A Costly Parade

November 21st 07:59
by why

Adam Wiggins: First, Rubyists love elegance.

Daniel Lyons: Every programmer worth a damn thinks they love elegance.

Rubyists love life. Boy, I tell you. They love humans. They love cars!! They looooooove dishes of real, actual food. You don’t even know. Airplanes in mid-air, refueling? They love that!

But, more importantly, Rubyists love pups. Baby dogs, man! Ever heard of em? Little dogs rock!!

Okay, wait, no. No, please hold, I can’t seem to find a citation for that. I mean, speaking for myself, I definitely like dogs. And I’ve heard tell of dogs in other places… Okay, well, how about, yeah, yeah here, let’s say a tentative yellow light interest in dogs. And we’ll green light that puppy if the blogosphere goes all taggy on us and there’s like a thousand delicious tags on this post that say rooby-roo!

Rich Kilmer: I propose that we demand civility in the Ruby and Rails community.

Matt Todd: When we’re fucking upset, we’re fucking upset!

I have a neighbor who demands peace and quiet. He’d kill all of us if it would bring some sanity. He’s a brutal peacemaker that one.

It’s smart, though. Really, truly, war is the only way to achieve peace. You have to get people totally sick of violence.

So, without further ceremony: I demand civility. But, boy, oh hot snacks, the lawlessness of these people is amazing! It’s like when you’d play army men as kids. You’d go, “You’re dead! I got you!” And the other kid’d go, “No, my guy can fly!” And you’d go, “No, who says?” And his guy is already fortifying a whole new pavilion way on top of the bookshelf.

Please. Stay on the ground. This is a decorated army veteran who fought for his country. And, no, he will not have his medals tarnished by allowing himself to get caught in that cunning old web of deceit that is the so-called Pretending To Fly.

Martin Fowler: I have noticed that that ruby community is much nicer than most on-line communities I’ve seen.

Zed Shaw: I’ve pulled battered women out of abusive relationships. Helped kids who were being beaten by bullies. I got no problem stepping up and protecting the weaker ones in our world.

It’s like Jesus. Except Jesus never had the forthrightness and temerity to actually kick a guy in the jugular if he had to.

Zed is Gandhi. Zed is Che Guevara. And Zed is Morpheus. But, also, Zed is Daniel Larusso. Immediately following that, he’s Slim Shady. Ergo, Zed is Hannah Montana.

Cool, we’re making progress.

David Heinemeier Hansson: Let me take out one of my favorite words for the occasion: Who the fuck cares? Just put it on ignore, like you would any troll fest.

Rubyists live by this creed: DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS. Trolls are… how you say… unsavory people? Rubyists are VERY nice people. Always gladhanding and passing around the Lifesavers. Here, have one. We know other nice people when we see them. Nice people talk to each other. It’s way addictive. It’s great! (It’s completely social.)

Let me put it this way. Suppose you’ve got Zed Shaw. No, wait, say you’ve got “a person.” (We’ll call this person “Hannah Montana” for the sake of this exercise.) And you look outside and this young teen sensation is yelling, throwing darts at your house and peeing in your mailbox. For reals. You can see it all. Your mailbox is soaked. Defiled. The flag is up.

Now, stop and think about this. This is a very tough situation. This young lady has written one of THE premiere web servers in the whole wide world. Totally, insanely RFC complaint. They give it away on the street, but everyone knows its secretly worth like a thousand dollars. And there was nothing in that web server that hinted to these postal urinations.

Sacrebleu! Ah, the life and times of a Ruby guy. What is one to do? All you really can do is put one foot in front of the other. You’ve got to go to work. You’ve got gems to install. You’ve got agility to showcase. Sure, you’ve got some soiled envelopes open.

But, hey, you didn’t feed the trolls. Ten points to Gryffindor.

matz: I am afraid that it’s only in Japanese.

And, you know, I really regret the whole Hpricot vs. Nokogiri thing from a few weeks back. It was for fun, but I mean, come on, there’s no question that LibXML is a better, faster HTML parser. I’m not sure what I’m doing with Hpricot. It’s just a doodad. I mostly just like the name is all. Am I terrible person?

Disclaimer: I once sat on the advisory board of DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS. (Translation: I KNOW THE SILENT TREATMENT I LEARNED IT MYSELF. Doing business as: PARDON ME IF I SEEM TOTALLY ALOOF.) However, I resigned when Sally Struthers sent me a postcard exposing the severe malnutrition of these poor, poor virtual dwarves. It just rent my heart in twixt.

