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Maintaining high quality discussion on p5p

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Neil Bowers
March 21, 2022 14:02
Maintaining high quality discussion on p5p
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One of the early tasks we (the PSC) set ourselves was improving the quality of discussions on p5p. We'd had consistent feedback that the signal-to-noise ratio had seriously declined over recent years, as had the tone and level of respect, and this was prompting people to unsubscribe, or at least disengage.

In the early months of 2021, we posted a number of messages on this topic, and made a conscious effort to nudge behaviour. We discussed this topic again recently, and overall we think that things have improved, but they're not perfect, and this is a good time for a refresher.

p5p is a place for getting stuff done: fixing bugs, evolving the language, and improving the tooling around it to make it easier for us to do those things. This is not a place for blue-sky discussions on language design. Perl is a mature language, and as we put it last year, "Perl is going to stay Perl". If you repeatedly stray from that path, you will annoy the majority of subscribers, and we'll eventually be forced to take action.

Be aware that there are roughly 500 subscribers, and we all need to be respectful of their time. Keep your emails concise, constructive, and relevant. If you're replying to someone else, trim their message down. Once you've contributed to a thread, give other people a chance.

Just about everyone here is a volunteer, and this is a work of passion for many contributors. We're not always going to agree with each other, but we must be able to listen to others' opinions respectfully, and not make it personal. The tone of your emails is important – aim for calm and informed, rather than angry or aggressive. If you need to, draft an email and sleep on it, and maybe get someone to proofread it before you hit send.

p5p is an open forum – anyone can sign up and join in the discussion. That said, there are people on the list who've worked on different parts of Perl for years; they have deep knowledge not only of Perl, but of p5p as well. As a result their opinions carry more weight. If you've only recently joined, take your time to watch for a while. Ease yourself into discussions. You don't have to have an opinion on every topic.

The flip side of this is that just because you're one of the people who has contributed to Perl, that doesn't mean you don't have to listen to/consider the rest of us. And turning up with something already implemented doesn't mean you're going to automatically win the argument. We're a team of people working on Perl for the benefit of all perl programmers. Most of the people who are active on p5p are experts, but our goal is to improve the language for everyone, and sometimes that means we should go with something that isn't the preference of perhaps most of us on the list.

In summary: be polite, respect other members of the list: their time and their opinions; aim for an appropriate balance of talking and listening; accept that some decisions won't go your way; assume good intentions; and remember that ultimately this is a place for getting things done.

We'd welcome your feedback on this: either back to the list (reply to this), or to

Neil, Rik, Paul

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