Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Range of Content on Planet Python

I've gotten a number of requests lately to contribute only Python related material to the Planet Python feeds and to be honest these requests have both surprised and insulted me, but they've continued. I am pretty sure they've come from a very small number of people, but they have become consistent. This is probably because of my current habit of writing about NaNoWriMo every day and those who aren't interested not looking forward to having the rest of the month reading about my novel.

Planet Python will be getting a feed of only relevant posts in the future, but I'm going to be honest: I am kind of upset about it. I don't care if anyone thinks it is unreasonable of me to be upset about it, because the truth is Planet Python means something to me. It was probably the first thing I did that I considered "being part of the community" when I submitted my meager RSS feed to be added some seven years ago. My blog and my name on the list of authors at Planet Python are both as old my son, who's birth gave me the push I needed back then to focus on my software craft and build the freelancing business that launched my career.

In my mind you can't separate the Python and the personal. So these complaints that any of my posts that aren't explicitly about Python would appear on the feed feel... wrong. And they also feel strange, because if everyone on Planet Python had only contributed Python material to the feed I would have found it boring years ago and unsubscribed.

I never saw it as a place to read Python content, but as a place to read content written by Python developers. We have a lot more to say than our indented language and that's a good thing. The posts about our other interests give the community character and introduce us to each other. To strip the community down to our writings on and only on Python software developments feels so cold and impersonal. Is that really what people prefer?

Please let me know what you think, on either side of this. Either way, I've been asked to provide a narrow feed and I'll do that. I just wanted to get my feelings out on it and I'd like to know: Am I the only one who would hate to see Planet Python that was nothing but Python posts?


Omar said...

Imho, planet python should be pretty much dedicated to python content. Posts about language comparisons and general programming seem to me to be on the brink of what i expect on planet python. Maybe also some content about social tensions around pycon and other python conferences (i'm thinking about the recent debate about sexism on conferences and such), as long as they are limited in quantity..

I do sometimes read "content written by Python developers", but mostly i get to know them via their python-specific content and find them interesting enough to read their "other stuff".

Tim said...

I agree with Omar. If I like what someone is writing that is explicitly tagged or categorized as Python, I will seek out their other articles.
No offense or insult intended--I'm glad you are writing, but I do like categorization. I do that with my own stuff because I know that most people coming from Planet Python would not be interested in the other categories I write about.

Chris Rose said...

Yeah, I've got to agree with the comments above. I consume Planet Python via RSS feeds, and I specifically read it to learn about new and interesting things in the Python end of the programming world. I read other things, at other times, but when I'm diving into this feed, I'm not looking for digressions into other topics.

Willem said...

I'm subscribed to Planet Python for Python posts, as I believe most subscribers are. The community aspect is much better served through the mailing lists, IRC, etc.

This is the first post of yours that I have read, since it was the closest to Python that I can remember seeing. Your personal feelings notwithstanding, please don't make everyone sift through the posts they are not interested in. Authors' personalities and interests usually leak through in their writings. It has happened a couple of times that I read a blog post from Planet Python, look around the author's site and end up subscribing to their whole blog's RSS feed, because I am interested in the rest too.

Eric said...

I'm surprised that upon visiting the comments, everyone (so far) has been in favor of only Python focused content. I'm definitely on the other side of the spectrum.

In my mind, Planet sites have always been about the community. When you are included as an author, it is an honor that suggests the community feels your voice is important. So I say write what you want!

Sure, as a reader there might be some content I don't care about, but that is always going to be the case. I skip most posts on wxWidgets, while at the same time, I end up reading the posts on Python and biology, even though neither are directly useful. But that is the point! In fact, I specifically have been enjoying the NaNoWriMo post as it is interesting to get a detailed perspective on how a programmer translates his/her skills to creating other content.

Unless the powers that run Planet Python have asked you to filter, I hope you respectfully refuse to filter, unless it is something you wanted to do anyway.

Thanks for writing!

Carl Trachte said...

I am more in your camp in that the planet is my connection to other Python people. The coolest non-Python post that benefitted me was some guy writing about one of these newfangled flashlights that works off an LED and is waterproof. I got right on Amazon and bought a refurb'ed one and have used it tons since.

That said, I subscribe to the OpenBSD misc mailing list. Over there, even mentioning another operating system can draw some scolding.

