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Ruminations of an ex-PM monk

by jcwren (Prior)
on Oct 15, 2001 at 04:21 UTC ( #118793=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I've been a user at PM for a long time, as websites go. Since Apr 26, 2000 at 12:43 EDT, to be exact. I've seen a lot of users come and go, and I've seen a lot of users stay the course and become valuable assets to the Monastery. I've seen the likes of DiscoStu, merlyn haters anonymou, and bravismore, and the troll wars. I've had words with some people, and I've had the incredibly good fortune of talking to some really talented people. I've seen some of our younger members turn from annoying teenagers into real humans. I've seen a few of our monasterial members become parents (misty).

I've also finally gotten fed up with the decline of PM civilization. As a few people know, I've always been a big proponent that a users vote belongs to that user, and should be used as that person felt fit. Hopefully, it's used in a reasonably responsible manner, and not purely arbitrary. See (jcwren) Re: Posting "Other Users" on potential personality voters, if you're interested. I've posted nodes in the past that I fully felt deserved to get hammered, and didn't. I've also posted nodes that I hoped would do well, and didn't. I don't really care about my final XP, but I like the reputation of my nodes to do well. I believe that a nodes content reflects who and what you are, and how you're perceived.

But it ends with whatever asshole is running a fleet of votebots. Oh, you're cute and coy, and I'm sure you think your code is a stellar work of art. The reality is you suck. Fiercely. I personally don't care if a single individual has a 'bot that votes that users own votes. They're yours. You should use them as you see fit. Having a number of bots, and a co-ordinated voting strategy doesn't cut it. I'll admit to having written a voting script in the old days. It hunted down a few people and consistently voted up any unvoted nodes. And in one or two cases of the people that it was socially accepted to downvote, it did that. DiscoStu was probably the single best example of that. Some people may be appalled, others disappointed. Probably no one really cares. That script hasn't been run since the voting checks were installed. Mostly it was written to prove it could be done. And I accept that code sometimes need to be written because it can be. But running it consistently for the reasons whomever is just isn't cool.

So what's this got to do with Extract numbers in multiple bases? Mostly a final straw. I posted what I considered a reasonable question. Anyone with half a brain should be pretty much able to guess it's not homework. I don't expect many people to know who I am (or care), but it should be pretty self-evident that I don't casually post questions. People are voting too arbitrarily, and I don't like that (a feeling I've had for a long time). But it's your vote, and your right to use your vote as you see fit. So rather than claiming the voting system needs fixing, I'm fixing it from my end. There simply won't be any nodes of mine to vote on, that don't already exist.

Originally the code fragment I was looking for was part of an RPN calculator that was a loadable module component in a larger system called RoboMonk. Robo is a fairly complete PM to IRC bridge. It interfaces to the chatterbox, monitors rep and XP changes, handles /msgs, lets you know if someone in your watch list logs on to PM, lists new nodes and users as they occur, and a fair number of other functions, all primarily XML based. I wrote 90% of it over a year ago, lost interest after a couple of months, and in the last few weeks was cleaning it up and getting ready to post it to the Code Catacombs. Childish as it may sound, I haven't decided what to do with it now.

As I'm writing this, I see Ovid says in the chatterbox that the contents of Extract numbers in multiple bases contradicts the contents of (jcwren) Re: Posting "Other Users" on potential personality voters. And tye wondering why a saint is complaining about a downvote (get real, tye). I can see where contradictions might be perceived. But as I said, it's a culmination of factors, and that was the final straw. Of course, I have to wonder why a person mentions leaving the monastery causes a node to get upvoted. In the last 20 minutes, it's gone from +4 to +15. That doesn't seem right, that seems wierd.

My personal feeling is that the quality of the chatterbox has also been in a serious decline. Oh sure, I don't expect (nor want) to see only Perl discussed. I look at it as a coffee house or meeting room. But the last few weeks, the level of idiocy has been at an all time high. To the extent that the background scroll of it that I normally keep running has caused me to kill that process. Truly, a level of inaneness has been reached, perhaps exceeded only by government officials.

Then there's the CheeseLord and premchai21 "hacking" of the WDF. There's always some twit who has to push the limits, and see if they can create a number so large or so small, or some other idiotic action. Oh, and that was *so* original, guys. Like NO ONE had ever tried *that* before. Sheesh, grow up.

Am I alone in my perceptions of how the monastery has changed? No. Are there others who feel a general decline has taken place? Yes. I will not name them, but I talk to them on a regular basis. Yes, PM hasn't turned in SlashDot yet. The keyword being 'yet'.

