The Perl World Attitude to Newbies - a Year (and some) Later
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.
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
I eventually set up the
Beginners' Site at its permanent location in
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.
www.perl.org 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
Perl.com. 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
My criticism towards Perl.com
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.
Perl.com 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
Nathan Torkington agreed to try and get the administrators of
the perl.org domain to revamp learn.perl.org in accordance with
what I did at Perl-Begin. Eventually, it was decided that we'll
designate a section of perl.org for it. This has been delayed due
to some serious Hardware failures at the perl.org domain, and
to my tactless behaviour, but hopefully will continue soon.
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
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
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.
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 perl.org,
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!