Slipping away from the Perl community

| 14 Comments

I'm 43 years old now. I've been in open source for about twenty years. I'm too old and burned out for much of what goes on in open source, and specifically Perl.

I'm tired of all the arguing.

I'm tired of the people who enjoy a back-and-forth debate about how communities should run, and want to spread that joy to people not involved in the original discussion.

I'm tired of seeing yet another clueless missive from someone claiming that we don't have to be nice to each other, because hey, we're all adults here. I'm tired of hearing that profanity in written communication doesn't matter because hey, it's just words, man.

I'm tired of those unable or unwilling to see outside their blinkered little world, and to think that others might think differently, and to think that their feelings might matter.

I'm tired of people who confuse being verbally abusive with "not getting along."

I'm tired of people who think that verbal abuse of another human is ever acceptable.

I'm tired of being made to witness verbal abuse as competition, where the abuser places more pride in his cleverness than any consideration of how the listener might hear it.

I'm tired of seeing cool new projects and realizing I will never use them, because I don't want to be associated with key members of the communities surrounding them.

I'm tired of having to delete comments on Perlbuzz because the commenters can't manage to make a point without slinging insults at those with whom they disagree.

I'm tired of having to walk away from sub-communities because of all of the above. The end result is I become more and more isolated from the rest of Perl.

That means less contribution, technical and otherwise, from me, and from the others who have shared the same concerns with me regarding their own contributions.

And it makes me sad that I feel my community slipping away. And it makes me sad that Perl loses because of it.

(Addendum: This is not a "screw you, I'm leaving." I'm certainly not leaving. Just describing what I see and how it affects me and other valuable members of the community who have been driven away. And to anyone asking "Give us specifics", they're besides the point. Discussion of specifics turns into a discussion of nothing but past specifics. The issues here are far larger than he-said-she-said. I also don't expect that individual people will change, but that we as community tolerate bad behavior less.)

Followup: Stand up for your communities and projects

14 Comments

"And it makes me sad that I feel my community slipping away."

the world is constantly changing, like it or not.
Everything slips away, with different speeds...

"...like a piece of tracing paper slipping away, everything had, little by little, become irreparably different than it had been in the past." Murakami.

you have a choice to follow that changed world, or slip away, when changes are that you not accept anymore.

unfortunately, perl community shrinks, IMO: now it is another volume of messages on perlmonks, on p5p list.
Is it good or is it bad, that we have a number of alternatives? I think - it is good. People select from Perl, Python or Ruby or Lisp or whatever...

it is bad for perl community, but it is good overall.

This is true of almost any of the groups I interacted with. If the number of people gets large enough, there are $n number of people I get along great with, and $m number of people who make it hard to have a good time.

So, maybe the solution is to make it easier to find the $n people you *can* have a good time with.

You've said how you feel, but you haven't said what you will do next time you come across bullying?

How you respond is something you can change.

I'm working on a plan. There will soon be a Call To Action for those who want to improve their communities.

Well, I'm a very peripheral member of the Perl community, to the extent that I'm a member at all, but I'd be sad to see you go.

Thanks for the kind words. I'm not leaving.

It's pretty amazing that this is Larry's community. I guess the level headed types are the ones who very seldom contribute to the publicly visible character of a project. Huh, I think I was one of these people in a previous life, before Perl.

Chip comes to mind, and there are several others like him with respect to their great patience and confidence in the collective knowledge of the group (including the tendency for knowledge to persist and ignorance to either change or pass by).

Even in the old days, it was Randal and tchrist going at it. Listening to old men scream at each other on the SNOBOL list helps put things in perspective for me, which I sorely need.

I think the openness of the Perl 6 process gave people the feeling that they could influence the community, for better or worse. Growing is hard, and the growth of numbers of people who were trying to keep up with and, among themselves, understand what was going on in inner circles created a lot of confusion and stress.

It seems like similar things happened with community. Perl community, at some point, itself became an object. mst preached about growing and shaping the community in his Iron Man talks. Iron Man blogs were often about community. Perl Best Practices, perl5i, Modern Perl have as part of their existence a preaching of gospel. mst rallied a lot of people with his own style. Giving people the notion that they can shape the community is a powerful idea, but one similarly prone to frustration and confusion for both the old hats and the newcomers.

I made conflicting plans for this coming YAPC even though I promised to help out with it. I guess I should get around to telling people as much. I have one long standing pinch points that I had hoped to get publicly acknowledged (other than Moose, that is). This was my mission, and it was in direct conflict with many other people's missions. I decided it best, some time ago, to essentially stop reading news and talking about Perl. Things are going to have to sort themselves out.

It's hard for us to have all of our wagons hitched together, know we have them hitched together, *and* know a lot about the people we're hitched to and their philosophies. In a lot of ways, it would be easier, and is easier, when companies like Apple or Oracle just spit things out, whole cloth.

I don't mind the brash tones and swear words, but the competing agendas are enough to wear me out. So, less swearing for me =)

Just wanted to say Andy, your code has saved my bacon more than once, and that's a lot of beer equivalent $BEVERAGE_OF_CHOICE owed.

I've always been on the fringe of the Perl community but I really appreciate all the genuine contributors. Your post reminded me to say: Thankyou.

I hear you, Andy. Total agreement here.

Some of this is because we're not kids anymore. It's a lot easier to see the futility and damage that comes from abusive behavior when you've been around for a while. Knowing that doesn't make it any easier to watch the next generation tear each other apart though.

I have only peripheral involvement in the community but I do detect the playful spirit slipping away, replaced by a kind of arrested-adolescent technomachismo. This mentality also engages in sexism and homophobia much too readily (eg the guy in the Reddit thread who called you a pussy). These aren't just concerns of political correctness-- I have seen these cause serious problems in Perl workplaces. Skud has treated this topic better than I can, but what you and she talk about are of a piece.

At any rate there is never an excuse to be rude to a newbie. We were all newbies once and followed the same path to our hard-earned mad skillz--by writing heaps of bad code and asking dumb-ass questions.


Andy: We've had our differences, but I respect your ability as a Perl hacker and would hate to see you withdraw in any way.

Update: I thought my name would appear by virtue of OpenID login, but it didn't so: the previous comment ("we've had our differences") was by me.

Marcel (hanekomu)

Hi,
I have wrote to Andy privately on sharing my community woes story here and he says it is ok.
http://red1empire.blogspot.com/2011/12/adempiere-wars-institution-and.html

I agree with the first comment above about alternatices, but sadly branding domineering thinking got into the way and endanger the garden of roses with more than thorns. :)

Have a nice day.
RED1

Coincidentally at my 9th post here http://sourceforge.net/projects/adempiere/forums/forum/610546/topic/4863875/index/page/3
i used the same 'slipping away' remark :)

"The lessons of the past is we need not just a community, nor a structured committee. We need great inspiration and passion for all, to attract the best man out there to be here. I don't give a sh*t if he is against my limitations, language tone or religion. I come to know the best, and i wanted the best so badly, and now i see it slipping away."

Leave a comment

Job hunting for programmers


Land the Tech Job You Love, Andy Lester's guide to job hunting for programmers and other technical professionals, is available in PDF, ePub and .mobi formats, all DRM-free, as well as good old-fashioned paper.