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Better Days?

by Argel (Prior)
on Apr 11, 2012 at 02:34 UTC ( #964441=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Reading RFC: Review of "Seekers of Perl Wisdom" description? is pretty disheartening. BrowserUK comments early on:
This place has historically been more tolerant of beginners and their questions . . .
But sadly, I believe that that sense of academia has given way to elitism. It's an aspect that I am sure has always been here in some form, as BrowserUK's mention of Don't go all PerlMonks on me shows, but in the past there was a much better balance between the two (as that post also shows). The problem is illustrated by ww in 964030 when he writes:
If you want to master an avocation, you study the masters... at their sufferance; if you want to succeed at a game, you learn the rules; and if you want to post a question here that's not a reflection of your laziness, read the PerlMonks FAQ.

All of this led to some reminiscing, and I eventually found myself comparing two of my posts: Do Not Feed the Trolls!!! from 2007 and "They've got a cave troll!" from 2011. And I couldn't help but notice the change in tone here at PerlMonks. The sense of humor and the sense of caring about others has faded. And there is no perrin with a link to a great post like that one from Slashdot or someone else posting something similar. And sadly, we see a taste of the future in the first thread when chromatic refers to a long conversation with a troll as "an experiment [that] was well worth my time."

I miss the days when Ovid was an active participant; when blazar was still with us. Or even more recent times, when ELISHEVA was active. Instead, today, I feel that a shadow is being cast over the levity and the helpfulness. Monks in the trenches treat guidelines as rules and regularly use them to browbeat new members. It's more common; we're becoming used to it. Even JavaFan seems more abrasive, not because he is, but because there are fewer Monks that balance him out. And on the leadership front, prominent Monks spent several months overlooking/ignoring/rationalizing away the behavior of a troll, inflicting considerable harm to PerlMonks as a whole. Maybe even irreparable harm?? I would not have thought that possible, but now I am not so sure.

Things weren't always perfect "back in the day", but at least the off-putting behavior was balanced with the spirit of helping others and a more laid back feel to the site. And back then the essence of what PerlMonks was supposed to be still flowed through the halls of the monastery. Today the infamous paco thread feels more like a reminder of better days; of something lost.

BrowserUK also had this to say:

If this place is to move to a stance where you are the arbiter of what is an interesting or legitimate question -- where RTFM or LetMeGoogleThatForYou is the norm -- then this place becomes just like all those other places, and ceases to serve any purpose.
Perhaps I'm just weary from life and work, but it feels like we have begun to head down that path.


Elda Taluta; Sarks Sark; Ark Arks
My deviantART gallery

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Better Days?
by Riales (Hermit) on Apr 11, 2012 at 07:14 UTC

    I just wanted to chime in from the perspective of somebody who hasn't been here all that long (less than a year). I've always found this site to be an invaluable resource and am constantly amazed with the community here; frankly, I find it downright astonishing how quickly and effectively a community of this size can answer any and all questions posited in the SoPW section.

    I learn a great deal by just browsing the Newest Nodes section everyday. Most monks blow me away with how knowledgeable and experienced they are. I sort of feel like I'm swimming among the big fish.

    I admit that sometimes I am surprised at the shortness of some of the answers I see. Still, I am more than willing to overlook a bit of that for the value in the answer itself--more often than not, it seems to be The Right Way To Do $It. I still think it was one of the coolest things ever when I had a question about WWW::Mechanize::FireFox and Corion was available to point me in the right direction. The guy that wrote the module I was using helped me directly! That was amazing.

    Anyways, I just wanted to offer some positivity!

Re: Better Days?
by nemesdani (Friar) on Apr 11, 2012 at 07:33 UTC
    I am a newbie, so treat my words like that. (It's like Newbies Anonymous, isn't it? Hi, I'm Dani and I've been a newbie for 2 months. Clap Hi Dani!)


    Every forum, site, or mailing list has its lifecycles. Sometimes oldtimers are fed up and go away, sometimes new guys with loud voices come in and shape the place.

    PerlMonks is an amazing site, I'm glad I found it and I'm mad at myself not to have joined years ago. I'm not worried that RTFM or LetMeGoogleThatForYou will be the norm as long as there are people to point out that here it isn't the norm.

    Sometimes we need a rant, a reminder, a discussion about where we're heading and if it's a good thing or not.

    But I don't believe in a Golden Age. A Golden Age is NOW for me, because I found this site and I feel good. You don't feel like it anymore - drop some puns, send a few RTFM-trolls away, do whatever you like, but DO something. Like writing this post. :)

    It's not the "site", or "them", it's US. You, me, everybody. If there are enough healthy-minded monks left, the site will always be a good place, if not...that's cyber-evolution for you.
    That was a postmodern post, nothing came out of it, but since Perl is the first postmodern computer language, I don't feel bad about it. Cheers.

