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This is a fascinating case study. I got sucked into reading the entire thread. Steve Yegge is talking about cultural and marketing issues that seem obvious to me. The responses on the list may not be representative of the community, but assuming they are, one can hazard a guess about the long-term trend: there's a clear failure to connect with what Yegge is saying. (Edit: I deleted an unnecessarily personal example here.)

Yegge isn't arguing for the abandonment of taste and rigour in a race to incorporate every kitchen appliance into the language. He's arguing that languages and communities that take a prescriptive (someone said "paternalistic") stance end up marginalizing themselves by their own rigidity, and that the antidote for this -- as well as the passageway toward wider adoption -- is to actively listen to and court new users. I couldn't agree more.

(Side note, this is why I like Common Lisp. Its loosey-goosey flexibility that always assumes the programmer knows best leads to an awesome fluidity that finds its around any obstacle. CL is unpopular, but not because of its pluralism. Qua language it has a deep respect for the user.)

There's another point here. Whether you're a fan of Steve Yegge or not (I didn't use to be, but after nodding with everything he said here I am now), he has a proven ability to mobilize a significant body of programmer opinion. To ignore what this guy says about the marketing of programming languages itself already displays a foolish disregard for the market.




Funny you should mention Common Lisp, which has become the ultimate "no" language -- its spec has been cast in stone for a quarter century now. No threads, no module system (beyond packages), no new collection types, etc. etc. etc.

I'm not saying this is a good thing, but you seem to contradict yourself by liking CL at the same time you agree with Steve Yegge.


Common Lisp, which has become the ultimate "no" language

By historical accident. I'm talking about language design. Yegge says much the same thing about CL in the OP, by the way.


I think Python is both prescriptive and widely popular.


I have found Python to break down as I scale it into a larger system spanning multiple directories and modules.

It's fine for bashing out 3-4 file programs. It's a decently high-entropy language.

It's a bloody lousy hacking language because of the prescriptiveness.

I'd rather use Common Lisp, and I do, for personal stuff.


It's also one of the more readable languages in existence and it's implicitly championed by an IT juggernaut.


It was popular before Google started championing it.


Not for production code it isn't.


As compared to ? Python is very popular.


Good point. I would be interested to learn about the history of Python's adoption from this point of view.




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