The Perl World Attitude to Newbies - a Year (and some) Later

Date: 21-Aug-2004

Written By: Shlomi Fish

The purpose of this document is to summarize what has progressed since the original "'Usability' of the Perl Online World for Newcomers" article was published more than a year ago (either by my own actions or by actions of others.) I also make some vital corrections or clarifications to the document.

  1. The thing I most regret about the original document was that I made it sound as if there was one big conspiracy in the Perl world, instead of several separate facts that added to an unfortunate whole. This probably caused many people not to take the document too seriously.
  2. I eventually set up the Perl Beginners' Site at its permanent location in BerliOS. Several people gave useful commentary which I integrated to the site. Recently, I did not have too many things to add there, but the site is still not dead, and if you have ideas for things to contribute, or can send patches to it, it will be great.
  3. has received a face-lift, and is now very much OK as a portal for the Perl community. (note that this was not my action). It is completely non-commercial and so is more suitable as the Perl homepage than I suggest people link Perl to it instead, and as evidence to its quality we can see it is already the third hit in a Google search for Perl. I hope it will become the first in due time.
  4. My criticism towards was not directed towards the site as a site, but rather to the fact that it was designated as the homepage of the Perl language. is a very nice site with good articles and stuff like that, but its commercial nature and many ads make it unsuitable for being the official webpage of the Perl community.

    I apologize in case I wasn't clear enough in my criticism towards it.

  5. Nathan Torkington agreed to try and get the administrators of the domain to revamp in accordance with what I did at Perl-Begin. Eventually, it was decided that we'll designate a section of for it. This has been delayed due to some serious Hardware failures at the domain, and to my tactless behaviour, but hopefully will continue soon.
  6. Sometimes after writing the article, I became seriously active in the FreeNode IRC Network. It has a very nice #perl channel, where newbie questions are accepted. Furthermore, it has become highly active and fun to talk in, and is very active. At every given moment, there are more people registered to it than EF-Net's #perl and #perlhelp combined.

    There may be a few problems with it. One is that there is many times a lot of off-topic discussion that takes place there. (I'm not sure if it's a problem or not.) Another is that many people "help" the newcomers by abnoxiously referring them to the online documentation, instead of giving them a ready answer or explanation , and then referring them to some online documentation, in order to learn more. But this is probably worse in most other channels.

    FreeNode's #perl has also attracted a lot of perl experts from other networks and from elsewhere, and has become a nice community.

  7. I and others did some heavy work on making the Perl core documentation suitable for absolute beginners, or for people without a ready knowledge of UNIX. (which has become a larger and larger percentage of the Perl newcomers). The pod documents are still not perfect, and there's plenty of work to do there, but they are still in a much better shape. I really wish "Programming Perl" ( the Camel book) was placed online, but doing exactly that is beyond my control.
  8. Since the writing of the article, I became aware of several mailing lists in which beginner posts are acceptable or are intended primarily for beginners. None of them has the same volume of discussion as the main mailing lists at, which is both a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. And I also think most Perl Mongers mailing lists accept posts from beginners.

That's about it, I think. A lot of progress, but still quite a lot left to do. Happy hacking and helping!