Two words. Approachable people.
When I first joined (seems way back, but only a couple of years), I found the following:
- good advice - I am now 100% using strict and warnings (and taint on new code)
- any poster that talked down to someone was chastised - even if they were technically right and tone was unintentional. And the chastisement is generally informational rather than a slap on the wrist - some of us need to code better, some of us need to communicate better - but we're ALL learning :)
And it helps that there's a core of great people (they know who they are :) who always manage to answer even the harshest posts without malice, and who do their utmost to stop the (few) flame wars from getting out of control.
Now if only paco would come back...
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