I think what we have concluded at, is that the best first snake is one that fits your fancy, and after much research is something you can work hard on as a beginning herper. Yet, I think we as experienced folk all know to well what the truth of the matter is when it lies with new reptile keepers. It is very hard to see many that do take time to know about other species than what is found is the average pet store or other "average" reptile keepers home.
For arguments sake, I find it true that nearly every beginner keeper does not have a clue on what it is truly like to keep reptiles, even after a ton of research. I can research the heck out of a Dodge Viper all I want as my first car and driving experience, but have I actually gotten into the drivers seat to see what it actually feels like to drive the darn thing? That is the part that kicks in, reality of it all.
No one is a pro at first when keeping any animal. Even with all the books and advise in the world, your still wondering about things. You are still a beginner no matter what you think you know, or how many "pro herpers" you know. Even seasoned folks have questions and ideas about herps. Just how it be. That is why we as the more experienced try to tell newer folks that corns are good, or this is good. Etc, etc, etc.
I also find it a bit personally discouraging that so many newer folks find themselves attracted to the same ol' reptiles. This is just my personal reflection, nothing personal to other keepers. Leo geckos, Ball Pythons, Bearded Dragons, Corn Snakes and so on. I would actually like to see newer folks that get into the hobby due for other reasons than being pushed into the same old reptile market. It makes it simple this way, but has no real deep interest as far as I see it towards herps. Maybe, like I say, I see it from a different angle. I did not start into herps like the general newbie does. I never knew about these online groups, Bob Clark was a name I never heard of. I rarely ever went into a pet store, they just pi$$ed me off. Honestly, I never knew the herp world was quite as popular as it is. But, out of the herper folks (should just say reptile freaks) I did know before through the years, I honestly do not think I knew one that seriously had a clue about them in the slightest degree. All of these guys and gals had tons of books, read the Reptiles Mag and were in this other phase or place than I am in. Some had boas, some had balls, some geckos..... I still feel this is the general newbie into the hobby even today.
I will state that I do keep several species together in one set up, and have many times before. And folks jump down my neck about it. But they are the ones I take their iguanas from that are yellow from eating nothing but crickets, or taking their boas over because they feed it huge live rats for years and have multiple scars. There corn snakes are skinny because the simply got bored of it and had to have a pair of breeding ball pythons to make some money. Or simply new folks that hear that keeping mixed species together is not right that have to put in their two words before they know why I have chosen to do this, and what excactly is in the cage.
This is why I see it is hard to recommend things to new folks, simply they think they have all the answers already anyhow, and simply do not want to understand they are new and need to know they are.