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Re: Perl "expert"

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Peter Scott
August 20, 2009 06:58
Re: Perl "expert"
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On Thu, 20 Aug 2009 10:34:27 +0900, Raymond Wan wrote:
>>>> Randal L. Schwartz wrote :
>>> And I'm with Uri here... I definitely do *not* answer anything that I
>>> haven't
>>> had experience with, unless I preface my answer with "I think..."  so
>>> that Smarter People(tm) can check my work.  If only everyone followed
>>> that rule, life would be simpler. :)
> Personally (and we're now nit-picking natural [human] language), the
> fact that these words are coming from my fingers implies it's an
> opinion.  "I think..." is always implied unless each time I typed a
> word, I asked a committee for consensus.  :-)

No, it's the difference between the implication being "I think" and "I 
know."  When Randal doesn't qualify his information in a Perl posting, it 
means he's certain, and for a teacher, author, and expert to make a public 
statement with certainty means they're staking their professional 
reputation on the quality of the answer and you can place an enormous 
amount of faith in its accuracy.

If he (and I, and Uri) aren't certain, we'll say exactly how we aren't 
certain ("I haven't tried this," "YMMV," "I heard this from a usually 
reliable source," etc.)  But some people post with an implied "I think," 
and that gets the people who need help into trouble, because they may 
assume the impication is "I know." 

Suppose you're traveling through the wilds of Scotland without a GPS and 
you stop and ask directions to Loch Ness.  The person answers, "Take the 
fork right of the pub and follow it past the crossroads until you come to 
the main road then turn left."  But you end up in Aberdeen.  Turns out the 
person forgot to say, "By the way, I just moved here yesterday and this is 
what I think the directions are based on a map on a tea towel I saw 
hanging in a gift shop."  Now suppose you're a local tour guide who makes 
a living off giving people accurate directions.  What do you think of the 
advice the other guy gave?

Not a fair comparison?  Randal and I as teachers know that meeting the 
functional requirements is only a small aspect of the quality of code.  
Perl gets an unjustified rap as a write-only language because people pass 
around horrible code that "works".  That code gets publicized every time 
some pundit wants to claim that Perl is a bad language, and our retorts 
that it is the result of poor education get lost in the noise.

Peter Scott

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