October 24, 2004
Now excuse me while I punish myself for actually using the word "linkblog" twice in this entry. Would someone please find a better word for it so we can finally start shooting people using words that end in blog?
In Why Some Online Communities Never Make It Lineman writes:
(...) inevitably, someone with very little maturity would show up and make the boards miserable for weeks at a time. You could always tell because they were on for hours at a time and would post every thought that came to their head, lacking the understanding that it is more important to listen than to speak. For some reason, they seem to be missing the part of the brain that tells most of us when we aren’t fitting in.
Boy can I feel this pain. During my years of moderating Netalive I found the real problem not to be outright trolling, but users who drag the site's signal-to-noise ratio towards mediocrity through a flood of poorly conceived postings.
Whenever the topic of community moderation is brought up, everyone immediately engages in a headed discussion over abusive user behaviour, and ways to fight it. But what we need is a scalable and socially acceptable way to tell a user to get a life and stop wasting the time of everyone else.
October 18, 2004
Sam shares my frustration with the unpromising state of Perl:
Ideally I would use Perl 6, however that's not going to be available anytime soon.
I'm certain that Perl 6 will cure all ill, find you a hairstyle you like and generally make the world a better place. The thing is, an increasing number of people are starting to have valid doubts whether they will still be around when that happens.
I stopped following news about Perl 6 some time ago, as nothing of substance ever seemed to happen. While I think that Parrot, the VM that Perl 6 applications run on, is an important and much needed project, the Perl programmers of today have little to no prospect for the future of their language.
Meanwhile developers are leaving Camp Camel in droves, and who can blame them? Languages like Ruby already present a near flawless vision of how Perl could look like in a post-OOP world, and their creators haven't departed on a crusade to nuke the sun, or something.
October 12, 2004
As an intermediate Perl web developer I tear my hair out at the Perl community's apathy towards PHP's onslaught in the web development world. Don't you realise that it's Perl's mindshare that PHP is sapping? Who do you think is going to be using Perl when all the UNIX sysadmins have grown too old to bang away at a keyboard all day?
Perl6's response - more complexity and obscurity. I don't hear anyone addressing the problems deploying Perl in web hosting environments. We don't need a better mod_perl. We need a replacement for it that doesn't give sysadmins nightmares if they throw it onto a shared server.
To give you an idea about how bad the PHP replacing Perl phenomenon has already become, I recently contacted Paul Dubois, first congratulating him on his excellent "Perl and MySQL for the Web", then asking him why, 3 years later, it is still the only book to counter the truckload of PHP/MySQL books. He then confessed that the book sold very badly. Can you believe it? The Perl community has 1 book on Perl/MySQL and no-one wants it.
I contacted Alison Randall at O'Reilly begging her to find someone to write a Perl/MySQL web development tome or, even better, a Perl/PostgreSQL tome. At least something aimed at web development with Perl and a database. Her reply? Ther isn't a market for it.
What does this tell us about the Perl community? My prediction is that Perl's user base will dwindle back to the bunch of UNIX sysadmins who gave birth to it .... and that's from someone who's first language was Perl and who considers it far superior to anything Rasmus Lerdorf of Zeev Suraski has produced.
Perl has a serious problem deciding which niche it wants to fill. Those interested in swiftly throwing shit at browser windows have moved on to PHP. Those striving for clean, object oriented architecture are now busy writing Java, C# or recently Ruby.
Frankly I don't see much future for the core language that is Perl 5. Its language constructs are too crufty for the ages we live in. Even something as simple as subclassing a package, or declaring subroutine parameters is awfully awkward.
The one killer application that Perl and only Perl has, is CPAN. There's is nothing remotely like CPAN on the planet. But I digress.