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Perl Monks Cookbook?

by princepawn (Parson)
on Jul 28, 2000 at 21:52 UTC ( #24936=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I have been noticing that the quality of questions and answers here at PerlMonks.ORG is quite high. We have some of the greatest Perl programmers around here. And we have some just-as-great ignorami like me to ask questions :-)

It occurred to me when looking at that question on sorting numbers that it really really would be useful to come out with a printed version of the most useful PerlMonks Q/A sessions. I mean, we are taking Perl Cookbook and the Perl FAQ to another level.

I was developing a Perl framework to edit such a text. The contents of the document would be live, that is, pulled directly from a GET command PerlMonks.ORG and inserted into the body of the book. All of the answerers would get a percentage of book royalties relative to their contribution to the book contents.

So, I wouldlike to forge ahead with editing this text but dont want to be seen as a thief or copyright infringer, so I would like the consent of my fellow monks before embarking on this time-consuming yet clearly valuable project.

To some, Perl is an art form. To others it is a religion. What is it to you?

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
RE: Perl Monks Cookbook?
by KM (Priest) on Jul 28, 2000 at 22:05 UTC
    I think you are getting into dangerous territory here. First, you need to find out legal issues with who owns the answers posted. Do I own my answer, or does Everything Inc. own it (I have seen nothing here stating that I give up any copyright for my text)? Assuming that our answers are public domain, no royalties would need to be paid. Personally, I certainly wouldn't post any more answers here knowing you can take them and make money from them. And, I would erase all my previous answers to ensure you don't make money by simply printing my words. People would have to clearly know up front that anything posted to this site may be used in full for print reproduction without concent. Anyways, I have had this same sort of discussion with, and it is somewhat of a dangerous territory (at least of authors are limited, here they are not). Also, most answers found here are available in books, FAQs and documentation freely available. They are also freely available here. You would essentially be trying to duplicate the Perl Cookbook, which is Wrong IMO. Other issues are that I don't know who would buy a book with answers from dozens of people, many unknowns. Many answers posted on this site are simply wrong, which would be hard on the books credibility.. blah blah.. anyways.. my $.03 :)


      The first thing you need to understand and observe is that my post did not say: "I want to gobble up all the info here and act as if I knew it all and write a book." It was patently clear in my initial post that I was going to allocate royalties as a function of contribution to content.

      And that means I would do so regardless of whether I was legally bound to or not, because I am ethically bound to do it regardless of what I might be able to abscond away with legally... I have been benefitting from free software since 1987 and have yet to help out as much as I have been helped and now I think I finally can do something.

      And responding to another post as well as a sentiment expressed by KM, Just because there is one Perl Cookbook does not mean there cannot be another one with just as much content on topics completely uncovered by the first one. I mean, no-one complains when the 900th beginner perl book teaching the same things comes out, but the second I want to create a book with the same focus as the Cookbook, but new and fresh and highly useful content, people are up in arms.

      And besides, the Cookbook and Programming Perl are largely similar even exact verbatim wordings of online docs widely available. They did the same thing why shouldn't we? Just think of how many more people will come to PerlMonks.ORG if we put out a book.

      And finally, I have just had a mindspring. For a long time, I have wanted to cut out what I see as WASTE in the Perl Community. We have 25 modules that do text templating with little uniqueness among them. 5 or so that allow for easy navigation of complex nests of array and hashrefs. We have PerlMonks, PerlArchive, CPAN,,, and and should I mention Matts SCript ARchive? ... in short what we have is a flagrant violation of the first rule of software engineering: never re-invent the wheel.

      So gentlemen and women (or is that gentlemonks as suggested by my office-mate), let us decide on how best to navigate the current state of affairs in the Perl Community in keeping with the spirit of free software as espoused by the likes of Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, and Larry Wall. And we could consider vroom a pioneer in the field of free information sharing.

RE: Perl Monks Cookbook?
by vroom (His Eminence) on Jul 28, 2000 at 22:24 UTC
    If we were gonna do anything of the sort I think it would need to be a group ongoing effort. I've been considering doing something similar in the future online first. Basically we need to assure quality and a somewhat consistent style/format for writing. Basically what I imagine is people marking what they consider to be good threads then a group of editors would consolidate these answers into one clear response. All of the contributors would be listed on each entry. All contributors would also need to know about how their answers were going to be used and the terms involved.

    Personally I don't think one person is qualified to handle an effort of this magnitude and I think you would be treading on dangerous territory by doing so. You don't have explicit permission from the authors and you don't own this website. Any profit made from an effort like this would have to be split in some fashion between the authors of the entries and in my mind. Permission for the undertaking should be given by the authors of the text and the people and the company that makes this site a reality.

    vroom | Tim Vroom |

      I'm curious: Who are the "people and the company" that make PerlMonks a reality? (other than yourgoodself, vroom) ... Would there be similar issues with compiling and distributing such a resource entirely digitally and for free? Just wondering. TTFN.


      p.s. but the Soul still burns!
        I actually think a cookbook made from the contents of would be a great way to keep the cost of keeping Perlmonks running to a minimum.

      Well, out of curiosity, who do you feel owns the material posted here? Since the topic of printing our text has been brought up I think this may be important. On we all know that what we post can be used later for printing. But, authors are also more 'hand picked' and not anyone in the world can post an answer. I would suggest add something somewhere that states that all answers are owned by the individual who posts it, at least for now.


