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Re: Re: Writing answers for newbie questions

by footpad (Abbot)
on Jun 27, 2001 at 09:15 UTC ( #91834=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: Writing answers for newbie questions
in thread Writing answers for newbie questions

It is written in the Third book of Camel:

Most important, you don't have to know everything there is to know about Perl before you can write useful programs. You can learn Perl "small end first." You can program in Perl Baby-Talk, and we promise not to laugh. Or more precisely, we promise not to laugh any more than we'd giggle at a child's creative way of putting things...Any level of language proficiency is acceptable in Perl culture. We won't send the language police after you. A Perl script is "correct" if it gets the job done before your boss fires you.
--Preface, pp xix-xx. (emphasis added).

No one expects you to "dumb down" your experience or writing style to Baby Perl, however, I've found that the wisest of comunicators understands, at least in part, the amount of "TRVTH" their audience can take in a given session. This is, I think, part of what [merlyn|Larry|Tom|whoever](*) was getting at when he wrote the above.

(Note, that's an assumption, one based solely on his writings here and elsewhere. If it's a bad one, then please feel free to insert the proper author's name. The point being the same...whoever originally keyed those words understood that Perl is a language with many levels and many subtleties...and that everyone must learn to crawl before they can leap tall idioms in a single bound...yes, even Clerk Kant.)

I agree that we should be willing to challenge people as needed and as appropriate...however, is it not true that each finds their own path along the Perl Way? Is it not true that some may need to work their way through less than ideal solutions before they arrive at the "best" ones? Also, who's to say that any single solution is precisely the exact answer that's best for every need? Each problem is unique, as is each poster. Some approaches are more effective than others, certainly...however, I believe that part of Perl's flexibility stems from the fact that someone understood that it was better to provide flexible interfaces and tools, rather than rigid, dogmatic ones (ala C++, imho).

Personally, I have no problems asking for clarifications when I don't get it. However, not everyone has that much of a spine. Some would take an RTFM screed far more pointedly (and personally) than others...and that's (in part) why I think the Monastery has a bit of a bad rep regarding the treatment of newcomers.

Finally, as someone who has spent hours composing replies in other fora...yes, it sometimes takes that long to hazard a good guess. However, when you do it correctly, you gain more than the "win" of being also help someone else see the light. In addition, you also help those that aren't directly involved in the conversation..yeah, the lurkers. Your online words have a broader audience than your RL-words.

No one doubts your skill and we're certainly now asking for a line-by-line breakdown. However, when you're doing something that might seem tricky to a new person, it doesn't seem unreasonable to include HREF links, man page references, or other Resources for further consideration. Signposts, if you will, into the land of imagination...the Twi...Oh, wait...sorry. Wrong intro.


(*) - Update: I've been told via a private /msg that passage was originally written by Larry himself. Can anyone confirm that?

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Re: Writing answers for newbie questions
by Abigail (Deacon) on Jun 27, 2001 at 22:30 UTC
    I am aware of the quote in the third Camel. However, said quote only mentions the existance of Baby Perl. It doesn't define what Baby Perl is. In fact, it strongly suggests everyone has his/her own Baby Perl.

    And that's just fine. However, in no way this quote implies one should be expected to be addressed in Baby Perl. There isn't a single book written in Baby Perl. No manual page in the Perl distribution talks in Baby Perl. Yet many books are aimed at beginners, and so are tutorials in the main distribution.

    Here's an experiment. Get married. Get twins. Call them Angela and Bobby. Separate them. Expose Bobby only to language at his own level. "Dadadadadada" when he's a baby, and one syllable, one word sentences when he's a toddler. Only use words he already knows. To Angela on the other hand, you only talk normally. Normal sentences, with verbs, subjects and objects. On each birthday, compare their linguistic development. Describe the differences. Motive your answer.

    And even if you remain convinced you should talk Baby Perl to people asking questions, you still have a practical problem. You will not know what they know. Will you not use a substitution in an answer because you think they don't know substitutions? What about hashes? grep? strict? -w? Perhaps they don't know open has a useful return value. Should you ignore the return value in your answer? Not use Not use pack? Not use substr?

    -- Abigail

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