The Ruby Train Wreck

The latest “my dad is cooler than your dad” in develop-sphere, started with “The Ruby Train Goes Choo-Choo”. Soon enough many have joined the fray on both the Ruby and .Net sides, with the normal people saying: Take a rest. You are not what you program.

Of course, the normal people (I’m assuming you, dear reader, are one of us) are right, and the zealots are wrong.

While they have a right to state their opinion, let’s remove our “developer” glasses. Let’s look at this through the “business” glasses.

  • Can we trust developers to work together? They are so opinionated. They are not team players, are they?
  • Why do developers always take these things too far? Why don’t they care about solving real business problems instead?
  • And they always look for the new shiny thing. Can we trust them with making rational decisions?
  • Finally, if they become so much engulfed in these discussions, they probably have too much time on their hands.

You’re generalizing too much”, I hear you say.

“They are just a couple of idiots. It’s their foot, they can choose to put it in their mouths.”

They are not just hurting themselves, you know. Business people already look at us funny. These guys reinforce this image.

And that hurts you and me, regardless of what we think about Ruby. What business people think can impact their next hire.

Next time you see this kind of argument, don’t just roll your eyes and go away. Present the zealots with the business glasses. You might lose some geek points, but you’ll be helping the rest of us.

5 comments on “The Ruby Train Wreck”

  1. Ken Egozi Reply

    oh you are soooo correct.

    All I intended was to point out some of the rudeness that is going out, not to take side or run a silly war.

  2. Gil Zilberfeld Reply



    One facet I didn’t mention was how normal people who just point out how silly the argument is get attacked and then need to defend themselves, reluctantly taking a side in the process.

    Then we write back and get swept into it ourselves, which may not be in our best interest.

    The internet is good for the rude zealots.

    Hopefully (although, not realistically) raising the business argument above can stump them:

    “It doesn’t apply to me, I’m a developer who knows better. I’ll go play with the kids who know more about Ruby.”


  3. Peter Reply

    Well written, and I think you make a good higher point about considering what the businesspeople will say, but: my blog post wasn’t written for business people.

    If it were written for business people, I would have titled it “why are web applications built in .NET 3x as expensive to build?” or something similar. Given that business-focused title, your “cool dad” metaphor no longer makes sense.

    I wrote the post for .NET developers who are wasting time learning the 2011 edition of whatever Microsoft is distracting them with. This year it looks like it’s Azure and BUILD.

    One huge disagreement: I think you’re mischaracterizing the ENTIRE discussion by saying “Soon enough many have joined the fray on both the Ruby and .Net sides, with the normal people saying: Take a rest. You are not what you program”

    With the exception of Roy’s inflammatory post, the other MVPs I linked to had nothing but specific, good things to say about Rails. It wasn’t a “let’s take sides”, it was “Rails is better at this specific thing.”

    I followed the discussion on Twitter as well, and while people were less guarded about voicing their opinions, they all had specific arguments, not platitudes. I didn’t see anyone just “take a side.”

    So to simplify everything down to the .NET zealots, the Ruby zealots and the “normal people” is a mischaracterization of the entire discussion and is pretty insulting. You also used the words “idiots” to describe those of us who expressed an opinion. Something to note.

    I’m also unhappy with this argument that pragmatism is the unassailable right answer, and that you’ve claimed that “your side” with the “normal people” is the pragmatic side. You claim that those of us who have chosen to voice an opinion are not “normal people” but are zealots, and you’re the better man who is “pragmatic” about the whole situation.

    It’s exactly what ScottGu did here and it stunk then, too.

    Anyway I’ve updated my post with more focused takeaways, so hopefully it makes better sense.

  4. Gil Zilberfeld Reply


    Thanks for the comment.

    I try not to take sides in technology debates anymore. I have seen (on Google+ if I recall correctly) a not so healthy debate with Ken (1st comment) on the defending side, just because he said stuff he believed in. It was no longer a ruby vs MS technicalities. It was person vs person.

    I’m pretty sure you’re one of the normal people. Your post as you’ve said was observations. The holy war #23,645 that ensued wasn’t that anymore.

    Yes, you can say we are very passionate about what they love and that’s how they emote. But there are zealots that give a bad reputation to the rest of the normals. Free speech and all, it still reflects on the rest of us.

    My points are still: You are not what you program AND these kind of debates do hurt us.

  5. Peter Reply

    If the unhealthy debate was on google plus, you should have linked to the google plus debate, not my blog post. I couldn’t find the holy war, and you still haven’t linked to anything resembling the holy war you talk about in your post.

    Oh well, point noted.

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