    I'm too lazy to be proud of being impatient.
Re: Better Days?
by moritz (Cardinal) on Apr 11, 2012 at 07:00 UTC

    I cannot really comment on most of what you say, because I haven't been around in the "golden ages" that your posting imply was the distant past for Perlmonks.

    But let me tell you that for every community, it is normal that part of the old guard moves on (and sometimes returns briefly, sometimes not), and new people join and bring new life. For you it won't be the same, since you have grown fond of the old guard.

    Anyway, bemoaning the goold old times won't bring them back. What steps will you take? Will you spread humour and tolerance? If so, I'll gladly follow your lead.

Re: Better Days?
by JavaFan (Canon) on Apr 11, 2012 at 08:43 UTC
    This place has historically been more tolerant of beginners and their questions
    Of course.

    Time passes. There was a time noone at Perlmonks had seen a question already a hundred times. But unless people permanently leave Perlmonks after a year or so, we will get more and more people who see the same questions over and over and over again (or worse, the same bad answers). There will come a moment those people will wonder "what's the point of archiving posts, or writing documentation, if noone is going to bother reading them"?

    Note that this isn't a Perlmonks, or even a Perl specific issue. It happens everywhere. The only solution I see is that you have to leave as soon as the question "I have two files, I want to print all lines from the second file that are in the first" doesn't sound a like new and exciting problem anymore.

      I think the actual solution is just to ignore the questions you do not want to answer and let another monk take care of it.

      There's always going to be the guy that just started Perl (or even just started programming)--that's never going to change. They're new to the idea of searching through documentation or archived posts. They don't even know that those resources exist and even if they did, they don't really know how to search through them yet. I think it's sort of like when I was teaching my girlfriend to play L4D2 with me. She was constantly lost and confused as to where to go next because to her, everything looked like a possibility; every door, fenced-off alleyway, window, etc. looked like a possible way forward. I, however, have been playing games for years and years and knew that most of those things were just aesthetic and non-accessible so I could immediately filter those things out.

      I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's always going to be people at each of the various points on the path of learning Perl--it seems to me that it's alright if where you are on the path right now is not a place where you'd want to help the absolute newbies out. There other monks at places on the path that are much closer--they are probably willing to help!

        Very good point. Rookies help total beginners, journeymen help rookies, gurus help journeymen.
        I think everybody can find a problem here worth pondering and / or answering. If it's way below your interest click away and let others deal with it.

        I'm too lazy to be proud of being impatient.

        I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's always going to be people at each of the various points on the path of learning Perl--it seems to me that it's alright if where you are on the path right now is not a place where you'd want to help the absolute newbies out. There other monks at places on the path that are much closer--they are probably willing to help!

        Where are they? It seems there are less questions being asked and less people to effectively answer them at each level. Not just compared to ten years ago but even two or three years ago.

      The only solution I see ...

      Or you could just post links to the last time that question was asked, it works wonders for my excitement level :)

        But then you've prettymuch LMGTFYed the person and that's a bad bad bad thing to do. You are supposed to start with a greeting, a few kind words, then retype the answer once again tweaked to match the names of files, variables or whatever particulars the OP provided and then finish with a few kind words. Pointing the person to something you wrote two weeks ago is rude!

        Enoch was right!
        Enjoy the last years of Rome.

      Isn't front paging supposed to take care of this? Except everyone seems to use NN or RAT. Maybe those two pages need a filter to only show front paged SoPW nodes? It seems like that would cut down on the "too easy" and "asked too many times already" type questions for those tired of them.

      Elda Taluta; Sarks Sark; Ark Arks
      My deviantART gallery

Re: Better Days?
by chromatic (Archbishop) on Apr 11, 2012 at 16:52 UTC

    Someday, these will be the good old days.

      Someday, these will be the good old days.

      Given it is today, they already are.

      Cheers, Sören

Re: Better Days?
by luis.roca (Deacon) on Apr 11, 2012 at 23:37 UTC

    Someone told me when I had similar issues just a few months ago that [sic] "It's not new for you anymore. You've read the tutorials and checked out all the coolest posts that are mostly between 5 and 10 years old. Now you just see it for what it currently is and you don't like what you see."

    Yeah, maybe that's true. Though there are a number of monks I like and want to hear how they're doing, there are less of them around than when I first started getting to know many of you. There are people I haven't seen or heard from in a while and this is only my third year as a monk.

    The other truth, possibly what is most true of all, this is the internet. Getting and giving help on the internet is hard. At least it's hard when the question can't be tied up quickly with a pretty bow and has been repeated dozens of times. It's both more practical and effective to find the answer outside of a web forum (IRC, Stack, whatever.). I have found it more rewarding to scour the documentation, books or, if need be, contact a friend (Even if they're not a Perl programmer, at least for me, it can be boiled down to thinking through the problem better).

