Infrastructure Announcement

Later today we will be upgrading the Drupal software used to run LtU, and migrating to a new server.

Hopefully, this move will ensure that we have fewer outages and better performance.

We will not be rolling out any major new features today, but the Drupal upgrade allows us to solve some of the problems you've all be complaining about, and we will be offering new features over time.

When we are stable again, and once we all have a chance to catch our breath, we'll get around to adding the Wiki component we've been dreaming about for some time (aka the LtU-opedia...).

The first step, however, is ensuring today's move goes according to plan. Anton is on the case, so we don't have a lot to worry about. If you experience any problems with LtU once the server move is complete, please let us know ASAP.

Be advised that for a short period of time posting to the site will be disabled.


A public service announcement directed to the LtU editorial team:

I am extremely busy (and tired), but what's your excuse for not posting? :-)

Last chance to post something cool before the holidays...

New category for Ruby posts

After some hesitation I decided to add a Ruby department to the spotlight category. This is where (home page) posts relating to Ruby should now be filed.

This doesn't imply we now have a special preference for Ruby. It simply reflects that more and more items related to Ruby are posted, and I want them easily found. The other language in the spotlight category is Python, which is there for a long time since there were many interesting experiments with Python, which we discussed many times in the past.

Busy, busy, busy

As you can probably tell from my lack of posts recently, I am extremely busy. This is likely to continue for some time...

The purpose of this message is to remind our editorial team to post something ;-)

I am sure each of you has at least a couple of cool links you can come up with without too much effort...

[Site] Network issues

LtU's hosting provider has been experiencing severe network problems recently. Over this past weekend and today, there have been outages lasting hours at a time (which is a relative eternity, when the provider's SLA promises 99.99% uptime). The provider is now saying that problems could continue for weeks, while they upgrade their network equipment.

As it happens, a move to (yet another) new server, at a bigger and more reliable provider, has been in the works for some time, so we're going to accelerate that process and make that move as soon as possible.

Until then, if you find yourself gnawing on the corner of your desk due to a temporary inability to reach LtU (what, you mean that's just me?), look in the directory where you've saved the papers you saw here, and read one of the ones that you never got around to reading. By the time you're done, LtU will be accessible again. :)

Map of LtU readers

Cool new meme...

Following Estzer and Brian I have created a Frappr map for LtU readers.

Click on that link and (a) you'll have a chance to see where some of the readers are and (b) add yourself.

LtU etiquette

I'd like the thank everyone who took the time to offer suggestions and ideas.

Because of the importance of this issue, I am posting this as a new home page item.

Reading the discussion, it seems some things are in need of clarification. Lambda the Ultimate was created by me and by the LtU community to serve our needs and interests, and though these are quite broad, LtU was never intended to be the single programming language site on the net, nor will it ever attempt to be one. There are many other sites, and if the style of discussion here seems too highbrow for what one has in mind, other sites are available. In the same vein, LtU cannot replace language specific sites, and is intended to explore topics that are of general interest. Code examples are more than welcome, provided they are enlightening and instructional, we were never only about theory.

LtU has large and vibrant community, with diverse interests and skills. The main thing uniting us is our interest in programming languages. If your interests are sincere, you belong here. As you become part of the community, you naturally have a larger impact on the topics under discussion. Luke, for example, is a long time reader and contributor and yet he asks whether specific subjects are appropriate. If Luke finds a topic to be of interest to the community, I for one would be happy to learn about it. The same goes for the other editors, and most long time readers who aren't editors as well. Luke and others ask me (or other members via the forum) about items they are unsure of - because they care about the site and the community. They are genuine members of the community. Sincerity is key.

This is part of the culture of LtU, and I don't think technical solutions are needed or helpful in maintaining it. I am also unsure how to explain this culture in a FAQ, but we will give it a shot, since many mentioned this as a problem. Several good suggestions were made in the previous thread, and we may lift them and create a more detailed FAQ.

It seems most members like LtU the way it is (or used to be), and we should try to make as little a change as possible, to counterbalance the recent problems.

Now for more specific measures:

1. Signatures will be eliminated - effective immediately. Personally, I also don't like pseudonyms, but I will not mandate this preference since people raised good counter arguments when this was last discussed.

2. I will be more pro-active when it comes to deleting posts that don't seem sincere. Most responses in the previous thread seemed to be ok with that. I might ask other editors to assist, since I don't have the time to do it myself. Voting seems too complicated, and I don't think it is appropriate for the kinds of problem we had in mind.

