|XP is just a number|
On reflection I disagree with Hanamaki. A thing I've noticed about Perlmonks is that it actually is a community, in a way that so many other places on the web are not. People here have personalities, not just personas. And a feature of real communities, even ones founded around a single common interest, is that the rest of life spills into them. I just got back from a fund-raiser for a local sheltered housing project, and sure, we talked about sheltered housing - but we also talked about New York and DC.
In real communities, people talk about what's on their minds. They don't perhaps come to the community with the intention of unburdening themselves. They come to write code. But they don't check the rest of their mind at the door. So in the first place it won't be possible to stop people talking about this. It's going to happen - and siblings who don't want to read it just have to exercise the same self-control they exercise (or not) by not wasting hours coming up with obfu.
But to my mind, it's nothing but a sign of health when we can talk about this kind of thing. Not that that is what the monastery is for; what it's for is perl. But we do perl by exchanging ideas and skills and information in an open free-form way. And that happens best in an atmosphere where people can be themselves, where they're not just here for technical purposes. It happens best in a community.
In short, perlmonks will only be a good technical community if it's a technical community.
Sibling Hanamaki's point about creating dissension and bad feeling and breaking down the community is well taken. If that were a danger, it would be something we should try and stop. Though as I say, I don't think anyone could stop it because if somebody wants to post, he's going to post, more so if you try shut him up. But my experience is that it doesn'tthreaten the community. I've read views I agree with and views I don't agree with; but almost without exception I have respected the seriousness with which they are expressed and held. I have disagreed strenuously with other monks (for example about Afghanistan, where I worked for a year, a country I love dearly and which I fear is grossly misunderstood - glad to take that one up at a later date!). But to my mind this can only strengthen the community. Maybe it wouldn't strengthen other, weaker communities. But we have enough in common and, I must say, a high enough average level of getting-over-ourselves and general maturity, that for us here, I think strenuous debate is a positive force.
One other thing that real communities do, is they go on and on about how the community works and what's wrong with it and what's right with it and how it ought to change, yada yada, and this too is a form of discourse that binds the community together. Any damn' fool can agree to differ: but I think the arguments that go on here are both founded on, and constructive of, the large common ground we have. To which Hanamaki, by stimulating this conversation, has also contributed.
§ George Sherston