Understand that I have nothing but a feeling of amazement at how vroom has run this site. His level of tolerance is amazing. And the way he's handled the trolls and others is far more graceful than what I would have done. And on top of that, he's got a real job, and still manages to find time and interest to keep this site going. Kudos to Tim for keeping his sanity.

I'm sure my actions will generate criticism, and will be attributed all to having had a node down voted. Get real. Instead, tell it to who ever is running the fleet of votebots. Last night, I had a single obscure node get voted up, then down, then up, then down again. This has happened on a number of occasions, and this phenomena has been well documented by tilly and a few others. And regardless whether you consider my leaving the monastery a good or bad point, it is negatively affecting the monastery. Me, if I knew who you were, I'd post your name and email address in a classic merlyn +7 FONT post. And your phone number, if I could find it.

I don't feel like I express myself really well, in writing. There are people who are far more erudite than I, and a number of nodes that I wish I had written, since they say things far better than I can. While this node generally explains how I feel, I'm not very satisfied with it, because I don't think it adequately addresses the full impact of how I feel. It's not because I had a node voted down that I'm pissed off. It's not solely because of votebots. It's not solely because of the general decline. Rather, it's the summation of all these things, and some more. A dissatisfaction with the direction the monastery is heading, in spite of vrooms management, and factors beyond his control.

Yes, I may be whining, and yes, my feelings are hurt. I'm also in touch with my inner child, and he's doing most of the typing. Oh, and if it appears I'm not logically consistent, well, that's real life for you.


e-mail jcwren

P.S. As many of you know, I've contributed a fair amount of code to the monastery. Some in the form of utilities, some in the form of the stats pages, and services in the form of hosting. Neither the stats pages nor the hosting will be affected.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
(Ovid) Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by Ovid (Cardinal) on Oct 15, 2001 at 05:10 UTC

    jcwren, you have, in my opinion, a crusty personality. By saying that, I mean crusty in the Robert Heinlein sense (yes, that's a compliment -- most reader's familiar with his work will understand). You speak your mind, you don't seem terribly concerned about who you offend, and ... oh yeah ... your Perl is pretty good, too. I'm usually a bit more reserved in my comments, but I'll shoot straight from the hip, here: I think you're being foolish.

    Don't get me wrong, I like you and respect you and if I ever get a chance to set foot on your houseboat, I hope you have a beer for me rather than a bullet :) I can certainly understand where you are coming from in all of this. I've not been coming to Perlmonks as much as I used to for some of the same reasons. I've not given up on it, though. Despite never having met you, from the messages and emails that we have exchanged, I think of you as a friend. I've also made quite a few friends from this site who I otherwise would never have had a chance to make.

    As a result (both direct and indirect) of my regularly visiting and posting to Perlmonks, my Perl skill has improved tremendously, I had the opportunity to take a job in Amsterdam (due to a friendship I had formed with a fellow monk) and I've met some really great people. Putting knowledge of Perl aside, I think that the positives of this site have tremendously outweighed the negatives (I gotta remember to drop a check in the mail for the Offering Plate, if I can ever recover from the money I lost overseas -- looooong story).

    My sincere hope is that you do as abigail, princepawn and others have done: take off for a while and then come back.

    You will be missed.


    Vote for paco!

    Join the Perlmonks Setiathome Group or just click on the the link and check out our stats.

Re (tilly) 1: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by tilly (Archbishop) on Oct 15, 2001 at 09:46 UTC
    I am sorry to see this.

    I am not surprised.

    But I am saddened.

    As many here know, I have said from the beginning that I fully expect this place to go downhill. Like Screamer said, that seems to be an inevitable fate for open-ended and successful communities. I have long believed that it is because online neighbourhoods don't scale as a concept. When they become cities, they develop an underbelly through size, and that underbelly rots them from within. I have seen it happen many times over the years. I hope that PerlMonks avoids it, but the only way I have seen to avoid that fate is to not grow. And PerlMonks is certainly growing.

    As jcwren says, PerlMonks has handled its problems unexpectedly well. There are many reasons for that. I would name some of the same factors (eg vroom) that he did. I might name some different ones. I hope that they continue to be effective.