RE: Perl Monks Cookbook?
by chromatic (Archbishop) on Jul 29, 2000 at 07:13 UTC
    It's kind of a neat idea, but I think the energy would be better directed into getting the most useful posts and the most common, non-FAQ questions into Categorized Questions and Answers. That's a big job, and no one's really doing it now.

    Copyright wouldn't be an issue there (unless someone objects to posting material as a writeup and having an editor copy the content to a different part of the site). Let's concentrate on making the site more useful before working on making the site fit a different medium.

    (Anyone who wants to go through SOPW and point out stuff worthy of being in Q&A has my blessing.)

by gryng (Hermit) on Jul 28, 2000 at 22:03 UTC
    Perl is free(dom), to me. So all my stuff on this site is either copyleft, gpl or totally free, depending on which parts you are looking at. But in anycase I don't really care to much what you do with my stuff, I'm sure most others are like that (but not all).

    Anyone willing to organize material for better access gets a high opinion in my book. But why not make this effort online (at least at first) and maybe completely integrated with itself?


      Unless I missed it, I didn't see anything on this site saying my words are suddenly free for all to copy and print and make money with. I certainly wouldn't allow that if I didn't get fair royalties (try splitting royalties between dozens of people) seeing as how I was not informed that my text on this site is public domain. I may be in a minority on this and not have the popular opinion, but vroom should have something on the site saying who owns what is posted here.


        I agree with you KM, unless it says otherwise it would be nice to know you own your own words. However, I don't know if you are in the minority or not (probably not). I was trying to say that for me, I only want the most basic rights (such as acknowledgement), but no monetary compensation for them.

        Anyway, it is a hairy issue, but at the very least it would seem possible to organize an online book that used perlmonks content and was available at perlmonks (all for free access of course). Not that this wouldn't require alot of effort.


      i like the idea of some sort of cookbook. i also like the idea of trying it out online first. but a couple questions for you before you start doing anything: is this going to be any different from perlmonks organized Q and A section? or some extension of that. is there any reason to go to the online cookbook instead of perlmonks' sections? as for the book, thats a LOT of work. and requires a lot of organization - with publishers, with authors (in other words the whole pm community), etc. i don't know how feasible it would be.
        There is a cookbook already. I think it would be better to have a search on this site which will search only good, correct answers and display them. Sort of like a 'perldoc -q' for this site. It may mean going back and deleting wrong answers to questions and only leaving correct ones.


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RE: Perl Monks Cookbook?
by steveAZ98 (Monk) on Jul 28, 2000 at 22:48 UTC
    I agree that it would be a hard task to accomplish, but I think it could be done, and if done correctly, very useful. Some mention that it has been done or is a copy of the Perl Cookbook, but I don't think this is the case. Sure the Perl Cookbook has lots of great examples in it, but it isn't as far reaching or dynamic as an online project could be, and it also could take into account some of the more frequent problems run into as well as ones that aren't covered in other places.

    As far as copyright protection, maybe their could be a opt in checkbox next to each post to all or dissallow you content to be used or maybe you could even set that up in your profile. Personally I'm here for the benifit of others as well as learning myself. I think this is the whole purpose of this site, and anything that extends and adds to that would be a nice addition.

    In all reality anything posted over the internet on an unsecure site is open to everyone's eyes, so to say that you really own it after you press submit is somewhat naive. Don't get me wrong, I beleive in giving full credit for any intellectual information, and I don't beleive anything should be taken without permission from it's author but personally anything I post on here is free for anyone to use anyway they see fit. I let it rest on their morals or lack there of to decide what to do. I use perl everyday to make a living and anything I can give back to the community to benefit it or it's cause is a good thing.

    I would be willing to help out on this project as my time permits. /msg me

(Corion) RE: Perl Monks Cookbook?
by Corion (Patriarch) on Jul 28, 2000 at 22:32 UTC

    On one side, I see that such a book would be usefull, but I think the problems weigh much more than the benefits. On one hand, there are the copyright and quality problems. If you simply reprint posts from perlmonks, you won't have copyright problems (as anyone who posts here already implicitly agreed about the public display of the posts), but you will have clarity and quality problems. If you clean up the posts, clarify the wording etc., you will have much work to do and you will also have to ask each author if you can use his post. Or you have to modify every post so much that it isn't really the post anymore, but then you'd simply be writing yet another Camel book, and there are already enough djihads about Camel books out there.

    For KMs opinion, that noone should be allowed to make money from his posts, I think that this mindset is a bit too narrow for me - if someone is able to make money from what I release freely, hey, so be it. I didn't post that stuff to make money, but I'm not restricting anybody else from trying to do so. (I'm more into the real "free" aspect of Perl than the GPL "free" aspect obviously).

      If you simply reprint posts from perlmonks, you won't have copyright problems

      I beg to differ. Noone knows who owns what copyright here. I could simply start adding a copyright notice to all my posts to block anyone from reprinting them.

      as anyone who posts here already implicitly agreed about the public display of the posts

      Public display on this web site, not public display in someone elses commercial venture.

      I think that this mindset is a bit too narrow for me

      Maybe so. Like I said, I may be in a minority. But if I don't want anyone to make money off my free advice, that is my choice. My advice is free for those using the PerlMonks website to view, not copy and sell.

      I'm more into the real "free" aspect of Perl than the GPL "free" aspect obviously

      The Perl source and Perl answers aren't the same. The documentation for Perl is copyright by tchrist. You can just print it in a book and sell it without his permission (or at least not without doing the entire thing). You can read my answers for free, but you can't make money off of them for free.


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