Convention vs. fascism (was: General direction)

Steven D'Aprano steve at
Thu Jan 15 23:40:40 CET 2009

On Fri, 16 Jan 2009 07:58:49 +1100, Ben Finney wrote:

> Steven D'Aprano <steve at> writes:
>> On Thu, 15 Jan 2009 10:08:37 +0100, Diez B. Roggisch wrote:
>> > Familiarize yourself with PEP8 for naming and coding-conventions
>> > first.
>> Enough of the PEP8-fascism please. It is not compulsory to follow PEP8
>> in order to be allowed to learn Python. If Guido wanted it compulsory,
>> he'd have made the compiler enforce it.
> You are responding to something in Diez's message that I can't see.
> Nowhere does he say anything about PEP 8 being compulsory. Quite the
> contrary, he suggests gaining *familiarity* with PEP 8, and calls it a
> set of *conventions*.

He doesn't *suggest* anything. He uses the imperative case -- it's a 
command. It may not have been Diez's deliberate, conscious intention to 
order the OP to learn PEP8, but without a modifier like "I think you 
should", that's what he did. That's why I emphasised "suggest" in my 
response: it's not an order, but it is recommended.

On its own, that wouldn't have been enough to warrant a response. I'm 
sure I've thoughtlessly and inappropriately used unmodified imperative 
commands in the past, and I'll probably do it again. But add to it the 
perfunctory way he used this mysterious (to a newbie) jargon "PEP8", 
without even the courtesy of a link, and the overall tone was newbie 

I'm sure that wasn't Diez's intention, because the rest of his post was 
not like that.

>> Having said that, I will *suggest* to the Original Poster that you
>> should follow PEP8 as much as possible. It will save you a lot of grief
>> in the long run.
> This, on the other hand, seems pretty much a re-phrasing of what Diez
> already said.

That's because I agree with Diez that following PEP8 is generally a good 
thing, but don't agree with him that it is necessary to learn the naming 
conventions before learning the language. An overly strict approach will 
just frighten the newbies off. Part of the reason that Python is 
successful is that it is accessible to newbies, and giving them strict 
Thou Shalt Do This commands is quite off-putting.


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