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brian d foy is a very prolific and incredibly helpful member of SO, especially in a Perl area - predictably. However, I have not observed even remotely equivalent level of engagement from Randal Schwartz (he seems to have more answers about Smalltalk than Perl). Does anyone know why?

(it is, of course, his right and his decision - I'm merely very curious since Brian and Randal seem to be likely to have similar level of participation based on my very surface knowledge of who both of them are and what they do).

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You could just ask Randal. He responds to almost any mention of him on Twitter. Just like the docs, always go to the source. –  brian d foy Mar 19 '10 at 8:09
    
Now, I am not involved in either Perl or Smalltalk, so I don't have any hands on experience. But just looking at Randal's tag count on his profile Perl=18 Smalltalk=13 –  heavyd Mar 19 '10 at 16:54
    
@brian - I'm stuck in 19th century, afraid. No Twitter, no Facebook, no MySpace. Just Plain Old Email and SO :) –  DVK Mar 20 '10 at 1:34
    
Randal answers email as well. Again, go to the source. –  brian d foy Mar 22 '10 at 9:09
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Yes, Obi-Wan :) –  DVK Mar 22 '10 at 12:58

4 Answers 4

up vote 20 down vote accepted

I have a number of interests marked as Keywords, including both Perl and Smalltalk, as well as things like jQuery and ZFS and git. About twice a day, I get a five minute window to hit SO (and occasionally SU), and quickly look at the questions in my keyword set. The Perl questions are generally answered well by the time I get there, but the Smalltalk and git and jQuery questions not so much.

This is why you see more answers from me on non-Perl things: the Perl area is pretty well covered.

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Thanks! (both for the answer, and for general contributons to Perl, and for getting me involved with real Perl development in the first place - I started my career as a Perl developer in one of your Stonehenge Perl classes (not sure if the quality of my Perl answers on SO so far makes you glad of the fact or cringe at it :) –  DVK Mar 20 '10 at 1:45

Frankly I don't think there's much correlation at all between how well-known someone is in their particular community and how active they are in SO in a particular tag.

Take me for instance for a view on the other side -- I'm a pretty much nobody in the Perl world. I don't blog, I haven't made any major CPAN contributions, and I don't usually go to conferences like OSCON or YAPC, yet I'm currently the 7th highest contributor in the Perl tag. I'm not even one of the most active members of our local Perlmongers chapter. However I've got a good senior job doing Perlish stuff and am confident I can get another one should the need arise, which is one of the major reasons why I became active on SO in the first place.

If Randal doesn't want to be or doesn't have the time to be active on SO, that's okay. It's not too often we have seriously challenging questions come up anyway - about 90% are "how do I use this hash table" or "help me parse this XML with a regex".

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Yep. Jon Skeet is not well-known in the Java world, but he's so far ahead of #2 that it's almost ridiculous. And I was #2 for most of last year, and I'm way less than a mere "not well-known". And this is in spite of (or perhaps because of?) the fact that the Java tag is 10x larger than the Perl tag. –  mmyers Mar 19 '10 at 17:48
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Isn't Jon Skeet #1 in every tag by definition, even tags that don't exit yet? :) –  DVK Mar 20 '10 at 1:37
    
+1 The same analysis applies to me (well, except for the bit about having a job doing Perlish stuff ;-). It is good to know that Randal and brian and schwern and others are around to correct my errors, but I participate in SO mostly as a learning tool for myself. –  Sinan Ünür Mar 24 '10 at 22:21

Well, Randal sets his priorities in life like anyone else, and although I can't speak for him, I bet he sees that there is already a committed group of people handling the work so he can use his very limited time on something else that needs help. He's really doing quite a bit of work that most people don't see, such as the recent re-licensing of Squeak. That stuff is valuable too.

Sometimes when I see a question where I think his particular expertise and skills would be valuable, I'll point it out to him. Usually he tells me that someone got the right answer already.

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What can I say? We have no claim on the activities of famous users. Not even a little bit.

Presumably he's playing that way because it suits him.

That is all.

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