Gentlemen, a call to arms!

Pete Sergeant pete at
Sat Oct 14 10:30:49 BST 2006

On Sat, Oct 14, 2006 at 09:40:19AM +0100, Nicholas Clark wrote:
> On Fri, Oct 13, 2006 at 08:12:26PM -0400, muppet wrote:
> > <snip> ruby bigots when everyone knows how bad the local perl code
> > is.
> This paragraph all seems plausible and consistent to me, but then it
> makes me wonder "why is Perl special?" Why aren't we aware of the
> places where C programmers write bad Python or bad Ruby? Surely
> Sturgeon's Law applies to other languages too?

As a guess, I'd be willing to say that Perl's potential for ugliness is
to blame here... Poorly written Perl is, in my entirely personal
experience, much harder to read than poorly written C and Python. And
/uglier/. Plus, Perl's ability to do stuff many ways makes examples of
cargo culting much worse.

People tend to make very quick decisions about code, like they do about
people. Poorly presented code will always get an initial "OH GOD"
reaction, despite how cleverly/well it may be implemented, where well
presented code will often have many of its faults forgiven. 

This applies well to projects in general. Personal experience suggests
that if you have to show a client some work, they'd much much much
rather it looked pretty but wasn't finished, than was functionally
complete and ugly. There are well-documented studies showing that a
'halo' effect exists in people, where we automatically assume all sorts
of good qualities (honesty, intelligence, good judgement) on physically
attractive people - think Warren G Harding!


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