Now I send two thoughtful rebuttals a week to a troll in The Sheeple’s Republic of Reddit, always sure to include a few deliberate typos. Please consider contributing. Now is the time. Only you. Now?

So, look, Ruby is a crazy fun language (for some) and perhaps nothing more. You can get away with things that are heresy elsewhere. Maybe it’s an irresponsible language. A flimsy language. I don’t know, sheriff. The business world has its ideas about perfection. Maybe Ruby doesn’t take itself as seriously as the business world does.

If, after all these years, Ruby isn’t going to take itself seriously, then should I bother taking myself seriously either?

Disclaimer: the above is a paid advertisement for my Pong clone.

Based on a true story.

Now begin the comments …



said on November 21st 02:59

You are fantastic. :)


said on November 21st 04:25



said on November 21st 04:41

Thank you.


said on November 21st 06:27

You missed some good quotes about how Giles wants to incinerate Chad and then urinate on the ashes. And then his name was removed from the list of speakers.

reminds me of the SEA - ZIP vs PK- ZIP fiasco… it’s like two marketing departments declared war on each other in the court of public opinion.

Collin T Miller

said on November 21st 08:26

This entire little episode is somewhat wonderful. Our little internet community is growing up and tied more tightly than ever. The sense of “conversation” is very real.

The best and the worst are being amplified right now.

Tim Harper

said on November 21st 08:50

Oh Why, you are great.

And I still love (and prefer) Hpricot. Like you said, there’s fruit in the title.

And have you looked at the inspect generated by Nokigiri? Swimming through all of that text to try and find out what you’re looking at takes a lot of work.

Mike Cantelon

said on November 21st 11:32

I no longer wear “shoes” because Shoes are the New Flesh.

Oscar Del Ben

said on November 21st 11:48


Arya Asemanfar

said on November 21st 12:18

That was absolutely amazing. Thank you for that awesome post!


said on November 21st 12:34

dear mister stiff:
if the cable news organizations could report on the state of the universe the way you observe the ruby family, i submit to you that people would watch it differently. thank you for your madd skillz.


said on November 21st 13:09

Wow…once we got to the part about the mailbox, I was sold. Truly a weird metaphor, but also very true. It was interesting to watch the community blow up over that letter he wrote. You know the one – it shant be mentioned by name.

More blog updates like this one, please!


said on November 21st 13:13

I find your pong clone offensive. And shoes. And hpricot. Your code offends me. I am offended.

Dr. Ernie

said on November 21st 13:45

You made me weep, because what you said wasn’t true. Or laugh, because it was. I forget which.


said on November 21st 14:18

A couple years ago at Railsconf, Ze Frank said, “this is a nice little community. Seems like it’s getting to the stage where people are starting to hate each other.” How true…

Will Farrington

said on November 21st 14:19

Oh fancy marketing ploys! fist-shakery

Reid K

said on November 21st 15:47

Not being familiar with the Ruby community drama, all I can say is WTF .


said on November 21st 15:57

Let’s continue this party of code.

Just say NO to the business world, they want something which does not exist, but only in their ambitions. When their startups collapse and venture capital dries up, we’ll still be here having fun and writing code.


said on November 21st 16:11

Ah _why, the man who loves the very nice Ruby community so much he stopped playing music with his Thirsty Cups because all the nice people made Ruby too commercial.

Dr Nic

said on November 21st 16:33

If I have a pet troll, how do I feed him?

Matt Todd

said on November 21st 16:34


Matt Todd

said on November 21st 16:35

Ah, but for real, Why the Lucky Stiff, you are the being.


said on November 21st 17:36



said on November 21st 17:47

State of the Union.

feeding the trolls

said on November 21st 18:50

Isn’t it feeding the trolls to call out Zed like that? Surely he’ll take the bait.

Stop it!

said on November 21st 19:07

I don’t know who to like anymore! You’re hurting my feelings :(

Dave Thomas

said on November 21st 19:47

Zed, I’ll have you know that I’ve hired a personal trainer. I’m going to get ripped, learn kung fu, and accept your physical fight challenge. You will learn to recognize!


said on November 21st 21:13

> Am I terrible person?
No. You are a great person. Hpricot rocks hard and saved my life several times at work (and we don’t even use ruby for web apps) and the guys there are like “How does this even work??”

btw I love hpricot and I love camping and I love shoes. Because they have one thing in common: an eloquent, creative and minimalist api. Unlike many other ruby projects.

>I have noticed that that ruby community is much nicer than most on-line communities I’ve seen.

If you weren’t with us, why, the ruby community would be a mouch worse place.

