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Rails is a Ghetto (retracted) (zedshaw.com)
102 points by swombat 3112 days ago | hide | past | web | 40 comments | favorite

I've never said anything about a Zed Shaw link before, but this has my hands up in the air.

What comes to my mind is a fumbling art student who's been called out on a bad piece, so he's now claiming it's a parody of bad work, or, no wait, actually the reaction of everyone to the poor piece is the piece.

He trots out the persona argument all the time, but I won't give it to him. A persona isn't a set of fake glasses, nose and mustache you can wear whenever you don't want something attached to people's image of you. People with personas make a great effort to separate them from their real selves – wearing costumes, using different names, and actually behaving differently. Ranting from zedshaw.com under the name Zed Shaw doesn't fit my idea of a persona.

Also, it bothers me that the supposed real Zed Shaw uses this deletion to criticize people and put them down (for taking his "persona" seriously) – something his "persona" was well known for.

The blog was called "Zed's So Fucking AWESOME", and he had his name in flaming letters and silhouettes of strippers on the blog, as I recall. Did you really think it was a sincere effort?

There may be a part of Zed Shaw that is Fucking Awesome and that is highly opinionated (the audacity to even have an online persona, and to start software projects, points to a large amount of ego). But it was clearly always a self-parody. Unfortunately, self-parody doesn't work on the internet. Everyone always takes you at face value.

Did you ever know a kid who would say something mean and then quickly follow it up with "JK!"? That kid was annoying.

I don't think it was a sincere effort. That's my point. Zed just wanted to be able to say mean things about people and not experience any consequences for it. And that's silly.

This fumbling around now is annoying. If he wants to be a mean person he should be a mean person. If he wants to be nice he should say he doesn't want to be mean anymore and be nicer. Changing his behavior and saying it's because I wasn't smart enough to handle his persona – and by the way don't criticize him for anything he said... What is that?

You have a point. On the other hand, people are contradictory. I think it is quite possible to think to yourself "heh, heh, I'm going to create the most ridiculously aggro coding blog ever" but in doing so also express the worst aspects of your own personality.

[tangent] Walt Whitman once wrote:

"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."

Always loved that quote. Maybe it applies here in a way.

I'm not saying it's not annoying, but whether or not it was sincere, I don't see where you're getting that Zed doesn't think he should experience consequences. If you give him the benefit of the doubt, you'll realize that you didn't read what he wrote before ZSSFA, and therefore he pretty much proved his point that people listen to assholes and blowhards, however mind-numbingly obvious that may have already been.

He wants attention, that's all. Watch a video of him speak; he exudes nerd. The 'tude and the copious public blathering is just over-compensation.

You know, I don't have anything bad to say about the guy.

I understand what it's like to put your persona out there. (And if you don't believe everything we put out on the Internet is, at a minimum, part persona -- you're full of shit.)

Wearing your passion on your sleeve can be intoxicating, but also painful. (Notice my last parenthetical statement, I'm passionate -- but I'm prepared to have folks zoom in and focus on one statement and disregard the argument.)

Would this world be a better or worse place without Zed in it? Even if he's a ball of ranting passion -- I think it makes the world a more beautiful place to stay.

You can be a hermit on the internet and just attack. Or you can be a passionate soul and take risks by sticking it all out there. Take your pick, but I'm betting the latter won't have nearly as many regrets as the former.

This guy is a passionate hacker. This guy has physical pain when he can't code. This place, Hacker News, should be the one place where he's definitely a hero.

I've met Zed a few times and I can tell you that he's not some scheming mastermind who wants to trick the world in believing anything, he's an honest and passionate person.

The only thing you might be able to hold against him is that in his enthusiasm he can also be rather erratic. I would hardly call that a problem, we all like a little bit of commotion and change.

Wow, Zed can't win with this crowd, can he?

I've never been a fan (mostly for the reasons he points to in this post-- his works often read like "jock speech"), but I have to give him props for trying to move in a different direction now, and own up to the negative consequences of his earlier post. He doesn't want to be mean anymore (or pretend to be mean, either), and I don't think that's a bad thing.

One small step toward civility, one giant leap for Zed. Good for him.

