Mail list predators

Jason Annin-White jasona at
Mon Jul 22 20:13:32 CDT 2002

    I have my mail set up to leave messages on the server at several 
locations and I definitley did not receive a response from Randal (Thank 
you Tom for getting it to me).  I was not implicating either Randal or 
Tom in my unpleasant experiences.  I hope it didn't sound that way.

    For the record, I always at least skim the documentation and read 
all of the examples given before I ask questions here unless I'm asking 
advice on which direction I should travel in an unexplored territory 
(such as Which XML modules are worth my time, etc.).  I also perform 
extensive trial and error prior to asking for help.  I had no trouble 
using Data::Dumper to the extent that is was documented.  The trouble I 
was having was beyond or at least to the side of the scope of 
Data::Dumper's documentation.  I also visited literally hundreds of 
websites and read through each of the examples given.  None of them are 
doing what I am trying to do, which is straitforward in most other 
languages.  I can't `perldoc typedef` or `perldoc reference` so I 
dropped in here to ask for help in accessing my restored objects.  

    I didn't come here begging for fish, I came here asking to watch a 
pro fillet one, which is what the sign over the door offers.  I didn't 
realize that I would have to prove how hard I've already tried before my 
questions would be worthy.  I try not to waste your time with frivilous 
details about yadda, yadda, yadda.  I get tired of reading through what 
somebody has already done (especilly since it wasn't working) when I 
recieve hundreds of messages per day.  I formulate a question which is 
strait forward and includes relevent details and code examples.  Easy to 
read, easy to understand, easy to descide if you have the answer or not. 
 I monitor this list as well, if you think you're burnt out by newbie 
requests on this list, you should try joining some of the lists I 
contribute to.  You can't be too burnt out if you have the time and 
energy to line-by-line comment through my email.  You don't teach how to 
fish Tkil, you dangle the fish and say you might teach somebody how 
after you've had sufficient entertainment watching them thrash around 
knee-deep in water.  Get off your high horse and do something useful.

Jason White

Tkil wrote:

>>>>>>"Jason" == Jason Annin-White <jasona at> writes:
>Jason> some of us are [...] are making an effort to learn perl, but
>Jason> don't necesarily have the luxury of taking classes or spending
>Jason> hours reading the manuals.
>One way to look at "live" help (especially of the free variety, such
>as this list, IRC, usenet, etc) is that we can help you reduce those
>hours to minutes.  There's a huge difference between:
>   "Please tell me how to do X, I'm too hurried to read the manual"
>   "Where can I find out more about X?  I've read the Y, Z, and T
>   manual pages, and they seem close, but not quite.  Here's what I've
>   tried so far ... and it still doesn't work".
>If nothing else, the latter shows that you have tried to help yourself
>(and just need that last nudge over the crest of the hill) vs.
>expecting someone to lift you the whole way.
>In this particular case, I belive it was a miscommunication that
>sparked the worst of it (see below).
>Jason> I don't understand why people who obviouly have the answers to
>Jason> my strait-forward questions respond with violence and
>Jason> condescention rather than taking an equivalent amount of time
>Jason> to be helpful.  
>It's a variant on the fish fable:
>   Give someone a fish, and they eat for a day;
>   Teach someone to fish, and they eat for a lifetime.
>In this case, if we just gave you the fish, the odds are that you
>would be back tomorrow with another question; or maybe you just had a
>one-time use for perl, and would wander off after we did your work for
>This can lead to bitterness and burnout on the part of the "perl
>Jason> This is not a stomping ground for the perl elite, it is a place
>Jason> for people like me to get help when they need it.
>It's also a place for the "perl elite" to hang out and visit with each
>other and share insights.  There's a reason that FAQ lists are so
>common -- the wizards get tired of answering the same thing over and
>over again.
>Put another way, the "perl elite" ("perlite?") would like to get
>something out of most of these exchanges: anything from a simple warm
>fuzzy from helping someone out, to reputation building, to learning
>new techniques.  Having someone ask for help, then ignore it and ask
>again, pretty much kills all of these, and there's no motivation left
>(except maybe for people venting, which I agree is poor form).
>Would you rather get your hand held by wizards when you're first
>getting started (and have them be burned out when you really need
>help)?  Or would you prefer to be put off a little at the beginning,
>so that they're available for deeper questions?
>Jason> If you aren't up to the task of helping others, please don't
>Jason> reply to their requests for help.
>Jason> My fondness for perl is based largely on the community.  
>Odd; I like perl because it thinks the way I do.  Or, I think the way
>it does.  Either way, my appreciation for the language and its power
>and expressiveness predates my involvement with the community.
>Jason> There are times I feel this list is failing that community, 
>Please don't try guilt trips.  They're very very annoying.
>Jason> not because of a lack in information, but because of the way
>Jason> competent coders are treated when they ask for the benefit of
>Jason> other's experience.
>I've largely dropped out of the active Perl community for this
>reason.  Even though I know it's only a very few people, they made the
>experience of trying to help others deeply poisonous by their very
>presence.  It helps to have thick skin in these parts; mine isn't
>thick enough, but at least e-mail is mellow enough to not get my blood
>pressure up too high.
>In my experience, Tom Phoenix is NOT one of these evil people, and
>neither is Randal.  In fact, I think of Tom as a kind, patient, and
>courteous person on IRC and UseNet.
>I expect that his sharp reply was due to his perception that you were
>ignoring Randal and trying to do it your way even after Randal told
>you a better way.  You asked for the benefit of others' experience,
>and then you seemed to ignore it.  Why should they then treat your
>next query with any respect, since you don't respect them?  (I'm not
>saying that this is how they feel about it, I'm just conjecturing.)
>Finally, remember that even the "perl elite" are human, and can get up
>on the wrong side of the bed, and have bad days just like the rest of
>us.  If you do get grumpy e-mail, just let it go.
>p.s. Sorry for being so long-winded about it.  This isn't the first
>     time I've hit this phenomenon; when it was happening on the #perl
>     channel, I ended up writing this:


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