Please, don’t be sour. Just because there are a bunch of drama queens and loudmouths in the community doesn’t mean that someone likes that for anything other than it’s entertainment value.



said on November 21st 22:01

Dave Thomas: Trap him in a code kata of pragmastication!

feeding the trolls: I’m not trying to make a whole lot of real points in this post, because I don’t really know what’s right or wrong or any of that. But I actually do like to “feed the trolls.” When I talk about DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS also meaning I KNOW THE SILENT TREATMENT I LEARNED IT MYSELF , I’m kind of saying that not feeding the trolls is basically just another word for the silent treatment. It’s often just an excuse to be completely aloof. I mean that implies that you have these immense skills of perception that can determine who are trolls and who aren’t trolls.

The world “trolls” has kind of become like the word “terrorist,” in that it’s more about painting people in a bad light than it is about reality. Everyone trolls. To tease or to opine is to troll.

DHH and Zed probably feel trolled after reading this, because no one likes being portrayed in a less-than-positive light.

Zed: Oh, come on, keep going, I’m dying for you to take some serious shots at me! It’s roasting time. Do it. I can take it.

Sarah B

said on November 21st 22:49

Dear Ruby community,

Less drama. Please.



said on November 22nd 02:19

Do you know that that game is nearly unbeatable! Of the 13 games I lost 12 times. Shoes, nice and all, but if pong is this hard, I’d stay bare foot for a while longer.


said on November 22nd 02:33

Well, I think that this is not a Ruby community exclusive feature to have some drama now and then. I repeated all week that this kind of thing feels like Tanenbaum vs Torvalds a few years back, then the whole Stallman thing of “ GNU /Linux”. Then we have the radical open source guys against Miguel De Icaza. It is like dealing with artists in the edge of the Renaissance. Those are all non-deterministic situations, so you can’t apply math and get a result. Politics works like that. If you have so many clever and opinionated people, you will have drama. I think it is very healthy and we should have more. This keeps Ruby relevant.

feeding the trolls

said on November 22nd 02:41

That’s actually quite a kind (and probably quite accurate) point to make, Akita. I guess the drama is sort of the frothy surface of all the creative emotion brimming up from within the community.

_why: I get it. I think you are in the unique position of not taking the whole thing too seriously. But I cringe when I read some peoples’ rants — they seem to forget about the joy of coding. Most of us still do it for fun first and foremost, and I think the whole celeb-u-coder world is creating the sort of downward spiral in peoples’ lives worthy of a VH1 special…


said on November 22nd 05:25

I think the easiest thing to do is to react only to code, i usually read all the “drama” that’s going on in the Ruby community, but it leaves me smiling, there’s no need to react to it since it doesn’t affect me.
Then again, nobody has so far insulted me personally, only my code, and that’s fine.

Sarah B

said on November 22nd 08:57

Akita, if having many clever and opinionated people means we will have drama, then clearly we are lacking in some other parts of life namely wisdom, respect, and maturity.

I’m a mother. I can tell when people behave like a bunch of teenage girls.

Ruby/Rails community has been turning into The Bold & The Beautiful this past year.

Perhaps it’s time to send some of the community’s important figures to Dr.Phil?


said on November 22nd 10:35

Dear Why,

Your post provoked such an immense response within me. This comment box is too small to comfortably let out my full response. Please continue reading here:




said on November 22nd 11:07

Is it weird for someone to look at all this carrying on and be completely baffled? I mean, I’ve got my popcorn out, and I’m loving every minute of it, but I’m still baffled. I mean, I’ve met all of the gladiators at least once or twice, and I can’t figure out how they all turned into gladiators. Well, except for Chad and Dave. I’ve never actually met them. They didn’t seem interesting enough to bother meeting. OH CRAP . I’m trolling!


said on November 22nd 11:10

as a ruby/rails user/programmer not worth the salt i put on my baked potatoes — all i can say is i love this. _why, you have a gift with words that would lay out shakespeare like a wild hook to the jaw… Zed, you are fucking awesome as your blog implies because you game the entire community on the basis of people not being able to resist themselves. Sarah B – i’m deeply sorry that you don’t like the Bold and the Beautiful. when i was little i used to stay at my g’moms and she’d watch it every day. the adventures of Brook, Eric, Ridge… yeah, those were the days. but like i was saying, smart people aren’t always mature. mature people aren’t always smart. accept the balance and enjoy the show. remember, every word you add (yes, each of you) is just another turn in the game. the only way to “win” is the silent treatment… but thats no fun. if thats winning why would you want to?


said on November 22nd 12:39

Let’s start a Turing-machine community so we can flame each other with PURITY !


said on November 22nd 15:47

how did we get here?!?!


said on November 22nd 15:57

Incredible, indelible, and unintelligible! All of the reasons I come back for more and more and more!

