward would withdraw dissent because he knows the majority may be against him.
    BTW, a good dissenter never retires. They may get shot, hanged, burned at the stake, but I believe that tilting at windmills is an honorable if not profitable calling.
    Poetic Justice

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