c.l.py dead, news at 11 (was Re: Mangle function name with decorator?)

skip at pobox.com skip at pobox.com
Sat Mar 28 05:20:44 CET 2009

    Andrew> c.l.python used to be the core of a community built around a
    Andrew> language.  It no longer is.  It is a very useful place, where
    Andrew> some very helpful and knowledgeable people hang out and give
    Andrew> advice, but instead of representing the full interests of the
    Andrew> Python community it is now very much a resource for helping new
    Andrew> users.

Two observations:

    * The Python community has grown significantly, especially in the past
      couple years.  It's quite understandable that the bulk of
      comp.lang.python participants now are new users.  Also, as the most
      readily visible "hangout", it's the natural place where most new users
      will come to get help.  The help and tutor mailing lists, IRC, various
      other forums and subject-specific mailing lists are all much less

    * As the community grows it's difficult for there to be one place where
      everybody congregates.  The needs of different elements of the Python
      "family" differ.  You will find lots of scientific users more involved
      with scipy, matplotlib and ipython mailing lists, for example.  I'm
      sure Blender has some sort of online community for its users.  The
      people doing GUI programming with PyGtk probably tend to gravitate
      there.  The core developers spend much of their time at python-dev.
      In the end, it winds up being more efficient for those subsections of
      the overall Python user base to participate where they can either get
      the most help, offer the most assistance, or contribute the most to
      Python development or advocacy.  It's too big for one size fits all.

An anecdote.  I started using Sun workstations back about the time the sales
reps were delivering them out of the back of their cars.  Heck, I remember
the first one at Lawrence Livermore Lab sat idle for quite awhile because
there was no software at all.  No OS.  Nothing.  Probably just a boot
loader.  Back then if you had a problem with, say, dbx, vi or cc, you called
Sun and after a couple transfers you were talking to the software engineer
who directly developed or maintained the recalcitrant program or library.
Fast forward about 25 years.  I haven't spoken directly to a Sun employee in
years.  I don't even think the company I work for buys its Sun computers
directly from Sun (we buy a lot of them).  It's disappointing in some ways,
but I doubt it would be very efficient if all people who had problems with
Sun's C compiler were patched directly through to the head of the compiler
group at Sun.  They've grown.  (Well, up until relatively recently.)  Their
user base has grown.  There's no way they could manage their customer
interactions today the same way they managed them 25 years ago.

Skip Montanaro - skip at pobox.com - http://www.smontanaro.net/

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