This is a question about the real value of community-based discussion forums, whether they be Perl Monks, comp.lang.perl.misc, efnet #perl or even other "geek forums" like Slashdot. This is not an attack on any one forum (and please don't reply with flames about how much you hate this or that :).

But after a recent CB discussion, I've come to the realization that maybe these forums are doing more harm than good. Maybe they waste more time than the educational value one derives from them. In fact, I've even considered completely isolating myself from all of the aforementioned forums (and a few others) for one year, to see if perhaps it would increase my focus on programming, and be the best for my development as a hacker.

Obviously, the community aspect of Perl is a huge thing for me. Coming from other languages (augh) has more than shown me the importance of knowing that there are people out there to answer your questions, in fact, often already having solved the exact problem you're facing. I truly can't emphasize this enough.

But why is it so difficult to participate in almost any discussion on efnet #perl without getting flamed or kick/banned? Likewise (though unlike the latter, this is not something I can remember facing specifically) on clpmisc, it seems like there is more fighting going on than helpful replies.

Is it complete coincidence that Larry and The Damian never seem to frequent these forums? But then again, there are others who are all around these parts whose books are the ones I read to learn Perl. :)

And then there's the more controversial analysis in the post: The Monastery itself. Perhaps Perl Monks's approach of newbie-friendliness, often answering FAQish type questions rather than referring to docs isn't teaching newbies the right way to learn. (Yes, you are seeing correctly, that FAQ is something I asked :) In fact, I often agree with the clpmisc/#perl approach of "read perldoc <whatever>" as being the best way to answer a question, because it fosters technical accuracy and teaches people how to do the research for themselves. I also definitely do believe that all the pod is there for a reason: because somebody (among others, of course) spends lots of time writing and maintaining it, and to overlook it is an insult to the hard work they've done.

So again, why is it then that Larry and The Damian never seem to be around these discussion forums?

Is there any one of these forums (or another perhaps) commonly referred to as "the best" source of information?

Does one really need to use any of these to become an excellent hacker? Or would one actually be better off developing the discipline to stay away from them? (ie. Perhaps they're just entertainment value!?)

Would all the time on Perl Monks/IRC/newsgroups be better spent in front of a book and/or a text editor?

Has anyone else "had it" with all the (flame|holy)wars going on?