You should be on ruby-talk

Working as I do in the Rails world these days, I’m periodically reminded of the difference between me and most Rails programmers. That is, the fact that I came to Rails via Ruby, rather than vice-versa. Usually this happens when someone at work or in the blog world expresses delight (or perplexity) about some Ruby feature that I thought everyone knew about. This then prompts me to put on my best “old coot” voice and ramble on about “young whippersnappers” with their Rails and their fancy conferences and their big pants and… get off my lawn, ya darned kids!

One of the biggest disconnects for me is the fact that almost no one I know in the Railsverse reads “ruby-talk”: regularly. Having gotten into Ruby somewhere between five and seven years ago, it’s difficult for me to imagine being a part of the Ruby community and not being privy to the discussions in ruby-talk. Ruby-talk was one of the first programming communities I ever regularly participated in (the other one was the Pragmatic Programmer mailing list). It was a warm and welcoming place compared to, say, the Perl communities of the time; full of the spirit of joyous discovery and show-and-tell that this amazing new language from Japan tended to inspire.

The S/N ratio has declined somewhat since some joker hooked up a conduit between “ruby-forum”: and the mailing list, leading in a steady stream of Rails newbies who have it confused with the RoR forum. But it’s still one of the friendliest and most helpful programming communities out there. And nowhere else – not on blogs, not on Reddit, nor on Twitter – will you find better and more thoughtful discussions on Ruby style, idioms, alternate ways of accomplishing tasks, gotchas, and just plain fun Ruby tricks. And, because new Ruby libraries and frameworks are usually announced there, it’s also a great place to find out about what’s going on in the wider Ruby universe – beyond Rails, beyond web development entirely.

I’m going to make a bold statement here:

If you are a developer working in Ruby, you should be reading ruby-talk.

No, let me amend that:

If you are a developer working in Ruby, you should be -reading- *contributing to* ruby-talk.

Because apart from being a great place to pick up new techniques, it’s also one of the easiest opportunities to give back to the Ruby community. Check in from time to time, and if a newbie asks a simple question you know the answer to, help them out! It takes five minutes, and it helps perpetuate the culture of supportiveness that is a big part of what makes Ruby so special.

It’s easy to get involved with ruby-talk. There are multiple interfaces. There is the “mailing list itself”:, which is how I interact with it. Then there is the mail-to-news gateway, which enables you to read it as the Usenet newsgroup comp.lang.ruby. You can get to it through “Gmane”:nntp:// if your ISP doesn’t provide NNTP service. Or you can interact via the “Google Groups frontend”: And finally, there’s the aforementioned “ruby-forum gateway”:

Whichever route you choose, I hope to see you on ruby-talk soon!