    But the real problems here are not solvable. They are problems with people who don't understand what community is about. People who think of a place like this as nothing more than a game. If you think of it as a game, then you want nothing more than to try to advance by the standards of the game. Votebots do that. So does XP whoring. And when you "win" the game and become a saint, what then? Do you start over again to find out how much faster you can get there again? Do you start wishing there were more levels so you could get better prizes? Do you start asking for tangible medals, certificates, etc to show people you know that you have accomplished something real?

    I have seen every one of those suggested. Not one of those ideas sounded good to me. Every one of them left me thinking worse of the author. I have seen posts where people denounced XP whoring then in a comment joked about the XP they hoped to get. Posts where people shamelessly stole good posts from others hoping they would be able to get XP easily.

    Folks, if you don't get pleasure from being here, learning, and passing on what you have learned, then you have missed the point. The whole point. Perhaps after you have been around the block a few times, you will understand better. Perhaps it takes losing a few communities to know better. Perhaps it takes losing a few friends you used to talk with regularly, but lose track of because you have no common places you both go.

    Perhaps then you will understand that a place like this doesn't exist because of games. Perhaps then you will understand why people like jcwren and myself get so frustrated at them.

Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by Aristotle (Chancellor) on Oct 15, 2001 at 07:18 UTC

    I may be new here; but I am not new to message boards. I am not new to chat rooms either. I have seen the bitter disappointed departure posts of others from PM (I usually spend some time trying to take in the local "culture" I am trying to butt into before I do so).

    What you describe seems to be the fate of every single open ended community I've been in. It is as if online communities have the reverse development of a human, they start out mature and polite and devolve into puberty as time goes, with an increasing level of childishness, banter and self-celebration.

    I do not have any solution to offer; I merely post to point out that it seems to be the inevitable development. I do not like it either, but in my experience, you can only stoically endure it, ignoring the idiocy and simply sticking to the interesting bits. If none are left it is time to move on, but I expect it will take a very long time until there is nothing of real interest to read on PM. Of course, I haven't noticed this trend here yet - after all, reading up on the past life on PM or not, I still am new. And so far I find PM to be a great resource. You probably feel differently after having been here for so long and remembering it being a better yet place. Even so, I am sure you can still find plenty that interests you, if you choose.

    I am not trying to change your mind. All I mean to do is possibly ease your disappointment. I personally have come to accept as a fact of life that an increasing level of stupidity in whatever incarnation is part of the way forums and chatrooms work; so I try not to let that get in the way of my own enjoyment.

    You will have to pick whichever way works best for you, of course.

(tye)Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by tye (Sage) on Oct 15, 2001 at 21:13 UTC

    I'm very sorry that the voting on your node was "the straw that broke the camel's back". I do hope you return after a break. I share much of the feelings already expressed in this thread and certainly will miss you.

    But you've gotten lots of sympathy (which you deserve) so now I'm here to slap you in the face and try to get you to come to your senses!

    Oh, how merlynesque of you! A node of yours gets downvoted and the only possible explanation is that some bot is responsible! It couldn't possibly be that the node in question sucked?? Coming from you this is so very ironic! Your assertion is full of conceit and pig-headedness.

    Even a vote bot can only vote on a node once. So you'd need N vote bots to downvote a node N times. A much more reasonable explanation of the downvoting is that there was something about the node that triggered something in the quirky communal mindset and resulted in real downvotes. And if you don't like that, then I suggest you reread some of your own nodes on that subject.

    No, I doubt anyone thought your question was homework from a class. But we certainly didn't see you showing any of your own work for us to help with. "Not reinventing the wheel"?? Your specifications were rather specific and unusual. Why would anyone have lying about something that met those specifications? The problem was even relatively straightforward but you didn't show that you had even thought about how you might approach it.

    It was a weekend so the voting activity was rather light. And yet the node rep never went negative. Then Monday morning hits and the node starts getting upvoted. Yet you blame the upvotes on the fact that you said you are leaving. Get over yourself!

    Anyway, I hope you feel better. Take care and come back to at least visit once in a while. (:

            - tye (but my friends call me "Tye")
(jptxs) Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by jptxs (Curate) on Oct 15, 2001 at 06:54 UTC
    I don't feel too exposed by saying I almost cried reading this.

    First of all, however you got the idea you cannot express yourself well in words, you got the wrong idea.

    I have been a bit (lot) of a lurker here for the past few months. I have not really been posting for many of the very same reasons you cite. I have been back and forth on voting - sometimes feeling I owe it to all the good ones to vote, sometimes feeling I shouldn't vote if I didn't really feel a part of things anymore. So you are not alone.

    This is not /. YET. Right? It can still NOT be /., but not without you. Not without the people who can enrich and guide. The gods have the power and information to strike down those who are doing no good if they see fit. Have faith that if this were rampant they would.

    Too many examples of the few bad ruining it for the mostly good these days. Don't give me another one. I can't take it.

    We speak the way we breathe. --Fugazi

Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by Dragonfly (Priest) on Oct 15, 2001 at 11:14 UTC
    Well... I don't know what to make of all this. I'm pretty much a newbie around here, and although I wrote some functional and useful (to me) Perl before I got here, after about a month or two here I realized that they were just cute little scripts compared to the enormously talented body of work that resides in these halls. Since then, I've been mostly a silent lurker, trying to glean some insight into what makes all of the better programmers tick, so that one day I might aspire to contribute something myself.

    And yes, jcwren. Your work does complement the monastery, quite well, in fact. You'll be missed. Frankly, even though I'm a relatively poor coder and probably not a good monk either for that matter, I've got to admit that I've been somewhat irritated with some of the newcomers as well, and I haven't even been here that long.

    I guess I don't know what to say: I'd try to talk you out of leaving, but I know you have a valid point; I'd try to insult the vote-boter(s), but they're probably just after attention anyways. I guess the only thing I can say, is this.

    Thank you, jcwren, for all of your skillful work around here. Thank you for your fascinating posts, and thank you for your brash personality. You've helped to make the Monastery into a pleasing, invigorating community, and you've done a great service to all the Seekers who come here each day. And, despite your disappearance, who will continue to come here, perhaps one day to discover the hidden secrets of your mighty posts.

    Thank you, jcwren.

(crazyinsomniac) Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by crazyinsomniac (Prior) on Oct 15, 2001 at 11:37 UTC
    It's been a while since I participated in a discussion such as this, but here goes:

    *I* believe you will, nay, you must come back eventually. Take a haitus, please, but do not *disappear*, because, if not a few monks, I alone will miss you.

    I simply cannot comprehend life in the monastery without the original xp whore. Maybe you could try and be daring, and turn off your xp nodelet, and break luke_repwalker's legs, or at least don't look for a little while...

    I am taking a vow of silence, it's lurking for me from now on (here on pm "only" that is, and mostly for posts and public cb, I might break in private /tell ), peace

    update: apparently I can't keep my trap shut, due to the addictivness of pm. I still miss jcwren, but the vow is off. I will try to be in my underwear every time I'm here (as it is a commitment i *can* keep)

    Disclaimer: Don't blame. It came from inside the void

    perl -e "$q=$_;map({chr unpack qq;H*;,$_}split(q;;,q*H*));print;$q/$q;"

Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by BMaximus (Chaplain) on Oct 15, 2001 at 09:21 UTC
    I've been real busy as of late and haven't contributed as much as I would like to have. But coming back to this upsets me. I've been voted down before like you have JC. It does hurt but I tend not to take things personaly. However if its senseless votes done by bots. I can understand your frustration. I've learned quite a bit from you. Your an asset to PM and I hate to see you go. I hope you take Ovid's advice and just take some time off as needed and come back later.

    For me. I'll be short and to the point.

    Don't go.

Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by stefan k (Curate) on Oct 15, 2001 at 16:27 UTC
    Fellow Monks,
    I could well imagine that this thread may change things in the Monastery. It seems to be the time that some level of nerve is reached that will make some valuable members of this community leave. So I'd like to tell you my 2 cents...

    As has been said, it seems to be a natural thing that online communities at some time begin to suffer from lack of politeness, reasonability and content. I think this time is reached when the size of a community reaches a certain critical amount. In the beginning it is usually quite high level, there are the Long Years Perl Coders, which by probably all are saints. It's (almost) only them around because this place isn't well known, it is new and thus only the ones really interested in the content will come in. Of course more and more people look around having heard/read of that community somewhere. And when the people gets larger the original members (and -of course- the creators) are kinda proud, or at least somewhat touched. They proved to be a (more or less active) part in something valuable.

    Unfortunately you get some disadvantages with the increase in interest:

    • more people causing more server load
    • more beginners decreasing the signal to noise ratio. (In the beginning the Elder Ones really enjoy getting the Younger (and I count myself to that group) to crabble, walk and maybe even run. But that wears off, if it's the same over and over again)
    • malicious members: Just a matter of probability, so it scales with the overall number of members

    Then with the Monastery you get the bonus of a voting system. OK, well, someone did a lot of work to implement a functionality that somewhat reminds me of former times when I did a lot of roleplaying. Even more: it might give the postings/nodes some kind of quality stamp.

    But, as with many things, the well thought dynamics behind this mechanism, get out of the path that was paved for them. It develops a live of it's own and reveales some new rules: Uh, oh, Frontpage Postings get more XP; uh, oh, the first answer usually gets more than the others; uh, oh, some community related postings are voted higher than the Real Code I posted. And so on.

    I try to look at this with the eyes of a scientist, trying to find the mechanisms behind, trying to explain to myself how this works - and feel content with it. Of course I'd like to see my XEmacs Skeletons or my First (and only) Perl Module be my best nodes, but currently my question about shebangs tops my list (which gave me a happy shudder this morning :-). But then, hey, what's the matter. btw: I'm not linking to the nodes on purpose: that would be xp whoring ;-)

    The Monastery ist still a good place to stay!

    I still can learn things from real good coders

    I will try to be valuable (though maybe small) part to this community. That's how it works: simply keep up with the good things, and try hard to ignore the bad parts (that how life works, isn't it ;-)

    Don't take it too hard. You are an important part of this!

    Thanks for listening...

    Regards... Stefan
    you begin bashing the string with a +42 regexp of confusion

      Not to nit, but:

      more beginners decreasing the signal to noise ratio

      This isn't quite correct; beginners have the potental to bring the signal-to-noise down, particularly if they don't use resources already available to them (such as Search, Super Search, the FAQs, and other resources). However, beginners that at least try to scan these resources and ask reasonable questions are the ones that help to maintain high signal-to-noise.

      PM should continue to strive for the addition of more new perl programmers, as that is one aspect of this community that makes it great.

      Dr. Michael K. Neylon - || "You've left the lens cap of your mind on again, Pinky" - The Brain
      It's not what you know, but knowing how to find it if you don't know that's important

        beginners have the potential to bring the signal-to noise down

        I think you've hit the nail on the head here - potential. However, have you noticed how many questions are asked (particuarly homework-related ones) by monks who only joined the Monastary a few seconds before?

        Maybe a way to increase the quality of PM would be to disallow novices from posting? This will mean new members would need to visit the Monastary reguarly for a couple of weeks before asking questions. Hopefully in this time they will have read the FAQs, tried Super Search and learned a bit about what PM is about, instead of joining and immediately posting "I need this URGENT!!!".

        Just my 0.02,


        I think that it's important to remember that everyone started out as a beginner, and that getting even firm but kind RTFM repsonses is helpful. I've been mostly the recipient of good advice and help, and hope soon to be able to give back in a substantive way.

        I actually like to think of myself as always a beginner. Keeps me humble. :-)

Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by Dr. Mu (Hermit) on Oct 15, 2001 at 11:48 UTC
    I've always believed that the PM voting system is just plain silly. Personally, I don't care whether I get voted up, down or sideways, as long as I can help out when possible or get help when necessary. What matters way more than votes is someone I've managed to help saying, "Hey, that's it! You solved my problem." Don't get me wrong. I do check my node list from time to time (mainly as an index for locating replies), and it's entertaining because there seems to be little correlation between what I consider the value of a contribution (or the effort put into it) and the votes it's been awarded.

    But, obviously now, there are those who put a lot of weight on votes and rank. And I'm not being critical of those people. But I do think that if the system allows someone of jcwren's stature (and by "stature" I don't mean "rank") to become alienated, it's time to look at the system. I've never cast a single vote, but I'd cast my first and last one now to get rid of the voting system altogether -- just so we can get back to helping each other.

    Update:17 Oct 2001

    I suppose the irony only reinforces my point, but in less than three days this node is now my second highest ranked. Good grief!

      I have to disagree with you. The PM voting system is far from silly, it is the way people perceive it that is silly. The Voting system is a great way to handle the management of this site, allowing users to be empowered to make the site a better place without having newbies and trolls screwing around with the system. That coupled with the weighing of nodes for that value is a pretty decent system in my opinion.

      The real problem is the people thinking of this as a game, as tilly said. I must admit, I kind of play it both ways. For a sense of personal accomplishment, I do like the XP, and have considered starting a new monk out of curiosity (but decided it was a silly idea). But I also like to help people solve their problems, and it is good to be known around the chatterbox.

