beginners-faq - FAQ for the beginners mailing list
1 - Administriva
1.1 - I'm not subscribed - how do I subscribe?
Send mail to <beginners-subscr...@perl.org>
You can also specify your subscription email address by sending email to
(assuming f...@bar.com is your email address):
1.2 - How do I unsubscribe?
Now, why would you want to do that? Send mail to
<beginners-unsubscr...@perl.org>, and wait for a response. Once you
reply to the response, you'll be unsubscribed. If that doesn't work,
find the email address which you are subscribed from and send an email
like the following (let's assume your email is f...@bar.com):
1.3 - There is too much traffic on this list. Is there a digest?
Yes. To subscribe to the digest version of this list send an email to:
To unsubscribe from the digest, send an email to:
This is a high traffic list (100+ messages per day), so please subscribe
in the way which is best for you.
1.4 - Is there an archive on the web?
Yes, there is. It is located at:
1.5 - How can I get this FAQ?
This document will be emailed to the list once a week, and will be
available online in the archives, and at http://learn.perl.org/
1.6 - I don't see something in the FAQ, how can I make a suggestion?
Send an email to <beginners-...@perlguy.com> with your suggestion.
1.7 - Is there a supporting website for this list?
Yes, there is. It is located at:
1.8 - Who owns this list? Who do I complain to?
Casey West owns the beginners list. You can contact him at
1.9 - Who currently maintains the FAQ?
Kevin Meltzer, who can be reached at the email address (for FAQ
suggestions only) in question 1.6
1.10 - Who will maintain peace and flow on the list?
Casey West, Kevin Meltzer and Ask Bjoern Hansen currently carry large,
yet padded, clue-sticks to maintain peace and order on the list. If you
are privately emailed by one of these folks for flaming, being
off-topic, etc... please listen to what they say. If you see a message
sent to the list by one of these people saying that a thread is closed,
do not continue to post to the list on that thread! If you do, you will
not only meet face to face with a XQJ-37 nuclear powered pansexual
roto-plooker, but you may also be taken off of the list. These people
simply want to make sure the list stays topical, and above-all, useful
to Perl beginners.
1.11 - When was this FAQ last updated?
Sept 07, 2001
2 - Questions about the 'beginners' list.
2.1 - What is the list for?
A list for beginning Perl programmers to ask questions in a friendly
2.2 - What is this list _not_ for?
* Things that aren't Perl related
* Monkeys solicitating homework on non-Perl related SPAM.
2.3 - Are there any rules?
Yes. As with most communities, there are rules. Not many, and ones that
shouldn't need to be mentioned, but they are.
* Be nice
* No flaming
* Have fun
2.4 - What topics are allowed on this list?
Basically, if it has to do with Perl, then it is allowed. You can ask
CGI, networking, syntax, style, etc... types of questions. If your
question has nothing at all to do with Perl, it will likely be ignored.
If it has anything to do with Perl, it will likely be answered.
2.5 - I want to help, what should I do?
Subscribe to the list! If you see a question which you can give an
idiomatic and Good answer to, answer away! If you do not know the
answer, wait for someone to answer, and learn a little.
2.6 - Is there anything I should keep in mind while answering?
We don't want to see 'RTFM'. That isn't very helpful. Instead, guide the
beginner to the place in the FM they should R :)
Please do not quote the documentation unless you have something to add
to it. It is better to direct someone to the documentation so they
hopefully will read documentation above and beyond that which answers
their question. It also helps teach them how to use the documentation.
2.7 - I don't want to post a question if it is in an FAQ. Where should I
Look in the FAQ! Get acquainted with the 'perldoc' utility, and use it.
It can save everyone time if you look in the Perl FAQs first, instead of
having a list of people refer you to the Perl FAQs :) You can learn
about 'perldoc' by typing:
At your command prompt. You can also view documentation online at:
http://www.perldoc.com and http://www.perl.com
2.8 Is this a high traffic list?
YES! You have been warned! If you don't want to get ~100 emails per day
from this list, consider subscribing to the digest.
2.9 Other tips before posting to the list
* Check the FAQs first
* Don't send questions asking "... will this work?". Try it first, then
report errors and ask the list why it *didn't* work. A good answer to
"will this work?", is "What happened when you tried it?".
* If your email begins with "I know this isn't the right place to ask
this, but...", don't send it to this list :) If you know it doesn't
belong, send it to where it does.
