I've been very busy lately, but I had to post this. I recently was reading the perl5-porters list digest (see a copy at") and came upon this section:

Casey West came up with the great idea of having a mailing list for Perl beginners. It's worth quoting extensively from his post:

I have been throwing around the idea of a central place where Perl newcomers can come and ask FAQ questions and the like. My dream is to funnel all the RTFM traffic from p5p, c.l.p.* and other such places. I would like to see a place where the newbies are accepted as people who just don't know yet. ...

There are a few crucial things that must take place in order to make this list as effective as possible:

  • Moderation. Flames must be removed at all times. It should be easy to be the newbie.
  • Direction. Archives are a valuable resource. We don't do homework.
  • Publicity. List and News Group FAQ's can and should list perl-newbies as the primary source for simple, 'new commer' questions. Questions of this nature should be immediatly redirected to perl-newbies.
  • Teachers. They can and will ask, we must answer.

So far, so good. I was thinking to myself: Wow! This sounds like the perfect description of PerlMonks. So imagine my horror at the next paragraph:

At first I thought PerlMonks was this thing, however, PerlMonks is not an environment where newbies are allowed to ask simple questions answered in the documentation.

Ouch! Is that really the reputation we are getting from some people? I can sort of see their point - some newbies *are* treated roughly around here - whether with a "do your own stinkin' homework" or a terse RTFM-like response. Certainly on the balance, however, I feel that we *do* help newbies.


Rather than turn this into a raging debate, let's tip our hats to Casey for thinking about creating yet another resource for Perl, and accept the paragraph as some constructive criticism.

I will put forth the theory almost everyone here *means* well, but perhaps some of us have forgotten what it is like to truly be a "newbie" to the world of Perl, or even to programming/computers in general. The obvious isn't. They may not know what a manpage is. They may not even know about the existence of the Camel book. They may have just had Perl thrust upon them suddenly and someone has pointed out our site as a good place for help. Let's not disappoint these people. Here are some suggestions I humbly offer: