Religious wars considered harmful considered harmful


Can we stop avoiding subjects because we've elevated them to the state of personal opinion? Especially since "personal opinion" usually ends up meaning "dogma", and is quite often used as an excuse to cover up ignorance.

The usual suspects here are of course:
  • vim versus emacs versus whatever
  • git versus mercurial versus bazaar versus whatever
  • twisted versus gevent versus eventlet versus tornado versus whatever
  • django versus pyramid versus web2py versus versus cherrypy versus whatever
Here's why. Not every discussion about them has to devolve into a full-blown flame war. Yes, there are trolls. Yes, there are clueless fan-boys who've drunk one glass too many of the delicious Kool-Aid. We have those pretty much everywhere else, too, though: and we just ignore them. But we're not trolls -- we're reasonable adults with different favorite tools. Perhaps that's based on extensive experience. Perhaps it isn't. Perhaps it's based on stuff that's not even true anymore. Can't we talk about them as one reasonable adult to another? Preferably without resulting in name calling and blatant demagogy.

Dismissing discussions a priori effectively means you've decided, up front, that they're going to have a net negative outcome. At best, that's insulting to the people you'd be discussing with. At worst, it's a monumental display of arrogance, since you've just decided that there is nothing that can be learned from people who have done things differently.

I'm not talking about people who mindlessly promote their favorite version control system or editor or library, without having given the alternatives the light of day. They're annoying in their own right, but they're nothing compared to the people who then proceed to trash-talk the alternatives without having any real arguments. Like something someone smarter than myself said: "if you promote your project by dissing the competition, I'll assume that your project sucks or you're a dick. Either way I won't use it." -- except it's not even their project.

If you don't know what a mark ring or a kill ring is, any disparaging comment you make about Emacs is probably worth a troll stamp, sorry. If you haven't used anything but git, I'm not particularly interested that you think everything that isn't git is dumb. If you didn't manage to get through the finger tutorial and you've never used any of the alternatives either, I don't really care if you think Twisted is complicated. Quite frankly, you don't know what you're talking about. Your braindead statements don't contribute to anything but my blood pressure.

I've tried to have sensible discussions countless times, and when I succeeded, it ended up being perfectly civil and showing someone how maybe not everything the enemy is doing is so bad. Perhaps they have ideas worth stealing. Perhaps we can stop worrying about what separates us, silence the trolls like we do everywhere else, and focus on what we have in common.