Notes from Ben's "contribute to ghc" discussion

Elliot Cameron eacameron at
Sun Sep 25 11:47:04 UTC 2016

Oh how the chatroom hath slain its thousands, and email its ten thousands!
Flattening real, hard-working, deep-thinking people into a few paragraphs
of letters does such injustice to propinquity that it's a wonder it ever
works at all!

It's for that very reason I want to voice my approval of the idea of
mentors. The thing that IRC cannot give you is a (real) name and a real
face. The true fabric underlying any process or system is the people that
make it happen. If the relationships of the people are broken, no virtual
system will ever be able to recover the loss. I can't help but believe that
the best way to improve the community of contributors is to improve the
relationships of the people in it. Therefore, having a process of providing
mentorship could be the most effective way to address the myriad technical
difficulties of contributing to GHC. Love covers a multitude of wrongs. A
friendly helper could easily make up for the technical infelicities or
inexperience. In the long term, the improved strength of community could
begin to address any technical issues as well.

That said, I am not sure if mentorship is a burden the current "in-crowd"
would be able to bear. But even with minimal hand-holding the improvement
to propinquity could have significant effect.

Lastly, as one who is building his business, in part, on the advantage of
Haskell, I want to express my deep gratitude to both sides of the debate.
Chris, your efforts to improve the "on-boarding" process are truly
herculean and a massive investment to the community. Thank you! Matthew,
and other core devs, your hard work and world-class insight make Haskell
the technology that it is today and I cannot thank you enough.

Elliot Cameron

On Sun, Sep 25, 2016 at 4:35 AM, Matthew Pickering <
matthewtpickering at> wrote:

> If we loop this discussion back to the original post. There is a
> suggestion in there which seems to be what you are looking for.
> >  Have a GHC StackOverflow on   (Jacob Zalewski
> jakzale at offers to do this! – thank you).  It has a useful new
> Documentation feature.   Eg this would be good for “how do I look up a
> RdrName to get a Name… there seem to be six different functions that do
> that”.
> It is also probably lost that I said there was a phabricator module
> 'ponder' which gives this kind of functionality so it should be quick
> and easy to setup.
> Matt
> On Sun, Sep 25, 2016 at 9:23 AM, Harendra Kumar
> <harendra.kumar at> wrote:
> >
> >
> > On 25 September 2016 at 12:48, Joachim Breitner <
> mail at>
> > wrote:
> >>
> >> Hi,
> >>
> >> > It will be great to have something like that. Something that you
> >> > figure out digging at ghc trac wiki pages, mailing lists, google
> >> > search etc will be a few minutes job for a mentor. It may be a bit
> >> > taxing on the mentors but they can limit how many newbies they are
> >> > mentoring and also breed new mentors to keep the cycle going.
> >>
> >> I hope and assume that already now that every possible contributor who
> >> has questions like this and asks (e.g. on irc) will get a helpful
> >> answer. Is that insufficient?
> >
> >
> > Maybe. Though irc seems to be quite popular among Haskell community and
> > other open source communities I have never been able to utilize it
> somehow.
> > I don't know if there is something wrong with it or with me. I installed
> an
> > irc client logged into it once or twice but never got hooked to it. Such
> > questions on ghc-devs maybe a nuisance for a lot of other people or at
> least
> > that's what I felt as a newbie. I usually tend to do a lot of homework
> > before sending a question to ghc-devs. Maybe a ghc-newbies like mailing
> list
> > (one more list!) can give the impression of a lower barrier for sending
> > stupid or operational questions.
> >
> > -harendra
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > ghc-devs mailing list
> > ghc-devs at
> >
> >
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