You know, if he'd actually done that, that would be fine. But in the past month he's flamed the music industry after doing a piss poor job of researching his claims then retaliated with a giant rant and personal attacks when folk disagreed with him.

WTF are we still paying attention to him, and why is he still getting to the top of the HN front page when he's done nothing of any real worth for the past year, apart from the opinionated rants he himself has decried?

That's not true: he was able to write the right software at the right time[1], when nobody else had will/time/whatever to scratch their own itch. The Mongrel HTTP library is today the de-facto standard for running Rails applications, and on it companies like Engine Yard based their business.

Like was previously said in this thread, he's a passionate hacker, and puts his passion on his sleeve. While I don't particularly appreciate the excess of harsh in his posts, I consider it no different than Torvalds writing "You're full of shit" on LKML.

The main problem here is about the "people" perception about whate they find "written on the internet", and their constant need of finding an hero to follow: in this scenario, if you're a respected and known developer, you simply cannot ignore your influence on the "crowd" and you have to measure the harshness of your writeups.

I think that the one that best described this situation was Antonio Cangiano, on his blog post "Let's all grow up": http://antoniocangiano.com/2009/01/28/lets-all-grow-up

[1] http://markmail.org/message/g6e4loorw3p7plsk

The Mongrel HTTP library is today the de-facto standard for running Rails applications,

No it's not. At least, not in this survey of 1100 folks who are deploying Rails apps. http://rails-hosting.com/Results/SurveySummary.html

It was the de facto standard, but Passenger has taken the baton in the last several months.

Although you're probably right about Apache + Passenger becoming the de-facto for running Rails applications, I personally think that Mongrel is still ahead by a bit.

The Rails Hosting 2009 survey shows that the test group uses Passenger more, but the people in this group are not a random sampling. I would argue that people ahead of the curve are also the people who find it inviting to fill out such a survey.

I've spoken to him over email before. He comes across as a pretty good guy, unlike the perception I had of him from his writings. His article about understanding statistics should be required reading for any good programmer. It's a pity that he decided to focus his efforts elsewhere (e.g., not Ruby/Rails) about a year ago.

I've worked with people before that have his "blog" personality (for lack of a better description) but in real life. Most of the time these are really smart people, and they are difficult on others because there are a lot of stupid ideas out there. One way of ensuring you filter out the crap is to shut the door on everything. The good stuff will knock again. I had a boss that called a lot of things I suggested stupid. So when I had to fight to implement an idea, and I was adamant about it, he knew that it probably wasn't stupid, and let me go ahead. Think of it as being skeptical, assertive, and intimidating. In the end, about half of my ideas got implemented. The other half I ended up being glad were not implemented, usually about a year after the decision. He'd been correct, and made me look better by keeping me from making a mistake.

It's a lot like picking up girls at a bar. The good ones are hit on so many times that their gut instinct is to shut you down immediately if you approach them. You need to be persistent and stand your ground in order to win them over. Most guys will cower and retreat at the first sign of rejection. The ones that get a girl's number are the ones that know how to stay and do battle, so to speak.

Zed shows that he's willing to think about issues long term. Most people would simply live with and forget about what they wrote in that rant. Zed goes and makes an update to it saying that he wants to retract what he said. I think that's an admirable trait.

Up until he pulled his trollier-than-thou speech i'd have agreed. The utu documentation is very well written and enlightening and so too are plenty of his trolly articles. What annoys me is that he claimed he was better than that, that it was all a show. Perhaps he's just gotten used to the rant format. Hopefully he'll improve with time as when he's sensible he's awesome. But like he's said he should be judged not on his personality, bad or good, but by his works and ideas. Frankly they haven't been very impressive lately.

...he's done nothing of any real worth for the past year...

Take 10 minutes to watch this:


Then if you don't want to watch the rest, that's fine. But give it at least 10 minutes. It was a fantastic presentation, and your perceptions of Zed might even be changed by the end of it, like mine were.

OK, I'm guilty of some hyperbole there. From what I can tell, Zed is perfectly capable of being civil when he wants to be, very driven and a good engineer. However he has an impulsive trollish side as well and it hasn't been laid to rest despite claims that it has. So folk just need to ignore him when he's being a dick and learned not to blindly upmod anything that comes from zedshaw.com.

