The "M" word is the wrong word.

If you are offended, angered or feel I am mistaken, I welcome dialogue on this topic. No doubt what I will say might piss someone off.

So far, the only people with vocal voices in the "Marketing" of Perl are people with financial interests in the language - consultants, trainers and the likes. Let's not mention names. I've got nothing against these people putting bread on the table, hell, the language which I write and use most days does it for me. But I have full time employment, so my financial circumstances change little if the language died tomorrow - like all problems within my work, problems are worked around, solutions are found. I don't want the Perl community to end up where a handful of consultants and trainers are trying to get those of us with less financial ties to the language to essentially promote their business by proxy through the promotion of the language. Would I like to see more popularity with Perl and the horrible practices of the past dispelled and unused by naysayers? Absolutely. But I also think that technology is also victim to natural selection - the language and how it functions needs to keep up with the times and adapt in order to survive. This can not be done by businessmen and marketing alone. To those of you who keep the language adapting and bring in great ideas - new or stolen from smarter minds, I raise my glass to you.

The popularity of Perl will not move forward by fliers, banners and signs in other people's conventions, nor excessive preaching to the converted.
The popularity of Perl will not move forward by marketing campaigns with large budgets with a lack of concluding definition.
The popularity of any programming language is dictated by it's relevancy to the immediate problem faced by users that it helps solve, and it's relevancy to the present.

There are several areas that I feel that could use more of our attention, that would benefit the businessmen, and benefit programmers, either present day Perl hackers, or tomorrow's hackers.

The many faces of Perl
Still a few websites that remain under the control of the Perl NOC, and other more popular Perl websites that could use a new coat of paint - a redesign. A look to suit, beyond just bare functionality. Like it or not, people are attracted to good looking things, even if you may not care. The work done on was very well done, and personally I think that the same level of attention to design should be applied across many other "faces of Perl". Which sites am I referring to?,,,, just to name a few. The owners of these sites may hold their own opinions, and may find it difficult having to agree with designers decisions, but I still maintain this should be a significant priority to something that appears to only be half way finished. Could there be a pursuit to have a donation of designer time from companies with a interest in the language, like those already who've supplied designer time? I think it would be more appealing to ask for things and people time, not money from companies with a vested interest in Perl. If money is more accessible however, could the option of finding a design firm or freelance to work gratis, or at a discounted rate be an option? I have previously suggested open source projects away from "throwing money at it", so consider this an absolute last resort. Making communication between yourselves, the developers and web admins and the designers as easy and comfortable as possible is key.

Measuring the impact of our face is collecting analytics. So are many other Perl websites. Are there people setting targets or goals for these websites in terms of traffic reach? Is there any efforts at present to look at adjusting these websites to reflect the visitors and provide a better experience, using A/B testing, passive surveys (ie no popup boxes) etc? If there is not, this is another area that our marketeurs could find some use. Just as traffic, SEO, usability are important to any online business, if the goal is to find more people using the website and making it as easy as possible to use, this is also something that requires attention and brings benefits. Like my objection to banners and advertising in the real world, I also stand that online advertising is a bad choice and should never be pursued. In addition to this, I'm certain that concrete deliverables could be made for these tasks and the TPF along with the community would be less hesitant in approving funding for a person or group to dedicate time to identifying usability issues and achieving traffic goals in websites where there would be significant benefit in attracting new users, and improving the service for existing users.

Capturing better footage
Out of all the video recordings of conferences and screen-casts on the language, most are of a very low quality. In comparison to the output by other events and language-specific conferences handle video, this is an area in my opinion requiring huge improvement. There is clearly demand for screen-casts and people wishing to watch talks from conferences. I think to improve this, serious effort needs to be put, more so on YAPC events towards high quality video with clear audio (lapel mics on speakers, please!) and solid editing. It's by no means mandatory to get a professional company to do this, if the community already possesses the means to do it at a quality level matching what others already are.

Compiling the footage
The second biggest problem with all of the available footage and screen-casts is that they are all over the place, and the problem is getting worse. Youtube, Google Video,, Presenting Perl, and many others have a scattering of low quality footage. A centralised location that could compile video from a variety of sources, including its own would be a huge benefit, especially for those starting in the language. The efforts of and have tried to work on this, but maintainence and constant iteration is necessary. On a side note, recently Google had uploaded quite a comprehensive amount of footage on introducing Python, and whilst the sheer duration of it may not be appealing, achieving this for Perl would be significant. At present there are many videos out there (particularly on Youtube) that introduce Perl for beginners, but also introduce habits we may consider by today's standards as poor form.

More of today's Perl
To my knowledge, at present, there is no "The Idiot's Guide to Moose", "DBIx::Class in 21 days", "Catalyst for Dummies" and the likes. Whilst this might sound like a daft idea to you, I think it would be a brilliant idea to expand further the tutorials and guides on such tools, even if they aren't in print. The documentation, screen-casts, books and other material on modern day tools and practices is not the first thing people manage to find. I commend the Perl 5 Documentation Team and hope that they set a good standard of documentation. I know most of you guys are too busy hacking and making the code rock - but if you make the entry level to learn and understand the awesome things you make easy, the work of hacking on it and improving will be cut out, as more dedicated people will find it and improve it, fix your bugs and do the things you can't get around to doing for whatever reason. Great documentation is always in any project's favour.

