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Your question: Why have peer communities? My answer: for the same reason we have uprofessors, schoolteachers and fellow students. They place us in an environment with our peers where through interaction and the socratic method we can learn much more quickly and efficiently.

Suppose, as a small child of 9, you were suddenly to thrown you into the New York Public library and locked there until age 21. Your orders are to "educate yourself" in those dozen years. How efficient could you really be seeking out the perls :-) of wisdom from those millions of books? My guess is that, isolated from your peers and the rest of society, you would come out an idiot and would not be able to function in the real world though you spent the last 12 years diligently reading.

Are books important? Of course! But learning Perl from books alone is like saying you went to college because you bought and read all the required textbooks. I try my best to learn from the books and not waste the time of others. I try to use Perl Monks when I'm stuck. I'm no idiot and I'm a great self-learner. It's just a hell of a lot more efficient to ask someone. I've got a hell of a lot more better things to do than to turn a code over in my head for a half hour because a passage in a book is not written clearly simply because it's "more disciplined" approach. There are very few people, the super-geniuses amongst us, who don't need to seek outside help. But for the rest of us mere mortals, thank God for places like Perl Monks.

It's true that Perl is no high art and is very technical in nature. It does however, still have a culture. And it's places like PerlMonks that I've learned a lot about the philosophy of programming and Perl. I've enjoyed reading about the trials and tribulations of Perl programmers out there in the real world. It has given me a much deeper sense of Perl is and the culture that has grown up around it, more than what any book ever could.

As far as flame wars and such, I'd attribute that to a lot of immature punk kids. Hell, that's the kind of junk I said when I was 16. It's just part of being young male. I don my best to ignore it cuz there's not much I can do about it. One reason I like PerlMonks so much is because it seems the culture of Perl has triumphed over the culture of teenage boyhood.

Ah, well, back to studying Perl in isolation!

In reply to Re: IRC vs. Newsgroups vs. Web Forums by nysus
in thread IRC vs. Newsgroups vs. Web Forums by mothra

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