      I mean, going for some personal glory is the human way in most cases. We like affirmation. A little XP whoring in the long run isn't going to hurt anyone. It's when the need for personal glory outweighs the good being done. Such as people who need to have a votebot cuz they need their XP but can't be bothered to vote, or may miss a day on vacation. Or even worse those who get pissed off at someone for downvoting them, and attack them with negative votes.

      Now, I won't lie, I never especially liked jcwren, but that doesn't matter. He was an excellent resource of PM, and did a lot for it. I respect him and the good he has done. I think that anyone who doesn't recognize that fact obviously doesn't understand this site.

      But then again, through the voting system, chances are they will never be Saints, since people who don't understand PM tend not to advance, and give up after a while. That is the real beauty of the voting system... it's not just up to one or two people... it is up to the community. And though it may get bumpier as more users come in, I think that it will hold together, because those who have taken the time and understand the PM will advance, and keep it together.

      Though I am ranked a saint, I'm no real saint... I've done my share of stupid things and still have much to learn. I'm not an editor, and I've not contributed any code to PM. (I did put a whole 5$ in the donation tray :) However, even though I have not done all that, I have learned a lot, and my contributions have improved, and I feel a part of the community... and THAT... that is why it will stick together. Because in order to really BE a perlmonk, you have to grow with PM, and as the community grows, so will its core, and that core is what defines perlmonks... but enough rambling... back to the grind, I am sorry to see jcwren do this, but it his his path to walk...

      Sorry, this kind of extended into a response to the whole thread, not just this node :)

                      - Ant
                      - Some of my best work - Fish Dinner

Ruminations to Ruins
by fmogavero (Monk) on Oct 15, 2001 at 17:51 UTC
    I DO NOT like to post. I prefer to lurk. If I am going to post I wish to contribute, enhance and help. So I am posting.

    Brother you have hit the nail square on the head. I have been a lurker for a long time. This place has been an unbelievable source of inspiration to me. Writers block has never been cleared quicker. Yet there are the few who seem to like the destruction of a society.

    Maybe it is time to revise the constitution of the monastery. Maybe Vroom needs to keep track of who votes what when there is a suspected votebot. Maybe the saints need to meet in the heavens and discuss proper actions against those who would destroy that which we have tried so hard to build. I believe the Good outweigh the Bad around here.

    It would be a shame to lose all of our greatest contributors. The one thing I realize is that making a difference is never an easy thing.

    Do what you must!


(ichimunki) Re: Ruminations
by ichimunki (Priest) on Oct 15, 2001 at 20:46 UTC
    The quality of PerlMonks is going downhill! Look at some of the newbies we've been getting. gbarr and TheDamian come to mind. What's with those know-it-alls? One of them even claims to have some scoop on Perl 6. The nerve! {ed note: this is sarcasm. ichimunki is quite glad these guys are taking part.}

    What is with the bagging on Slashdot? Slashdot may need a spelling lesson, may be home to a lot of geeky teens and college kids, and may not know how to properly post a PGP-signed message, but Slashdot provides something that other places can only dream of-- namely the active participation of a lot of hardcore geeks in a wide range of topics. Admittedly, some of them are talking out of their, um, posteriors. But dang, it's a concentration of good info, even on a bad day. And if that gets boring, switch to -1 and have a laugh.

    Complaining about signal-to-noise on the internet is a lost cause. The voting system on PM is subject to the same signal-to-noise issues as anywhere else on the net. If I thought it was broken, I'd recommend a fix. And if everyone insists it IS broken, here's the fixes I recommend: implement a posted nodes requirement before you can vote, something like 5 nodes with positive rep before getting a single vote-- and similarly up the level chain (if you have three posts to your name, why should you get 35 votes a day?); no more experience from voting; and, no voting on Meditations or Discussions.

    BTW, WTF is WDF?
      Complaining about signal-to-noise on the internet is a lost cause.
      I agree. When a virtual community is small, it's easy to maintain a low ratio. But once a critical mass is reached, it sort of eats itself. I got my start in IT developing virtual classrooms for higher education. It started out small and worked exceptionally well. But then someone came up with the bright idea of extending to multiple universities with many, many professors getting involved. It soon became a horrid morass of runaway egos....

