I promised myself I would never write about Lisp again after accidentally stumbling into a mob in search of a flame war. But Aaron Swartz's account of an irrational Lisp community sounded too familiar to ignore:
The idea that there is something better than Lisp is apparently inconceivable to some, judging from comments on the reddit blog. The Lispers instead quickly set about trying to find the real reason behind the switch.
One assumed it must have been divine intervention, since "there seems to be no other reason for switching to an inferior language." Another figured something else must be going on: "Could this be...a lie? To throw off competition? It's not as though Paul Graham hasn't hinted at this tactic in his essays..." Another chimed in: "I decided it was a prank." Another suggested the authors simply wanted more "cut corners, hacks, and faked artisanship."
So it's not just me. Turns out Reddit's post followed the same path as my own. It was posted on Lemonodor, without context, and with emphasis that spun it as a vehemently anti-Lisp post, and then it was picked up by Planet Lisp. I take back what I said about the problems with planet sites. It's not the aggregator, it's the writer that removes the context. John Wiseman is the author of Lemonodor. I want to paraphrase Jon Stewart and say to John Wiseman: Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting Lisp.
By provoking unnecessarily emotional defenses of Lisp across the web, John is causing otherwise neutral people like myself to actively avoid the Lisp community, because it comes off as a bunch of irrational trolls. I know there are intelligent people using Lisp, but John's reposts distort people's actual views through half-truths and re-emphasis, and the result makes Lisp look like a language only ridiculous people use, people who say things like
When you say that you've never spoken Chinese and have no interest in learning it, you are not being anti-Chinese, but you are being closeminded and parochial or
My first reaction was 'say it ain't so'. Then I decided it was a prank.
This type of comment prompts reactions like
I have never been on a lisp forum but the way the lispers here are reacting are sure to keep me off it too... True that.