in reply to Why Perl in 2020

"Well first, we finally got rid of the Rakudo shadow, and Perl 7 is on it’s way. I can’t believe we didn’t see this textbook example on how to kill a good existing product: advertise the new one is coming, before it’s even born. There are so many examples in history, of organizations shooting themselves in the foot this way, it’s even stupid. And yet, we did exactly that. The way Perl 6 was managed was really destructive to our beloved language, and our community. Yet here we are. We survived, we are tired and demoralized, yes. But I truly think we can finally start to heal and oxygenate the ecosystem with the coming of Perl 7."

It is difficult for me to express how angry, disappointed, sad, mad, and enraged I am because of this paragraph. And all those people who reacted to the whole post as a supreme bit of wisdom. I guess nobody needs to wonder any more why I (and other) left the Perl community. Please be free from the shackles we from that damned language put on your ankles. Free at last, heh? Good luck with your next disaster, Perl 7.

Yes, I am angry. And I know some of you are happy to see me go. For good. Rid of my shadow.

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Re^2: Why Perl in 2020
by Discipulus (Abbot) on Dec 10, 2020 at 12:37 UTC
    Dear woolfy,

    Even if I was never deeply involved in the Perl world I know you as a fundamental column of the community.

    I never commented about perl5/6/7/camelia/raku/whatsoever because I have no knoweledge nor skills to apport something useful to the discussion. Nor I never had the time to investigate nothing but (classic) perl.

    I hear my name in your:

    > all those people who reacted to the whole post as a supreme bit of wisdom.

    I still think the original post is a bit of wisdom and I intentionally avoided the perl5/6/7/raku/whatsoever part in my comment.

    But dont you know, being around for many years, that many people think this way? In many degrees, variations and shades? Perl6 did not changed the name to Raku?

    A community must be sensible and sensitive about people perceptions in all its shades and taking a common denominator to progress as community.

    If you get angry for the opinion you quoted, it means the wound is still open and I'm sorry for this.

    I hope the best future for all projects perl5/6/7/raku/whatsoever and I'd not cast a disaster word to no one of these pieces.

    As you can imagine I'm not happy at all (and I'm sure most of us) to see you go away, nor to see you angry. Democracy, or well freedom of expression, often offers mouthful hard to swallow but get angry does not help.


    There are no rules, there are no thumbs..
    Reinvent the wheel, then learn The Wheel; may be one day you reinvent one of THE WHEELS.
      Thank you for kind words. They lessen my anger, but increase my sadness. Because they made me think back to the time when I decided I had to leave the Perl-community, and later the Raku-community too. Sadness also because I do not see enough reasons to come back on that decision. I do not see the need for anybody on this forum to write so negatively about Raku.
Re^2: Why Perl in 2020
by ait (Hermit) on Dec 10, 2020 at 18:51 UTC

    I truly apologize if this generated any bad sentiment. Maybe I could have used a better choice of words, but I was trying to preach a reconciliatory message here, so pls. don’t kill the messenger. The result of Perl 6 is what it is, regardless of the effort and intention. I surely am not blaming Perl 6 per se, or targeting any particular group, and much less any individuals. When I say “ management” I am referring to the marketing aspects, not the execution and/or the product as such. My point is that it should have never been advertised as Perl 6. And this started with Larry Wall himself...

    You don’t start a new version of a product by advertising: well you know what, Perl 5 is hopelessly broken and I’m going to set out to do it right this time. Lots of people were quite happy with the sigils and obscure magic variables and all the other quirks of Perl 5, and felt betrayed. There was no need to start off a project by trashing your old design and alienate a big portion of your loyal followers who actually love these “features” that you are NOW calling design flaws. People may not want to admit it in public, Mr. Wall, but I personally found that very distasteful and hypocritical when you’ve been preaching almost the opposite in the past few decades (linguistic origins, write what you mean, TIMTOWTDI, etc.) So NOW we want to clean up the language and make it more “appealing” and “correct”. How do you think that made the community feel as whole? When the founder himself is almost saying: well Perl 5 was fun but it was a mistake. Let’s create a language for the “future generations”, wtf? What happened to THIS generation, where do I, the CURRENT Perl hacker fit into all this? That OBVIOUSLY alienated a lot of people from BOTH Perl 5 AND Perl 6.

