|Perl: the Markov chain saw|
EDIT: I think that I have made the point I intended as best I can, so rather than reprise my comments as more commenters say similar things, or reach the point of counter-productivity, I will stop adding to this thread. I believe that if you read what I have written here, and in the rest of the thread (in response to objections), with an open mind you can understand my true intentions. I know that many of you will be sure I am here to do something to you, though I can't see how I could, nor why I would want to. Nonetheless, I am glad that PerlMonks is around, and has been the great resource that it is for the Perl community. I am happy to continue to discuss these and other community issues with anyone who has an interest. You can contact me via email using yaakov at the perlfoundation.org domain. Thank you for your feedback. —Ya´akov
Hello, Perl Monks. My name is Ya´akov Sloman, I am the Community Advocate for The Perl Foundation. Many of you will know me, others will recognize me, and many others will not know me at all. While I have been a member of the Perl community since 1995 or so, I have not been a member of the PerlMonks community (though I first looked at PerlMonks prior to 2000.)
I am not insensible to appearing to be an interloper in this community. It is not my intention to impose any particular orthodoxy on PerlMonks. I am the Community Advocate. That is, I am not an advocate for any particular subset of the community, rather, my rôle is to listen to, and advocate for, all parts of the Perl community so long as they are within the bounds of community consensus.
This last bit is the hard part. We, as a community, have grown past the stage where an "organic" consensus is possible. We are large and diverse enough that, the obvious and factually correct "reasonable person principle applies" fails on account of no agreement on what is "reasonable".
Be that as it may, a baseline definition can be asserted. I have no fear in stating that the lower limit of the Perl community, vis-à-vis interaction in public forums, on public IRC channels, and on public mailing lists is tolerance for sincere disagreement and civil discourse.
I am not a pollyanna, nor so naïve as to believe that people will not occasionally exchange harsh words, but when the discussion rises to the level of personal attack, vulgarity, and attempts to injure with words, I cannot accept that as consonant with what I know, from empirical evidence, to be the actual consensus of our community. When a forum calls itself /.*perl.*/i and concerns the Perl programming language it falls under the rubric of "The Perl Community" and members of that community have a right to expect it to reflect their understanding of ethical behavior.
I hasten to point out that I recognize both the fact that PerlMonks has a particular culture, and your right to maintain it. PerlMonks members have great affection for the general style of interaction here. There is no legitimate basis for interfering in this culture, which is more "rigorous" than some other venues. It is not my purpose here to change that. No one outside PerlMonks has any ethical purchase to demand a change to that. It is not the subject of my conversations with PerlMonks.
Rather, I am here to find what must be a common ground that ties all of the groups (however stylistically divergent) together into what we call "the Perl community". I am also here to assert the right of TPF to advocate for a civil and acceptable face of Perl.
From that perspective, I will say this, unequivocally: many posts within the thread that provoked this response were completely unacceptable. They were cowardly (being posted anonymously in order to preserve a reputation), they were rhetorically violent, and they were not in line with any understanding of what is acceptable as representative of our community.
They painted the Perl community in a very bad light, and damaged the reputation of it by association. I disclaim them, they are not Perl community contributions to the discourse surrounding the issues that were being discussed in that thread. They are simply not acceptable to the community at large, and represent an attempt at a heckler's veto to the ideas against which they were directed.
It is important to note that this is not an attempt to quash disagreement, or enforce political correctness. Disagreement is completely legitimate and particularly on PerlMonks, expected. Instead, it is concerned with the methods, style, and content of the offensive posts.
And so, I am hear to voice these concerns and make a request. The request is that you, as PerlMonks, don't ignore the personal attacks when you see them. That you use your standing as a member of the PerlMonks community to show that such things are not the way that we, as members of the larger Perl community expect things to be done. Speak out, or simply downvote the posts that don't match your understanding of how things should go.
It isn't necessary to agree with the poster being attacked to defend them against personal attacks. It isn't assent to the ideas to defend their right to have them. And, by the way, it is completely legitimate to complain to the poster about their own style at the same time. It's not a zero sum game, both parties can be at fault.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope it is the beginning of a dialogue, or better of action, on this issue. I am happy to talk to anyone who would like to speak with me directly about this. I understand it can be sensitive and I am certainly interested in any practical ideas you have to make things better. You can contact me here, or on IRC (yaakov).
In reply to Re: Additions to the FAQ and a Community Statement