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From Initiate to Monk

by Blue (Hermit)
on Nov 08, 2000 at 03:11 UTC ( [id://40438]=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Just a couple of thoughts on my adventures from first coming to PerlMonks to actually becoming a Monk.

When I first found the monastery, I was jaded. I had so many places on the net that tried to form a community to be, in a word, garbage. I had lurked on many, tried to actively contribute on a few, but didnít really find any that moved me.

After reading my first few posts on the monastery, I immediately joined. This one felt different. Was it, only time would tell.

At first I just lurked. I saw many who came without thought and were corrected. I also saw many who came with thought, but without the experience as the mighty, and those I saw lead towards, to put it in monkish term, enlightenment. If I may risk sounding sappy, there was almost a nurturing, though of a stern and disciplinarian nature, going on.

However, I still felt a bit frightened. My own code was not up to the giants of Perl that inhabited the monastery. Many replies were links to what had gone before, which lead to a perusing of back nodes to get a feeling of what was going on, so that I did not bring up in ignorance a point already brought forth, chewed, and digested.

So I continued to lurk, made a comment that my own System Administrator experience could answer (which I trusted more then my Perl skills). Soon after, I was made a novice, and allowed to vote.

This opened up a whole new aspect of PM to me. I would comb through posts for information that I didnít know, that enlightened me, or dispelled bad practices I had. My initial exposure to Perl was through a horrible book, which had me mostly ignorant of modules, with some cargo-cult ways of doing things I copied from the text. Heck, -w and strict werenít even my friends at that point. I had taught myself more from the perldocs, but based on my poor foundation (which I did not realize was poor), my practices had a distinctive bent.

Which leads me back to voting. I was enamoured by this way to make my voice heard. It gave me the motivation to go through node after node, gleaning bits of insight to make me a better Perl hacker. These I ++ed. Often I would spend a long time going through a node trying to grasp the subtle and elegant way that people would do things. Often this improved me, sometimes it was beyond my reach, but the accompanying text would give me a vector of attack so that I could read about it at my leisure.

When there wasnít enough new material to slake my thirst, I would use random node, and peopleís home nodes, to find other nodes that might enrich my Perl experience. Those that I thought enriching received a ++, even if I was not around when originally written.

Slowly I gained a bit more confidence in my Perl skills. The programs I were writing were becoming more elegant. And they ran under Ėw and use strict, something I can not say of my earlier works.

I posted, but usually ancillary information. With the comparatively immense Perl skills of some, by the time I posted there were usually several answers more complete and elegant then what I could do. But as it came up, where I had experience, I attempted to add. I was reluctant to add code, though I would add ideas.

As time has passed, I have realized that my Perl coding skills are not as advanced as some, but holding them back deprives other monks of perhaps simpler solutions. Solutions that they can use to hoist themselves up a rung of Perl knowledge, just as I enhanced my Perl. So Iím not as shy about my code. It takes all of us, the saints and the initiates. The first time I saw a Schwartzian Transform I was so overwhelmed it wouldn't make it anywhere near my code, so lesser solutions helped. Now, it makes sense. But I needed those intermediary steps, and I hope that as the monastery continues to improve me, that I will remember when I started, and try and help others help themselves up.

Today I made monk. I am very proud of that fact. I did not do it on my own, but rather through all of the posts and community that is PM. So what I want to say is this:

Thank you.

=Blue might be eaten by a grue...

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
RE: From Initiate to Monk
by mwp (Hermit) on Nov 09, 2000 at 17:48 UTC
    Very well written, Blue. I think you've successfully exemplified the feelings of many a Perl monk.

    There is certainly a greater sense of community here than most other places on the Internet. I was talking with kudra about this the other day (sorry gal, I used "that word" again). One of the things I felt was lost moving from the local BBS technology to the world-wide Internet technology was the sense of belonging and contribution to something more than just a bunch of strangers. While I don't know the people (read: regular posters) here as well as my own family and close friends, I know them a heck of a lot better than the multitudes of people on slashdot, IRC, newsgroups, etc. If nothing else, they all share my affection for my favorite language. This isn't something to be taken lightly. {eg}

    Like you, I've had my growing pains here at PM... some successes, some failures. My first post was made by the infamous Anonymous Monk and got horribly shot down by those who know better. A few months later (when I had some more free time!) I came back and started posting. I will never forget the feeling when my pride and joy made it to the top ten and stayed there for a number of weeks. I too have learned not to be shy about my code, because I wouldn't be where I am without the help of others, so now it's my turn to give back. A spin on the goal of Perl, to keep simple stuff simple and tough stuff possible--get the job done knowing what you know, but accumulate what you've learned and one day you will become a master! Or at least better than you were. =)

    ++ for eloquence.


    (it was a JOKE! honestly!)

RE: From Initiate to Monk
by neophyte (Curate) on Nov 08, 2000 at 13:40 UTC
    Congrats, Blue
    Many things you have said also apply to me (and a whole lot of other monks I think). What you have said would even be good material for an introduction to PM perhaps in the Guide to the Monastery.
    It is definitely worth reading.


