[Haskell-cafe] On the verge of ... giving up! [OT]

jerzy.karczmarczuk at info.unicaen.fr jerzy.karczmarczuk at info.unicaen.fr
Sun Oct 14 12:41:52 EDT 2007

Roberto Zunino writes: 

> jerzy.karczmarczuk at info.unicaen.fr wrote:
> Andrew Coppin wrote:
>> OK. I get the message. I'm unsubscribing now...
> There was no need to. 
> Please, let's keep haskell-cafe a friendly place, as it's always been.

I would add, friendly and USEFUL, as it's always been. It was not my
intention of "throwing away", anybody, and I didn't. I had no right to do
such thing either. I just asked A. Coppin to think twice before submitting
dubious statements, didn't I? I believe that it would be useful for the
list if he stayed, and *asked questions*. My impoliteness was quite

But, when J. Vimal "threateneds us" to throw away Haskell, complained about
monads, and most people confirmed that the underlying theory is difficult,
ugly, and useless, I began to read those postings with attention, since
I disagree with spreading such atmosphere. And A.C. additionally wrote that
all this theory has nothing to do with Haskell, and submitted three more
postings, one more dubious than the other, I found that a warning seems
suitable, not for him, but for his readers! 

Mathematics is beautiful and useful. The commutativity of some categorical
diagrams can be translated into the optimization of Haskell constructs,
say, showing that there is a canonical isomorphism between 

(map f) . (map g)       and:       map (f . g) 

etc. So, why dump the theory away, which suggests additionally that the
conceptors of Haskell are irresponsible dreamers, living on some crystal
mountain?... The language is not trivial to learn, that's it. If somebody
feels discouraged, my own students often are, then the recipe is simple:
ask CONCRETE questions, get CONCRETE answer. THEN generalize. 

But if some people offer general answers, they must be based on a real
competence and experience, otherwise they easily become harmful. 


"David48" points out that if a list returns the reader to the docs which
he has already seen, and which is poor, then it doesn't work at all. OK,
then, once more, don't say "I cannot understand monads", or rewriting, or
whatever, but say plainly: "I read XYZ in the ABC tutorial, and the example
PQR remains too difficult." And say WHAT doesn't work. 

Go ahead, criticize *concrete* documentation, don't say that docs are lousy!
Almost all Haskell documentation has been written by people who *beg*
constantly for comments, for criticism; let's help them instead of
shouting at them. 

Of course, the repeated, ever and ever again questions mean that one day
it will be absolutely necessary to make a true FABQ, proposed a few times,
and still in statu nascendi... 


Jerzy Karczmarczuk 

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