3. Banning - it seems no one is really against banning real trolls. I am not sure how to do this (since users can create new accounts), but I think we will keep the option to do this, and use it if we find it appropriate. I think I will not ban users before discussing the matter with at least one other editor.

4. We need to add links to various other PL sites (comp.lang.misc, C2, etc.) to the FAQ.

5. The FAQ links to the Getting Started thread, we should link to other introductory threads. If you have suggestions on what to include, use the comments to tell us.

6. We are in the process of starting a LtU-Wikipedia about PLs. This will take some time but will also help.

7. Regulars should be more pro-active in politely letting newcomers know when they post items that aren't appropriate. If you, as a LtU regular, are unsure about your objection, it is best to mention it publicly. Thanks!

Finally let me end by reminding everyone that posting here isn't a right, it's a privilege. The LtU community, even though ad hoc and without institutions, is strong enough a community to maintain the atmosphere of polite and sincere discussion we are used to having. However, in cases where it proves necessary, we will remove topics and posters that undermine this goal.

LtU: Style and Focus

LtU is primarily a weblog dedicated to posting links to interesting projects, research papers, and programming languages related news, by contributing editors who can post to the home page - items intended to be discussed in the comments section.

Editors (as opposed to guest bloggers who are asked to join us because of their contributions to the field) are encouraged not to post about their own work, nor to post rants and opinions to the home page.

This allowed LtU to maintain a very high standard of quality for the news items posted to the home page, and resulted in deep and informed discussions.

As LtU grew, the attached forum became more and more active. This level of activity, while exhilarating, poses some predictable problems. Too many of the problems that plague other forums related to programming languages, such as religious wars about typing, Microsoft bashing, and possible trolls are becoming a real issue for LtU. Newcomers, attemtping to learn their way into the field, will always be welcome on LtU. Trolls abuse this by asking "naive" questions, and arguing positions that only serve to confuse rather than inform.

A few LtU regulars voiced their concern. I agree: I have been following the discussion group much less closely myself, recently, because of these issues.

LtU wasn't intended to be the only web forum on programming languages, nor do I intend to manage a multitude of forums for all tastes and styles. LtU is intended for the discussion of items thought to be news worthy by the contributing editors. Short topical messages to the forum were ok, as were off topic messages, when LtU was small and not well known. It seems that we as a community need to decide how to keep the original style and commitment to civilized, informed and professional discussion.

Some of the suggestions I received regarding possible modifications to the site and its policies:

1. Closing commenting entirely. I think this is too harsh, since the discussions often contain great ideas and suggestions.

2. Eliminating the option to create new threads in the forum, thus only allowing contributing editors to set the agenda, so to speak.

3. Establishing some sort of comment moderation. I think this is too problematic and requires to much work from the volunteers running the site (including myself).

4. Banning users who use LtU to advertise, post trolls etc. I don't like banning, but I also don't want trolls to alienate long time members. We aren't sure whether there are (non-troll) readers who feel strongly that we should not ban people. How do we decide on policy, as regards banning?

5. Eliminating user signatures (which are appended to all their posts), since they seem to mostly add noise.

My hope, originally, was that the norms of behaviour here will be enough to ensure newcomers understand and maintain the LtU style and unwritten code of behaviour. Perhaps waiting for this to happen is still the best option. We may decide to not let trolls and such dictate our policies, deciding that we can live with them even though they are irritating.

I'd like to hear your opinion. Especially if you are a long time reader and contributor.

Some rules of behaviour are obvious, yet seem to require reiterating and strengthening: personal slurs and attacks and advertisements will not be tolerated. They will be deleted without warning, and repeat offenders will be banned from the site.

Guest Blogger Erik Meijer

As you may have noticed Erik Meijer has been guest blogging here about his recent work on Microsoft's LINQ.

I am extremely pleased to have Erik guest blog here. I've been after him for a couple of years now to come join us.

Erik's many interests and contributions are chronicled on his home page, but I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the paper Functional Programming with Bananas, Lenses, Envelopes, and Barbed Wire by Erik, Maarten Fokkinga, and Ross Paterson (FPCA'91). This foundational paper is one of our favorites, and I urge those interested in grasping what functional programming is all about to go and read it. Hopefully, a more accessible version, titled Bananas in VB, is forthcoming...

We invite Guest Bloggers so that the LtU community can engage them in discussion about their work and opinions. I am sure the discussion with Erik can be enlightening for us all.


I am going on vacation, and will not be able to post or read LtU regularly until Aug. 25 .

I am sure the rest of the team will keep things in order until I get back. Play nice...

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