So I was just browsing Hacker News when I ran across a piece titled On the State of Pony or discussion and I find myself absolutely baffled nay flummoxed. The gist of the situation is that a company, Causality, that was formed to commercialize support offerings for the new Pony language has shut down. This received a lot of attention due to a post on LinkedIn.

The piece is written from one of the Pony core team members (or I think he is a core team member, Sean T. Allen) and it amounts to Hey everyone this is:

  • old news
  • not a big deal

Both of these are points I actually agree with. Here’s my issue, his piece fails to tell me:

  • what the heck Pony is (it appears to be a very interesting new language with some bloody smart ideas about dealing with race conditions)
  • where even the home page to Pony is

A million years ago, in a very different world, I used to write at least some press releases for the Drupal project and I’ve seen this time and again in the open source word – marketing foolishness. And I know that marketing is generally viewed as a dirty word within the open source world but that’s just not true. At its core marketing can be defined as:

Creating demand for a product or service.

And that’s never bad. If you’re going to build something then you should want people to use it. And for all the smart people that appear to be working on Pony, if no one learns about it then it will never matter or at least it won’t matter as much as it should. Now ideas within the open source world do get passed around freely so if your ideas don’t catch on in Pony, perhaps, they will in another context. But that would really be a shame.

Overall this piece was well written. Here are the two changes that I would have made:

  • Add a single sentence something like “Pony is a new functional language running on top of the XXY virtual machine with blah blah blah advantages”.
  • For more information see http://www.ponylang.org If you’re interested in contributing then see XXX, YYY, ZZZ

I had to dig to find out what Pony was and while it wasn’t that hard, I shouldn’t have had to:

  • People have short attention spans
  • People are used to ease of use in learning about things these days
  • People so often consume information from mobile devices where you’re less likely to spawn another browser tab / do a google search / etc