The Perl Spoofathon: Why?

Why the advocacy spoofathon?

There seem to be many language advocates who like writing "my language is better than your language" comparison articles. There have been several badly researched $foo is better than perl articles in the recent past, that have irritated myself and many other people in the perl community.

I can't comment on behalf of others, but there are several reasons why I find these "$foo is better than perl" articles annoying. One subjective reason is that they are putting down perl, but that's not my real bugbear. My bigger irritations are threefold, and far more objective:

Research quality

Typically these articles are drawing their conclusions based on the comparison of some $foo code with perl code. The author is usually a seasoned $foo programmer, and knows how to write good $foo code. But he/she is rarely equally skilled at perl, so the perl code is far less sophisticated. Yet the author feels that it is fair and objective to make comparisons in the performance or maintainability of these unbalanced code samples, or to criticise perl based on hearsay perceived faults while defending $foo on the basis of true understanding.

What gain does the negativity bring?

Usually these articles seek to promote $foo on the basis of it being better than perl, trying to put perl down in the process. Why do that? What does it gain? Surely $foo is capable of being promoted on its own merits? Ultimately any tool that gets the user's job done correctly is useful, so your audience's understanding of the abilities of your tool are not increased one iota by wasting words bad mouthing anything else.

People believe what they read

Many people read these articles uncritically. If they don't already know the fallacies in the author's arguments, then they don't stop to question the content. They just read, and believe they have learnt something useful. It hardly makes people more able to make an informed decision to chose $foo over all other solutions (not just perl). Mis-education benefits no-one.

I can't stop third parties writing these articles. But I do hope I can start to make people treat them with the seriousness that they deserve. Hence the competition.