|We don't bite newbies here... much|
The Monastery in general is a place where you meet people who are very much like you - you can find "your people" here. Which is why it might seem that people who've known each other for a few months (in a virtual conversation, no less) are old buddies. We have very similar interests: Perl, programing, computers, science, engineering, tech gear -you know, "Stuff that Matters".
When you meet someone (in person or digitally) who is interested in many of the same things that you are interested in, you have immediate common ground for conversation. This conversation is often good-natured (especially if you have a mutual friend 10 feet away (which I'm claiming is Perl (and not Lisp) ) ), and can lead to real friendship.
The common interest is a shortcut - it allows both of you to speak about something you are passionate about; you can figure out if the person you are talking to is someone you can get along with. This sort of personality investigation takes much longer if there are few or no common interests.
I see this quite often. When I go shooting at the pistol range, I meet many people who have a similar interest. We often get into conversations about firearms, but the thread usually moves all over the map - I met a local webmaster last week because we started talking about range activities. The common interest started a good conversation.
I think the closeness you are seeing is a result of the common ground we share as monks.
Perl programming and scheduling in the corporate world, as explained by dragonchild:
"Uhh ... that'll take me three weeks, broken down as follows: 1 day for coding, the rest for meetings to explain why I only need 1 day for coding."