[Haskell-cafe] [Haskell] GHC is a monopoly compiler

Tony Day tonyday567 at gmail.com
Tue Sep 27 02:06:24 UTC 2016

Commercially (aka using Haskell to put food on the table), haskell puts you
on the economic fringes - I've met a lot of smart haskellers but never a
rich one.  So, trust me that I'm not a bug-eyed, profit-maximizing
entrepreneurial flag-waver.

In my experience, as an open-source contributor within mostly a haskell
context, it's not all holding hands and singing Kumbaya.  The currency of
transaction is different to other economic systems; things like respect,
reputation, the ability to say no to PRs, and the power to bike-shed an
idea to death.

A haskeller who makes a living improving GHC, or teaching haskell, or
writing papers survives quite well even if the tooling and documentation
isn't up to scratch.  But for the commercial haskell hacker, (if and when
they find work), livelihood and future prospects depend on the very best
tooling, the most productive documentation, and rates of adoption.  In
other words, commercial users need GHC to survive, but GHC looks pretty
much the same without them.

On Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 10:03 AM, Jeffrey Brown <jeffbrown.the at gmail.com>

> > GHC is a great compiler, but should actively be discouraged from
> monopolizing the associated tooling and documentation chains.
> Are you saying you wish those chains could be used with other languages? I
> would certianly agree to that, if it didn't harm Haskell.
> Are you saying you wish Haskell documentation was available in more than
> one way?
> It's funny to distinguish monopoly from competition in this environment,
> because the "haskell monopoly" is exactly the result of a competition, one
> between languages in the minds of programmers. Monopolies (use force of law
> to) align against; (open-source) programmers align together.
> (Most of us, I think, rely on possession. I'm not saying it's a trait
> humanity quickly sheds -- but there is clearly more power in sharing,
> making one's work public for others to build on.)
> Haskell's not really a monopoly! Possession is not the biggest player in
> the programming world. Some tiny information is private, yes, but the giant
> awesome things are given away for free. There's some abstract sense in
> which the technical landscape rather than the people exhibits a monopoly --
> there is an energy valley, some awesome states are much easiest gotten to
> by a certain path, like how there is only one Jerusalem. Indeed maybe a
> pilgrimage ethos is helpful.
> > collaboration trumping competition
> It does! Popular, widespread collaboration has more potential, because
> scale matters.
> On Mon, Sep 26, 2016 at 3:53 PM, Tom Murphy <amindfv at gmail.com> wrote:
>> This is not the right mailing list for this (
>> https://wiki.haskell.org/Mailing_lists) ; forwarding to haskell-cafe@
>> Tom
>> On Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 7:48 AM, Tony Day <tonyday567 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> I would argue that the adventure that is GHC is a natural monopoly - an
>>> example of collaboration trumping competition.  Certainly the results speak
>>> for themselves, and I personally find it the most satisfying, the only sane
>>> way to practice the craft of coding.  So, as an enthusiastic user of a
>>> monopolistic service (the best power to weight ratio I could find to
>>> misquote Kmett), I would like to suggest to the community that we have a
>>> respectful discussion on the implications of natural monopolies.
>>> Monopolies have their problems.  They create power imbalances that need
>>> active management to control.  A community should be particularly wary of
>>> monopolies attempting to vertically integrate up the production chain into
>>> areas where a monopoly makes less sense.  I would call the whole cabal
>>> versus stack drama a text-book case of over-reach. Everyone agrees stack
>>> operates at a higher level of abstraction then cabal, on top of it is
>>> accurate.  Cabal shouldn't even be allowed to compete above it's current
>>> abstraction point.
>>> Haddock is another example of being blessed by ghc.  It hits a
>>> corner-case of perfection for the "I'm a hackage library" monopoly.  But
>>> the outside world of documentation, editing, rendering and conversion is
>>> invisible to this monopolistic use case. We are forced to learn and use
>>> haddock, and, for those of us with documentation needs outside hackage, the
>>> resultant workflow is cruel and unusual.
>>> GHC is a great compiler, but should actively be discouraged from
>>> monopolizing the associated tooling and documentation chains.  There is
>>> evidence of healthy open-source competition and significant gains to be
>>> had, and Haskell runs the risk of missing out.
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Haskell mailing list
>>> Haskell at haskell.org
>>> http://mail.haskell.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/haskell
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> --
> Jeff Brown | Jeffrey Benjamin Brown
> Website <https://msu.edu/~brown202/>
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