      BTW, WTF is WDF?
      World Domination Fund

      update: One of the things we found in the virtual classroom is that FTF meetings went a long way in smoothing over some of the bumps and inefficiencies of asynchronous discourse. It also kept people from wanting to strangle each other. I would encourage more monks to meet other monks. suaveant and I fished together earlier this year and I understand his online persona ten times better than I did before (and we caught fish too :)
Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by Malkavian (Friar) on Oct 15, 2001 at 19:23 UTC
    Well, much of what I'd say has already been said in the above posts.
    From the time I've been around the Monastery, I've gained a lot of respect for your views, and your competence, and for you as a person.
    I can understand being extremely peeved by someone running a votebot against you.. What I don't understand is your decision to leave because of it.
    Whatever your exp says, and whatever the rep of your nodes gets to, doesn't alter my perception of you as a highly competent person.
    The person behind the words, and apart from the arbitrary 'exp' rating is what counts. Not the count of exp.
    The act of bot voting you down (and yes, I do see a difference between bot downvoting a troll and bot downvoting a productive member of the Monastery) reeks of petty spite. Childish and pointless.
    And I can also understand taking time away from the Monastery to fume and rail in your own fashion, without subjecting everyone around you in the Monastery to vitriolic rants for months on end.
    I've stepped back from several online communities in my time to do just that; put my feet back on the ground, thicken my skin, and get back to where I was.
    But, I've always gone back when I calmed down. Quite often, not as prominently as I was, but I went back.
    My view was that it was a real shame to let the bad guys win by being petty. Karma always tells... If not in this, then in some other part of life.
    In future years, when they grow up, they may well feel a little stab of shame when they think of this.. If so, then it's their burden to bear every time they remember.
    If they remain petty, then like finds like, and their circle is likely to be a group of shallow backstabbers.
    Some happy life that'll be...
    I'm not asking you to stay right now, or do anything, other than to ask you if letting them 'win' by chasing you away is what you want.
    Go away for a while, and think. Not just of the irritation of a few irritating people, but of the others that you respect and those who honestly respect you, the person.
    When you're good and ready, come back.
    Like a good bar, this place has the old timers round the fire, occasionally getting railed at by passing yobs, but in general, just fitting in their hard won places..
    When you come back, I very much suspect that there'll be that seat by the fire still waiting for you, and all you need to do is sit in it, and nobody will ask anything that you don't want to say.
    I hope your vacation from Perlmonks for a while does you good, and I look forward to seeing your name on the site sometime in the future.

Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by aquacade (Scribe) on Oct 15, 2001 at 22:55 UTC
    Chris: You know how much I value your contributions to the Monastery! Take a much deserved break, but PLEASE come back? I've been on break (reading 3rd Learning Perl cover-to-cover) so I can dive in sometime soon with better understanding and skills. You're not alone in being frustrated with unfair treatment and you're not alone in your deep respect for Tim Vroom. Without the yeast of adversity, great contributors like you and Vroom wouldn't have made it this far! Enjoy your break, hope to see to back soon!

    Your friend,

    ..:::::: aquacade ::::::..

Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by blackjudas (Pilgrim) on Oct 15, 2001 at 20:29 UTC
    I don't know how to say anything more profound than what the other brothers have voiced. It is a sad day, sad to see you go, you have helped me personally when I needed an answer, or some guidance. Please, come back when you feel like you're up to it and who knows, maybe the monastery will be different when you do. I certainly hope that something will be done about votebots and general XP issues to make it the perl utopia it was once destined to be. I haven't been here long and I've experienced the same as you, now I feel like I've got the hang of things and seeing some of the ugliness has certainly opened my eyes but with every community there is more good than bad and that's why I come back. I think perl is a gifted programming language because it has a resource such as this (...other reasons as well...) and I think that PM was gifted by having you as a part of it. I think the fellow monks have lost an excellent contributor.

    See you around soon I hope!

Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by George_Sherston (Vicar) on Oct 15, 2001 at 12:41 UTC
    I haven't been around long enough to know whether the monastery has changed, but I know it would change for the worse if it lost jcwren.

    George Sherston
Signal to Noise Ratio (wasRe: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk)
by Brovnik (Hermit) on Oct 17, 2001 at 21:12 UTC
    Decreasing signal-to-noise ratio is a common enough issue in all sorts of (specially Internet) places.

    I remember when I read almost all of usenet news in an hour a day. It is a long time since I could do that.

    Since then, many other group mechanisms have gone somewhat the same way, including email lists, some IRC channels, bulletin boards, user groups, conferences, etc.

    The increasing noise (or lower average perceived quality) is likely to continue to happen as more people discover an individual forum, particularly if it is a good quality one.

    As people gravitate towards it, the average goes down. The "fix" is for someone to hate it enough to go and setup a new forum.

