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Re^5: Anonymous Monk?

by JavaFan (Canon)
on Jan 18, 2011 at 10:38 UTC ( #882845=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re^4: Anonymous Monk?
in thread Anonymous Monk?

The monks-in-a-monastery metaphor doesn't naturally support the notion of allowing visitors to participate as equals in the lives of the brethren.
Oh, you're so wrong.

Over here, it's quite the hype to "retreat" to a monastery for a weekend, a week, or even longer. And you're expected (but not forced) to join the monks in Vespers (and other prayer services), but not in brewing ale. Just like anonymous monks here, they can join the prayer services (participating in discussions), but they cannot brew ale (vote, frontpage, approve notes, ...).

But if your complaint is that Perlmonks doesn't actually "jibe with the monastic ethos", there's a lot more to complain about. Monks are not supposed to have an individuality (anonymous monks would actually be closer to a monastic "ethos" than high profile users are). There's a strict hierarchy. Monks must obey their superiors. Up to very recently, in many monastries monks (and nuns) had to break all ties with the world outside the monastery, including close family. Not even allowed to go home if their parents were dying. I know a nun who, when she joined her order, was only allowed visitors once a year - and she and her family had to be separated by a fence. Monks have no or little worldly possessions. They are celibate* (well, at least Christian monks are supposed to be celibate). Monasteries would not mix genders (though it used not to be uncommon to have a male abbot as head of a nunnery).

Perlmonks doesn't come anywhere close to any monastic ethos. Christian, Buddhist, or anything else. "Perlmonks" is just a name, probably a play on ".pm". But for the rest, it looks and acts as much as a monastery as a it looks and acts as a bike or a fish. Besides, with all the recent child abuse scandals surfacing, I don't think I even want to pretent to belong to a monastery.

In hindsight, perhaps I was suggesting we abandon the current conceit and adopt a new one. How about we pretend instead to be politicians in the government of a representative democracy?
How about we stop pretending that we are pretending to be anything? We're just people who use Perl. Nothing more, nothing less.

*Yeah, yeah, in practice, many programmers are as well. One wouldn't be posting in nerdy forums if one had a life, now would one?

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Re^6: Anonymous Monk?
by Jim (Curate) on Jan 18, 2011 at 18:26 UTC


    This is a very rigorous analysis of the metaphor—a metaphor that I agree with you probably originated as little more than a play on ".pm" or some such. My more casual and much less deeply thought out perception of the monks-in-a-monastery pretense is that PerlMonks is a fraternity and its participants feign brotherhood. You see this every day in posts that begin with monkish salutations.

    My only point—the one I made in my original post—is that the PerlMonks' Anonymous Monk username, which is so often used here, doesn't seem to me to be very (How shall I put it?) brotherly-loving. You and others have explained various reasons why the generic username is useful and desirable and I accept those rationales on their merits. I make no specific argument against them.

    I'm outclassed by the rhetorical skills of others here who write better and more persuasively than I do. I cannot win an intellectual argument with people who are much cleverer than I am. Nonetheless, I believe the downsides of the generic Anonymous Monk username likely outweigh its benefits. That's my gut sense of the thing.

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