    And if that wasn’t enough damage, we top it off by calling it Perl 6, and then take over a decade to deliver it. Making the whole language and both communities (now weakened and divided) become the laughing stock of the Internet. Like you, a lot of people simply left, and we let Python take over the world, even in bioinformatics! THAT is shameful. Everybody is angry and sad. It’s not just you. It’s all of us. We ALL screwed up, and we ALL lost, my friend.

    The post was not about trying to show off a supreme bit of wisdom. It was to finally say that it’s time to heal and it’s time for both projects to succeed in their own right. Perl 6 was never a successor of Perl 5, and that is clear to everyone now. THAT is what I meant by “shadow” and I’m sorry you took it the wrong way,

    It was a mistake that it started the way it did, but I am sure that no one had bad intent, especially not Mr. Wall, and surely none of us in the mere mortal user community. But the fact of the matter is, that a starting a NEW language and calling it Perl 6, hurt everyone. And I think it’s time we allow for these two projects to heal, make peace, and move forward in their own right, and hopefully together.

      Apology accepted.

      In my recollection, Perl 6 did not start with marketing. It started out of frustration because of several problems that were needed to be solved to move forward with Perl 5, and solving those problems would mean breaking backward compatibility. It started with a cup-throwing moment. With groups of people sitting around and discussing and writing down things that needed to change. It took quite some time before marketing came into it.

      Looking back to those years, I still think that when more people would have joined in, helping development of Perl 6, a functioning programming language could have come into existence before Pugs was made by Audrey Tang. If more people would have joined in to for instance convert a lot of modules from Perl 5 to Perl 6, to make a grammar in Perl 6 to execute Perl 5 code, both Perl 5 and Perl 6 would have benefited greatly. Instead, many people felt betrayed, and I remember mostly from those years a lot of flame-wars and a lot of people leaving and not returning.

      Marketing... I still have stickers and buttons that say "we suck at marketing". We really do. Looking back at my own efforts in marketing Perl (5|6), I wonder how that money, time and energy could have been used better. Marketing for Perl has never been an impressive thing. I doubt more marketing would have improved a lot: we needed educational materials so Perl could be taught at schools and universities, talks about Perl at big conferences, articles about Perl in important magazines, etc, and I have been at brainstorm sessions to make overviews of what needed to be done, and we just did not have enough volunteers to do these things, or money to hire people to get them done.

      Most of those problems from the beginning still exist in Perl 5, and breaking backward compatibility still causes anger, as was shown with the changes in smart match by Zefram.

      I still love Perl. Both Perl 5 and Raku.

        In my recollection, Perl 6 did not start with marketing. It started out of frustration because of several problems that were needed to be solved to move forward with Perl 5, and solving those problems would mean breaking backward compatibility. It started with a cup-throwing moment. With groups of people sitting around and discussing and writing down things that needed to change. It took quite some time before marketing came into it.

        Interesting. I remember a lot of discussion about Perl 6 history a while back in a very long thread, Curious about Perl's strengths in 2018, where the second-system effect was mentioned. Though there are many historical examples of when rewriting worked well (like the Perl 5 "rewrite" of Perl 4) ... and where it worked not so well (like the Perl 6 "rewrite" of Perl 5) ... I still find it a hard and perplexing problem.

        The early Perl 6 folks acknowledged this potential pitfall from the beginning, even using it in their slogan (Apocalypse 12):

        The official unofficial slogan of Perl 6 is "Second System Syndrome Done Right!"

