newbie question

Peter Hansen peter at
Tue Dec 21 16:33:07 CET 2004

Luis M. Gonzalez wrote:
> As far as I could see, everythime the word "boo" is typed, some sort of
> censorship or plain bashing comes up, and I think this is not fair.

Luis, your defense of the genial nature of the newsgroup/mailing list
is admirable, and I thank you for it.

I think doing this by defending Doug's postings, however, might weaken
the strength of your position just a little. (Okay, I mean "a lot".)

About the only time the word "boo" _does_ come up, it comes up
in one of Doug's posts, often in an apparent attempt to "help"
a Python newbie by pointing him in a misleading manner to
an entirely different language which just happens to have a syntax
that was inspired by and looks a fair bit like Python's.

Until Doug posted about "virtually identical" (and note he didn't
mention the syntax at the time, thus my wondering if he meant
the whole language), I had never noticed him or Boo.  Yes, in
spite of all the past postings.  I look at postings by newbies
and try to help; I rarely look carefully at the other replies,
and if I ever saw a "there's also this thing called Boo" post,
I suspect I just mentally blanked out of disinterest and moved on.

As a result of all the activity in the "Boo who?" thread, however,
I went and searched a bit to find out who this Doug character is.
It turns out that he's been mentioning Boo in postings *to newbies*
repeatedly over the last few months.  These are people trying
to use Python, having a question or difficulty about it, and he
launches into a sales job about some other language.

Would you defend someone who came into this group and responded
(admittedly helpfully, sometimes, in other ways) to newbie
questions by constantly saying "you can do this much more easily
in Perl of course, see"?  I think you'd
find that after the first few posts like that, it was getting
tedious.  Then downright offensive.  And yet Perl has more in
common with Python than Boo does!

What Doug has been doing is like standing at the door of
a mission run by a church and trying to redirect those coming
for help to a different church down the street, with promises
that the meals are better.  And when one of the volunteers comes
out and looks offended, he turns on them and accuses them
of religious persecution, and being unfriendly to boot.

> By the way, this is from comp.lang.python home page:
> "Pretty much anything Python-related is fair game for discussion, and
> the group is even fairly tolerant of off-topic digressions"

Boo is not Python related.  It's that simple.  Boo has some
passing resemblance to Python, and claims that it's much
more than that are patently false.  And clearly designed
to be marketing propaganda to get more Boo users onboard.
I wouldn't have seen this with only one or two posts by Doug,
but after reviewing his recent posting history I can only
say that I'm actually appalled at his gall in the matter.

> Seeing what was going on in this thread, I think that we probably
> should delete this part, because this is getting far from "fairly
> tolerant".

I believe the definition of "fairly tolerant" doesn't necessarily
imply total tolerance of all topics under any circumstances.
(And I know you didn't mean that.)

If Doug wants to come in from time to time and mention Boo,
however, he's welcome to do so.  (And no, I'm not a moderator,
I just get one opinion, like everybody else.)  He might get
a few people questioning Boo's merits each time, but that's
par for the course.  If he doesn't like the heat, he can stay
out of the kitchen.  More likely, if he can accept such posts,
or ignore them, he'll be making his point, marketing his pet
language, and making a few converts.

If, on the other hand, he keeps jumping on newbies, who I
imagine are often overwhelmed by Python as it is, and who
just want an answer to their one simple question, and he
shouts "Boo" at them all the time, then the rest of us are
going to feel both offended that he's standing on our corner
where we're trying to help people, and worried that he's
misrepresenting Boo to Python newbies and confusing them
even more than they might already be.  Doug: move on,
there's another street corner just down thataway, and
it's called  Or the Boo mailing list or
your own blog or something.

I could go on, but that's enough of a rant as it is.  Luis,
I have appreciated reading your thoughtful and caring words
on this whole subject, and I understand your point of view.
I just don't share it in this instance and wanted to get
this off my chest.  Thanks for listening. :-)


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