      I think PM is addictive... In a good way :-)

      -- tune

        I have to agree that PM is addictive, and it is so in many of the same ways that Perl itself is addictive, so if you fall for one, it's easy to fall for another.

        PM, like Perl, is concerned with "Doing the Right Thing".
        PM, like Perl, trys to figure out what you mean if you aren't clear.
        PM, like Perl, is easy to use but with lots of power.
        PM, like Perl, has it's saints (or gods) to look up to and learn from, as well as it's eager newbies attempting things for the very first time.
        PM, like Perl, is forgiving. And usually it's 'error messages' are rather informative.
        PM, like Perl, is just darn fun.

        Ok, enough campiness for now, but Pm definitely has a feel that keeps bringing me back, and in it's way is a microcosm for the Perl community entire. Which is full of hoopy froods.

        =Blue might be eaten by a grue...

(redmist) RE: From Initiate to Monk
by redmist (Deacon) on Nov 08, 2000 at 03:37 UTC
    Congratulations!! Welcome to Monkhood. I remember feeling the same way as you when I came here. I had been on Perl BBSs for a bit, and quickly grew a strong distaste for them. Then came PM. Good luck and congrats!

RE: From Initiate to Monk
by little (Curate) on Nov 08, 2000 at 14:38 UTC
    Congratulations Blue,
    at first to your decision to join and of course to your new being as a monk :-)
    Though I have a question:
    How did you all get here?
    How did you found the way to this place?
    I mean I didn't know about before I've seen our beloved merlyn putting a note about perlmonks to his page at stonehenge.
    Well, don't get me wrong when I just want to say that I got here through wise advise of a perl hacker.
    just b.t.w., my very first post here was one as "Anonymous Monk" and later on I registered.

    Have a nice day
    All decision is left to your taste

      I first heard of the Perl Monks after the first YAPC, where the site was mentionned as a sponsor and a strong community.

      I started lurking every now and then on the site about a year ago before registering in April, lurking some more, then eventually posting on my favorite topic (XML of course) and being biten by the XP bug. I have been posting regularly since then...

      I think YAPC is the perfect place for Perl Monks to be.
      Both the conference and the site carry the same sense of community, the feeling that we should help each other because we share the same love for our job and our language, that beyond its technical merits it carries a set of values that we all support. Those values being freedom, fun and the search for excellence, elegance and ingeniosity.

      Beyond that I first thought that the XP system was just a gimmick, but as I started posting, then voting, I realized it plays a major role on the site:
      - knowing that your post will be read, evaluated, voted on and then carry a reputation makes you think twice about posting, check your code and generally improves the quality of posting, and just as important makes you cancel more than one impulse post, thus increasing dramatically the SN ratio of the whole site.
      - voting on other posts makes you read them all (or at least as many of them that can fit in a busy day), and really think about their technical (or philosophical!) merits, thus giving you the opportunity to learn even in areas you might not be directly interested in.

      So Thanks PM, thanks vroom and thanks to all the saints, monks, initiates and Anonymous Monks that make me hit the reload button every 30 seconds when I get a chance! (BTW, idea for a poll: "how many times a minute do you hit the reload button")

      Update: hey! by the way, this was my 100 posts, cool! Now on my way to merlyn's score!

      How did you found the way to this place?
      I think this would make another interesting poll.
      • I did a google search on Perl
      • Saw it in Stonhenge ;)
      • Followed the link on slashdot
      • other
      • I just rubbed my eyes real hard, and there it was.
      • I just couldn't help stumbling over it.
      and so on ...


      • read about module reviews available here
      • gained somewhat enlighment so just got lead here through a vision I had due to my perlish religion

      • {grin}
        • Heard Gnat talk about it multiple times at yapc 19100


        M-x auto-bs-mode

      How did you all get here?
      I read Slashdot for a while before I found their nodelets, and added PerlMonks on a whim, because it sounded kind of neat. I was weeks before I actually checked it out, since it was at the bottom of my nodelist. Now I log into PM almost every day, and the only time I hear about Slashdot is when my friends send me an article from it. I like it better here. It's a lot more cosy.

      I have independently developed a plan similar to Blue's and am following it with fair success. Just out of curiosity, how many of us are System Administrators who started perl because they had to modify a script to add users/count quotas/hits on a webpage/etc...?

      I also admit to being quite intimidated by the masters around here, but I like it because I think it encourages me to make sure my posts are good, since I have a high standard to aim for.


      I saw the Perl Monks banner ad on Everything 2 on Christmas Eve last year, a few minutes after EDC started running the ads.

      No comment on what I was doing at E2. It was a crazy scheme involving a robot CowboyNeal.

RE: From Initiate to Monk
by agentgray (Initiate) on Nov 09, 2000 at 02:07 UTC
    I inspire to follow your path.

    Thank you for the wisdom.

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