Slashdot is an awesome view into the minds of a very varied population of programmers. Granted, such a sight is often befuddled, obscure, or, well, downright stupid. But its real and there's a lot of insight to be had when watching from a sober distance.
Take the announcement of Rails 1.0 that hit Slashdot a week ago. I think we generally fared well, but I was puzzled by the focus on the release statement of “…it works mostly right, most of the time, for most of the people”.
The reaction clearly showed a cultural divide. I didn't foresee that this was a controversial statement. But lots of people clearly took offense. I particularly liked SavvyPlayer's take:
Where do Sun, MS, etc. explicitly state their framework runs perfectly for all users all of the time? They don't because such a claim would be patently false, and there simply is no sexy way to articulate the truth, which is exactly what the Ruby team arbitrarily decided to do anyway. Regardless whether the ambitions of the Ruby team extend to widespread adoption, such careless honesty from such a visible project may inadvertently damage overall market perception of the f/oss community, regardless of the actual quality of the offering (over the short-term at least).
How fascinating. He recognizes that we're basically just “telling it like it is”, but then huffs and puffs about what damage the truth will do to not only Rails, but to open source in general. As if we were about to bring down the kingdom of software development by pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.
But at least SavvyPlayer recognized that we were simply setting expectations to be par for course. Plenty of others in the thread cried with outrage that anyone would make such a reckless claim and announce 1.0 at the same time.
Naturally, I don't just like this statement for the outrage it caused. I like it because it's a dividing issue. One which can garner as much love and appreciation as it can cause outrage and despair. It exposed a set of deep cultural lines that in my mind separated the wheat from the chaff.
So if that statement rubbed you the wrong way, it's an early warning signal that Ruby on Rails wouldn't be for you. It's kinda like applying the principle of “fail fast” to tech stack selection. There's no reason to waste your time, or that of the Rails community, by investigating further, if this level of truthfulness is rejected in your bones. [Loud Thinking]