erlang-questions: A tale of push VS pull and authority VS lolberty

I just plowed through my email backlog for the first time in a long time to find that the venerable and seemingly eternal resource for n00bs and webtards in need sage graybeard advice known as the “erlang-questions” mailing list is now deprecated by the Erlang Something-or-other (Foundation? whatever).

I suppose this means they intend to nuke the archive of messages as well, which effectively obliterates the thing Joe Armstrong liked about it the most: the most useful posts and threads tended to turn up in web searches and were easily linked as resources years after the discussions themselves happened.

This came to my attention by way of a monster thread that started out innocently enough as “PING TEST“:

My apologies for spamming, but the list was unusually quiet for the last couple of days, and I just wanted to test if it is still active.
Kind regards

Valentin Micic (Fri Dec 3 08:08:30 CET 2021)

After a few stylish replies of a form common on periodically low traffic lists that simply indicated that the list was still working, a somewhat unexpected reply was then encountered:

Nowadays you will find more activity at

Björn Gustavsson (Fri Dec 3 09:05:31 CET 2021)

This prompted an unsurprising and appropriate reaction from none other than Richard O’Keefe (aka “ROK”, aka “The ROK”, aka “The guy who knows way more than you do so if he doesn’t have time to explain in detail just do whatever he says and you’ll be much closer to Doing It Right”):

As far as I am concerned, anything that diverts traffic away from the Erlang mailing list to a labyrinth like is a Bad Thing. Sigh.

Richard O’Keefe (Fri Dec 3 09:26:48 CET 2021)

This was followed up by quite a slew of posts from long-time Erlangers noting basic problems with the way the forums are framed by the Foundation (or whatever it is), trouble with the legalese involved, the technical problems involved in future mining of old wisdom from the forums if any ever turns up there, and subtly and not-so-subtly pointing out that this fits a disturbing trend of the webtards and wokescolds of the intertubes slowly breaking up the community over time and driving the graybeards away. Check the archive thread out — it is quite interesting to “next post” your way through it.

By the end it was clear that feelings among the long-time Erlangers ranged from extreme allergy to more neutral mild annoyance, as one often sees when The Committee is clearly doing something absolutely fucking stupid and Those Who Legitimately Know Better are trying to tell them so without starting a war over it. Fitting with the trend, the only two long-time Erlangers who actually support the move to trash-tier web forums are the literal card carrying communist and the kommunity karen (the guy who called me a racist and a Nazi on Slack because I said that I believe national borders are a thing that governments have a duty to their citizens to enforce — clearly the heart and soul of the National Socialist platform and not at all an indication that the angry little man in question had just proved Godwin’s Law right yet again).

Having been away from community interaction for quite a while and figuring this would probably be my last post before they get rid of it entirely, I decided to offer my $2.50 (no, the inflation is not transitory and if you believed it was you have cognitive trouble of the same sort Grandpa Badfinger suffers) only to be met with this beauty of a response from the mailing list daemon:

Irony is part of Nature’s sense of poetic humor

Let me just say HA HA HA!

In the spirit of not letting anything go into the memoryhole as long as my own site remains in operation, here is what I wrote:

On 2021/12/19 9:02, Jeff Schultz wrote:
> On 18/12/2021 04:02, Igor Clark wrote:
>> I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you for putting it so carefully and insightfully, Yao.
> I also agree.
> On an internet mailinglist, I can listen.
> On an internet forum, I am property.

At least you grok the motivation behind this sort of move.

A central point I have to drive into my geopol and intel students over and over is that "Capacity drives intent". Even if the original intent was to make a more "modern" single place to discuss Erlang, once that place becomes The One True Community the exclusionary capacity enabled by it will eventually change the intent of those running it. (In the end it will only make the Erlang community lore harder to find in the noise -- but whatever, no online platform is forever unless you do it yourself.)

I've just had to make my own little island of misfits -- mostly new Erlangers who want to solve problems and really don't care about anything else, least of all feels politics and other regulatory nonsense that people want to inject into projects and communities by rudely shoving their CoC into it. I don't really see a way around going independent to avoid the worsening social cancer.

I'll be on the ML as long as it is around and might occasionally check the forums if I'm super bored, but I'm pretty much seeing this as the end of the graybeard era -- it will definitely be a case of "nobody realized what they had until it was gone".

I have absolutely benefited an unfair amount from having this mailing list as a resource for the last several years. Thanks to all for the lessons and the laughs. Being proven wrong on the ML has always been one of those magical experiences where I could directly map blows to my ego to immediately useful lessons learned -- really fantastic stuff.

A late Merry Christmas to you all! Weee!

Anyway, all golden ages end eventually — our task as survivors is to simply push on ahead and try to manifest another golden age as soon as possible, and if we are both diligent and lucky we may just generate a small cascade of renaissances amongst one another. Let’s hope for that future instead of being bitter.

On that note, if anyone is interested in my little island of misfits just send me an email and I’ll point the way. Saving that I’m keeping the candle on at the #erlang IRC channels on OFTC and EFNet as well as the StackOverflow Erlang/OTP chat (I’m sure there is still an #erlang on freenode and libera, but until that ball of retardation is a distant memory and the landscape is clear I’m spending my effort elsewhere).

[Protip for 2022: Spend time with your family, friends and loved ones. Mend some fences or establish relationships with people you can physically see in real life (like really real life, not online). Never know when that’s going to come in handy.]

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