Francis,

Your analysis is clear and consistant but I believe it is shallow. Ruby
as a language should always be in flux. Dynamic with its creation as it
is in its nature. Backward compatiability is not strictly neccessary,
it is nothing more the a vehicle for the user to more easily transition
to the next update. If you require stability then you should never
upgrade beyond a teeny. But if you are upgrading to gain features,
which is the reasonable reason to do so, then you have nothing to
complain about --you are getting exactly what you are asking for:
changes.

Now changes can still come in non-back breaking formations. And too
many concurrent changes would be too hard to keep pace of, let alone
become familiar. Nonetheless, the leaders of Ruby, Matz most among
them, seem to spend a great deal of time worrying about compatibilty.
Perhaps too much.

Forgive the aside, "Matz, if ever there was something you really wanted
to do to this lanuage, but were too afraid because of the pressures of
backward compatability, I would want you to throw your back to the wind
and just do it! Believe me when I tell you, I trust you. You brought us
this far. Have you not?"

But to the point at hand, I can only recommed an attempt at
establishing stronger communites around older versions. 1.4.* and 1.6.*
as we do the latest 1.8.* and 1.9 dev. Perhaps even rotating mailing
lists. I don't know about you, but the mailing list archives are
getting pretty full. Would mailing lists dedicated to older versions be
useful? Really, would they?

I suspect it is too difficult a task for lack of real interest. I know
about such things. But even small groups have value. Nonethelss my
guess is that most people really want the upgrades, even if they
readily complain about the difficulites of dealing with them.
respectfully,
T