    The alternative fix is to make the "club" exclusive in some way, but that just slows down the influx.

      Actually, more of the problem now as opposed to then was that to participate in such forums, there was a certainly technological barrier that one had to succum; when I first started in 89 or 90, (getting out my cane... :-) ), you had to either be at a high-end computing school or a research lab/site to have internet access. Thus, to have internet access assumed that you were already some of the more intelligent people (I'm not trying to slight anyone here, just stating observations). In addition, the only clients were available were text-based, thus, one had to know how to find and read the documentation for those clients. Furthermore, particularly in the case of USENET, in reading the documentation, you were told to lurk some time before posting, and other tips that would help to maintain high S/N.

      Then the endless September came, and with the introduction of the Web, AOL, ISPs, and the like, everyone and their dog was able to get on the net. While the web with it's mostly graphical interface was great, the text tools for accessing USENEt were arcane and strange to those that dealt little with computers on a regular basis. Some folks saw this and developed on of the major 'downfalls' of the internet; graphical email and usenet clients. Now one could get to usenet without reading any user's manaul, and more importantly, without understanding the netiquette that had prevailed prior to that point. And thus that September was born.

      Now we are slowly seeing the S/N ratio return back to it's previous values, though ever so slowly; there's been a lot of abuses of usenet (private companies starting general propigation of newgrps outside of it's servers, lax news server operators, increases in crossover postings, and most annoying, binary groups) along with new technical problems (lack of space forcing the need for fast turnaround, throttling/speed capping from the ngs) but there's also a lot of (new) people realizing Usenet isn't 'all that', and are abandonding it. The S/N will never get back to where it once was, but it's getting much easier to read through established groups than it was, say, 3 years ago.

      Now with web communities, similar things are happening; look at /. - before user accounts and the like, it was a very high S/N system. Then they made it 'easier' for everyone to use, and suddently you had trolls, first posts, more than enough Natalie Portman and Grits for a lifetime, and other abuses. In this case, the established users cried for help from the /. system, and they slowly added controls that helped to reduce the problems; moderation, meta-moderation, the so-called Lameness filter, and others. Slash code 2.0 adds even more, and while the S/N isn't where it was, it, just like Usenet, is slowly getting back there.

      Is PM undergoing a similar change? It's hard to say. We've definitely hit the point where the S/N drops because of the ease to use the system without understanding, and IMO it's slowly rising, but we aren't quite at the same recovery point as usenet or /. may be at. Can things be done in the backend to improve it faster? Maybe, but I think that many of the issues that are pointed out in this thread are ones that will disappear on their own (the votebot runners get tired of that, or in the worse case, as unfortunately with jc, the ones that are targets leave, making the votebot useless). Exactly when that might be, I don't know, but it's definitely food for thought as to what might happen down the road.

      Dr. Michael K. Neylon - || "You've left the lens cap of your mind on again, Pinky" - The Brain
      It's not what you know, but knowing how to find it if you don't know that's important

        Now we are slowly seeing the S/N ratio return back to it's previous values, though ever so slowly; there's been a lot of abuses of usenet (private companies starting general propigation of newgrps outside of it's servers, lax news server operators, increases in crossover postings, and most annoying, binary groups) along with new technical problems (lack of space forcing the need for fast turnaround, throttling/speed capping from the ngs) but there's also a lot of (new) people realizing Usenet isn't 'all that', and are abandonding it. The S/N will never get back to where it once was, but it's getting much easier to read through established groups than it was, say, 3 years ago.
        I'll suggest a reason for this... the web has attracted away the people who want bright shiny objects, leaving the rest of us in our arcane text-discussion world. Fine with me. {grin} Just don't give Usenet a "w - w - w" address, and we'll be OK.

        -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

Re: Ruminations of an ex-PM monk
by Macphisto (Hermit) on Oct 19, 2001 at 01:24 UTC
    I've spent a good deal of time chatting with you and talking about the votebots and other subjects akin to a decline in the quality of the Monestary and you know that I agree with you. However, I --'d you because I think you're being a quitter and from the last year I've been talking to you, I've never seen you quit and I don't like to see it now. So: --. I'd rather see you find someway to rectify the problems than to see you turn your back on a forum that has benefited from you a great deal. Just my thoughts. I hate that you're leaving and I don't respect the decision, and to -- one of the nodes of one of my good buddies bothers me greatly. Sorry, Wren.

    Macphisto the I.T. Ninja

    Everyone has their demons....

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