[Haskell-cafe] Re: A rant against the blurb on the Haskell front page

Ben Franksen ben.franksen at online.de
Sat Oct 16 11:34:03 EDT 2010

Christopher Done wrote:
> On 16 October 2010 05:52, Ben Franksen <ben.franksen at online.de> wrote:
>> what marketing idiot has written this inclonclusive mumble-jumble of
>> buzz-words?
>> [...]
>> How can anyone write such a
>> nonsense? Haskell is not an "open source product"!
>> [...]
>> I am ashamed that it appears on the front page of my favourite
>> programming language.
>> [...]
>> But no, I forgot, we don't want to explain anything or even be
>> logical, dear reader, we want to pound slogans into your head!
> Stand back everyone, Bill Hicks is back and he's got an axe to grind,
> and it looks rusty!

I am sorry about the wording of these sentences, especially teh first one. I
let myself get carried away.

I stand by the critique, though. The blurb mixes up too many things that
should be clearly separated.

> On 16 October 2010 07:49, Donn Cave <donn at avvanta.com> wrote:
>> " Haskell is a computer programming language. In particular, it is a
>> polymorphically statically typed, lazy, purely functional language,
>> quite different from most other programming languages. The language
>> is named for Haskell Brooks Curry, whose work in mathematical logic
>> serves as a foundation for functional languages. Haskell is based
>> on the lambda calculus, hence the lambda we use as a logo."
>> This most succinctly expresses the points I tried to convey to him
>> about Haskell, and I don't think it would be out of place on the
>> main page.
> This description is similar to Wikipedia's description of the Joy
> language, with samples from the blurb above spliced in:
> "The Joy programming language is a purely functional programming
> language[, quite different from other programming languages.] It
> was produced by Manfred von Thun of La Trobe University in
> Melbourne, Australia. Joy is based on composition of functions
> rather than lambda calculus[, hence the composition operator
> we use as a logo.]"
> These descriptions are fine, but they don't note how Haskell really is
> any different from other languages, like Joy.

It states very clearly how Haskell is very different from Java, C, C++,
Perl, Python, Ruby, etc.

Distinguishing it from exotic languages like Joy is important but can be
done in a later paragraph.

> It doesn't include the
> fact that Haskell is a very serious language: it has a comprehensive
> and stable implementation, growing community, growing and already
> large library set, is being used seriously in industry, is the focus
> of cutting edge parallelism and concurrency research, has many yearly
> conferences, hackathons, etc. The original blurb does mention these
> things.

All these things should be mentioned, but not before we say what Haskell
actually *is*.

> On 16 October 2010 09:09, Colin Paul Adams <colin at colina.demon.co.uk>
> wrote:
>> And "purely functional programming language"?
>> If they mean anything to many people, it's that the language works
>> (i.e. functions). What language wouldn't work?
>> I think Ben has a strong point here.
> To solve this ambiguity that phrase is a link that people can click to
> find out what it means. "Object oriented", "dynamically typed",
> "stack-based" are about as meaningful.

The difference may be that everyone thinks he knows what 'object oriented'
means. But 'lazyness', 'polymorphic type system', what the heck is that?

I just think there is nothing we can do about that. These concepts are not
as well known as others. We can link to an explanation and we should, but
let's face it, if someone come to Haskell and expects to see only stuff he
already knows about he will be disappointed, no matter how well we hide
these things on the front page.


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