        Larry gave further background in InfoWorld Larry Wall Interview (2015):

        So early on, our slogan, or at least one of them, was "Second System Syndrome Done Right." And how do you do that? Well, you just have to take long enough. Companies can't do that because they have a bottom line and a burn rate. But we're an open source community, not needing to make a profit, only to do good in the world. So you know the saying, "Good, fast, cheap: pick two." Well, by definition our community has to do it cheap, so the saying reduces to "Good, Fast: pick one." And we quite intentionally picked good rather than fast.

        See also: Three Tales of Second System Syndrome (blog by Brent Laabs where he discusses Perl 6, Python 3, and PHP 6 circa 2015).

        Thank you for that insight, most of us on the outskirts don't know the internal details. By outskirts, I mean the mere mortal users of the language like myself, who may not contribute to the core lang, but we evangelize and keep the language alive. It may seem irresponsible that we voice an opinion w/o having actually lived the internals of the ordeal, but ultimately a computer language, no matter how great, can only be kept alive if it's able to maintain a strong and loyal community of people that actually love and use thing in their daily work.

        Yes, the marketing did suck and that's the key takeaway, because it felt like disfranchisement of the community at large. For example, I remember an early talk about Perl 6 at OSCON (IIRC by Damian Conway) and honestly the invariant sigil thing rubbed me the wrong way, in fact it pissed me off. It didn't feel like an evolution to me. It felt more like we were succumbing to pressures to keep the language "clean", which I believe is exactly the opposite of what gives Perl and it's community the charm in the first place. Like the sigils there was a whole bunch of little (and some, not so little) changes like that made people feel "betrayed". Call it stupid, childish, cargo cult, or whatever but the result is in the pudding.

        Larry is brilliant, no doubt about that. But the Perl 6 branding was, in hindsight, nefarious. By Larry's talk at Google in 2008, it should have been OBVIOUS that calling this "Perl 6" was a really bad idea, and maybe there could have been a chance of an earlier course correction, but by that time, and IMHO, the damage was already done. Although not as much damage, of course, as waiting until 2019 to realize this.

        Like Steve Jobs once said "it's easy connecting the dots looking backwards" and for those of us that weren't there it seems obvious to us now, but if you were there, right smack in the middle of it, like woolfy's case, my OP must seem very insulting. Again, it was not my intention, and I fully acknowledge that I don't have the moral authority to express a qualified forensic opinion on the matter. Nevertheless, I can assure you that a lot of people on both sides of the isle felt GREAT RELIEF when the rebranding of Raku was announced as well as the announcement of the release of Perl 7. It was alike a HUGE weight was lifted, and I think a lot of people would agree with this.

        Who knows, maybe we can all agree on this, lick the wounds, and move on. Let's continue to make Perl and it's offspring the best languages on earth!!

        Thanks again for the great discussion!


        Does anyone know if a formal Five Whys-like post-mortem was ever attempted on the original Perl 6 project? Or the abandoned Topaz and Ponie projects?

        ... and breaking backward compatibility still causes anger, as was shown with the changes in smart match by Zefram

        Just as an aside - I haven't seen any activity from Zefram for quite some time, now. From memory, he was quite active on p5p (and even had a grant) leading up to the release of 5.30, but I've seen nothing from him since.
        Is that the reason ? Has he, too, been made to feel that his inputs are no longer appreciated ?

        many people felt betrayed

        By whom? I don't know (or, at least, don't recall) a lot of the details from that time, but it seems like maybe this was really a failure of management. Larry is a brilliant guy, but maybe, in retrospect, his decision to let Perl 6 be "the community's rewrite" didn't work out so well.

        I reckon we are the only monastery ever to have a dungeon stuffed with 16,000 zombies.
Re^2: Why Perl in 2020
by Anonymous Monk on Dec 10, 2020 at 18:40 UTC
    Good luck with your next disaster, Perl 7.
    Thanks for this outburst. P6 was demonstrably bad for Perl, given that it isn't Perl. You say you left, yet here you are, spreading the bad vibes, really sounds like you moved on to more positive hangouts