Announcing baseless-assertion 0.1

July 14, 2012

GravatarBy Michael Snoyman

I'm happy to announce the first release of baseless-assertion. This release is highly experimental: it has not seen any real-world usage yet. I highly encourage all potential users to test it out as soon and as often as possible.

baseless-assertion is a tool to help streamline discussions around Haskell. It is meant to deal with the all-too-prevalent usage of a statement made without any evidence to back it up. baseless-assertion comes in three forms:

  1. A Fry meme:

    Not sure if tapping into a deep universal truth Or just making a baseless assertion

  2. A text version: "Not sure if referencing some universal truth, or just making a baseless assertion."

  3. Textual reference to a non-present image: baseless-assertion.jpg. (Note: baseless-assertion.png is an acceptable usage as well. Please do not use baseless-assertion.gif, as it would imply non-present animation.)

Example Usages

  • Overzealous enumerator/conduit/pipes fan: There's never a use case for lazy I/O, my pet library is always better. baseless-assertion.jpg
  • Overzealous Yesod/Snap/Happstack user: My favorite framework is far better at my pet feature than any other web framework. baseless-assertion.jpg
  • Overzealous Haskeller: The only way to write a program without bugs is with a type system at least as powerful as Haskell's. And any type system more powerful than Haskell's doesn't let you write useful programs. baseless-assertion.jpg

As you can see, baseless-assertion is easy to use, and has a consistent calling convention.

More complicated uses

Not all usages of baseless-assertion are as simple as implied above. In some cases, a comment may contain multiple paragraphs, some of which are a baseless assertion, and some of which are accurate. In such a circumstance, it is recommended that you quote the unfounded statements and apply baseless-assertion individually to each one. In this case, we recommend use pattern (3) from above (textual reference to a non-present image).

Invalid usages

There are many cases where baseless-assertion may seem relevant, but is in fact invalid. Let's provide a few examples:

  • "I believe that Python is the greatest language ever." The only assertion being made is about the speaker's own preferences. Given that we can generally assume the speaker to know his/her own preferences, this is in fact not baseless. More generally, usage of terms such as "in my opinion," "in my experience," or "anecdotally" will disqualify a possible usage of baseless-assertion. (Feel free to continue a normal, healthy discussion, however!)

  • "Haskell has a stronger type system than Javascript." Granted that there is not actually any basis for this assertion in the quote alone, context must be taken into account as well. If this statement was made to a group of people somewhat familiar with the two languages, it is not a baseless assertion per se. If it was stated in the middle of a high stakes poker game, it would qualify as a baseless-assertion, however.

  • "Clearly, Java is the only real programming language today." Since sarcasm was implied, baseless-assertion cannot be used. However, given the lack of intonation in textual discourse, this can be difficult to ascertain.

In general, if you believe you have seen an invalid usage of baseless-assertion, engage the user in dialog to try and clarify the situation.


As mentioned, this release is experimental. It's yet to be proven to actually solve real world problems, but it certainly has a strong theoretical basis. (baseless-assertion.jpg.) I'm looking forward to community feedback on ways to improve this tool, and thereby simplify the process of Haskell discussions.


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