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Re: Some recent DNA threads

by marto (Archbishop)
on Apr 29, 2012 at 14:01 UTC ( #967936=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Some recent DNA threads

I know very little about this field of study. I do know that a university local to me have recently begun bioinformatics electives. I'm sure this happens every term and isn't unique to this establishment. The students have no Perl (or in the majority of cases any programming) experience, the course is very poor but this is something which is being addressed in the near future. I don't agree that all of these posts are coming from 'researchers' (or people pretending to be researchers) or that everyone in the field must be 'really, really smart'.

I'm sure people who spend long periods of time here begin to notice trends in popularity of certain topics, bioinformatics being one of them. To me this is hardly surprising. Like a lot of people using Perl to solve a problem, they're not computer science students, or employed to write code they're just trying to achieve a goal. Some could care less how this is achieved.

When people show up here with a vague specification or check list of goals they want to achieve I tend to advise the walk "before you can run" approach of learning the basics of the tools being used. Sometimes people don't want to hear this, often because they just want the end result rather than to learn from the journey. I find failure to do so results in thread after thread of the same question being posted, see davidos reply to How can I count the number and kinds of letters at 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions of 3-letter words in a string?, which is one of the threads you mention.

To address some other points you raise, not everyone speaks English fluently, they may not be writing papers or sitting courses in English, simply trying to ask questions in English here. See List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers. There may be a shortage of people working in this field, even if this is the case it doesn't necessarily mean that these questions are from industry/academic professionals.

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Re^2: Some recent DNA threads
by davido (Archbishop) on Apr 29, 2012 at 15:31 UTC

    The problem is not unique to Perl, nor to recent history. A few interesting MJD articles:

    In the case of these bioinformatics questions, I tend to agree that they're not the result of some highly intellectual researcher who happens to be so frazzled by some problem that he finds himself posting incoherent and poorly-specified problems to PerlMonks. It is far more likely that the undergraduate class BIO239, required as a prerequisite for an associates degree in Medical Records Processing has suddenly added a section on automating genome searches with Perl. The professor enjoys Perl as a hobby, and actually understands some of it, but not well enough to effectively teach non-programmer undergrads how to (a) feel the same passion he has for this hobby, and (b) how to become programmers, and Perl programmers at that, in the course of a few weeks.

    Repeat some variation on this theme across a bunch of universities, community colleges, and degree mills throughout the world, and it's not surprising we get a few kooky posts here as a result.

    As often as I can, I try to just ignore them and move on. Sometimes they pose interesting problems if you can see through the haze of the poster's misunderstanding of programming and/or the problem domain. In those cases, occasionally I'll take a shot at it just out of curiosity. Sometimes I'm feeling good-natured, and try to encourage the poster to learn how to learn Perl so that he can answer the question himself. And sometimes I fire off some pissy comment, realizing about a half second after clicking 'create' that I shouldn't bother, and really shouldn't lower myself.

    I do miss the days when we were frequented by people who just loved Perl because of how cool it is. It may be my imagination, but it seems that it's becoming harder (not only here... just about everywhere) to find the really thought-provoking and interesting posts.


      I do miss the days when we were frequented by people who just loved Perl because of how cool it is. It may be my imagination, but it seems that it's becoming harder (not only here... just about everywhere) to find the really thought-provoking and interesting posts.

      I miss those times too. Though looking around at a few home nodes, it seems that many of those people still visit this place -- though perhaps less frequently than previously -- but for the most part, they no longer post.

      It would be interesting to know why that is.

      With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

      The start of some sanity?

        Are there any greenfield websites, in the Alexa Top 500, created after 2003, that use Perl?

        Perl 5 has so many forks, PHP, Ruby, Kurila. That is not good.

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