At the Y2K, Perl was pretty much at its zenith. It was attracting some of the best minds, was widely deployed, CPAN was expanding apparently exponentially and mod_perl (v1) was arguably the jewel in the crown of IT at the time.

I agree with all of the above.

The only "haters" in evidence were the ColdFusion advocates as their baby was being utterly thrashed by mod_perl.

For "hater" I meant to refer to behavior rather than suggesting types or groups of people. I don't mean something specific to the Perl world. I saw similar issues in many online fora getting steadily worse as the 90s unfolded. I struggled with it myself.

My take on it was/is that online communication encourages hostile tone deaf arguing and it's hard to manage. In many fora, then and now, younger, more sensitive/vulnerable, and friendlier folk generally leave, thicker skinned types tolerate outbursts of vitriol for as long as they chose to or have to, and habitually mean folk are mostly relentlessly mean (even if using supposedly "civil" language) except when they see the error in their ways.

As for "winning the war", in my experience the Perl world seemed by 1999 to host a lot of unempathetic unproductive hostile arguing. Perhaps that was because it was a leader in growth and because it was a flexible, capable and widely deployed language with lots to argue about. But I consider that beside the point.

The problem was somewhat hidden and managed in tech fora where a steady flow of newcomers arrived, especially if moderators pushed participants to generally focus on technical issues and enough old hands successfully adapted to vitriol. But that just swept the problem under the rug.

I get the impression that you either didn't see it in 1999/2000 or saw some of it but weren't unduly concerned. I saw a lot of it and was deeply concerned, and my understanding is that Larry was too and that he instinctively jumped on Jon's mug throwing to attempt a community reboot.

The alternative outcome, imo, if no one had done anything dramatic, would have been that younger, more sensitive/vulnerable, and friendlier folk would have continued to leave Perl or just never have gotten into it in the first place. (And to a large degree I think that that's what happened anyway, despite the Perl 6 project and early attempts by Perl 5 community leaders to improve things. But that doesn't negate the value of starting to turn things around.)

It was later on that Perl started to fade and division and hostility emerged.

From my vantage point the problem with hostility had already spread far, wide and deep in the Perl world by 2000 despite all the good things that were also going on.

Division is all in the mind. We are in fact all in this together. But hostility breeds memes of us/them division and the next thing you know many are thinking it's real and worthy of emotional investment. While there was only one Perl, this was manifested as perl/not-perl. It was unhealthy but didn't appear to directly harm Perl. (It did. Those outside Perl found it repellent. But that wasn't necessarily obvious to Perlers.) Once P6 began, the scope for internal division arose.

Where would you say Python is right now in its trajectory? Guido van Rossum recently gave himself "a permanent vacation from being BDFL" due to emotional exhaustion arising from the arguing about his decision to accept the PEP 572 (allowing assignment to return a value, i.e. the Python equivalent to say $foo = 42 works).

Will the already hostile arguments about Py2 vs Py3 become entrenched division? There is a much stronger rational basis for seeing the Python community as divided than the Perl community given that Py2 has been officially EOL'd but many want Py2 to continue. But whether a sense of bitter communal division takes hold will be based on how they discuss it. To the degree discussion is hostile, unnecessary division will emerge. To the degree discussion is kind, a sense of a unified community will emerge.

After the release of 5.6 there was a bit of a brain drain as some of the brightest were lured away to work on P6.

I'm curious what you mean by lured. My fear would be that you think P6ers actively tricked P5ers into helping with P6. Hopefully you just mean P6 was more appealing. And hopefully you recognize that that is a good thing; P6 solves very deep problems P5 is still facing today because it's impossible to fix them without thoroughly breaking full backwards compatibility with the P5 language and run-time. And it needed smart minds to pull that off. Now Perl has both P5 and P6 and a bright future. As Larry said in his speech "it is our belief that Perl 5 will be better supported {by developing P6} than it would be if we merely tried to guard what we already have. The best defense is a good offense.".

The future of Perl is that it will continue to improve in terms of efficiency and features but that fewer and fewer people will care. But I will still be one of them.

I see a bright future. I would prefer that more and more people cared but sustainability is the key for me and that means we need kindness and an influx of young people. My hope is that those of us in the community will care for each other as well as Perl, Perl 5, Perl 6, and our BDFL. If we do that, I think the influx will take care of itself.


In reply to Re^6: The Future of Perl 5 by raiph
in thread The Future of Perl 5 by Laurent_R

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