Subject: Re: Why is Scheme not a Lisp?
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 10:44:52 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* William D Clinger
| Programming languages don't have feelings, so their feelings aren't hurt
| when they are criticized.  The people who form a language community have
| feelings, though, and those feelings are easily hurt when their favorite
| language is criticized.  If we were all more careful not to identify
| ourselves with our favorite language(s), and to view our favorite
| language(s) more critically, our feelings wouldn't be so easily hurt.

  This seems to make exactly the mistake I have tried (obviously in vain)
  to warn against over many years: Do not drop the context of the forum in
  which you say something.  In particular, if someone argues privately that
  he thinks CL sucks, that is his opinion and he is entitled to it and to
  express it, and I may decide to ignore it, ask why, challenge his views,
  or express my disagreement according to my own desires at the time.
  However, if he goes to a forum for people who like Common Lisp and
  expresses the same opinion, it is no longer an opinion he is entitled to
  express in that forum.  This is really not different from being critical
  of someone's choice of furniture -- as long as you are not a guest at
  their house.  If you have such a gripe with it, do not visit their house.
  If you think CL sucks, do not annoy people who expressly meet in order to
  share their common appreciation for Common Lisp.  I mean, lots of bad
  people hate cats, but if they show up at a cat show and "express their
  opinion", they have done something clearly wrong.  Is this really so hard
  for people who have a personal and emotional opinion about CL to grasp?

  Similarly, people who meet to discuss something, with a purpose to learn
  and understand and become more proficient and skilled, have no use for a
  jerk who wants to bug and annoy people with his pet peeves that run
  counter to such purposes.  In a professional forum, and I consider both
  comp.lang.lisp and comp.lang.scheme as such, people have a moral
  obligation to be intelligent.  Stupditity has no place in such forums.

  So this is _not_ about any personal feelings being hurt, nobody should be
  personally offended by anyone's opinions, noobody should "identify" with
  the language in any personal sense, but the forum _is_ identified with
  the language, and it _is_ rude an hostile to attack that which _is_ the
  purpose of the forum, and that means nobody should even consider posting
  about his hatred for Common Lisp in this forum any more than anybody
  should consider posting about his hatred for gays in soc.motss or for
  cats in rec.pets.cats.  It really is this simple.  Yet Scheme freaks come
  here quite often to express their very strong dislike of some Common Lisp
  feature or another, and there are a few people who seem to think that
  they can get help solving their problems if they tell everybody how they
  hate Common Lisp or the sorry "fact" that they cannot use Common Lisp, or
  that it costs too much, or whatever.  This is where people who want to
  use Common Lisp come to help eachother do that, where people who want to
  learn about Common Lisp come to figure things out together, where people
  who want to influence the future direction of Common Lisp can share their
  thoughts and get feedback, but one of the most important traditions in
  the Common Lisp history is: You do not screw the installed base.  To want
  to do so is very hostile to this community, because it is one of the very
  few things that has come to be the basis of our agreement on language
  design.  It is not open for debate, and any desire for change that amount
  to breaking something is simply idiotic in this forum and betrays a
  serious lack of insight into how Common Lisp came to be.  If one does not
  like that, keep that personal opinion away from people who have come
  together in this forum because they _do_ like it.  If it were not for
  that premise, Common Lisp would not be, or would be a _very_ different

| No.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's too late in the game.  CL and
| Scheme have by now found their own niches and user communities, with
| remarkably little overlap.

  I would appreciate if you could take this conclusion back to the Scheme
  community.  A large number of Scheme folks appear to think that Common
  Lisp somehow "should" have an overlap of interests with them.

  In a fight against something, the fight has value, victory has none.
  In a fight for something, the fight is a loss, victory merely relief.