[Haskell] Re: on starting Haskell-Edu, a new education-related Haskell-related mailing list

Tillmann Rendel rendel at daimi.au.dk
Mon Jul 14 08:39:11 EDT 2008

Benjamin L.Russell wrote:
> beginners at haskell.org:  Although this name definitely captures the
> flavor of the mailing list and also conveys a sense of community (with
> the addition of the 's,' thanks to Dan Licata), the double-n is easy
> to mistake for beginners, and a new user would probably have
> difficulty remembering whether the name was "beginner" or "beginners"
> if a sudden question arose after six months of absence from the
> mailing list.

I don't think the usability of the email address is that important, 
given that most computer users are quite happy with near-random 
hard-to-spell email addresses they find cool, and mail clients help with 
address management. Maybe technical measures could be taken to handle 
misaddressed mails if there is a need for it?

Much more important seems the semantic (exactly: pragmatic) content of 
the list name, which should both invite a new haskeller to join the 
list, and spring to mind in typical usage scenarios like having 
questions or wondering about Haskell.

> Since this new list is about beginner issues for Haskell, a functional
> programming language, ideally, the name should simultaneously be
> short, easy to remember, academic, suggest general beginner issues,
> and, if possible, suggest a sense of community.  The best alternatives
> that I have come up with are the following:

I disagree with the goal that the name should be academic. An academic 
name could create an entrance barrier both for non-academic beginners 
and non-topgrade students who search for homework-help at haskell.org, not 
insights at haskell.org. As another source of confusion, alpha is not only 
used for the beginning, but also for leaders (see [1]).

A quick web search revealed that quite a number of programming languages 
have beginners at ... lists. Interestingly, their description invariantly 
includes the term "a friendly place", which may be nice for a beginner 
to read before subscribing, but is somewhat misleading in the case of 
the Haskell community, which is a big friendly place in itself.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_%28biology%29

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