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January 24, 2008

What's This Crap About a Ruby Backlash?

Zed's rant triggered some patently false anti-Ruby memes that have now been bouncing around the programming blogsphere echo chamber for a few weeks. Disturbingly so. It's time to put a bullet to the head of the idea that Ruby is experiencing a widespread backlash, that it was just a fad, or that it is inferior to competing technologies such as Groovy. As far as I can tell, the originators of these ideas are people that betray agendas against the success of Ruby and/or Ruby on Rails. Specifically, I'm calling one of them out by name:

Daniel Spiewak (for being a liar)

His post, The End of the Ruby Fad? really set me off and was the final straw that made me write this post. As a community, I don't think we can just let the FUD and lies perpetuate unchecked. Daniel's post in question is full of wrong-headed opinions, but it also has lies in it that I believe are specific enough to be called out as willful deception:

Daniel: "Ruby posts to link sites like DZone or Reddit get voted down before they have a chance to see the light of day."

Simply browse the ruby links on programming.reddit.com or the list of over 2000 ruby-related links on DZone to disprove that lie. My contention, which I think is fairly obvious to people on this side of the Ruby/Anti-Ruby divide, is that the people echoing the Ruby backlash theme are all folks with entrenched anti-Ruby stances and agendas. There are no neutral observers chiming in on the matter.

It's the same old FUD, repackaged:

Daniel: "...while Ruby may not be suitable for an enterprise level, high-traffic web application,"

Peter Cooper of RubyInside calls him out on that one better than I could hope to do so:

Peter: "You say you don’t like the hype or the backlash, but then you come out with this sort of vague non-statement to keep the fire burning. Any language “may” or may not be suitable for any task, but you seem to be implying in the context here that Ruby is “not” suitable for developing enterprise level, high-traffic Web applications without actually going the whole hog and just saying it. In any case, this, of course, is not true. At least, it’s no more true for Ruby than it is for Python, Perl, PHP, or Scala, say."

What about the most general of facts, about the nature of Ruby itself as a programming language?

Daniel: "(Ruby is) hardly a general-purpose language, so it could never replace Java and company."

Ruby is by definition, a general-purpose language. (Wikipedia makes a contrast between domain-specific and general-purpose languages.)

You have to question the actual knowledge of someone making such blatantly wrong assertions. In other words, does Daniel know what the hell he's talking about? He answers that question himself in the comment trail:

Daniel: "It has been pointed out that my "Rails" example is quite foolish and naive. This is absolutely true."

Oh the irony! How folksy and cute to write blatant crap in your blog, enjoy the publicity and then admit that you knew it was crap to begin with. To that I say "UNACCEPTABLE!"

Even his rhetoric is faulty, like this plainly false categorization of developers:

Daniel: "Developers these days fall into two camps: those who have heard the hype and rejected what it stands for, and developers who are totally carried away by the emotion of the fad."

Maybe not technically a lie, more of an opinion, but certainly bad rhetoric. There is a huge third camp, that dwarfs the extremists on both sides, full of intelligent, pragmatic individuals that are choosing to use the tools available to us without prejudice. That includes Java, Ruby, Python, Scala, etc. There is no silver bullet, and all that jazz...

Oppression

Daniel's post led me to question, what is the motive for piling on to the heap of negativity started by Zed and perpetuated by Rick Hightower, Graeme Rocher and others? Why pick on the Ruby community? Is it simply a reaction to the hype cycle?

Daniel: "Perhaps now that the bubble has burst, we’ll finally get to see the popularity of Ruby in its proper place."

Aha! Above all, that sentiment is the common thread amongst the haters of the progressive Ruby community. Oppression! They want to keep Ruby (and by extension Rubyists) in our proper place! What is that proper place I wonder -- perhaps it is out of the mainstream, out of the limelight, out of the enterprise, out of the places where we threaten the status quo!


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