[Haskell-cafe] Maintaining the community

Andrea Rossato mailing_list at istitutocolli.org
Sun Jul 15 04:56:19 EDT 2007

On Sat, Jul 14, 2007 at 11:24:36AM +0800, Michael T. Richter wrote:
> I've seen this pattern so often in communities.  I've also seen it in
> management (the supervisor/manager who can do the job better than his
> underlings -- so he does) or in teaching (the popular teacher gets a
> heavier courseload, in effect being punished for being good) or in a
> myriad of other social enterprises.

I may be wrong, but I think you do not get the specificity of the
Haskell community, that is quite peculiar, I'd say.

When I first met Haskell, about a year ago, I started asking to the
mailing list but, since I wanted to contribute back, I started also
answering, with the results I told you about.

I then decided to start using the wiki, possibly a more friendly
place: I wrote a(nother) tutorial about monads, intended for
beginners. I also wrote something that I hope could be funny and yet
give some ideas on monads (it is called Meet Bob The Monadic Lover).

The only reaction I received was a couple of Haskell Top Gurus making
fun of me in the #haskell IRC channel (they did not know I was
reading, probably). As a reaction I just wanted to erase my wiki pages
and quit the community. I did only the later, but the tutorial remains
unfinished (I was thinking to finish it, but read on).

I came back a year later - some weeks ago - because of a renewed
interest for Haskell and for some compiling projects I wanted to get
involved to. So I started sending patches and writing support code
(not to be included in the project I was collaborating too).

Another Top Haskeller, instead of reading my code and telling me if it
was good or not, started investigating if my using of a given
compiler flags was due to library function abuse or not. Probably
something a Top Hakseller is supposed to ask to a supposed novice.

Now, that reminds me of a typical academic community, where people,
just because they have a higher rank than yours, are supposed to check
if you are doing things right or wrong. Now, not because they know
more, they studied more the topic you are dealing with. No, it's just
a matter of ranking. Every member of a faculty or a department knows
what I'm talking about. And even I'm doing my academic career in
Italy, known to have a very corrupted academic system - I've been
abroad and I still have to find an academic system that is not
suffering the very same problems of the Italian one: rank and not
knowledge matters.

Now, I understand why this is affecting the Haskell community: most of
the Top Haskell Gurus here are Ph.D students, with very low academic
ranks, and it is not a surprise they are sort of taking their sort of
"revenge" here. Or just importing here that kind of academic attitude
they live in. This is human, far too human.

The problem is that, by doing so, they hurt their community and keep
the outsiders outside, like me. Indeed, the fact that I should be used
to this kind of shit, it's my job after all, does not mean I'm going
to stand it even in a community I may decide not to join.

I don't like speaking bad about a community I'm not part of. Still I
really wanted to be part of this community.

All the best

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