[Haskell-cafe] Edit Hackage

C. McCann cam at uptoisomorphism.net
Fri Oct 29 14:51:51 EDT 2010

On Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 9:13 PM, Ivan Lazar Miljenovic
<ivan.miljenovic at gmail.com> wrote:
> IIUC, [one of] the prime motivating factor[s] behind both reddit and
> StackOverflow is the accumulation of "karma", which leads to people
> posting just to try and accumulate karma even if they don't know what
> they're talking about.  Here, we are (hopefully) above such mundane
> things.

Er, I suppose I should defend Stack Overflow a bit here. Yes, it has
the whole "reputation" score thing, but actually does a pretty good
job using it to motivate "good" activity without encouraging the sort
of endless inane karma-pandering that tends to show up eventually on
more general discussion-oriented sites. Usually the worst thing that
happens--at least on the [haskell] tag--is quick-draw answers shooting
from the hip and misreading the question slightly.

Furthermore, Stack Overflow isn't really a "place to track for
information". It's a special-purpose site for programming-related Q&A.
You either go there to ask for help with a problem, or you keep an eye
out for new questions in order to answer them. It's not a discussion
site and the vast majority of -cafe would be horrendously off-topic
there (the question starting this thread, for instance, is only
tangentially programming-related and probably wouldn't really belong).
Also, the questions tend to be simple, beginner-level stuff for the
most part, not ones that are likely to interest Haskell veterans (in
fact, more advanced questions are liable to go unanswered, other than
Simon or Don fielding an occasional question regarding gritty
practical details about GHC).

So essentially, participating on SO isn't really about the Haskell
community as-is; it's about helping people learn Haskell and (by
extension) promoting the language and hopefully bringing new people
in. And for that purpose, SO's structure and design really do make it
a better medium than the alternatives. But I wouldn't fault anyone for
not bothering with it, if they're not interested in spending lots of
time helping beginners out with the only reward being a slightly
larger number on their account profile page.

> Another point against reddit: Don posted a link to my survey on the
> naming of fgl a few months back.  Someone then queried [1] the two
> naming choices that were available on reddit rather than reading the
> discussions that had already taken place here on -cafe or bothering to
> actually ask _me_.  Similar things go with submitted blog posts:
> rather than discussing the content as comments on the blog post, they
> discuss them on reddit thus depriving readers of the post itself of
> what they think.

Speaking of not wanting more places to keep track of, that's precisely
why I rarely bother with blog comments and would find discussions on
reddit preferable: it's a single place to go, and keeps things more
unified and consistent than whatever comment system some random blog
has (most of which are more awkward to use than reddit, as well). Of
course, having separate discussions going on in each is probably the
worst of both worlds.

Overall, I expect Don has a better feel than anyone else for where the
Haskell community as a whole goes; if he says the balance is shifting
away from -cafe I'd take that first as a statement of fact, not
advocacy. I'd also venture to guess that, from the standpoint of a
newcomer, reddit, Stack Overflow, and the like are the most visible
parts of the Haskell community by a good margin, which means that as
the community continues to grow any bias in favor of such places will
likely do the same. So it goes...

- C.

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