Compare and contrast
Other languages have various learning material that compares and contrasts themselves from other similar languages, like Perl. Learning material, in my opinion could be more appealing by at least providing material that shows "You are familiar with doing 'x' in your programming language 'y', here is how we do that in Perl". Too much material teaches from the beginning to program, in my opinion, and not others who are looking to cross from other languages. This will also help to detract many myths that non-Perl programmers have on the language. mst had said that he would prefer to be criticized on what we do today, not what we were doing in the past - of the few things I agree that comes out of mst's mouth, this is it.

Evaluation from day one
Other languages also have gone to the efforts to put in-line evaluators in-browser, along with tutorials. This appears to be quite successful for introducing new people into the language. Yes, I know this is hard to do in a secure fashion with Perl, but I'm certain it would be no more difficult than those faced by others. Does this exist already? If so, where is it, because it needs greater accessibility. If it does not, who would host this or build it? I don't know. But if it's working for other scripted languages in assisting the introduction of syntax and structure to students, then it could benefit Perl.

As a programming language, the best "marketing" we can bring is to make the language more approachable, more appealing, more available and more accepted and used by people. The apparent problem just can't have money and pretty banners thrown at it because this is a language, a culture and community, a tool, almost a religion and not a product - at least in my mind.

These are just my ideas, and my thoughts. What are yours?


There are several areas that I feel that could use more of our attention, .... These are just my ideas, and my thoughts. What are yours?

What are you going to do to make these things happen? Cool ideas on Things We Could Do are a dime a dozen.

All of these would take [...] the co-operation of the people I just criticized.

Hmm... perhaps not the best way to start then :-)

So far, the only people with vocal voices in the "Marketing" of Perl are people with financial interests in the language - consultants, trainers and the likes.

What does "the likes" mean? Me? I'm just a programmer, not a consultant or trainer. I pushed *hard* for marketing, discussed it with many people, attended BOFs at conferences and conceived of and wrote the initial charter for the Perl Foundation Marketing Committee. When I saw that other people were too, and when I thought the ball was rolling, I backed off a bit and went back to my normal interests (note: I'm not claiming credit for this interest, I just happened to be one of many voices pushing it).

In short, I'm just another programmer talking about marketing, but many other programmers chipped in, too. They weren't all trainers and consultants, so I think the very opening of your argument seems to have gone a bit astray :)

The problem here appears to be the word "marketing" and people's ideas about what it means. Your list of non-solutions, banners and signs, is a narrow idea of what marketing is. In short, its a straw-man. Setting up and beating on straw-men might be satisfying, but its inflammatory, doesn't really get at the real issue and doesn't really move anything forward.

Your list of proposed problems and solutions is also marketing, and I think the folks who are banging the marketing drum are well aware of them.

I really think you're having a violent agreement.

In situations like this, a communications game to play is to ban the misunderstood word. In this case "marketing". Rewrite what you wrote without using the term "marketing" and see what happens. I think it will be clear you're arguing against the type of marketing nobody serious is proposing.

Actually, it could be a whole lot worse. At least Perl doesn't have the corporate push surrounding far more widely used languages, such as Java and VB. Perl is far more "grass roots" than that, and long may it remain so. Personally, I find the many non-multinational Perl experts a refreshing change in the development of programming languages.

I could make a very good case for Perl being the highest rated language without corporate ownership in some form, after C/C++.

I'd rather have the great Perl people we do, than waiting on Oracle (for example) to determine their vision of future of the language.

In all honestly, I wouldn't know where to start.

Then how about you pick one and post again saying "I'd really like to have this happen, and I'm glad to help to make it so, but I don't know what to start with."

What you did was say "I think these would be really cool for other people to do." If you want to do them, then tell us that, and where you'd like to start.

Those are two GOOD examples. One of the big problems Perl has is that it look small on the web. This is because of our Web 1.0 idea of aggregating everything under one domain. Another problem is we're really bad at SEO, so search engines don't point people at the really interesting stuff. A lot of what you get when you search for "Perl" is either out of date, generic, crap or repetitions of the man pages. A simple sign showing "hey, look at all these cool sites about modern Perl stuff" that folks can put up at the Perl Monger booth at non-Perl conferences and events gets the word out about what's going on in Perl now, as opposed to five years ago. Its simple, cheap anti-FUD for non-Perl programmers or Perl programmers who aren't wired into the community (the design could use work, but that's another issue).

I've manned the PM booth at OSOCN and often we have nothing for people to look at as they walk by thinking "oh, Perl, does anyone still use that?" A big poster is eye catching, conveys interesting information and might start a conversation.

The round tuits are a more traditional marketing swag, but they're cheap and clever and geeky. Ditto the wonderful "Perl Mongers: We Suck At Marketing" cards that were going around at YAPC.

schwern += 10 :)

I'm always looking for more Perl white papers:

One of my goals for white papers is to have a set of (short) papers that you can point people at showing some of Perls great features and projects.

Contact me leo [at] if you'd like to discuss writing one.

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About Captain Coconut

user-pic I blog about Perl.