[erlang-questions] Apology

lloyd <>
Mon Sep 19 21:22:45 CEST 2016

Mea Culpa.

I wrote the PRIVATE post that has led to this thread. And I do apologize to all on this list for whatever unpleasantness it has generated.

As I've noted before, I am not a professional programmer. But I have struggled diligently over the past three years to learn what I need to know to develop a web application in Erlang that is critical to my indie publishing business. And I have many times over been the beneficiary of the expertise and kind generosity of folks on this list. I would never want to do anything to tarnish the good will and ever-helpful spirit that animates the many threads on this list.

No excuse, but I was exhausted after a long and very frustrating day of Erlang programming when I posted my query re: list comprehensions and, subsequently, my private response to ROK's post. 

Within minutes of my first posting Dan Gudmundsson responded succinctly and insightfully. It was helpful and I thanked him.

Then ROK's response popped up. The tone was quite contrary to Dan's. Perhaps there was/is projection on my part. But here are lines that set me off:

--- "The documentation is very clear:"

This line sounded to me like so many I've read on other programming threads: "Read the f___king documentation...", "Read the documentation stupid." Fact is I have and continue to spend hours and hours reading the Erlang documentation and much of it is still not clear to me.

--- "Why would you ever have thought that S *might* be an integer? If you want a hexadecimal integer, section 3.2 is clear."

Well, sorry, but in the heat and fatigue of trying to solve a problem I did not read section 3.2. And in reading it now it's not all that clear to me. But more, I knew S was not an integer. I was merely confirming it for sake of making my question as clear as possible. But, clearly, I wasn't clear enough. 

This is an outstanding example of how easily brief text exchanges can be misconstrued on the Internet. Hexadecimal integers never crossed my mind. 

-- "That would require us to read your mind. What did you expect to happen and why did you expect that?"

Once again, this sounded in context like an admonishment from a middle school algebra teacher to a dense student. Dense I'll admit to. But my algebra days are far behind me. 

ROK then continues with Prolog and Haskell examples. By this point in the post it came across to me as "look how clever I am and you're not."

In short, I'll apologize here publicly for my, perhaps, intemperate response to ROK.

But I won't apologize for my motive: 

The tone of expert-to-noobie communication is a critical factor in fostering a vibrant programming community. I quite disagree that "aggressive sarcasm" is an appropriate pedagogical strategy. 

While I'm beyond the noobie phase, I do care deeply about the future of Erlang. And my reading of ROK's post, which admittedly may have been projection, came across with the kind of tone that, I fear, would turn noobies away.

Best wishes to all,


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