[sf-perl] SanFrancisco-pm Digest, Vol 39, Issue 2

Randal L. Schwartz merlyn at stonehenge.com
Thu Apr 3 07:51:26 PDT 2008

I'm sorry if I seemed hostile to new users.  That was not my intention.

Perhaps you can understand if I'm a bit gun-shy of "newbies sharing
their experience", if you'll let me relate a bit of Perl history.

As the web was exploding a decade ago, people were eager to share their early
discoveries of Perl on the emerging net.  Because there wasn't a lot of
searchable info, these early junior programmers got widely recognized for
their easy-to-find and readily downloaded and used code.  I won't mention any
names, but the old guys here will know a few prime examples immediately.

Well, of course, the code was bad, and sometimes even had exploitable security
holes.  And yet, despite efforts by experts to uncover and retrain the naive
downloaders and reusers of this bad code, some of it is *still* popping up

This "bad code on display" has led to problems in having us use Perl today:
people think Perl is unreadable, and full of security holes, mostly because of
this code that was written by beginners.  And that directly affects YOU,
because if you come up to a manager who says "perl can't be maintained; perl
is a security hole waiting to happen", they're specifically remembering *THIS
STUFF*.  And then *you* won't get to use the language *you* have invested time
in learning, mostly because someone *else's* early code is being held up as an

So, I don't any more newbie code on display *as an example*.  It's fine for me
if newbie code is pasted in a place where experts can immediately comment on
it if it's got bad practices or security holes.  But there's only so many
experts who are willing to do that (fewer every day, sadly), and I already
know where most of them hang out.

Call me selfish, but I want Perl to be around for another twenty years.  So
I'm working hard to make sure there's an expert in every public forum, so that
we won't repeat the mistakes of the past decade.  And if you're learning Perl,
I'd think you'd appreciate that concern for the health of the Perl community
as a whole, although perhaps you didn't see that when I made my first

Maybe this helps you understand my position.  It's not about not wanting
*you* to learn Perl. It's about the health of the Perl community as a whole.

By all means, ask questions here.  If someone gives a broken answer here,
there are people who can correct it here.  But if you create your own forum,
there's no guarantee that a wrong answer will be corrected, and that's what
scares me, on behalf of the Perl community.  That's all I'm asking for.

Randal L. Schwartz - Stonehenge Consulting Services, Inc. - +1 503 777 0095
<merlyn at stonehenge.com> <URL:http://www.stonehenge.com/merlyn/>
Perl/Unix/security consulting, Technical writing, Comedy, etc. etc.
See PerlTraining.Stonehenge.com for onsite and open-enrollment Perl training!

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