[Pdx-pm] Appologies

Tkil tkil at scrye.com
Wed Jul 24 23:50:45 CDT 2002

>>>>> "Jason" == Jason White <jasona at inetarena.com> writes:

Jason> this [list] is not a help desk.  I appologise for the pieces of
Jason> my complaints that were centered around the quality of help
Jason> recieved.

For whatever it's worth, I don't mind seeing help requests come across
the smaller local lists.  These lists are less intimidating than the
big worldwide feeds, and it's a lot of fun to interact with people in
person as well as on the list.  Consider it a sort of minor leagues,
if you'll pardon the sports analogy.

And the comments (by you and by others) about there being highly
abrasive elements in the Perl "help" community are certainly true.
I've called one of them an "intellectual bully" in his presence, and
all it earned me was a kickban.  :)  So I just (mostly) try to be
polite and not let it bother me.  Much.  I would like to make it
better, but I can't change others, and I only have so much energy to
help others at all ... so it's very hit or miss.

Jason> I appologise to Tkil, 

Thanks.  Interestingly enough, I can blow off pretty much any insult
or rude behavior directed towards myself.  It's when I see others
being abused, or being embarrassed, that I get very uncomfortable.
(This is what I mean when I say that I left the Perl community because
I was "too thin-skinned".)

The current issue seemed to be just a miscommunication and a
misunderstanding (at least that's what I saw).

If anything, I feel I should apologize for "talking down" at you a
bit; much of my mail was intended as suggestions for helping us help
you, but I could have phrased it more diplomatically.

Jason> It was gracious for you to write so thorough an example after I
Jason> was unpleasent to you.

And this is the flip side of how I interact with help requests or
questions that intrigue me.  "Hm, I don't know; let's experiment to
find out."  I had never used Storable before, so I learned something
in exchange (cf my concept of "payment" for helping others in a "free"

Jason> (And just so you know, many people came to your defense out of
Jason> list)

Enough of them copied me that I knew it.  And it is appreciated.  :)

Jason> Sometimes it is difficult to find information that you guys
Jason> take for granted. 

Which is why every Perl help medium I've been on (irc, usenet, mailing
lists, meetings, etc) is open to people asking "where do I find out
more about <X>?".  After a while, we might start suggesting that they
start learning how to help themselves, but we can help with that, too.

Jason> For example, when I didn't know what qw() was.  Try finding it
Jason> documented in an O'reilly book, used extensivly, not
Jason> documented.  (I didn't ask questions like that here, I found
Jason> them on my own). 

Lurking on the #perl channel on IRC was a very educational experience,
because people will rapid-fire which bits of documentation to look at
for a particular thing.  Also, I strongly recommend reading through
the entire FAQ at some point; even if you don't understand all of it,
or need that section at the time, it will "stick in your mind" so you
might remember to look there when you *do* need it.

Jason> I just recently learned of perldoc and perlfunc.  To my
Jason> recollection, they aren't listed in any of the books I've read,
Jason> or suggested on any of the sites I've been to. 

Heh.  Take a look in the index of _Programming Perl_ (the "Camel"
book) [3rd ed], under "Documentation".  There are quite a few links
there.  As I mention below, googling for "perl documentation" would
have helped you out, too.

Jason> What I would like to know is where I can find a table of the
Jason> subjects available via perldoc.

As others have already pointed out, there's "perldoc perl", which is
an introduction with a list of other pages.  The more detailed table
of contents if "perltoc".  On a proper Unix install, these pages
should all be accessable via "man" as well.

There are versions of it on the web, too:  www.perldoc.com

Finally, there are the general solutions; going to Google and
searching for "object-oriented perl" shows many useful pages; a web
version of perltoot happens to be 4th on the list.

For further reading/browsing, I strongly recommend checking out
search.cpan.org -- much of perl's power is in its extensive library of
modules; as well as doing much of the work for you, they are often
sources of fascinating code.  (Probably not a good place to look to
learn basic perl, but for the hairy stuff...)

I fully realize that the perl documentation set is huge, and it's not
obvious where to look for things.  In a way, this is is a part of the
task of learning a new language, especially one as rich and subtle as
perl is.  This is why "learning perl in 24 hours" is simply not going
to work; you can learn enough to do simple things, but you won't get a
feel for the language itself.  (To give a personal example, I'm at a
very primitive level in Visual Basic; I can make it do things, but I
know I'm doing it the hard way.  I wouldn't feel justified in saying I
"know" the language, but I know my way around.)

Which brings us back to the idea of community.  I learned a huge
amount about Perl -- details, idioms, subtleties, tricks, modules,
features -- by spending time on IRC, usenet, lists, etc.  Interacting
with people online, then occasionally continuing those conversations
face-to-face, has made local lists quite enjoyable for me, and I feel
that they should be inclusive rather than exclusive until volume
becomes an issue.  

In particular, I don't mind seeing help requests on local lists;
amusingly enough, one of the more frequent posters to the Boulder
(Colorado) Linux Users' Group list is Ralf Mattes -- from Germany.
Who also happens to be a Perl geek, so it all works out.

Babble, babble,

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