Meh, I suspect one of the reasons I'm most riled up about this is that I'd have also defended him a few months back. I doesn't seem like he needs it now though.

I really didn't care much for the original post, and I could care less about this one too.

I DO care about any engineering accomplishments Zed has to offer (almost all are great) - but that's about it.

That's awfully short-sighted - no science is just about the accomplishments of an individual, but rather the health the community, and I see this problem everywhere. Even technical meetings are dominated by the most influential person, not by the most intelligent argument. People have no idea how to disagree - both on reddit, and in architecture meetings, ad hominem attacks are far more common than logical arguments, and mistakes are made because of it.

So although I didn't care much for Zed's original rant, this one, if it makes an impact, might do more good to programming than all of his technical accomplishments combined.

At first I thought he was serious about the "so fucking awesome" bit. After observing people like Linus Torvalds(and his "masturbating monkeys" rant) I didn't feel at all that it might be a fake persona, it was over the top, but i didn't think it was that much, when compared with all the other colourful personalities in the software world. I want to thank Zed for reminding me that although some ego in not bad, its not the thing to look for in a hacker, you have to look beyond his "persona".

The "neon strippers" Zed Shaw was fucking awesome because he said "fuck" all the time.

The "real" Zed Shaw is fucking awesome because he plays guitar, writes code, does electronics, and is a nice person(sort of).

I knew this since I was a child, but I needed Zed to show me that "masturbating monkeys" is not that cool, Kernel hacking is.

I have a question about how the Web archive works: can Zed ask them to turn down the archived copy and if he does will they remove it?

Does anybody know if Zed released his early blog posts under Creative Commons? Because if he did anybody can republish his old rant today.

Oh, I just noticed at the bottom of the archived page: 'Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.'

The new Zed's blog doesn't have a CC reference, BTW

You really shouldn't CC-license things blindly. They are useful, but not appropriate in all circumstances. I see no reason to CC-license your blog posts. (Copyright gives you no control over ideas and fair use means people can quote you in most circumstances quotes are useful, so you're not really giving anything useful away anyhow.)

I think CC licensing on blogs (or email) is a form of conspicuous production, a way of signaling that you're part of the CC movement.

The web archive will retroactively remove anything they've archived from your domain if you disallow "ia_archiver" in your robots.txt file (and obviously, will stop crawling it).


just to clarify because i've had to deal with this before, excluding ia_archiver from your robots.txt will prevent archive.org from indexing new versions and deny access to your old versions, but it will not make them delete any archived material from your site that already exists.

when you visit an archive.org page, their robot will fetch that site's robots.txt file in real-time (with some basic caching mechanism, i'd assume) and check for an exclusion.

if your site ever goes down after the point you block their robot, or you let your domain name expire, or some squatter buys your domain after you're done with it and doesn't put up a robots.txt file, or anything else that would prevent their site from reading your robots.txt at the time someone tries to view the archive, they will allow full access to your site archives.

He does state in the post that he is the copyright holder and won't give permission to repost it. That doesn't mean he hasn't already given express permission via a CC license previously, but, assuming he didn't...

Anyone want to take a bet on how many more times Zed Shaw can get to the top of Hacker News and Reddit by talking about talking about Rails?

You have to admit that he's a hell of a marketer. (In the PT Barnum sense of the word.)

Startups talk about hiring 'Rock Star' developers. Yes, he has created a lot (Mongrel). But I think Zed is a rock star - because of his personality (even if it's a facade of sorts - I'm not sure - without having dinner with him). Whether intentional or not - it helps market his brand - reminds me of Geoffrey Grosenbach and PeepCode (pimping out good screencasts..)

How to blog like Zed Shaw: 1) say outrageous thing 2) wait 3) retract outrageous thing; criticize people / society / the world for getting all atwitter over outrageous things 4) repeat

What other things has he retracted?

He didn't retract this one.

Synopsis: he redacts the sentiment of his earlier rant but says nothing about whether or not his opinion of the ruby/rails community has changed or why.

It hasn't. He's said that before, and that he's leaving the Rails community behind rather than dwell on it.

At the risk of sounding vindictive, I don't think I've ever been more happy to see someone getting PSAs on their Adsense.

Zed must've had fun writing this...

Zed's rails is a ghetto retraction is a ghetto.

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