Talk:Ryan Dahl

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About personal life of Ryan Dahl[edit]

I talked to Ryan about his personal life (wrote him a few emails and got answers), and I think a lot of people involved in programming, NodeJS development in particular, are very interested in what Ryan is interested in nowadays, luckily he has a blog for this use but not here on his Wikipedia page.


Yes, this person originally developed Node.js, but this article just talks about his personal life. Is this really worth documenting?

Ducksandwich (talk) 14:27, 15 November 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Re: Notability[edit]

Since 2012 when it looks like the notability questions on Wikipedia were originally posed, the importance and scope of the Node.js platform has drastically shifted. It has gone from an early-stage technology with growing popularity (that was more than just a little annoying to read about for many folks) to one of the world's most ubiquitous server-side technologies in government, education, and every industry. (A few examples: -- happy to provide direct citations for those as well, if it would be helpful.)

As of December 2017, Node.js is expected by some to overtake Java in global adoption within 12 months (

Node.js is now in use in entry-level computer science courses at Stanford University:

For comparison, the creator of Java, James Arthur Gosling, has a Wikipedia article that does not carry a banner like this one questioning his notability.

Mikermcneil (talk) 04:24, 21 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Re: Content about this person's personal life[edit]

Re: the contents of this article and whether it's worthwhile to have the information about Ryan Dahl's personal life:

For comparison, the Wikipedia article on the creator of Lisp (John McCarthy) has extensive details his early life, education, and inspirations for building Lisp. It even has an entire section devotd to his personal life:

To help make sure there is interest on this subject for Ryan Dahl and Node.js, I took a quick look. It appears there is wide interest in the subject -- both in the person that created Node, as well as what happened to Ryan Dahl after leaving the project:

For example: as well as and

Mikermcneil (talk) 04:24, 21 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Re: Notability (and the difference between a language and a runtime)[edit]

You seem to be focusing a lot on comparing Ryan Dahl to people who have created programming languages, (Mikermcneil). I do not think this is a fair comparison, as Node.js is a run-time environment, which is realistically a lot less noteworthy than a popular programming language itself. For example, the (PyPy) project is very similar to Node.js in that it is a runtime for a specific programming language. The author of that software is nowhere to be found on Wikipedia, even though it is quite popular. It's also worth noting that Ryan Dahl does not appear to have done anything else of wider note beyond Node.js.

Strallus (talk) 07:53, 13 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Re: Notability (Ryan Dahl and Node.js versus other, less popular runtime environments like PyPy, and even versus programming languages like Lisp)[edit]

To respond to (Strallus)'s point above about the difference between a programming language and a runtime environment, I think it is important to remember that our goal with this discussion is to establish or discredit the notability of Ryan Dahl's article, especially in the context of what he created with Node.js.

When considering the argument that Node.js is a runtime environment rather than a programming language, I was curious, so I looked up the relative number of Google searches for both topics over the last few years. This may not be much of a surprise if you've spent time in the JavaScript software development community, but since 2011, interest in Node.js has actually far surpassed interest in Lisp, even though Lisp is a programming language and Node.js is only a runtime environment:

Worldwide Google Trends data (2011-2019): Notability of Node.js versus Lisp,%2Fm%2F04kyw

But this isn't a discussion of whether Node.js is more or less notable than any particular programming language or runtime environment- I just wanted to address the point about whether or not a programming language is a fair comparison. I agree with (Strallus)'s point that programming languages tend to be more notable than runtime environments (and I think most folks would). But hopefully the data I presented above shows one example of why Node.js is a bit of a special case.

To further help illuminate that, consider PyPy, another runtime environment that was mentioned above as a counterexample:


While I'm sure the primary creator of PyPy (Armin Rigo) made some fantastic contributions to the Python community through his efforts with that runtime environment, comparing searches for his name versus searches for Ryan Dahl does a good job demonstrating that Dahl has, at least in recent decades, reached a much higher bar of notability:

Last five years of Google Trends data (2014-2019),Armin%20Rigo

The primary creator of PyPy, Armin Rigo, In fact, even if we ignore related searches for "nodejs" and "node js", just the keyword "node.js" has been searched for ~25x as often as "PyPy" in the last 5-8 years:

Worldwide Google Trends data (2004-2019),PyPy

Given that, I think it makes sense that Wikipedia would have an article on Ryan Dahl, the creator of Node.js, while not necessarily having an article for Armin Rigo, whose career and contributions to open source may or may not meet Wikipedia's notability guidelines.

