Glad to be part of the Perl Community

I’ve mentioned this in at least one previous post before, but it bears repeating.

First off, here’s some context for the varied information I am about to throw out at you, dear reader. I keep in touch with both the Ruby and Rails worlds because I think they have some really good ideas. Recently there was a conference session about CouchDB. I read the slides and I was impressed. CouchDB is cool stuff! The method of presenting the information was a little weird, but I didn’t think he went too far. Little did I know that he actually showed a lot more in the actual session. (read: actual porn.) It was a big deal and a lot of people have strong feelings about what went down.

Update: See Giles’ comment; I can’t hear sarcasm on the internet; mea culpa.

I’ve mentioned Giles Bowkett before. He’s an amazing coder and often he’s a good guy, but sometimes he just has some strange ideas. Or at least that’s how I feel. Here’s a highlight from the previous link:

DHH is a god. He’s not just another programmer, whose code we should analyze, learn from, or improve. He is our leader. If DHH likes REST, we all like REST. If DHH refuses to apologize for anything ever, we all refuse to apologize for anything ever. This is the Rails Way and we must honor it. In fact, I would go to say that if we see DHH refusing to apologize for being rude when he’s right, we should go a step further and refuse to apologize for being a dick when we’re wrong.

After all, if you criticize somebody important in the Rails world, you don’t get an apology from them. You get banned from conferences. You should know who’s important, and you should kiss their ass, no matter what kind of scum they might be. If you think things should be different, then you should fuck off and go write Python like Zed Shaw.

That’s an interesting thought. I can understand loyalty. In the past year I’ve developed a lot of loyalty to the Perl world, and even specific people. I would say that I have a similar amount of loyalty to Larry Wall. But I would also say that I always have reservations to my loyalty to people. People are never perfect and I will never blindly listen to what they say. Especially when it comes to non-technical issues like ethics.

Here are a couple points of view that certain women have come to (I found these on _why’s blog).

Audrey Eschright: Ruby (and Rails in particular) loves the rock star image. You see it in job posts, how people talk about their work, and the way Rubyists rant on their blogs. It’s macho, it can be offputting to both genders, and it makes it easy in this kind of situation to say, “what’s your problem? I’m just busy being awesome”. It’s also a significant barrier to adoption for people who aren’t already a part of this culture, and don’t find it appealing.

Victoria Wang: DHH’s attitude seems to say that the more we lower ourselves to the most base level of marketing scum in the name of entertainment, the better, even if at the end of the day there are no more women, or anyone worth knowing, in the room. It kind of makes me want to never touch Rails code again.

But the Rails world isn’t always this way, and I am confused that certain people have come to the conclusion they have. Remember Giles’ thoughts before, about following DHH to the end of the earth, or at least to sexism? Giles recently had a post about how he wanted rails to be a welcoming community to homosexuals. How can you be open to people of different sexual orientations, but not to people of a different sex?

But then of course they have people like raganwald. If I could magically become someone, it would be raganwald + _why. Brilliant, hilarious, and good. Raganwald posted a few days ago with some thoughts that I think apply to the situation going down right now. I highly recommend reading it. But if you can’t I’ll apply it for you: the Rails community is not bad. Their various coders are quite smart and often good, but these recent events are not ok, and defending what happened is even worse.

And then on the other hand we have the Perl world. We certainly aren’t perfect. I think that often Perl programmers are stuck in the past and not willing to change things for the better. I can feel that changing though…

Recently Ovid has been posting a lot about Roles and apparently there was recently quite the debacle on use.perl.org. I didn’t read it because reading comments on use.perl.org is just too painful. But what I am getting at is that things were said that hurt other people. But unlike the current Rails situation, Ovid apologized.

You don’t have to have a huge ego to be awesome.

Posted Wed, May 6, 2009