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Re: Perl "expert"

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Raymond Wan
August 20, 2009 18:11
Re: Perl "expert"
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Hi Peter,

Peter Scott wrote:
> On Thu, 20 Aug 2009 10:34:27 +0900, Raymond Wan wrote:
>>>>> Randal L. Schwartz wrote :
>> 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 

I see your point -- how about this one:

The language of this list is (supposedly) English [I guess not 100% 
isn't like if someone used another language, they would be flamed -- maybe 
different people would be replying?], but we often forget that English is not 
the native language of many.  To some, the nuances of

I think, I know, I could, I would if I were you, I should, etc.

does not catch on as quick.  It's not their fault.  My point is that "I'm not an 
expert but" should be the same as "I think" [Recall:  Randal's comment was that 
Ian's reply should be prefaced with "I think"].  Or, to be less ambiguous, maybe 
the code should be surrounded by <think></think> ??  :-)

I'm saying this as someone surrounded by a language not my own and these 
mistakes happen all the time to me.

> 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.

We're merging two points that I never had an intention of merging.  Randal, Uri, 
and yourself are experts in Perl.  I never disputed that and agree 
wholeheartedly.  Both your knowledges in the area and that you stake your 
reputation on it.

The other point is that if you "haven't had experience with" something that one 
should "preface the answer with 'I think'".  And that Ian's original post, 
though not marked with "I think", amounted to conveying the same message (IMHO). 
  This point is not relevant to Perl and it is what I am raising.  And secondary 
to this, if Ian had said "I think", everyone would say, "Oh, ok...I'll check 
that" but "I'm not an expert" gets a far stronger response.

To some, the two statements mean the same.  To me, it does.  (Ok, there is a 
difference between writing a technical article for the Washington Post, and a 
message giving help on beginners.perl; I'd be more strict with the former.)

> 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.

As Randal says, an excellent example!  But again, my point is "I think" was 
basically what Ian said and he and other beginners who try to help the community 
shouldn't be blamed for it.  Corrected, sure.  But with some restraint.

Uri or someone mentioned "lurking" before posting.  One could say that this 
applies to both.  Not just the person providing help, but also the one receiving 
it.  The person receiving help might be thinking, "Well, I wish someone like 
Randal or Uri would help me as I'm stuck...oh, someone else did...hmmmm, don't 
know his name...well, worth a shot as I'm stuck."

One might counter that my example is "subjective"; yes, so is the point that 
someone who isn't an expert who clarified their answer in a way without using "I 
think" cannot contribute to a discussion helping a fellow newbie out.

-->  The interesting thing is that any newbie can create a web page on 
Perl...give bogus advice...and (possibly in time)...get enough hits to be ranked 
high on Google.  That happens.  But when a newbie does the same on a newsgroup, 
some of the experts step in and complain about not properly quantifying his 
response.  Doesn't this seem strange to any of you??  :-(


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