[Haskell-cafe] *GROUP HUG*

Ketil Malde ketil at malde.org
Tue May 24 10:46:50 CEST 2011

Juan Daugherty <juan at acm.org> writes:

> Every computing culture is different.

Definitely.  I've just given up on several "cultures" which are just too
vitriolic.  Scala is on my list of interesting stuff to look at some
day, but if I'm going to be flamed for asking questions about the
language, I can easily find something else to fill my time with.

> Being in the habit of asking questions you should be able to answer yourself
> is not a good idea. 

Maybe not.

Is it a good idea to flame people who do this?  

If you look at two case studies: the Scala thread where Gregory was
involved, and the recent mail here, basically asking for 'catMaybes'.

Replying "whoosh", or otherwise producing non-informative, arrogant
feedback results in a long thread, culminating in a more useful answer,
as well as a lot of noise.

Replying with a pointer to 'catMaybes' resulted in (most likely) the
author going off to finish/improve his program, and some more
interesting discussion on alternative ways to do this.

The point is that at face value, being rude and arrogant may drive away
naive questions, but is much more likely to result in endless threads of
discussions of etiquette, usually laced with ample amounts of
hostility.  This actually decreases signal to noise.

Also it not only drives away the naive questions, it drives away the
people asking them.  People who might at some point become informed,
contributing members of the community.

I don't know, maybe Scala is big enough that they can afford to behave
that way.  Some people quit haskell-cafe for other (better policed?)
forums, so perhaps we are too liberal?  I hope not.

> Although Haskell comm. is necessarily welcoming due to the learning
> curve and lack of popular adoption there are limits here too.

My theory is that flaming cultures arise around people who are
technically brilliant, but somewhat lacking socially, either through
arrogance or ineptitude.  Members of communities where such people
become central respect them for their brilliance, and then emulate, echo
or support them.  (I guess the implicit rationale is that if the smart
people are assholes, being an asshole will make people - or myself -
think I'm smart, too).

Why have we managed to avoid this?  Partly because of the heavy academic
slant, usually academia tends to reserved politeness.  Also, there's a
lot of theory floating around, so although I might get impatient with
some people, I can't really grow arrogant, since there's so *much* I'm
obviously completely ignorant at.

(Sorry about the long off-topic rant.)

If I haven't seen further, it is by standing in the footprints of giants

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