Joe Ruby

said on November 22nd 16:04

“Why” really needs to lay off the drugs sometime. He’s like the village idiot of Ruby…


said on November 22nd 16:09

shit shit shit shit. never thought about feeding the trolls. yet it’s always been there, hiding just below the surface. it’s the whole thing with trickery. there always has to be a trickster. flame on, flame on. where would the world be without senseless fuckery?


said on November 22nd 16:21

You know what? I was just programming up this whole Battleship thing and it turns out…Battleship logic is really tough. You know what else? Ruby makes it fun…I mean, the whole time I was working, I was thinking about Battleship. I wasn’t thinking about Ruby

…what I’m trying to say is, what did you expect from people who think about that which you’re not supposed to be thinking about?!



said on November 22nd 17:05

Where exactly does one go to bone up on all the material that makes these inside jokes pay off? I feel like I missed Season 2.

Matt Todd

said on November 22nd 18:07


You’re absolutely fucking right.

To expand, I honestly think that the divergence of the smart and the mature (or the crazy and the cool) creates an awesome blend of creativity and intelligence; we’re all kind of tempering each other to be more diversely knowledgeable and interesting. :)


Last sentence is full of win!

Matt Todd

said on November 22nd 18:28

@Joe Ruby: Honestly, I can think of many idiots in the Ruby community far more qualified than _why ever could be… there’s no accidental genius there, methinks, or maybe there is, I don’t know; I like to think of _why as a god that’s come down to play with the commoners and spread good things like brilliance, comedy, music, meta programming, camping… I think _why is a genius at playing the game completely different and yet mastering it and opening up new doorways for us. he’s the hot water to our iced tea, or the LSD to our gum.

Sorry _why, I have only the highest admiration for what you’ve done for our community. Respect!

TJ Stankus

said on November 22nd 21:02

In 1960, Max Roach went to the Five Spot in New York to check out what all the fuss was about Ornette Coleman. After the set Roach was so infuriated with Coleman’s music, Roach went up to Coleman and punched him in the mouth. Roach then showed up at Coleman’s house at 4am screaming threats.

At least the Ruby community hasn’t gotten to that point yet. :)

Mark Ryall

said on November 23rd 00:34

Reminds me of the fierce battle between the younger Wittgenstein and the older Wittgenstein. Honestly, if time travel had’ve happened when it was supposed to, he would’ve totally kicked his own elderly arse.


said on November 23rd 07:38

You are all my bitches. Bow down.


said on November 23rd 14:46

@TJ Stankus:

At least the Ruby community hasn’t gotten to that point yet. :)

At least? Gosh, I can’t wait for that…


said on November 23rd 16:05

I guess those guys need to take a lesson from Eric Dolphy.

Must have been that plastic saxophone made people mad. That’s a great one, Stankus. I hadn’t heard that ever before.

Bill Mill

said on November 23rd 22:05

@_why I had heard the Ornette Coleman story, but not the one about Dolphy… Out to Lunch is one of the first jazz albums I ever loved, I picked it randomly out of a library bin, I’d never heard of the dude.


said on November 23rd 23:31


Excellent. I’m now obsessed with Max Roach…

So I guess some “good” has come of this. Well, more good than simply the enjoyment of participation…

Hannah Montana

said on November 24th 06:23

Who the fuck are these ppl?!


said on November 24th 09:48

It now seems unlikely that I will achieve enlightenment through Ruby as it appears that the top guns have run out of stuff to find/explore/cherish and turned to themselves for entertainment.. (like some bizarre greek odysey)

Dang! So I guess my only choice now is complete detachment, meditation, and fasting.. bummer!


said on November 24th 11:30

Girls use ruby???!


said on December 3rd 16:02

the matz japanese fella was translated

_why for president

said on December 8th 19:31

I think _why needs to become president of the UK.

He would do a better job than the current ****** and for sure _why would be funnier and crazier and in short – BETTER ! In fact, if _why would not want to become president it would be even more fun. And if there is no president of the UK, we gonna put that one forward on a agenda of needed law adjustments.

I guess there be many new laws, anyway. Serious laws. All of them. Important. Very.

Shoes apps on every TV stations.
_why Cats in every bed and under every Xmas tree.
Poetry for everyone, in fact – poetry for the masses!

Hope I can gain some support for this movement!


said on December 12th 18:25

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?…


said on December 20th 17:18

I never think about battleships when I’m coding. Is that bad?


said on December 24th 03:16


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