Disclaimer: I have no idea whether Wikipedia should consider Armin Rigo "notable" enough or not. I'm not an expert on the Python community. However, I can attest that Ryan Dahl's life, story, and career (particularly over the course of the last decade) definitely meet that bar-- not least because of how many times I am asked about his story in my own day to day interactions with other developers and curious members of the software community.

Regardless how we categorize it, Node.js has made a significant global impact on the software and technology community, and that impact continues to grow even today. As more and more people have become aware of and used Node.js in their day to day lives, it makes sense that we've seen such ongoing interest in the life and recent contributions of its creator Ryan Dahl.

Given the pushback against Node.js (despite its popularity) as it has matured over the years, and given that Ryan Dahl's subsequent activities have been closely watched by the JavaScript community, it seems appropriate for Wikipedia to host an unbiased account of the story.

(Strallus), thank you for sharing an alternative take, and I hope this explanation shed some more light on where I'm coming from.

If there's any other way I can help provide clarification, background, or more sources to demonstrate the notability and relevance of Ryan Dahl's Wikipedia article, please just mention me and I'm happy to follow up again. Thanks!

Mikermcneil (talk) 18:13, 14 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ The author of that software (PyPy) is nowhere to be found on Wikipedia, even though it is quite popular.

Re: Notability (and conflating popularity of a project with popularity of an inventor)[edit]

I think my main problem with your stance, (Mikermcneil), is that it conflates the popularity of a project with the popularity of the project's inventor / creator, and I do not think that is a reasonable thing to conflate.

Mostly, it has been demonstrated that Node.js is notable, which is of course true. This is why Node.js has a rich wikipedia article. However, discussions about Node.js are not discussions about Ryan Dahl. Controversies about Node.js are not controversies about Ryan Dahl. Pushback against Node.js as a software is not pushback against Ryan Dahl as a person.

I think a much better way of measuring Ryan Dahl's notability would be to look thru Google Trends with some keywords that involve Ryan Dahl himself, not just the one thing he is known for creating.

Since we were already using John McCarthy as an example, I thought I'd give him the same treatment to see what I got. Here is what I found:,lisp%20inventor

Nodejs inventor vs lisp inventor.png,lisp%20john%20mccarthy

Nodejs ryan dahl vs lisp john mccarthy.png,%2Fm%2F01svfj

Ryan dahl vs john mccarthy .png

That's about all I came up with, but this completely unscientific analysis indicates that Ryan Dahl is not as notable as John McCarthy with respect to the softwares they are known for.

Obviously it is hard to quantify this using search results, so I think the easiest way of determining notability is what the article in question says (or in this case: doesn't say). If this article detailed his involvement in the Node.js project with more detail, or his involvement in other notable projects, then I would not feel the same way. But it does not. Half of this article talks about things which are not notable on their own merit (his early life and education). The section which does talk about his notable contribution to society (Node.js) is entirely devoted to the fact that he has not been involved with the project since 2012 (which, it should be noted, has only gotten more and more popular since his absence).

Notability on Wikipedia cannot be purely "he lived a normal life, then stopped working on software which many people use". But that is the extent of this article. There are no controversies about his involvement in the project. There is nothing that the general public (or even general software engineering public) needs to be aware of. The article does not detail decisions he made which significantly impacted the course of the project. It does not detail how he came to create the project and what his inspirations / principles were. If this article had any of those things, I would feel that it has a place on Wikipedia.

Strallus (talk) 23:07, 14 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

De facto?[edit]

Dahl is best known "for creating the de-facto (sic) Node.js JavaScript runtime". It is not clear to me how Node.js can be a de facto runtime. Software might be a de facto standard or might have a de facto monopoly, but I don't think a de facto runtime is really a thing. I will remove that phrase, if anyone disagrees they can put it back in. --MichielN (talk) 15:15, 28 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]