Convention vs. fascism

Aaron Brady castironpi at
Fri Jan 16 02:49:36 CET 2009

On Jan 15, 6:41 pm, Steven D'Aprano <st... at REMOVE-THIS-> wrote:
> On Fri, 16 Jan 2009 10:24:19 +1100, Ben Finney wrote:
> > Steven D'Aprano <st... at> writes:
> >> On Fri, 16 Jan 2009 07:58:49 +1100, Ben Finney wrote:
> >> > Steven D'Aprano <st... 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.
> >> > 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.
> > Regardless, even if it was an imperial order with government backing,
> > the instruction was not to *follow* PEP 8, but to *become familiar with*
> > it. That isn't fascism, and to read that into it and assume a
> > commandment that Diez didn't make is overreaction on your part.
> Okay, fair enough, I made a mistake in saying "It is not compulsory to
> follow PEP8". What I should have said was "It is not compulsory to become
> familiar with PEP8".

People are sensitive in differing amounts to the imperative case.  I'm
really sensitive to it, and I appreciate it when people say *plonk*
instead of *lonk*.

Diez took an authoritarian posture with the imperative.  Instead of
saying what benefit the OP would get from complying, the subtext in
such cases is, "I'm in charge.  If you haven't heard of me, get out.
Do what I say, or get out."

That might be extreme, but you'd be hard pressed to defend an
interpretation of what he said to be, "One good option is to skim PEP
8 early.  It has a low-maintenance, long-term benefit."  It's much
more common to use an imperative in a chain of command, as in "Swab
the deck", or "Convert the heathens", where a task is critical to a
collective mission, or, regrettably, in reminding people who has the
gun, such as in an enforced hierarchy.

There is no chain of command or gun in the Python community (that I've
found), at least outside of the core devs, which I can't attest to.

IMO, it's most likely Diez was performing a hazing ritual on a
newcomer, that he'd forgotten he didn't like when he did it.

> Now that you've put me in my place, can we please get back to becoming a
> hostile and unforgiving place for newbies who dare to try learning Python
> without first becoming familiar with PEP8?

Let us compose odes and sonnets to its glory.  (Imperative.)

> *wink*
> Seriously, I'll accept a small rebuke. My choice of the word "fascism"
> was poor, and I regret it. In my defense, I thought it was better than my
> initial thought, which was "style-Nazi", but in hindsight given the
> proliferation of somewhat tongue-in-cheek foo-Nazi terms (soup-Nazi,
> grammar-Nazi, fashion-Nazi, etc.) maybe I should have stuck with it.

You could probably stick with 'style police', as in 'fashion police',
as in, "Don't worry about Diez, he's the self-appointed style
police".  Sorry, heard it on t.v. once.

> But by focusing on such a small aspect of my post (a quarter of my text),
> while ignoring the more substantial aspects, it seems that you are giving
> tacit approval of precisely the attitude I am objecting to: that there is
> a One True And Correct Right Way to learn and/or use Python.

Not only is there One True And Correct Right Way(tm), but I'm the only
one who knows what it is.

> For a community that celebrates the dynamism of the language, and
> supports giving the programmer the ability to shoot themselves in the
> foot ("we're all adults here")

For what definition of 'here'?

> we can sometimes be remarkably intolerant
> of things which are a matter of taste.

-- Your code tastes funny.
-- Stop chewing it and swallow.  (Imperative.)

> Sometimes it seems that there's a
> Party line, and individuals can be criticized for failing to be
> enthusiastic enough about supporting it. This is a good example: it isn't
> enough that I agreed with Diez's substantial point that PEP8 is a good
> thing; it isn't enough that I made it more likely that the OP would find
> and read PEP8 by posting a link to it; but by making a mild criticism of
> *the way* Diez introduced PEP8 to the newbie, *I'm* the bad guy.

I think you're ignoring the diversity of backgrounds that people from
around the world can have.  Maybe in Diez's past lives, friends just
roughhouse and show acceptance and affection by using imperatives.
Maybe it is a bellowed 'WELCOME!', instead of an unchecked power bid.

> Steven

Ever find it hard to get personal with a newsgroup?

A. Brady

P.S.  Not that questions are any better.

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