Articles and essays titled "
$thing Considered Harmful" are an age-old cliché in computer science, harking back to Edsger Dijkstra’s 1987 paper “Go To Statement Considered Harmful”.
Recently a few more posts like this have popped up here and in the Clojure sphere at large. It makes for catchy (click-baity?) titles, but I would like to humbly implore people to avoid them.
The way I see them used is to whip up debate about issues that are fundamentally about trade-offs.
$thing is not actually harmful, the author has merely found a context in which
$thing is suboptimal.
To frame it with such a title comes across as brusque, and in my opinion it does not encourage friendly and respectful debate. (That the debates generally still are friendly and respectful speaks to the merit of this community.) Some people find these titles actively off-putting, I think this is doubly true for newcomers, and we’ve had posts flagged because of this.
It is also worth noting that Dijkstra’s style of communication would likely not be welcomed on this forum today. (from Wikipedia:)
Dijkstra was famous for his wit, eloquence, rudeness, abruptness and often cruelty to fellow professionals, and way with words, such as in his remark, “The question of whether Machines Can Think (…) is about as relevant as the question of whether Submarines Can Swim.”; his advice to a promising researcher, who asked how to select a topic for research, “Do only what only you can do”. Dijkstra was also known for his vocal criticism and absence of social skills when interacting with colleagues. As an outspoken and critical visionary, he strongly opposed the teaching of BASIC.
It’s a small thing, please avoid these tired, old, and overly negative tropes.