Strangely Consistent

Musings about programming, Perl 6, and programming Perl 6

How can we scale kindness?

Peter Szinek and then _why each wrote a constructive blog entry about the recent Rails community porn-star/professionalism discussion. My purpose here is not to summarise or enter into that discussion; the interested reader may follow those links instead. I just wish to use those posts as a springboard for a similar point:

Every day, we contribute to shaping our community.

Obviously, some sort of inverse proportion (to the size of the community) is involved here too. I spend quite a lot of time thinking about this. Every day, I see the Perl 6 community scaling up, welcoming new people on #perl6. I see a lot of kindness and good manners. (My posts barefoot and How Perl 6 just sells itself cover this quite well.) I see — sometimes to my astonishment — typical flame-war opening remarks derail into interesting discussions of insight and mutual agreement.

People come into the channel asking questions. Regulars, myself included, try to answer them clearly and patiently. We even have a few newcomers who are obviously not on #perl6 for the Perl 6. Perhaps they simply like the atmosphere; I know I do.

I look at all of this, and I hope it will last.

What can we do to make sure it does, when a critical mass is reached and people start pouring in? I don't know. Paul Graham has some interesting ideas, which seem to boil down to "expect courtesy". Larry Wall recently intervened in an email discussion which threatened to develop trenches.

The Perl 6 community is not having the discussion that the Rail's community is having right now about offensiveness, manners, and a macho attitude... because we're not big enough to have that problem. I believe that the community as a whole is quite open to Perl 6 programmers of both sexes. I cannot say this with certainty, though, since my perspective is limited to that of a man's.

We're still small, and as we grow we have excellent opportunity to keep the community open, inclusive and accepting. How do we do that?