(In response to news:9e7db91105022209227c70832e / mail.gmail.com by Austin 
Ziegler)

> ...because for the purposes of what I'm doing (I think that this is in
> Text::Format), +nil+ is as good as empty.

I know the situtation (from Text::Reform ;)) and have thought rather 
differently about it: 

If your representation of things stings you, why don't change the 
representation itself ? As in: 

  class StringValue < String
    def initialize str
      self.replace str || ''
    end
  end

Untested code that does not by itself solve the problem. But my point is: 
thinking about the good wrapper for data will. 

I certainly don't think a special case like this needs to be promoted 
downwards into the language. What we just might want to do is make a list 
of things that return nil instead of '' where '' would be more 
appropriate. And then probably think about changing these methods. 

I didn't like the #vapid suggestion at the start, but now I am starting 
to rather like it.. Except for the added language complexity. 

kaspar

code manufacture - ruby lab
www.tua.ch/ruby