At some point I'll probably get feedback for posting about the BSD's and other stuff. Really, it's my own fault - my blog itself is supposed to be about learning to code well in Python, yet from time to time I wander thematically.

My advice: it's the internet (even if it's the Python community) - try not to take anything too personally. I don't say this from a position of "there, there, you'll understand after a while," but rather, "Trust me, I've learned this lesson through hard experience." Peace.

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons I check out planet python so often is precisely the broad range of content.

What I absolutely can't take is when posts have embedded advertisements (seems to have completely stopped lately).

Michaƫl Malter said...

As much as I enjoyed your non python related posts, I would rather not see those on the planet python. I don't think of it as a "place" but more as a category.

I would also repeat the previous advice: don't get too emotional with what you are doing on the internet. You would not be enjoying yourself in the long run.

In short, I go on planet python if I want python stuff. I go on your blog if I want your personal stuff.

Brendan Howell said...

I enjoy the occasional non-python posts. As long as they are the exception and not the rule, I think it's nice.

The NaNoWriMo was especially cool as it got me to look around and see what a few other people are up to.

Maybe next time you can write a lit-bot or some kind of python-based editing or composition system. Experimental literature is one of my favorite uses for python.

Anonymous said...

Like many others, I don't mind the occasional non-Python-focused post, but I'm reading Planet Python (broadly) for content related to Python. I appreciate you creating the new, narrower feed, and hope you'll keep writing other content outside of that feed.

flowblok said...

I subscribed to Planet Python for the Python content, but stayed for the non-Python content.

AGMMGA said...

Please leave the non python content. Just precede every title with a keyword, and let the haters write a regex to filter it out. They are all capable of doing that, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Hello Calvin.

I was one of the people who told you to select the posts you send to the planet, a few weeks ago.

I agree with your point about the importance of human relations and the community, but I do not believe that Planet Python is the right place to post personal posts or non-python content.

I read Planet Python through RSS and I am subscribed to other feeds too (even personal friends and professional). I like to have everything categorized to reduce the noise-ratio and select carefully what to read and what to invest time in.

Python offers me a way of doing that, but sometimes a personal post appears. I do not have problem with occasional posts. But your non-python posts are very frequent in comparison to other feeds. I guess thats the reason for people asking you to select better what you send.

Cheers and keep writing!

@AGMMGA Haters? I think that we can keep this conversation without resorting to name calling. Don't you think?

nigelb said...

I see plant python as an aggregation of Python developers. I'd like to know what they're doing with Python and what they do in their own lives whether it's writing or rock climbing or whatever.

If you decide to stop syndicating your non-python content, I'd probably subscribe to your blog directly :)

Anonymous said...

It depends on one is using feeds.

I'm subscribed to a lot of feeds. Planets are a very strange beast, they accumulate a wide variety of posts even when very targeted. Make it very dense with a lot of posts and people and it becomes a firehose.

Have someone with widely different political, social opinions shared with a disgusting way and it becomes a very very very toxic feeling, specifically when we are reading posts once after the other. The anger or sadness of one read can propagate on the others. Tough choice.

What I usually do is that if someone from a Planet blog write things in an interesting way about the topic I will be encouraged to discover his/her other writings. And start explore his/her more personal content.

Keeping separate the categories give more choices to readers. Not everyone want to know the deep feelings of someone, and those who want can still do it by subscribing to the main feed.

Rob Galanakis said...

One of the reasons I like Planet Haskell is that there are people who seem to post a lot of interesting things that have nothing to do with Haskell.

I understand the haters, and think filtering your blog content is the right thing to do (I do the same for That said, I enjoy reading your personal posts, even when I vehemently disagree, which is why I've been subscribed to your site's feed to a while. I want to make sure I don't miss anything from good bloggers, since I assume most feeds on Planet Python are filtered.

Just showing my support!

Nick Coghlan said...

I think it's mostly a factor of community growth and changing expectations. That growth unfortunately sometimes comes at the expense of shared channels being less about the "whole person" and more Python focused. I think there are also many more options these days for building our own curated lists of folks we'd like to read more from (whether that's through an RSS feed reader, or channels like Twitter).

My personal expectation would be that a feed plugged in to Planet Python would fit into the "Python (mostly)" category, and these days the planet operators do tend to ask for a category feed rather than a whole-of-blog feed when adding a new account.

I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.

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