    It has nothing to do with skill. I think this is just a difficult way to get answers to non trivial questions. You're sitting in front of a keyboard and need to figure the problem out likely NOW. Even trivial questions will have dozens of possibilities with accompanying opinions. You could go to Stack but I just find that it's different not better.

    So you figure out how to get your own answers and even come up with your own interesting questions to drive you to become better. At least that's the reason for me.

    It doesn't drive me to say: "Goodbye forever." More like: "See you down the road."

    "...the adversities born of well-placed thoughts should be considered mercies rather than misfortunes." Don Quixote
Re: Better Days?
by tweetiepooh (Hermit) on Apr 13, 2012 at 12:53 UTC
    I've always liked PerlMonks because of the way it is setup and works. It's always been a little more imaginative that regular forums and that has come through in the replies too. Of course in Perl, there is always more than one way to do anything, so there is more than one answer or way to answer any query.

    Maybe it's like other societies even work. First there are the explorers, the first in, there is nothing there, they have to forge ways in and solve everything themselves. Then there are the early pioneers, they come into something that works but is still fairly rough and ready, there are rules but not rigidly followed and there is room for experiment and trial. The society is fixed yet neither are it's structures and systems, if something gets broken it's not a huge problem and it gets fixed or replaced. And so it continues but as more people arrive things become more formal and rigid. Those structures and systems are now depended on and they need to be maintained and looked after, guarded and protected both from new comers and from the "old timers" who hark back to when they could do what they liked and everyone respected them because they "did it".

Re: Better Days?
by Don Coyote (Pilgrim) on Apr 12, 2012 at 08:08 UTC

    Forums are forums. And all that goes with forums goes with forums. Troll bashing is a highly respected art, and if the mods are at different levels at this then some newbs are gonna get in the firing line sometimes there. The newbs know this though, but like the twentieth dereference hack attempt you undertake you sure as hell aren't going to read the how to ask a question thread are you? No, and why? Because you asked so many times the wrong way in other forums and got bashed for it that on this forum there isnt possibly a way of asking a question that can be frowned at on here is there?? of course not. Because you love to figure it out the hard way. Thats why you are here. You need the affirmation of the knowledgeable. It is a monastery.

    I greatly enjoy when someone finally asks a question which I feel capable of answering, being newbish myself. A seek I could not find a few months ago I find I can now scribe. I get a great sense of satisfaction. Especially when all the scrolls in the thread so far have been lmgtfy or use Press::Shift&Key or even the criminal "No you can't do that in Perl you just have to..."!

    But I know that I'm not always going to give 'the best' answer but I feel it is only righteous to at least provide an answer I believe will be of the most use and one that I am confident works and answers the question.

    This is where I rely on the more knowledgeble monks to step in with some constructive additions to my answer or even (hopefully not) a complete correction. I also look to the sign off on the question, so a monk I have seen with many writeups having signed the question off allows me to be confident that there isn't some hidden trickery in there that will disrupt my system unawares etc.. this kind of task I'm sure doesnt get enough praise. But how virtuous the Monks do be...

    Perhaps some introspection on your part is required. Are you wasting time in the discussion realms instead of attempting to tackle the latest grotesquification of a knowledge seeker in the hope that one of the arbiters of the monestary will provide the solution to the thing you cant even read let alone answer?

    And anyway famous threads dont just appear in the vaults history, they occur here and now. If it were not for threads like this I couldn't extenuate the mythology myself from visiting all the threads of legend. heheheh. I guess this is like the inevitable flashback episodes you get in all sitcoms, sooner or later you know your going to have to sit through a compilations of memories episode. But you know what, they are good episodes of themselves for that :)

    In short, too long is being spent discussing the semantics of a forum where the language itself is questioned to breaking point on a regular basis. Who knows, maybe Perl6 is just an attempt to make moderating somewhat bearable? A not all too unlikely proposition I cajole.

    By the way, you are likely to recieve more xp, and sooner, if you do read the forum how-to's :D.

Re: Better Days?
by sundialsvc4 (Abbot) on May 17, 2012 at 15:06 UTC

    I would chime in that I believe, and have always believed, that PerlMonks is perhaps the best professional-services web site that I have ever experienced.   Even the more remarkable because it appears to be mostly self-regulating.

    This site, of course, experiences the social dynamics, the trials and the tribulations, that are common to every forum.   But, every single day, many someones come here and almost every one of them is immediately and gladly helped.   The quality of threads even from many years ago, to the extent that their technical content has remained technically relevant, continues to enable them to serve as an ongoing information resource of the highest order.   That is the site’s mission, and that mission is fulfilled.

    Present company perhaps not included, I think that the people who participate here have much to be proud of, and I am grateful to them all without exception.

    “Better days?”   That would be:   today.

Re: Better Days?
by Anonymous Monk on Apr 11, 2012 at 09:13 UTC

    Here is your problem -> Argel Writeups: 832

    You're welcome.

    Nick Burns, Your company's computer guy

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