* Check the FAQs first
* Look at the archives,
(http://archive.develooper.com/beginn...@perl.org/) to see if your
question has already been answered on the list.
* Have meaningful Subjects. Subject lines like "Help!", and "This isn't
working!" may be skipped by many people, and you may not get all the
great help you want. Try to make your subject lines meaningful. For
example, "sprintf() trouble", or "Confused about formats".
2.10 Can I ask the list for a code review?
Sure. However, we request two things when doing so. First, that you put
code somewhere on the web for people to look at it, instead of posting
it to the list itself. Secondly, we request that people do not post
their suggestions to the list, but rather the requester create a summary
of suggestions and comments given, and post that to the list. This, in
itself, could help other list members see things you did, and later
changed due to suggestions.
3 - Other Resources
3.1 - What other websites may be useful to a beginner ?
* Perl Home Page - http://www.perl.com
* PerlMonks - http://www.perlmonks.org
* Perldoc - http://www.perldoc.com
* Perl Archives - http://www.perlarchives.com
3.2 - What resources may be harmful to a beginner?
Beware of Perl4-like code-- You might find some script archives and
unauthorized mirrors with old Perl4 versions of Selena Sol and Matt
Wright scripts. Don't use those scripts. They are outdated and may even
in some cases contain bugs or security problems since many may not have
been updated in years. Instead, double-check the master archives at:
Selena Sol (Perl4 and Perl5): http://www.extropia.com/
Matt Wright's Scripts Archive (All Perl 4)
When looking at scripts, remember the guidlines in 3.3, below, to make
an informed decision if a script is one you should be using, or learning
3.3 - How do I determine whether a script I download is a good one?
There are various criterea which can assist you in determining if a
script you download is a good one. We generally recommend that beginners
do not learn from Perl 4 scripts, or ones which may introduce bad
habits. So, here are some tips on spotting the good code:
* Uses taint mode by default (probably indicates an awareness of
* Uses strict, warnings and other tools that enable clean coding
* Uses proper scoping (ie, using my and local where appropriate)
* Use of CGI.pm instead of cgi-lib.pl (cgi-lib.pl is usually a giveaway
that a CGI script is written in the days of Perl 4)
* Modular use of code (modules or classes) instead of monolithic script
If you are ever in doubt, ask!
3.4 - What books would be good?
* Programming Perl, 3rd Ed. by Larry Wall, et al. (O'Reilly)
* Learning Perl, 3rd Ed. by Randal Schwartz, et al. (O'Reilly)
* Perl Cookbook, by Nat Torkington/Tom Christiansen (O'Reilly)
* Mastering Regular Expressions, by Jeffrey Friedl (O'Reilly)
* Effective Perl Programming, by Joseph N. Hall (Addison-Wesley)
* Network Programming with Perl, by Lincoln Stein (Addison-Wesley)
* Writing CGI Applications with Perl, by Kevin Meltzer/Brent Michalski
* Object Oriented Perl, by Damian Conway (Manning)
* Elements of Perl Programming, by Andrew Johnson (Manning)
* Data Munging with Perl, by Dave Cross (Manning)
* Teach Yourself Perl in 24 Hours, by Clinton Pierce (Sams)
* Beginning Perl, by Simon Cozens (Wrox)
3.5 I use IRC, any helpful Perl channels out there?
Glad you asked! There is indeed a place where you can ask all your Perl
questions on IRC.
4 - Think Before Posting!
Please always think before you write; when you write you are taking the
time of over a thousand people.
If what you write takes just 30 seconds to read, that's more than 8
hours(!) of time burned that could have been used writing code. :)
So please keep the following things in mind when posting:
* Before you write a question please make sure you've checked all the
FAQs and the documentation you know of.
* Before you write an answer, make sure you that you really are
contributing to a solution and doublecheck that noone else already gave
the same answer.
* If your question is about LWP (accessing webpages from Perl), DBI
(accessing databases from Perl) or CGI (you know what that is :-) )
there are other mailinglists you should use.
Subscribe by sending mail to:
They all have digest versions too. You can subscribe to those by
inserting -digest just before -subscribe, for example
* If you think what you are writing may be taken in a way you didn't
intend, please add a smiley :-) Many flame wars are stopped by a simple
* No flames. If your fingers are burning as you are typing the email, it
would likely be best not to send it.